Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?

Date: July 22, 2001
Location: Gund Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Attendance: 17,964
Commentators: Jim Ross, Michael Cole

This really is a simple concept for a show: Alliance vs. WWF, all night long. The main event is a big ten man tag called the Inaugural Brawl with five top WWF stars against five top Alliance stars. That’s a cool idea for a show on paper but the problem is pretty simple: the whole show is one idea and if that idea doesn’t work, there isn’t much hope for the night. Let’s get to it.

The opening video shows clips from the start of World War II to put us in a mood of war and the big fight that comes as a result of the Invasion.

The set is split down the middle with a WWF and Alliance sign and two ramps that come together like a big V for a cool visual.

For the sake of simplicity I’ll like the WWF wrestlers first in every match.

Edge and Christian vs. Lance Storm/Mike Awesome

Storm is a technical guy who didn’t have a ton of charisma. Awesome on the other hand was an athletic beast who could fly like he weighed 200lbs and throw people around like the Undertaker. Edge and Christian are lucky enough to actually get an entrance. Awesome and Christian get things going with the latter getting the better of it before it’s off to Edge vs. Storm.

This goes a bit better for the good guys as Edge sends Storm outside, only to have Christian mostly botch a dive as his feet get caught in the ropes. Thankfully he’s fine enough to come in for a double hiptoss on Lance but Mike breaks up something off the top to change control. Storm sends him ribs first into the post off a hard whip before Christian drops a splash for two.

Lance grabs a quick gutbuster for two but Christian scores with a cross body for a breather. That’s still not enough for the tag to Edge though as Awesome knocks him off the apron and clotheslines Christian for two. The Awesome Splash gets two with Edge running in for the save.

Awesome loads up a super Awesome Bomb but Christian backdrops him down to prevent a bad case of extreme pain. The hot tag brings in Edge for some clotheslines and a spinwheel kick. Edge rams Storm into Christian by mistake before being sent into Awesome for two. Christian comes in off the top with a double clothesline, followed by a spear to Awesome for two. Another Awesome Bomb is loaded up but Christian spears Mike down, allowing Edge to fall on top for the pin at 10:10.

Rating: C. The match was fine but shows the major problem with this show: the match happened, there was no story other than the overarching one, and the wrestling was just ok because there was little emotion involved. Does this make Edge and Christian better than Awesome and Storm? Not really as we’ve known that for a long time based on common sense. This doesn’t change anything and was really just a match for the sake of having a match.

Vince celebrates when William Regal (designated stooge) comes in to tell the boss that Steve Austin and Debra (his real life wife) have arrived. Vince tells him to leave the two of them alone and brings up George Washington vs. King George.

We recap Earl Hebner vs. Nick Patrick in a battle of referees. Yes seriously, and they actually had Mick Foley (still Commissioner) as guest referee for this mess. It’s the story you would expect: both groups had their own referees and they were fighting over who should be refereeing the big matches.

Earl Hebner vs. Nick Patrick

Both guys having three other referees in their corners. They shove each other to start with Nick slapping him in the face. Earl sends him into the corner for some slow motion stomps before pulling Nick out of the corner for two. They head outside and it’s nearly a big referee brawl. The thing that nightmares are made of.

Back in and Hebner hits ten straight right hands to the head but Patrick gets in a low blow. A baseball slide of all things puts Earl on the floor and it’s time for the big referee standoff. The WCW referees are ejected and Earl hits a spear/tackle for the pin at 2:50. Back to back matches ending with the same move isn’t a good sign and the fact that match was between two referees made it even worse.

Foley beats up Nick Patrick post match.

Recap of Diamond Dallas Page kidnapping Debra on Smackdown so Austin would leave a tag match, triggering a huge brawl backstage.

Debra freaks out while getting coffee when Undertaker’s wife Sara, also a victim of Page (a stalker at the time in one of the most bizarre character choices I’ve ever seen), says Undertaker will help take care of Page.

We recap the Acolytes (now the Acolytes Protection Agency or APA, who now beat people up for money) vs. Sean O’Haire/Chuck Palumbo (two young guys without much to make them stand out other than athleticism). The Acolytes were leading a lot of the midcarders against WCW, including O’Haire and Palumbo. The Alliance guys jumped the APA at WWF New York and a match was made.

