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  • Connor Ewens

Fantasy Booking: Wrestlemania X-8 (& The Invasion)

We've got a lot to cover today so let's keep this short and sweet. Wrestlemania 18, that was certainly a show wasn't it? Following the lucrative but bitterly disappointing Invasion angle, WWE was business as usual when their yearly flagship came around. Here is a quick card reminder:

William Regal (c) vs Rob Van Dam, IC Championship

Diamond Dallas Page (c) vs Christian, European Championship

Maven (c) vs Goldust, Hardcore Championship

Kurt Angle vs Kane

Undertaker vs Ric Flair, No DQ

Edge vs Booker T

Billy & Chuck (c) vs APA vs Dudley Boyz vs Hardy Boyz

The Rock vs Hulk Hogan

Jazz (c) vs Trish Stratus vs Lita, Women's Championship

Chris Jericho (c) vs Triple H, Undisputed WWF Championship


Of course the show stealer was Hogan vs Rock, a match so hype that it burnt out the crowd and they failed to bring back the noise for the main event, The show is overall pretty solid, A few good matches and only 1 real stinker being the hardcore title match. The main event though, like Wrestlemania 2 years prior, was considered a let down. There is a case that both Austin and Angle deserved higher profile matches, their feuds feeling underwhelming considering the hot 2001 they both had. I have a plan on how to improve this show. WWE, this is how its done.


We have a lot of content to unpack, because lucky reader you're getting a 2-in-1 special because I am going to quickly rebook the entire WCW Invasion angle. Assume if I have left out any important names it is because they are injured, suspended or otherwise unavailable. They rushed the whole thing, did not have enough star power representing the WCW/ECW Alliance and did not book them strong enough at all. I'm not going in to crazy depth, otherwise we will be here all day talking about what to change but I'll cover the important notes. At Wrestlemania X-Seven I had Austin leave as WWF champion not fully heel but he was definitely acting like one to win his title back. Shane defeats his dad and tells him after that he never bought WCW, he just said he did to get what he wanted. He does know who did though, warning his dad to expect to see him in the near future. This is the last we see of Shane for some time. Here is a quick brief of the champions leaving Wrestlemania X-7; Steve Austin is WWF champion, Chris Jericho is IC champion, William Regal is European champion, Dean Malenko is Light Heavyweight champion, Dudley Boyz are Tag Champions, Chyna is Women's champion and Crash Holly is Hardcore champion. Over the next couple of weeks Vince ignores his loss to his son and instead gloats his victory over WCW. Paul Heyman, former ECW owner and now on commentary with Jim Ross, starts receiving messages from an unknown number, instructing him to pass on information to Mr McMahon. The first message reads "The Invasion is coming soon, but first we must kick up a storm." That same night, Lance Storm makes his debut in the company targeting Chris Jericho. Jericho challenges Storm to a match at Backlash with the title on the line, Storm wins it and takes the IC championship with him. He leaves and we don't see him for the time being. WCW have stolen the IC belt.


