Every wrestling fan has a favorite time period. The older crowd might say the 80's and earlier, the next generation might say the 90's to the Attitude Era. For this writer it was during the invasion off the WWF/E. The moment Shane McMahon announced that he purchased WCW and ECW seemed like a dream. There was no way that the WWF was going to merge with WCW and ECW and actually have all the matches that wrestling fans have fantasized about. Then, on May 28, 2001 LIVE on Monday Night RAW, Shane McMahon struck the first blow with Lance Storm super kicking former WCW star Perry Saturn and running out of the arena. The first shot in the war had been taken and then fantasy became reality.
For those of you who don't know, in July the WWF put out a pay per view called "Invasion" where ECW and WCW would put out their best against the WWF's best. Some the matches included Edge and Christian VS Mike Awesome and Lance Storm, Jeff Hardy VS RVD for the Hardcore title (this may have been the match of the night), and a few others (go back and watch it on the network. It's a great night of wrestling and entertainment). The main event pitted the WWF's A-Team of Captain Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, and Kane VS the WCW/ECW team (Now going as the Alliance) Captain Booker T, the Dudley Boyz, Diamond Dallas Page, and Rhyno.
In the end, it was The Alliance taking the victory after Stone Cold went turncoat after giving Angle and Stone Cold Stunner and Booker T got the pin. The Invasion Era had a ton of defections on both sides throughout the ten plus months that the feud went on. Most notably was Kurt Angle switching sides. In the end, it was a trick by Kurt Angle the whole time. He got his revenge on Stone Cold by costing him the match and most of the members of The Alliance their jobs.
There will never be a time period like this again. Three iconic companies and wrestlers who were thought to never get the chance to compete against each other in their primes (or close to it). Some of these stars took this opportunity to boost their careers and elevate their statuses from zero to hero, from mid-carders, or to just be relevant in general. So let's give out some awards to the people during the "Year of Invasion".
This award goes to the performer who had biggest impact during the invasion in the ring and with the crowd. And no one had a bigger impact on the WWE during that time than Mr. Monday Night, The Whole Damme Show (point your thumbs to yourself and say it with me), Rob Van Damme. Most wrestling fans knew who he was before he came to the WWF, but the ones who didn't immediately fell in love with him. Some people wondered if he could be as good as he was in ECW without using chairs and other foreign object to in matches. Those worries were quickly debunked. RVD went on to dominate matches and have a ton of memorable moments during this time and after. He also beat everyone put in his way. The Rock, Stone Cold, Kane, Angle, and even the Undertaker all fell to RVD's Five Star Frog Splash. He was easily the Alliance's MVP.
Kurt Angle spent a lot of time doing his best to hold the WWF together. While Taker and Kane were chasing adn then defending the tag team titles and Chris Jericho was too busy trying to prove that he should have been the man, Kurt Angle was having wars with Stone Cold. Eventually Angle would defect and and join The Alliance, but it was all a plan to make sure the WWE won the final match at Survivor series to make sure that all the WWF stars could keep their jobs. He was definitely the most popular among the WWF stars during that time. The wars he had with Stone Cold were some of the best of the year.
Booker T was already a world champ, but he was stuck with unbelievably horrible gimmicks. When Booker T got to the WWF he was used like an actual person. No more G.I. Bro or random black guy. He was used for his skill and his ability to actually be entertaining. His scene with Stone Cold in a supermarket is still the top five funniest bits that the WWE/F, ECW, and WCW have ever done. Booker T went on to become King Booker and it seemed like he was having the time of his life playing this character. He even got to work with his wife.
The knock on Chris Jericho was that he could never win the big one. Whenever he was given a shot at the world title, he would lose. He became so bitter that he pretty much became evil (#HeelTurn). Jericho carried this hatred for losing and being called choke artist into the post Invasion era and became the first WWE Unified Champion. That is all great, but it was how he did it that made it so special. First, he beats The Rock for the WCW title and without any time to rest, he has to face Stone Cole and then he beats him too. While Jericho was always amazing, if it wasn't for Invasion and his role in it, it's doubtful Jericho would have ever become World Champion. At least not so soon.
Wish you were here:
Of all the people who were missed during all of this, Sting was probably the one that fans would have loved to have seen more than anyone. Sting is to the WCW what Hulk Hogan is to the WWF. He may not have the technical skill of a lot of other guys, but he is the icon and more than likely would start off as a memeber of the Alliance and then almost certainly leaves after Stone Cold asks him to do something that he just completely doesn't agree with. What happens next? We get Stone Cold - Sting and who doesn't want to see that in 2001?
Triple H being injured for that extended period of time was easily the biggest tragedy of them all. You gotta wonder, does he side with his now wife as an angle and Stone Cold stays with the WWF? Does Kurt Angle still have the great feud that he does or does he get pushed into having meaningless feuds and doesn't have the giant save foe team WWF at the end? Who knows. Regardless, Triple H would have been a great addition.
Best Tag Team:
Seriously, could this award have gone to anyone except the Dudley Boyz? They remained dominant regarldess of who they fought and became the only tag team to hold the ECW, WWF, and ECW tag team titles. There isn't much to say about them. Well, except that the only team better than them is possibly...
The Brother's of Destruction beat the snot out of everyone and that is not an exaggeration. They dominate and destroy everyone who came in their way. Honestly, is anyone really shocked? It's Kane and The Undertaker. If you need further proof, watch their cage match against Kanyon and DDP when Kanyon flat out left DDP.