On a side note: this is the third match of the night and there hasn’t been an ECW wrestler in action yet. The Alliance really should have been called WCW featuring the ECW Players.

APA vs. Sean O’Haire/Chuck Palumbo

Both teams are their respective companies’ Tag Team Champions but neither title is on the line here. It’s a brawl to start with the APA planting Palumbo with a double spinebuster but O’Haire brings Bradshaw into the Alliance corner for a beating. Faarooq comes in and knocks Sean’s head off with an elbow, only to have O’Haire backflip out of a suplex to take over again. Bradshaw comes back in for the fall away slam as there isn’t much of a flow to this one.

Back to Palumbo for some of his great right hands but Bradshaw plants him with a DDT. The tag brings in Faarooq but Palumbo takes him outside for a whip into the steps. Back in and Faarooq plants him with another spinebuster. That’s enough for the tag back to Bradshaw as house is cleaned in front of a dead crowd. O’Haire breaks up the fall away slam but can’t stop a hot shot into the top turnbuckle with a dropkick to the back for good measure. Sean superkicks Faarooq but walks into Bradshaw’s Clothesline for the pin at 7:17.

Rating: F. Oh yeah we’re in for a long night. This was more WWF dominance with the APA barely selling anything and not fitting with the style whatsoever. Instead we had two teams on different planets instead of in the same match and it made for one of the worst performances I’ve seen in a long time. The thing just wasn’t entertaining and it was the Alliance looking like goons again, which would plague this whole story.

Chris Jericho is in Vince’s office to rip on Paul Heyman, who may look like a big white Shrek but he’s an evil genius. Now he’s spreading that evil to Stephanie and Shane, who have to be taken out.

Stephanie whines about how much she hates Jericho but Heyman tells Billy Kidman (a very talented high flier) to go make things right.

X-Pac vs. Billy Kidman

WWF Light Heavyweight Champion vs. WCW Cruiserweight Champion in another non-title match. X-Pac armdrags him to start but misses a spinning heel kick and gets taken to the mat in a nice amateur move. Kidman counters a powerbomb (a big thing for him actually) into a hurricanrana and they head outside. Back in and Kidman is sent flying over the top and out to the floor, followed by a big dive from X-Pac. The fans aren’t cheering the heel X-Pac and the announcers sound a bit surprised. Yeah who would have guessed that fans aren’t all about company loyalty like that?

X-Pac throws on a chinlock which is turned into a sleeper and then right back into a chinlock. Kidman reverses into a sleeper of his own before things speed up a bit off a dropkick. The BK Bomb (Sky High) gets two on X-Pac and Kidman counters a powerbomb into a faceplant for two. Kidman goes up top but dives into the X-Factor for two. The Bronco Buster hits a raised boot though and Kidman’s shooting star press puts X-Pac away at 7:17. Cole: “The WCW is on the board!”

Rating: C. The match was fine but yet again it felt like they were just going through the motions of a match instead of doing anything interesting or high energy. Kidman was capable of doing so much but the face/heel dynamic was all over the place here with Kidman as a heel but being treated like a face and vice versa for X-Pac.

We’ve had four matches and the better part of an hour of this show so far and the best match has been slightly above average. Yeah the two companies have split champion vs. champion matches and that means…..what? Nothing changes aside from the standings in an unofficial competition between the two promotions for nothing more than bragging rights. That’s really not the most interesting thing in the world but it’s what we’re getting here all night long.

Torrie Wilson and Stacy Keibler (the gorgeous eye candy from WCW) brag about their bodies before their bra and panties match against Lita and Trish Stratus tonight. They seem to think the Hardys want them.

William Regal vs. Raven

Raven is the first ECW performer on the show and is basically a social outcast and hardcore specialist. Regal is more than tough enough to hang with him though and clotheslines Raven down, followed by a butterfly suplex for no cover. Instead they head outside with Regal forearming him in the face to keep control. Back in and Regal gets four straight near falls, all with a forearm going into Raven’s face.

