Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Wrestling Do-Overs: The Invasion Angle, part 10 (Vengeance 2001)

As 2001 comes to a close, the Invasion Angle coalesces around a huge Title unification....

To read this series from the beginning, click HERE

Night After Survivor Series

RAW opens with Vince in the ring, beaming from last night's victory.  Vince says "Last night, the WWF took a major step in vanquishing The Alliance, as our Survivor Series squad won an incredible main event.  As a result, all of WCW's championships are hereby defunct.  And a wrestling company without legitimate championships is that much closer to oblivion.  Right now I'd like to call one man to the ring to personally congratulate him.  He's the reason our side has won this major victory.  Ladies and gentlemen, your American hero, Kurt Angle!"  Angle proudly comes down to the ring and hugs Vince.  "Vince, I'd just like to express how thankful I am for the opportunity to prove to all these people that not only am I the best wrestler in the world, not only do I live and breathe the three I's, but I bleed red, white, blue....and WWF!  I am so proud to be your Olympic hero and your Sole Survivor!  And now I'd like your permission to challenge Hollywood Hogan for the WWF Championship so I can bring that prestigious title back where it belongs."  Vince responds, "Kurt, I would be more than happy to grant that request.  Therefore, in three weeks at Vengeance, in this very ring, it will be Hollywood Hogan vs. Kurt--"  Steve Austin's glass shatter interrupts Vince.  Austin saunters to the ring and yanks the mic from Vince's hand.  "Hold on there, ya dumb bastards.  First off Kurt, you ain't the best wrestler in the world.  The best wrestler in the world is the one talkin' at you right now and lookin' at your stupid hang-dog face.  Second, if anyone's owed a damn title match with Hogan it's Stone Cold, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna let you screw this up again.  At Vengeance it's gonna be Hogan vs. Austin, or I'm gonna stomp both your asses down right now."  Hogan suddenly shows up on the Titantron.  "Oh boys....I see you're arguing among yourselves like a buncha little babies, but you're forgetting one thing.  I'm the WWF Champion and I decide who I face at Vengeance.  Oh, and you may have won at Survivor Series, but my main man Booker T ain't giving up his WCW Championship without a fight.  so here's what: how about we have a little mini-tournament at Vengeance?  One of you two idiots can challenge me, the other can challenge Booker, and the winners face each other to determine the first-ever Undisputed WWF Champion?  And I hate to break it to ya, but it's gonna end up Hollywood Hogan vs. Booker T, brother!"  Austin and Angle both nod to Vince.  Vince replies "Fine, Hogan.  At Vengeance it will be....Hogan vs. Austin, and Booker vs. Angle, with the winners facing each other for all the marbles.  But how about tonight we have a tag team match.  Hogan and Booker vs. Austin and Angle!"

Later in the show The Rock cuts a promo on Chris Jericho.  "Two years ago The Rock was interrupted by some little jabroni called Chris Jericho, and last night at Survivor Series that little jabroni got in The Rock's way and damn-near screwed the entire team.  Jericho, The Rock is callin' you out, you little hair metal bitch!"  After a few moments Jericho's music hits and The Rock watches the entrance ramp.  Suddenly Jericho runs in from the audience and attacks Rock from behind.  Jericho beats him down and hits a Lionsault, then takes the mic.  "Hey Mr. Hollywood, you think you can run off and hide when all the chips are down and then swoop in and steal the glory?  I'm here every damn week picking up your slack and I'm sick of your Brahma Bull shit!  You and me have a date with destiny, and it's in three weeks at Vengeance!"

New Women's Champion Trish Stratus has her first title defense against Ivory and wins cleanly in four minutes, but Molly and Jazz attack her after the match.  Molly takes the mic and says what happened last night between her and Jazz was a misunderstanding and Jazz still has her back.  She challenges Trish for the title at Vengeance.

The RAW main event is the aforementioned tag match.  It's a chaotic, energetic brawl with Austin and Angle still struggling to work together, but late in the match they hit their stride.  The match ends with Hogan hitting a big boot on Angle and going for the legdrop, but Angle catches Hogan's leg and slaps on the anklelock.  Booker goes for the axe kick to break it up but Austin intercepts and hits a Thesz press.  Hogan rolls over and kicks Angle off, but Angle bounces off the ropes and snares a lightning-fast small package to pin Hogan.  Hogan can't believe it.  RAW goes off the air with Hogan and Booker regrouping on the outside as Austin and Angle stand tall.

