Which Was Better: Invasion 2001 or Backlash 2000?
Posted by Justin Watry on 08.01.2014
411's Justin Watry examines the evidence to see which event was better: the Invasion PPV in 2001 or Backlash 2000!
Last week, the large majority of you thought Summerslam 2002 was better than Summerslam 2005. While I am not going to argue the poll results, my suggestion is to give Summerslam 2005 another view. The event more than gives Summerslam 2002 a run for its money and speaking of money - that inspired this week's column. As I noted last week, Summerslam 2005 is actually one of the most purchased non-WrestleMania pay-per-views of all-time. All time! Surprising? Maybe. Not on my end. WWE was on a roll in summer 2005 and presented a very marketable main event. However, that begs the question. What other non-WM events drew monster buy rates during this generation?
Well, thank you for asking. Not too shocking, most were from 2000-2003. Goes without saying I suppose. While going through the list, I knew Invasion 2001 had to be covered (top buy rate number). Then it came down to Backlash 2000 or Royal Rumble 2002. When comparing cards, I went with Backlash 2000. Not because it was better or worse than Royal Rumble 2002 but because it lined up in a more perfect way with Invasion 2001 match by match. Yes, there is a (somewhat) method to this all. Enough rambling for this opening. Bring on the debate!
Just a friendly reminder: I do not use the comments section nor do I up/down vote anything. Sorry!
Which Was Better: Invasion 2001 OR Backlash 2000?
Build/Hype for Invasion 2001 - I have said this before and will again. I thought the entire WCW/ECW invasion story line during 2001 was entertaining. So great. The memorable Shane/Vince McMahon confrontation six days before WrestleMania 17 was when this all really began. Then the WCW teases with Lance Storm showing up and 'recruiting' going on. So much fun. Obviously, the turning point was when ECW returned on Monday, July 9th (still remember the date) with Paul Heyman and other superstars turning. Even better, RAW ended with Stephanie McMahon being revealed as the new ECW owner while Jim Ross yelped like never before. Amazing moment that night! The constant drama of who would show up next, who was debuting, who was returning, who was defecting sides, etc. I loved it all. Minus the Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell nonsense of course. So many memories during that entire time frame. The icing on the cake - six days before Invasion, Stone Cold returns as the "old" Stone Cold just giving stunners to every WCW/ECW star in sight while (again) JR screams on commentary. Man, I was so pumped for the event after that. No wonder it drew such a massive number.
Build/Hype for Backlash 2000 - This was interesting. WrestleMania 2000 had just delivered a dud. Maybe the worst Mania ever in my opinion, which concluded with a trademark screwjob/double cross. Fine for any other show. Not for Wrestle FREAKIN' Mania though! How dare Triple H defeat The Rock to retain the WWE Title. How dare Vince McMahon turn heel (again). The fans deserved an excellent followup to that, and leave it to LINDA McMahon to deliver the goods. After HHH lost (but never lost) the title on Raw to Chris Jericho, it was full steam ahead to a Backlash main event against The Rock. Only Linda thought somebody should be in Rocky's corner to help even the odds. None other than Stone Cold Steve Austin! A huge 'pop' for that announcement. Backlash 2000 was sold right then and there. The Rattlesnake was coming back after getting hit by a car months earlier at Survivor Series 1999, and there was no way HHH was retaining his belt. Guaranteed new champion with The Rock...AND Stone Cold coming back? Money. Yeah, the under card was nice and all that, but wow! That main event was more than enough to push numbers waaaaay above average.