They take turns throwing each other over the top with Raven legsweeping Regal head first into the barricade. Back in and we hit the chinlock before Regal gets two off a suplex. Regal scores with a running knee to the face but gets rolled up for two as the fans still don’t know who to cheer for, meaning they just sit there mostly quiet instead. They trade rollups for two each before a collision sends Raven to the floor. Cue Tazz to suplex Regal, allowing Raven to hit his Raven Effect DDT for the pin at 6:34.

Rating: D-. Two guys of this caliber should not be having a match this poor. There was almost no chemistry here and it doesn’t help that Raven has been in the WWF for months and now we’re supposed to boo him because he’s wearing a different shirt. This was another example of a match that wasn’t any good to start and never changed throughout a long six minutes.

Undertaker is warming up when Vince comes in and reminds him of the Best of Sara tape that Page had been distributing, earning himself a choke against the wall. That was what Vince wanted so everything is cool.

Big Show/Billy Gunn/Albert vs. Shawn Stasiak/Chris Kanyon/Hugh Morrus

Albert is Intercontinental Champion, Stasiak is the far less talented son of a former WWF World Champion, Kanyon had a rather innovative offense and Morrus was an athletic guy with some weight to him. The WWF guys gorilla press their opponents to the floor to start before Billy and Kanyon trade rollups for two each.

Kanyon hits a Russian legsweep and keeps rolling into a Stroke for two. Stasiak comes in to a MEAT chant (his former WWF moniker) and walks into a neckbreaker to put both guys down. The hot tag brings in Alberto and the Alliance is cleaned out again. The Baldo Bomb (choke bomb) gets two on Stasiak and Morrus charges into a powerslam. Billy comes in for a bad looking Fameasser but Stasiak lays him out to give Morrus the pin at 4:23.

Rating: D. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to say at this point. This was a match between six guys with no real connection (Billy and Big Show had briefly teamed together) and a match that didn’t even last five minutes. How does anyone benefit from something like this? The match was bad due to the time and due to it being a total squash until quick surprise at the end.

Big Show destroys the Alliance guys (not that any of them are part of ECW or anything of course) just in case you thought they were a threat.

Shane fires up WCW World and United States Champion Booker T. while saying that an Alliance win on Sunday Night Heat gives them a 4-3 lead.

Regal gives Tajiri (a kicking machine) a pep talk.

Tajiri vs. Tazz

Tajiri gets an early two off a spinwheel kick before firing off a quick series of strikes to escape a suplex. Tazz finally takes him down for some shots to the face as JR brings up the history between the two (meaning they had an ECW Title match about two years ago). Tajiri’s signature handspring against the ropes into an elbow gets two as the crowd finally reacts a bit.

They head outside with Tajiri being sent into the steps, only to come back in for the Tarantula (something like a Boston crab around the ropes) for the pop of the night. A quick suplex sends Tajiri flying but he mists Tazz, setting up a kick to the head to give Tajiri the pin at 5:34.

Rating: D+. Maybe that’s just because I’m a Tajiri fan but this was one of the more entertaining matches of the night. I have no idea what they were expected to do with five and a half minutes other than a standard TV match but at least Tajiri got some strong pops. This was yet another boring match in a series of them though and that’s not helping anything.

Matt Hardy gives his brother a pep talk before Jeff defends the Hardcore Title. Rob Van Dam (Jeff’s opponent) comes in and blasts Matt with a chair.

Hardcore Holly is signing autographs at WWF New York but stops to yell at a fan in a WCW shirt. The fans literally loses his shirt and Holly is cheered because wrestling fans are mean.

Hardcore Title: Jeff Hardy vs. Rob Van Dam

Jeff is defending but this is before he was a big singles name. Both guys miss flips to start and the fans are WAY behind Van Dam (again the heel) here. Jeff gets out of a headscissors and that’s a standoff. Van Dam’s monkey flip is countered into a rollup for two as we’re still waiting on the hardcore stuff to start. A standing moonsault gets two for Rob and something like a lifting Pedigree sets up Rolling Thunder for two more.