The next message Vince is given reads "Thank you for your IC championship, in return we have sent you some innovation." That same night, Chris Kanyon debuts and targets William Regal (innovation is a reference to Kanyon being referred to as the Innovator of Offence). At Judgement Day, Kanyon defeats William Regal to win the European title, again he disappears and the title is not seen on TV. On the same show, Lita should defeat Chyna to win the women's title. Vince and other members of the roster are starting to get concerned about this whole WCW situation. It is here when Triple H gets injured and we don't see him for the rest of the year. I would also take Stephanie off screen too. Heyman gets a third message, reading "You tried to compete with us, but our division far outclasses yours." The WWF expect a new face that night but no one comes out. Instead, it is the following Smackdown when WCW cruiserweight champion Billy Kidman debuts and attacks Dean Malenko. This sets up a match between both champions at King of the Ring, Kidman wins the Light Heavyweight title and again leaves the arena. Before the end of the PPV though, a camera catches up to Kidman out in the parking lot and he destroys the LH championship with a sledgehammer before throwing the pieces out of his car window as he leaves. The Light Heavyweight title is retired here, Kidman acknowledged as the last champion titles. Vince and the locker room are starting to get concerned about this WCW business but Mr McMahon says there is nothing to worry about he will have it under control with extra security. The fourth message he receives reads "we are marching closer to your front door. Next time you see us, we will be doing double the damage." The next PPV event is Vengeance (we don't get an Invasion PPV before Summerslam) and Crash Holly holds on to his Hardcore title like he usually does, but he is attacked and pinned backstage by a man in a hoodie, revealed to be RVD. He does a runner with the title. Later that night, during a tag team table title match between the Dudley's and Edge & Christian, RVD returns through the crowd alongside two other men. The current WCW tag champions Sean O'Haire and Chuck Palumbo, the Natural Born Thrillers. The put both teams simultaneously through tables, declare themselves as the winners and leave, stealing the tag titles.


In the lead up to Summerslam, the entire locker room is paranoid and pissed off with the recent actions and lack of response by the WWF. WCW have stolen every title except for 2. Between Wrestlemania and Summerslam, Steve Austin has seemingly began to unravel. He realises he is not in his prime anymore, he is not the man he once was and it takes him a lot more effort to retain his title. He becomes increasingly more desperate to hold on to his title and seeing all of the other titles slowly disappear from sight only makes him grow more and more paranoid. Austin starts accusing Kurt Angle of being a WCW mole, how else can WCW be so efficient at getting their job done. The accusations gain traction when the final message left for Vince reads "Intensity, Integrity, Intelligence." There must be a mole. Austin and Angle are at each others throats, and that is when The Rock returns. He talks about how much as changed since he was last here. Angle found some testicles, the WWF is getting embarrassed by the competition they supposedly defeated and Austin looks like a shell of his former self. This sets up a marquee main event triple threat; Austin defends the WWF title against Kurt Angle and The Rock. For the main event, McMahon has upped security even more and even has some of the locker room stood on the ramp ready to go. As the match goes on, we begin to see some of the WCW talent appearing one by one through the crowd, including the WCW US champion Diamond Dallas Page. Vince demands his roster and the security chase them down. While they go on the hunt for the invaders, that allows the run in from WCW's world champion, Booker T. He runs in and stands across from WWF champion, then he lays out Angle with his WCW title. Austin and Booker double team Rock and Angle, Austin hits them both with stunners, pinning Angle to retain. There is a look in Austin's eye, like he isn't sure if he has done the right thing, but he is relieved to still be champion. At the top of the stage stands all of the title holders; RVD, Billy Kidman, Natural Born Thrillers, Chris Kanyon, Lance Storm, DDP, Booker T and their newest recruit Steve Austin. Paul Heyman on commentary stands up and takes off his headset, he has a big smile as he applauds this supergroup. He walks over, shakes Austin's hand and raises it. The invasion has begun.


Heyman explains that he also is not the buyer of WCW but he has been hired as the owner's personal advisor. They were right, there was a mole and it was him. They think it is disgusting how Vince and the WWF think they own wrestling, well the WCW refuse to die and they have only just begun to dismantle the WWF. Heyman says he will spill blood for the death of ECW. Then from there, we pretty much have what we got in a real life for a little while, a weekly war between WCW members and the WWF guys. We don't have 'The Alliance', it just complicates things. ECW was great but they were never in direct competition with WCW and WWF. Shane and Stephanie definitely should not be involved with WCW and ECW. You can have the WCW undercard be used as invaders, gives them something to do. The next PPV is Unforgiven where the following happens; Brothers of Destruction defeat the Natural Born Thrillers to win both WCW and WWF titles and they destroy the WCW titles retiring them, Kurt Angle still wins the WWF championship from Austin since this is the first show following 9/11, Molly Holly debuts as a WCW member and defeats Lita for the women's championship. Also around this time, Christian turns heel on his "brother" and joins WCW out of spite and jealousy that Edge is the favourite. Regal also defects to WCW, as does Raven and Rhyno join out of loyalty to Heyman. After that we have the No Mercy PPV where; Angle successfully retains the WWF title against Austin, Trish Stratus defeats Molly for the women's title, Edge wins the US title from DDP, the Dudley Boyz win a 4-team tag match to win the Tag titles but then later turn heel and join WCW out of respect for Paul Heyman. In between No Mercy and Survivor Series, I'd have RVD drop the hardcore title to Perry Saturn but Rhyno wins the title back for WCW shortly after.