Tag team matches at Invasion 2001 - Edge and Christian may have been teasing a break up, but they stuck together long enough to defeat Lance Storm and Mike Awesome in a not so awesome opener. Solid but forgettable. Decent way to kick off the show. APA vs. Mark Jindrak and Sean O'Haire actually was a fairly big deal. WWE tag champs vs. WCW tag champs? Sure, it was non-title, but pride was at stake here! Not gold. As expected, APA won clean as can be after seven minutes. Nothing to it; good video package hype though. In six man tag team action, Kanyon, Shawn Stasiak, and Huge Morrus defeated Big Show, Billy Gunn, and Albert. Albert was IC Champ at the time if you can believe it. Four minute match with WWE dominating before and after the bell...yet lost. Final tag match of the evening (main event discussed below) was a bra and panties match with Lita and Trish Stratus taking on Stacy Kiebler and Torrie Wilson. Just because, Mick Foley was randomly the referee. Nice video promo hyping up the clash but standard stuff once the bout began. Trish and Lita won, walked up the ramp, and almost fell off the stage. As you can see, lots of filler to get everyone on the card but decent enough action.
Tag team matches at Backlash 2000 - Fun opener for the tag belts. Edge and Christian defeated X-Pac and Road Dogg by using the ring bell to retain. It was around this time I started to miss Billy Gunn. Road Dogg just was not the same without him. Not sure who was heel or face during this but whatever. Disappointing the Edge and Christian had the WrestleMania 2000 classic and follow it up with this. Big Bossman and Bull defeated The Acolytes in seven minutes. Nothing to it sadly. Test and Albert beat The Dudleyz thanks to a distraction from Trish Stratus. Such a great story line. Bubba (or is it Buh-Buh?) Ray was obsessed with putting Trish through a table, win or lose. He just became possessed over the thought. Even hinting at a relationship between the Bubba and Trish, fans got their moment. Test and Albert won, but Trish got put through a table. Over 14 years later and a whole new era later, apparently somebody still thinks it is 'cool' to be putting untrained women through tables...then again, their company name is quite ironic.
Light Heavyweight/Cruiserweight match at Invasion 2001 - On paper, X-Pac vs. Billy Kidman may not seem like much. However, the had a certain aura surrounding it for two reasons. First was the fact that The Alliance was getting crushed in the head to head 'score' during Invasion and NEEDED a win badly. All the major names gave Kidman a pep talk beforehand to motivate him. Also, even though he was presented as a WWE guy, fans did not really get behind X-Pac. The two went out there had a non-title match and saw Billy Kidman do as requested - win for he Alliance.
Light Heavyweight/Cruiserweight match at Backlash 2000 - The belt was on the line in this one. Dean Malenko was the perfect man to carry around the Lightheavyweight Championship in 2000. Scotty 2 Hotty, on this night, was also the perfect opponent. It is a shame he never had a lengthy title reign the Attitude Era (tag or singles); fans loved Scotty. These two actually had a couple very good bouts with the gold on the line (Scotty got a short title reign in there). These two got 13 minutes at Backlash 2000 but could have went on and on and on and on. Malenko retained the title.
Hardcore Title match at Invasion 2001 - Hey, a title match! Nice of Invasion 2001 to squeeze that in there. Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy for the Hardcore Championship? Does that qualify as a dream match in 2001? Maybe. In terms of match of the night, this is a strong candidate. Basically, they brawl all over the arena and do everything you would expect from RVD and Jeff Hardy. Plus, it was a rare face vs. face match during this entire feud because the live crowds would not boo Rob Van Dam. To this day, he has not been a heel in WWE. After a few high flying mishaps, RVD won the Hardcore title. Great match.
Hardcore Title match at Backlash 2000 - Six man cluster. True to form in 2000. Crash Holly took on Hardcore Holly, Tazz, both Hardyz, and Perry Saturn. My theory on that match happening was that WWE wanted to forget/top the WrestleMania 2000 Hardcore Championship mess. Thus, they involved less wrestlers this time and added the Hardyz to actually features MOVES and not just weapon shots. My theory only. In that sense, this was a success. In the literal sense, this was a 'waste' of Matt and Jeff Hardy, who were coming off a show stealing performance at WrestleMania 2000. Regardless, Crash won by pinning Tazz.