Van Dam gets sent shoved off the top and into the barricade though, causing the fans to quiet down a bit. Jeff tries running across the top of the barricade but gets knocked into the crowd. They fight deeper into the people until Van Dam moonsaults off a wall to take Jeff out for two. Back to ringside with a spinning kick to the back getting two more on the champ. Rob takes a bit too much time to pose though, allowing Jeff to slingshot over the top into a sunset bomb onto the floor.

That means it’s time to pull out a huge ladder but Jeff takes too much time as well, allowing Rob to shove him off for a big crash. The champ comes back with some chair shots, only to have Van Dam catch him with a Van Daminator (spinning kick to knock the chair into Hardy’s head). Back in and Jeff gets two off a DDT with Van Dam bouncing off the mat. A German suplex gets two more on Rob but the Swanton misses, setting up Van Dam’s Five Star Frog Splash onto the title onto Jeff for the pin and the title at 12:24.

Rating: C+. Definitely the match of the night here so far despite the hardcore aspects being pretty loose here. These two always had chemistry and it’s amazing how much easier this was to sit through when it had more time and something for them to fight over. At least this was fun to watch for a change after nearly an hour and a half of dull.

Vince gives Kurt Angle a pep talk but Kurt doesn’t want to hear about Americana because he’s ready to fight tonight.

We recap Torrie Wilson/Stacy Keibler vs. Trish Stratus/Lita in the first ever bra and panties tag match. Trish and Lita don’t like each other as Trish is going after the Hardy Boyz but there’s no reason to believe Torrie and Stacy have any chance here as they’ve never done anything in the ring. Trish is still a long way off from being what you would call good in the ring but she’s way better than either of the Alliance women.

Trish Stratus/Lita vs. Stacy Keibler/Torrie Wilson

The first team to strip their opponents to their bra and panties wins. Mick Foley is guest referee again for a bit more logical move. It’s a catfight to start and I can’t imagine that’s going to change too often here. Torrie and Trish kick each other as this actually settles into something resembling a tag match. Trish suplexes her down and goes for the shirt but Stacy makes a quick save.

There’s a double clothesline to Torrie and Stacy, allowing the tag off to Lita. Things speed up a bit as Lita takes off Stacy’s top to set up a chase around the ring. The announcers treat this as the joke that it is as Lita gets double teamed and de-topped as well. Trish comes in and rolls Torrie up to get the pants off before Lita helps get rip of the top to basically eliminate Torrie. Lita adds a moonsault to Stacy before finishing her off at 5:02.

Rating: F. This was entertaining when I was thirteen but now it’s just embarrassing. The women look great and the fans were entertained but this stopped being about wrestling a long time ago and started being a way to entertain people with limited attention spans. This had nothing to do with wrestling of course and the announcers didn’t bother treating it as anything else.

Heyman and the McMahon children fire up the Alliance.

Vince comes in to see Austin, who has been goofy as of late (due to a back injury keeping him out of the ring for the most part) but is the old Stone Cold tonight.

Recap of the Invasion with the Alliance forming and going to war against the WWF. The main subplot is Vince trying to turn the hug loving Austin back into his old self which seemed to have work in the last week.

Team WWF vs. Team Alliance

WWF: Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Undertaker, Kane

Alliance: Booker T., Diamond Dallas Page, Rhyno, Dudley Boyz

This is dubbed the Inaugural Brawl. The only one you might not know is Rhyno, who was the final ECW World Champion and a monster with a great spear called the Gore. Shane and Vince get individual entrances while Stephanie and Heyman have to share one. Eight other entrances later and we’re FINALLY ready to go after fifteen minutes of recaps and entrances. The fight starts in the aisle before Austin comes out until he runs out to quickly get things going.

Austin stomps Rhyno in the corner to start before burying a knee in his ribs. The Thesz Press lets Austin hammer away even more and a superplex gets two with D-Von having to make the save. It’s off to Jericho for some chops of his own before Booker gets the tag and stomps away in the corner as well. Jericho armdrags him a few times and scores with the bulldog for two. It’s off to Angle for a very strong pop and he hammers away with right hands to Booker’s jaw.

