"WCW is going on the shelf! It's going nowhere! WCW is buried!" -Vince McMahon
The WCW/ECW Invasion. Where do I begin with such a beautiful creation? When the angle jump started a week before Wrestlemania X-7, wrestling fans were finally going to get what they always wanted: WWF vs WCW. It's like every great fantasy sports match we will never get to see, wrapped into four weekly hours of TV and one monthly PPV. But no, the Invasion ended up being another excuse for McMahons vs McMahons and Vince burying WCW stars.
I'll be the first one to admit it. As a 13-year-old mark, I ate up a lot of The Invasion and enjoyed a good part of it, at the time (I was a damn, young fool). I cheered every time Team WWF won and booed every time Team WCW/ECW lost. Going into Survivor Series 2001, I was worried that I'd turn on Raw the next night and see Chuck Palumbo wrestling Sean O'Haire in a #2 contender's match for the WCW Mid-Light-Heavyweight TV Championship. But, Team WWE was able to beat the great WCW/ECW stars such as Steve Austin, Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon.
At the end of the day, The Invasion angle did two things: it got Kurt Angle over as a #1 babyface (even though he was back to a heel before it ended) and turn Chris Jericho into a legit World Champion. While both were good, it shouldn't take what was suppose to be the biggest angle of ALL TIME to do either one of those two.
The biggest problem with the Invasion was that all the big time WCW stars that should been involved in the Invasion CAME AFTER THE WCW INVASION ENDED. Flair, Hogan, Nash, Hall, Steiner, Goldberg. That is where our story begins. While the summer/fall of 2001 was supposed to be the feud to end all feuds, it was Wrestlemania X-8 that actually gave us the 'dream WWF vs WCW matches' (I use the term dream match loosely for some of these matches).
DDP vs. Christian
This isn't really a dream match and it wasn't even their first match-up ever (The Wrestlemania X-8 match was their fourth match of 2002), but it was a fun little European Title feud. It's hard to complain when a veteran tries to help a young talent move up the ladder. It's a shame that Vince McMahon didn't know he had Diamond Dallas Page and confused him with this guy. I imagine Sting watching that video every time he thinks about coming to WWE.
Edge vs. Booker T
This WCW/WWF match was a better version of the match above, with a better backstory. You had Booker T, a former tag team specialist who was looking to get back to the top of WWF. You had Edge, a former tag team specialist who was looking at his first step to the top of the WWF. Also, both had really cool hair. This is another stepping stone match that the Invasion angle seemed to be missing. This ended up being Edge's first post-tag team singles match at Wrestlemania. It took 4 years, but both Edge and Booker T won a World Title in 2006. On a similar note, Stevie Ray and Christian spend their weekends at 'Jannettys Anonymous'.
Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall
It's the two greatest beer drinkers of all time in the history of their respective business. This match has a stink to it in that it was a replacement for Austin/Hogan and it was only 10 minutes in the middle of the card. Nevertheless, I would of loved to watch this match live back in the early 90s, just to see these two fly around the ring. I honestly can't believe that....you know what....all I have to say about this match was it gave fans the greatest Stone Cold Stunner in the history the business (Sorry Rocky). And even though Austin won the match, Scott Hall won the drinking war...in a squash match.
The Undertaker vs. Ric Flair
In my opinion, no two men embody WWF and WCW than The Undertaker and Ric Flair, respectively. Ric Flair wrestled in the last official WCW match ever and if WWE folded today (and he can still walk) The Undertaker would wrestle in WWE's last match. I also love clashing gimmick feuds (CM Punk vs Jeff Hardy, Goldust vs Razor Ramon, etc), so what's better than an Angry Blue Collared Biker vs a Stylin' and Profilin' Rich Boy? Two, dirty, do-anything-to-win type of wrestlers in a street fight. What's better than that? (Please don't say Kaynon).
The Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan
Icon vs Icon. Arguably the two biggest crossover stars in the history of the business. An electric atmosphere with a classic Wrestlemania feel. Now that I got that out of the way, Hogan tried to kill The Rock with a Semi-Truck! Forget about the amount of people Hogan has buried, how many storyline attempted murders has he committed? Back to my point. When Shane McMahon appeared on the last Nitro in Panama City, fans expected that most WWF vs WCW matches would be like this. People wanted to see the best of the best in WWF vs the best of the best in WCW. Nobody wanted to see Undertaker and Kane vs Kronik. Nobody wanted to see the WCW/ECW Alliance become nothing more than a really crappy version of the NWO. Nobody wanted to see Buff Bagwell do anything. We wanted what we were promised. WWF vs WCW.
So, what have we learned today about WCW vs WWF? We learned Wrestlemania X-8 was where the real WWF vs WCW matches actually happened and delivered. Second, if you want a main event angle do really well, try to limit your McMahons (see Invasion and Wrestlemania X-8 main event). And finally, I will never forgive Vince McMahon for doing this and the Impact it had on the wrestling business today.