Random WWE Raw – July 9th 2001: The Alliance is formed

Jamie Lithgow

Tonight I found myself randomly looking through one of the boxes of old wrestling videos that I haven’t quite gotten round to converting into digital format yet. In amongst quite a few Vengeance and Bad Blood events I found my old Raw and Smackdown tapes. You see when I was a youngster we only had Sky Digital so if I wanted to enjoy something at a later date I had to record things onto a video cassette. Me being a little sad I had videos specifically for Raw and Smackdown should my hectic social life prevent me from seeing it when it aired on Sky. I was going to write about Smackdown, because I wouldn’t have had to rewind that tape, however for some reason it has no wrestling on it, just Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. So I bit the bullet and rewound my Raw tape to find the entire July 9th 2001 episode of Raw is War.

To give you some background WCW has “invaded” WWE (at this point still WWF) and we are building up to the Invasion PPV. I could go on and on about the WCW invasion angle but I shall resist as much as possible. It’s just sad that most of WCW’s main players joined WWE the following year once their contract situations were sorted out. If they would have just waited they could have done some justice to this dream of an angle, plus the likes of Triple H, Rock and Benoit would have been back in contention for team WWE.

Anyway, back to Raw and how things have changed. For starters the show is actually called Raw is War and the theme is the ‘Thorn in Your Eye’ song, which I still love. The set is much smaller too, these days they are ridiculously large. Along with many other things WWE really nailed their presentation around this time.

The first part of the show centres around something that I had erased from my memory; Undertaker’s feud with DDP. Yeah, DDP being repackaged as The Undertaker’s wife’s stalker, it was as bad as it sounds. Here DDP and Shane put the beat down on The Dead Man before Page hits the Diamond Cutter on Sara, who subsequently gets taken to hospital. The scary thing is that this wasn’t a particularly special opening to the show by the standards of the time, but it was far more exciting than anything I’ve seen on Raw recently. Like many people I didn’t mind the fact that DDP got to square off with Taker, but the way he was repackaged was awful. It may not have killed his WWE career but it certainly damaged it beyond repair.

Up next there was a tag title match between The Dudley Boys and The APA. This was when the golden age of tag team wrestling in WWE was just coming to an end, bloody brilliant while it lasted though. Spike came down and smacked Bubba with a crutch to allow Faarooq and Bradshaw to become new tag team champions.

The first of many backstage segments involving Austin, Vince and Kurt Angle is shown. These three are hilarious together, not just funny for wrestling but genuinely funny in a general sense. The vibe we are supposed to get is that Vince is the father while Austin and Angle are the two sons, Austin being the elder. There’s also a hint of Uncle Phil about Vince and Will Smith about Austin because Angle acts exactly like Carlton Banks! There are several of these segments throughout the show, all of them brilliant. I love watching shows where it looks like the actors or participants are actually enjoying themselves, and here you can tell that as soon as the camera is off they are going to burst out laughing. It’s great to watch.

There’s a few throw away matches and segments next that I’ll cover quickly. Lord Tensai, sorry, Albert defeats Rhyno with the aid of X-Pac to retain the Intercontinental Title. Egged on by Austin, Angle challenges Booker T to a match later that night; Booker accepts and makes fun of Angle’s cowboy hat. Kane bursts into Commissioner Regal’s office and says that he’ll take Undertaker’s place in his handicap match later (Taker had already left to accompany Sara to the hospital). Big Show defeated Jeff Hardy, but Jeff didn’t really lose because he got off with Trish Stratus after the match, good lad! Chris Jericho joined Team WWE for the Inaugural Brawl at Invasion and Angle tells Austin and Vince that he doesn’t need their help against Booker.

Kurt should maybe have left the door open for a little bit of help because he got beat. Kurt Angle vs. Booker T was a high calibre match even by this point so it was obvious we weren’t going to get a full on encounter on Raw. There was plenty nonsense with the WWE and WCW referees and Shane McMahon also got involved.