2001's traditional November PPV is dubbed Survivor Series: Invasion. Heyman convinces Mr McMahon to agree to a show full of wagers. Both world titles will be defended in triple threat matches, with 2 WCW wrestlers in the WCW title match and 2 WWF guys in their the WWF title match. Every title is defended on the show, as well as a 8-man elimination match with Vince's ownership of WWF on the line against the ownership of WCW. Heyman confirms that not only will we finally find out the WCW buyer at Survivor Series, he will compete in the match. Mr McMahon assembles a super team of Undertaker, Kane, Jeff Hardy and the returning Mick Foley. Heyman confirms DDP, RVD and Raven for the WCW team. Here is a breakdown of how that goes down:

-Rhyno (WCW) retains the Hardcore title against Big Show (WWF)

-Chris Kanyon (WCW) retains the European title against Matt Hardy (WWF)

-Tajiri (WWF) defeats Billy Kidman (WCW) for his Cruiserweight title

-Al Snow & Perry Saturn (WWF) win a tag team turmoil match for the Tag Championships. (I honestly just want to see a both Head and Moppy in a tag team together, that sounds ridiculous levels of stupid fun.)

-US Champion Edge (WWF) defeats IC Champion Lance Storm (WCW) to unify both titles

-Jazz (WCW) debuts and beats Trish Stratus (WWF) for the women's title

-The Rock (WWF) defeats Booker T (WCW) and Christian (WCW) for the WCW title

-Chris Jericho (WWF) defeats Steve Austin (WCW) and Kurt Angle (WWF) for the WWF title


In the 8-man main event, the 4th man and the mystery buyer of WCW is revealed to be the Nature Boy, Ric Flair. It actually looks like team WWF are going to get the win and end the war, however they are rocked by another big betrayal. Newly crowned WWF champion Chris Jericho runs down and helps Flair get the pin over Jeff Hardy, Vince McMahon has been removed from power. After the match, Vince is beaten up by all of the guys and they spray paint a black WCW on his back. The following few weeks, Flair believes he now controls the WWF and starts making changes with one notable one being the next PPV. The first ever WWF edition of Starrcade and he says history will be made as the WWF and WCW titles will be unified. Chris Jericho's reasons for betraying the WWF is that WCW was his home, ruined by assholes who flexed their creative clause. He has respect for Flair as a legend, plus he always felt that there was a ceiling in the Fed who clearly favoured the likes of the Rock, Triple H, Kurt Angle etc. On the last Raw before Starrcade, we have the return of both Shane and Stephanie McMahon. At first they turned an eye to this whole invasion because they thought their dad needed a lesson taught in humility. However, they realised that this is not just war on Mr McMahon, it is an attempt to destroy the WWF entirely and they won't allow that to happen. They still have their own stakes in the company and use it to try aid the WWF guys when they can. So, at Starrcade we have some significant things happen; Matt Hardy defeats Kanyon to become the European champion and the Dudley's win back their tag titles. Chris Jericho defeats the Rock to be the first ever Undisputed WWF champion. One major development though is with Booker T. He has grown tired with the clear preferential treatment towards Austin, Jericho and other WWF guys. He feels that the initial cause has been lost and begins to turn face, eventually leading to him attacking Austin here and running way from his former allies. That sets up the Booker T vs Austin feud but with the face/heel roles reversed, because I still want to see Austin kick Booker's ass around a supermarket.


