ET CETERA - You can't spell "InVasion" without "nWo". Kinda.
Well, I’m back at university, and we’re knee deep in Monkey Ball. It is, without a doubt, one of the finest multiplayer experiences of, um, all multiplayer experiences. I would heartily recommend a night of curry, beer, and monkeys in spheres hurtling around golf courses and boxing rings. Of course, I would also recommend engineering your course so that you have no early mornings, in order to recover from playing said Monkey game until 2:00am, then making food at 2:20, then watching Jurassic Park until 5:00.
Notice how all my columns have been getting all serious lately? Well this one’s no different. Who’d have thought The Smarks would actually tighten up my writing? I dunno, maybe I’ll just save all the goofing off for Code Blue and try and provide some actual, y’know, content for this half of the column.
Anyway, you have been warned…
You can’t spell “InVasion” without “nWo”…kinda
Notice the slow build. Notice the instinct to pull the trigger and hotshot, but holding back. Notice the iron curtain, with nothing being given away. Notice the legitimate threat being put over. Notice the hyping towards a PPV that BEGINS the angle, not kills it in one go. Notice how all of this is being done for a glorified stable consisting of just three wrestlers.
WCW was an entire company; an entity; a consciousness; a heritage.
And they didn’t do ANY of the above.
So, one has to ask, “what if they’d handled the WCW InVasion the same way they’re handling the nWo invasion?” It’s a good question, and one that will be speculated over for years to come… or may be answered by the end of this page.
One has to ask exactly why the InVasion failed, and there are indeed a great many reasons – many of which are simply the opposite of the premises set out above. But I would argue that there are two principle reasons why the biggest angle in the history of the business failed so miserably:
The most obvious reason. It started off okay – WCW guys doing run-ins, stealing titles, costing faces big wins and so on. But then Vince got greedy, and decided to shoot his load too quickly, and instead of building an elaborate, drawn-out storyline rushed together what should have been a dream PPV in a few weeks, with wrestlers nobody cared about and matches nobody wanted to watch.
2) Lack of star power
Following on from that, when the story “played out” (if it really ever did that), it turned out that the only guys doing the InVading were second and third tier “stars” that nobody really cared about or recognised as legitimate threats. Booker T? He was never a draw in WCW, and at the time was doing a third-rate imitation of The Rock’s gimmick, making him more laughed at than anything by the WWF faithful. Palumbo and O’Haire? One guy with a perm and one guy who ripped off Jeff Hardy’s finisher, again making them more a hollow imitation that anything to care about. Where were the big names? Where was Steiner, Nash, Sting, Flair, and all the other guys that not only embodied WCW, but were proven draws and legitimate threats?
Nobody understood why Vince didn’t go with the slow build. For whatever he is or isn’t, he MUST’VE known that was the way to draw huge money out of the angle – he just must have. So why didn’t he do it?
The reason we were given for the stars not coming in was their deals. “Oh, we can’t bring those guys in because of their AOL deals, so we’ll just make do with what we have.” Well guess what? They bought Flair out of the last two years of his contract…months AFTER the InVasion was dust.
Now they’re bringing in Hall, Nash and Hogan…months after the InVasion is dust.
Sure, if they’d have brought them all in eight months ago, they would’ve had to pay a little more to offset the contracts. But then again, if they’d brought in the big names from the start, the angle wouldn’t have died a miserable death and could quite conceivably have been drawn out and drawn millions of dollars – certainly enough to warrant their purchases.
So, Vince CONSCIOUSLY decided against slowly building the WCW angle, only to use it months later with the nWo. And he CONSCIOUSLY decided against bringing in the big names, only to use them months later with the nWo. In other words, he CONSCIOUSLY decided against tactics that would have made the InVasion a success, in favour of using them with the nWo instead.
We could look at this and say hey, Vince is being smart; he’s learning from his mistakes, he’s listening to his fans, and he’s doing it right this time.
Or, we could open our eyes.
Vince McMahon never intended the InVasion angle to be a success.
Vince McMahon never intended to re-establish WCW as a legitimate, rival brand.
Vince McMahon never intended to let Ted Turner beat him. Or, at any rate, do as well as him vicariously through the continued existence of his company.
In hindsight, it all makes so much sense. The “split”, running two competitive brands – WCW and the WWF? Now he gets to do it with the same guys, but without the name “WCW” in the equation – now it’s just two groups of the WWF. And who better to compete with than yourself?