Next Kane enters what he thinks will be a handicap match against Mike Awesome and Lance Storm but Chris Jericho, eager to prove his worth to Team WWE, comes down and offers to tag with the big man. They have a run of the mill tag match until the real story unfolds. From out of the crowd RVD and Tommy Dreamer, wearing ECW t-shirts, run in to make their WWE debuts. They put a beat down on Jericho and Kane while Awesome and Storm escape such treatment. The WWE locker room then hits the ring. Taz, The Dudley Boys, Justin Credible, Rhyno and Raven position themselves between the fallen Kane and Jericho and the ECW and WCW boys. Then in a superbly timed spot the apparent WWE guys slowly turn to face Kane and Jericho. The penny drops for the crowd, ECW is back! The ECW boys start a 10 on 2 beat down, although in a moment that totally typified the whole Invasion/Alliance angle Kane floors Bubba Dudley and two other ECW bodies before he starts to sell the ass kicking he’s receiving. Paul Heyman then abandons his post at commentary to join his troops in the ring and cut a killer promo proclaiming that “this invasion just got taken to the extreme!”

What an awesome segment this was, one of my all time favourite Raw moments. The way the guys slowly turned to face Kane and Jericho allowed the crowd time to figure out what was happening for themselves while it was happening. It was like the pieces of a jigsaw falling into place, it reminded me of films like Se7en and The Usual Suspects where an entire story falls into place in one epic moment.

From here everyone has to collect themselves because the show isn’t over. X-Pac heads out to defend his Light Heavyweight title against Scotty 2 Hotty. X-Pac wins but you would never have noticed because JR spent the entire match recapping what had happened on the show up until that point. Backstage Shane and Vince both agree to each put up 5 guys to make a 10 man WWE/WCW team to take out ECW in a 20 man tag match.

You know straight away that WWE are in for a pasting because they sent Billy Gunn and Hardcore Holly out to defend their honour. As expected WCW and WWE can’t get along so ECW give the WWE boys a spanking while WCW watch from ringside. ECW clear the ring and invite the WCW lads in to get a beating. They accept this invitation but instead of a mass brawl there’s lots of high fives, hugging and general bromance. ECW and WCW are together, shock, horror! If you know the history of ECW then you will know that this makes no sense, however Shane is about to make sense of things for us. Vince is at the top of the ramp looking quite upset about things when Shane informs him that WCW and ECW have merged and that the new owner of ECW is Stephanie, who then breezes past Vin-man on her way to the ring to cap off an epic Raw broadcast.

What a show this was, from start to finish this was great TV. It felt much faster paced than Raw is these days and there were certainly less internal WWE commercials and promotions. Every story line represented on the show took a big step forward. DDP put his hands on Sara meaning Undertaker will shortly put his hands on DDP. Jeff Hardy got lucky with Trish, Kurt Angle and Booker T lined up a future title match while the invasion angle exploded. Compare this to Raw this week, what storylines took big steps forward? Punk and Jericho still dislike each other, not much of step forward in terms of new information. Orton and Kane still dislike each other, again not much of a step forward. Lesnar and Cena are also rather upset with each other, although Lesnar now gets to use Vince’s private jet. I would bet that next week Raw might be fairly similar to what we saw this week, not just because of WWE’s slow pace but because it’s always the same cast of characters. In 2001 guys got the night off every now and then, it prevented over exposure and allowed more people air time. Even though top stars like The Rock, Chris Benoit and Triple H were long term absentees at the time it appeared as though WWE’s premier tag team Edge & Christian were still permitted a wee night off.

WWE has slowed the pace of its programming so much that I no longer feel compelled to watch every episode of Raw. Back in 2001 if I had missed a months worth of WWE television I would have been well out of the loop, I would have missed a whole load of twists and turns. These days I feel like if I stop watching for an extended period of time I should still be able to pick it up and not have missed too much at all. I would love for someone within WWE to look back at their old footage and do a compare and contrast because the differences run deeper than a new PG rating.

One thought on “Random WWE Raw – July 9th 2001: The Alliance is formed

  1. Pingback: Re-watching WWF Invasion 2001 « Ring the Damn Bell

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