Building Vengeance

Over the next two weeks Christian cuts multiple promos on Triple H, pointing out that he eliminated Hunter at Survivor Series and will no longer be held back by WWF company men.  He joined The Alliance because they offered him real opportunities to grow, and he proved it by defeating his stupid brother Edge for the US Title, before Edge cheated to win it back.  Now Christian wants to prove he's better than Triple H by beating him again at Vengeance.

There's a tag team battle royal to determine new #1 Contenders for the Hardy Boyz.  The Dudleys, APA, the reunited Jindrak & O'Haire, DDP & Kanyon, a new pairing of Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo ("We're here to bring the WWF and The Alliance together, in the spirit of brotherly love..."), Big Show & Kane, Albert & Scotty 2 Hotty, and Tazz & Spike Dudley.  It boils down to the Dudleys, APA and Chuck & Billy.  The Dudleys and APA are furiously brawling but Chuck and Billy try to break it up and ask them to hug it out.  The request is met with Bubba and Faarooq throwing Billy out, while D-Von and Bradshaw toss Chuck.  JR says "Hey, look at that, the Dudleys and the APA have found common ground, maybe there's hope!"  The final two teams continue brawling.  D-Von sets Faarooq up for the 3-D but before Bubba can hit the move he's met with a Clothesline from Hell, knocking him over the ropes.  APA are the new top contenders.

New European Champion Ric Flair cuts a promo about how he's still got it after all these years and he'll bring prestige back to the European Title.  He plans on making it mean something like the old WCW TV Title, where it's defended every week.  He's issuing an open challenge for anyone who thinks they can hang with The Man.  Tajiri answers, and the two have a fun little ten-minute match where Tajiri nearly unseats Flair on several occasions.  But Flair retains with a rope-assisted rollup.  The following week he issues another open challenge and outlasts William Regal, again using the ropes.  He says at Vengeance he'll defend the title against whoever wants to meet him there.

Rob Van Dam defends the Intercontinental Title against Test and narrowly escapes with the championship after 16 minutes.  Suddenly a motorcycle can be heard.  Undertaker emerges from behind the curtain and speeds down to the ring.  RVD bounces off the ropes and dives over, but Taker catches him and rams him into the post, then chokeslams him on the floor.  "You. Me. Vengeance."     


The lineup for the final PPV of 2001 is:

WWF Champion vs. WCW Champion - Final match for the Undisputed Championship
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Steve Austin - WWF Championship
Booker T (c) vs. Kurt Angle - WCW Championship
Rock vs. Chris Jericho
Rob Van Dam (c) vs. Undertaker - Intercontinental Championship
Triple H vs. Christian
Ric Flair (c) vs. ??? - European Championship Open Challenge
Trish Stratus (c) vs. Molly Holly - Women's Championship
Hardy Boyz (c) vs. APA - WWF Tag Team Championship

The show opens with a blazing tag team match as Matt & Jeff Hardy play the speedy underdogs to Bradshaw and Farooq's power brokers.  The Hardys frustrate their challengers early on but Bradshaw cuts off Poetry in Motion by catching Jeff in midair and overhead slamming him over the ropes to the floor.  APA works Jeff over for several minutes but Jeff ducks a Clothesline from Hell and dropkicks Farooq out of the ring before making the hot tag to Matt.  Matt cleans house, and all four men end up in the ring.  Jeff low-bridges Bradshaw out of the ring, and Matt counters a Farooq spinebuster with a Twist of Fate, followed by Jeff's Swanton to retain at 14 minutes.

Trish Stratus has a solid 7-minute match against Molly that sees Jazz repeatedly try to interfere, but Trish dropkicks Molly into Jazz, knocking her off the ring apron.  Jazz gets angry and storms off as Molly begs her to stay.  Trish comes from behind to hit Stratusfaction for the win.

Ric Flair comes out and cuts a promo offering anyone in the locker room a shot at the European Title.  He waits about thirty seconds and then says "That's what I thought.  No one has the guts to face the Dirtiest Player in the Game!"  Suddenly Edge's music hits and he storms down to the ring.  The bell rings and Edge dominates Flair with a series of clotheslines.  Flair backs off and Edge comes after him Flair pokes Edge in the eye, Edge spins around, and Flair chopblocks him.  Flair works over the leg.  Flair goes for the Figure Four but Edge kicks him off.  Edge stumbles to his feet, Flair goes after him again, and Edge hits a spear out of nowhere and pins him to win the title after five minutes.