BURIAL at Invasion 2001 - Note the sarcasm for this section. The ECW roster was not BURIED a this event. The WCW roster was not BURIED at this event. In fact, they beat WWE more than lost. Despite what all the armchair bookers and conspiracy theorists have said for over 10 years now, WWE did their best with this all. Newsflash folks: The "WCW" still left in mid-2001 was NOT truly WCW anymore. The glory days and heyday of the company was long behind them when WWE bought them. Sting was not showing up. Bill Goldberg was not showing up. Hulk Hogan was not showing up. Eric Bischoff, Vince Russo, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Rey Mysterio, Ric Flair, and every other name you want to discuss was NOT an option. You had what you had. All the amount of 'fantasy booking' in the world is not going to change reality.
BURIAL at Backlash 2000 - Big Show (dressed as Hulk Hogan) defeated Kurt Angle in two minutes. If that happened to a young talent in today's era, the reaction would be "Stupid WWE! BURIED! Done. Why do THAT? Wah, wah, wah." Yeah, you know it is true. Kurt Angle went on to win the King of the Ring tournament and WWE Title months later, while feuding with Rikishi, Triple H, The Rock, Undertaker, and other top stars in late 2000. Big Show did...nothing at all and was off the main roster. Boy, what a burial, huh? For some reason, fans still obsess over wins and losses in 2014. Barring a few exemptions, they mean nothing. Nothing! Again, Angle lost to Show in two minutes at Backlash 2000...and well, we saw how that ended up.
Main event for Invasion 2001 - The Inaugural Brawl. Five on five. The WCW/ECW Alliance versus The WWE. Nothing but bragging rights on the line. Diamond Dallas Page, Rhyno, Dudleyz, and Booker T vs. Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Kane, The Undertaker, and Stone Cold was the main event. What a cool lineup. Add in the whole hype around both sides putting it all on the line, the "old" Steve Austin showing up, and everything else? Awesome time to be a wrestling fan. As most already know, after a long battle and pure chaos all over the ringside area, Stone Cold turned on WWE. Gave Kurt Angle a stunner, let Booker T get the win for The Alliance, and celebrated with a beer bash with Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon, and Paul Heyman. Obviously, Jim Ross was crowing like never before during this all. Shocking conclusion (even though they should a fan sign saying as such) but the wrong kind of shocking for many reasons. WWE tried twice with Stone Cold as a heel in 2001. Both times had huge audience watching on PPV, and both times quickly drove them away.
Main event for Backlash 2000 - This is how WrestleMania 2000 should have ended. The Rock pins Triple H for the WWE Championship. Maybe not have Stone Cold help him, but that works too. Epic WM moment there. Instead, we got the payoff four weeks later at Backlash 2000. The plan clearly worked to hook the Mania audience and convince them to shell out PPV money for one more event here. Mission accomplished. The Attitude Era featured MANY brawling-type of overbooked main events. On this night, it all came together. Earl Hebnar, Linda McMahon, Vince McMahon and his stooges, Shane McMahon as referring, and the Texas Rattlesnake all played cameos here to lead to The Rock FINALLY becoming WWE Champion again. Excellent main event and lots of fun. Wrestling at its finest.
Overall: Really, this goes back to my television ratings discussion from last week (Hi TNA!). Do not celebrate and party when numbers go up but then tell me how terrible the Nielsen system is and every other excuse when they are down. That is hypocritical. Either they count or they do not. Pick a side. Same with PPV buy rates. If we all agree that epic build ups delivers epic buy rates, then that goes for Backlash 2000 AND Invasion 2001...and all the recent WrestleMania events breaking records. Do not pick and choose when you want to use your argument that quality is subjective. I happen to think Backlash 2000 was better but also recognize the monster buy rate Invasion 2001 delivered and the historical value as well.
One big plug: On Sunday night, I will be posting a special edition of my column Jay's Ways (over on NoDQ) for all of YOU! Using the comment section below, on THIS very column, it will be a classic 'Ask Me Anything' style. Wrestling related or not, let me have it. Comments, feedback, questions, whatever. As usual, the only rule is no cuss words or anything insulting. You all have the next day or two to comment below. Then check out Jay's Ways later this weekend for my answers...