Vince was rebuilding. He saw the hole in his bank balance left by the failure of the XFL, and he saw the sorry state of his company caused by his absence in tending to that cancer-ridden relative. He saw the cycle bottoming out, and he saw the new stars on his roster that he created five years ago slowly reaching maturity, with no-one to take their place.
When he saw WCW for sale, he didn’t see the “dream match” opportunities – he saw a way to bury Ted Turner once and for all. He saw a way to restock his roster with fresh stars and fresh talent that he could mould into the WWF conscience. He saw the video library and heritage that will one day make him a lot of money.
A successful InVasion was the last thing on his mind.
Instead, he looked at the possibilities that we all thought were so obvious. Bring in the stars…build the angle…DO IT RIGHT. You see, we all though that Vince did it WRONG when he “screwed up” the InVasion.
He just got it out of the way as quickly as possible – gave us a dose of WCW (and eventualy ECW) for just as long as was necessary to “show some willing”. Just long enough to kill off every other national brand and reinforce what he started twenty years ago: “It isn’t ‘wrestling’, it’s ‘sports-entertainment.’” Now, “it isn’t ‘wrestling’, it’ ‘WWF.’”
He did it before – killed off all his competition, made sure that he was the only game in town, so it would be near impossible for anyone to build a brand with anywhere near the recognition of his, guaranteeing him and his company success. But he made the mistake before of leaving another game in town – what would eventually become WCW.
Now, everyone who’s anyone is gone. Even ECW – who despite the shattered state of their company, could still conceivably have been bought and risen from the ashes. Who’s left now? The NWA? CZW? The WWA? The XWF?
You see, Vince saw a way to stage dream matches without the risk of “losing” to WCW: He just buried them. Now, he can have those matches with everyone wearing a WWF t-shirt. And before anyone says that the nWo was pure WCW, get real: the nWo was the storyline WWF, made up of WWF-created guys, representing the WWF, invading and beating the hell out of WCW. Vince couldn’t have booked it better himself: He sent his boys over to destroy WCW the first time. The second time, he destroyed it himself. Now, his boys have come back home to fight the final battle.
Vince McMahon IS a genius – we’re all just too smart to realise it.
Geez, try and imagine JR trying to sell Hogan’s offense: “He’s going for the big boot – GOOD GOD! HAVE MERCY ON THE ROCK’S SOUL! LEGDROP! LEGDROP! LEG-BY-GOD-DROP!”……Wanna know how influential JR and Malenko’s push for a cruiserweight division has been? Kaz Hayashi asked for his release so he could go back to Japan……Stone Cold and Lawler are okay, but Vince is the guy everyone REALLY wants to see on Weakest Link……Actually, that was one thing about the nWo era that they SHOULD copy; main event’s might be boring as hell, but they can have dynamite cruiserweight matches on the undercard. Well, y’know, if it wasn’t the WWF……Everyone’s pissed that wrestling is 8th on E!’s list of shows you don’t want people to know you watch. I’m just surprised it didn’t wind up a lot higher……Smackdown did a 5.7? Told you he knew what he was doing……So, Harvard Chris reckons he’s going to the WWF to feud with Maven? Ah, to be an indie worker……I love the way that on Byte This!, they’re all trying to play down the locker room issue with the nWo guys, saying it’s not a big deal, then Droz goes and craps all over it and says that it’s trouble. I miss Droz……Remember when the big dream match was Austin-Hogan-Taz?……There’s a great interview at Chairshots where Francine basically shoots all over Jon Langer’s “SuperFed” that never happened. Remember kids, anything that the Road Warriors endorse as being any good MUST be crap……Hey, Legends of Wrestling……Jimmy Hart? JIMMY HART? Like they even use mangers any more. And I can’t see Jim Johnston being too thrilled either……Speaking of Francine, she said she didn’t want to go to the WWF because all the girls there have to wrestle and take bumps. And aside from Stacy (and Torrie, when she was ever on TV), that’s about right. C’mon Vince, ease up so we can have Francine and Dawn Marie. I hear Lance and Justin are looking for a manager……They’re trying to run THREE SHOWS a day, inlcuding shows oppisite a live RAW? Okay, maybe he doesn’t know what he’s doing……I REALLY hope that “paid advertisement” gimmick is on Smack!Down……Head on over to IGN GameCube to see shots of the new THQ WrestleMania game for Nintendo’s new baby……Hardy Boyz……Hardy Boyz……Hardy B……
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from the boys:
Ed Moretti says "Grab a hold, kid...they'll get with it in a minute".