Triple H and Christian have a hotly contested back-and-forth match.  Hunter overpowers Christian but Christian gains control by cheating.  Christian works over Triple H's arm, ramming it into the post and the dasherboards.  Hunter repeatedly tries to come back but Christian kicks his injured arm.  Christian goes to the top rope and jumps but Hunter hits a Harley Race knee.  Hunter goes for the Pedigree but Christian slips out, goes through the legs and attempts the Unprettier.  Triple H pushes him into the ropes, kicks him in the gut, and hits the Pedigree for the win at 15 minutes.  The announcers put over that regardless of his treachery, Christian is the real deal.

Rob Van Dam and The Undertaker have a wild brawl that goes all over the ringside area.  The referee lets a lot of things go and the match at times resembles a hardcore match.  Ten minutes in, RVD sets Taker up on a ringside table and hits the Five-Star Frog Splash through it.  Both men barely make the count back into the ring.  Taker gets a nearfall after a chokeslam and goes for The Last Ride, but RVD goes over the top, bounces off the ropes with a dropkick, springs to the top rope and hits another Five-Star to retain the title at 13 minutes.

The Rock and Chris Jericho have basically the exact match they really had at No Mercy 2001, but without the interference from Stephanie McMahon (who in real life ruined Jericho's first main event push).  Instead Jericho slaps on the Walls of Jericho but The Rock makes the ropes.  Jericho gets frustrated, slides a chair into the ring and while the referee removes it, Jericho grabs a second chair and tries to hit Rock with it.  Rock counters with a Rock Bottom but Jericho gets his foot on the ropes.  The referee removes the second chair and Jericho hits a low blow, followed by his new finisher The Breakdown, to win the match at 23 minutes.

Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan have another rugged brawl.  Austin is full-speed ahead while Hogan tries to pick his spots and cheat whenever possible.  Late in the match several Alliance members surround the ring, but the WWF roster runs down and fights them to the back.  Hogan takes advantage of the distraction to slip on his brass knux, but Austin is ready this time, kicking Hogan in the stomach and punching Hogan with his own hand.  Hogan is dazed and Austin hits the Stunner at the fifteen-minute mark to regain the WWF Championship.

Booker T and Kurt Angle have a fast-paced clash of styles.  Angle frustrates Booker with his wrestling acumen, while Booker uses his superior strength and striking ability to control the middle of the bout.  Booker goes for the axe kick, but Angle dodges and hits an Olympic slam for a two-count.  Angle pulls down the onesie straps and goes for the ankle lock, but Booker kicks him off.  Angle bounces off the ropes and Booker snares a small package.  Angle barely kicks out and pounces with an ankle lock.  Booker fights the hold and lunges for the ropes but Angle pulls him back.  Booker reaches the ropes and pulls himself to a standing position, then somersaults forward, pulling Angle face-first into the turnbuckle.  Booker rolls him up and puts both feet on the bottom rope to steal a win and retain the WCW Title after 17 minutes.

It's Steve Austin vs. Booker T for all the chips.  These two have an unruly fight that gets jumpstarted when Austin runs to the ring during Booker's celebration.  They exchange punches and kicks, and the match spills to the outside.  They brawl into the crowd, all the way up the loge steps, into the concourse.  After several minutes the fight makes its way back down to ringside and the match starts officially.  Booker gains an advantage by suplexing Austin on the Spanish announce table, then dominates the next stretch.  Austin eventually makes a comeback and hits a Stunner, but Booker falls out of the ring.  Eric Bischoff runs down, gives Booker some water, and distracts the official as Booker recovers.  Vince runs down suddenly and yanks Bischoff off the apron, pelting him with right hands as the crowd erupts.  Booker slides in and hits Austin with an axe kick followed by the Book End, just as the referee turns back around.  He counts one, two, Austin kicks out at the very last second.  Booker goes up for the Harlem Hangover, Austin punches Booker in the gut and seamlessly vaults off the second rope, hitting a spectacular Stone Cold Stunner and pinning Booker to unify the two championships at the 18-minute mark.

The crowd goes insane and the entire WWF roster runs down to the ring to celebrate, as now the final WCW championship has been absorbed into its WWF counterpart.  Austin cracks open two beers and starts guzzling, and outside the ring Vince opens one himself and raises it to salute Austin whose back is turned.

Continued in part 11.... 

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