Booker gets in a spinning kick for a breather and it’s off to D-Von for a bit of an unfair fight. D-Von charges into an elbow before it’s off to Kane, only to have Bubba break up a chokeslam attempt. The reverse 3D gets two on Kane as the Alliance gets their first real advantage. Since that might mean the WWF isn’t the most awesome thing ever though, Kane comes right back with a top rope clothesline on Bubba and a tag brings in Undertaker.

Old School connects but Page snaps Undertaker’s throat across the top rope to take over again. Page comes in legally for two off a DDT before Booker fires off right hands of his own. Again not that it matters as Undertaker shrugs it off and brings Austin back in to wear Booker out in the corner. They head outside with Booker being sent into the crowd and suplexed right back over.

Back in and Jericho has to fight off Booker and Page at the same time. That’s just fine though because he’s a WWF guy and the WCW World Champion is no challenge for him. D-Von finally helps by snapping his throat across the top and it’s Jericho taking a beating for a change. Jericho takes out both Dudleys and another hot tag brings in Angle as this continues to be almost all WWF with the Alliance offense having almost no effect.

A quick Bubba Bomb (seated full nelson slam) slows Angle down and Rhyno gets two off a belly to belly. Booker kicks him down and Undertaker has to make a save. Page’s helicopter bomb gets the same with Austin making the save this time, drawing himself a chant. What’s Up gets almost no response and Page drops Angle with something like a cobra clutch legsweep.

We hit a front facelock for the sole purpose of a missed tag to Austin, as is so often the case in a tag match. Everything breaks down and Rhyno Gores Booker by mistake. Undertaker chokeslams Page for some revenge but WCW referee Charles Robinson comes in to take the Last Ride in Page’s place. Austin is down holding his knee and D-Von sends Kane into the steps.

It’s table time but Kane chokeslams D-Von through the announcers’ table. The focus stays on this one fight as Rhyno helps Bubba beat Kane down. A double suplex puts Kane through the other table but Jericho shoulders Rhyno through a regular table. Everyone is down until Booker and Bubba double team Angle in the corner. Thankfully JR tells us that Undertaker and Page are fighting somewhere in the crowd.

Kurt gets in an Angle Slam on Bubba and the ankle lock on Booker but the referee is bumped. Shane punches Vince out and there’s an Angle Slam to Booker, who taps to the ankle lock. Austin throws in the referee and turns on the WWF with a Stunner to Angle, giving Booker the pin at 29:03.

Rating: C-. The match had its moments but they might as well have put up a countdown clock until Austin turned. They were pushing this idea of him saving the WWF WAY too hard, especially when the WWF still would have been favored if they were down 5-4 given these lineups. There were so many instances of the Alliance guys barely being able to put a dent in any members of the WWF team and it was clear who were supposed to look like the stars here.

If you need any other proof, look at the ending: the WCW World and US Champion was being beaten down until the WWF guy came in to lay Angle out. In other words, it took a WWF guy to stop another WWF guy as the top WCW wrestler and one of their best ever was being destroyed. As was the case all night, the WWF dominated but a single win and a WWF defection is supposed to fix it all? Really?

Austin and the Alliance leaders drink beer to end the show as JR freaks out.

Overall Rating: D-. And that’s being pretty generous. This was really the best they could put together in the first ever WWF vs. WCW (for all intents and purposes) show? That’s the kind of show people thought about for years and we get a bunch of thrown together matches, a pretty good Hardcore Title match (mostly minus the hardcore) and a long main event designed to remind us that the WWF team was by far and away better than their opponents.

In addition to that though, I was just bored with this show. The matches were mostly short (the main event was the only match to break thirteen minutes) and almost entirely forgettable as they had little to no story behind them and the action was bad. It’s clear that they thought the one angle at the end was going to make it work but when you remember Austin turning heel just three and a half months earlier, this really loses a lot of its steam.

This show was nothing short of a disaster with bad wrestling, a lame and predictable angle to end it and a HUGE waste of potential. This should have been one of the biggest shows of all time with months of build but instead we had weeks to set up a bad show. It didn’t help that the WWF, which owned EVERYTHING in this, was afraid to let anyone but themselves look good, which would plague the story to its very end. The Invasion was considered a colossal disaster and this was a big black mark against it right out of the gate.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.

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