At the Royal Rumble, RVD defeats Edge for the IC championship and WCW's resident superhero the Hurricane defeats Tajiri for the Cruiserweight title. Jericho retains his title against The Rock in a big rematch. In the final stages of the Royal Rumble match, we have one entrant left to enter and 6 men in the ring. The only WWF representative is Kurt Angle. The rest are Steve Austin, Christian, DDP, Lance Storm and the returning Mr Perfect who doesn't have any confirmed allegiances just yet. Number 30, is the return of Triple H. He comes back and helps his former foe Angle clear out the field until we are left with 3. Austin, Angle, HHH. All 3 men with a lot of history together stare each other down. Triple H eliminates Austin, leaving him and Angle to fight for the title shot. A mini match within a match, but Angle dumps out Triple H to win the Royal Rumble. Whilst the Game's return was highly anticipated, I think it makes more sense for Angle to win here who is probably the top face in the company outside of the Rock. At No Way Out, we still have the classic debut of the nWo, tease that match between Hogan and Rock. Austin ends his feud with Booker T with a victory. Jericho retains his title against Triple H thanks to Austin's interference. A "peace talks" between Flair and the McMahon children brings out Vince for the first time in 3 months. They lay it all out for Wrestlemania X-8, everything on the line. Every title and control of both WWF and WCW, under one condition. Whoever wins, doesn't punish the WCW or WWF talent. Anyone who is capable and worthy of competing here at the top level should be kept around. They agree, signing a contract for the most important Wrestlemania of all time.


Phew. Now, with aaaaaall of that out of the way, it is time to actually talk about what happens at Wrestlemania X-8. The show begins with a title unification bout between IC champion RVD and European champion Matt Hardy. These two titles get unified a few months later anyways, so why not just do it now. A competitive match, RVD hits the five star frog splash to win the European championship and is the last champion in the lineage.


After turning face and leaving the WCW team, Booker T takes the time to prove his worth to the WWF locker room and is slowly winning them over. DDP is the most hurt by Booker swapping sides, saying they were tighter than anyone else and now he feels like he never knew him. They have a match scheduled and both McMahon and Flair agree to offer the winner a world title match. Booker T gets a win in his first Wrestlemania and will face the winner of the world title match at the next PPV.


2 teams repping WCW and two for WWF partake in a 4-way elimination tag match for the Tag Championships. The Dudley's (WCW) are the champions taking on the UnAmericans Storm & Regal (WCW), The APA (WWF) and Tazz & Spike Dudley (WWF). I know that the UnAmericans didn't form until later in 2002, but just do it earlier. I'd have Storm, Regal and Christian begin working together as a part of WCW and form the group at the start of the year. These 4-team matches are usual quite a bit of fun. I'd have Tazz and Spike pick up the win and hold the tag gold.


After Rhyno won the hardcore championship in 2001, he removes the 24/7 rule and defends it consistently defeating any and all challenger. He feuds with Jeff Hardy, who is able to take all the punishment and still keep getting back to his feet. Rhyno makes it his mission to destroy Jeff Hardy. They have a hardcore war around the arena, Rhyno does eventually win pinning Jeff on an upper section of the arena but he still sees Jeff slowly trying to get up from the beating he has took. So, Rhyno throws Jeff off a platform down through a pile of tables and whatever to cushion his descent. Jeff is needed to be stretchered out by medical staff. Rhyno looks pleased.


So around October Christian betrays Edge to join WCW, becoming a nasty little heel. Edge is really torn up about it and when he is challenged to a match with Christian, Edge cannot bring himself to fight him. Christian finds himself some allies in Lance Storm and William Regal to form the UnAmericans and they cost Edge his match at the Rumble, making him lose the IC title. Edge makes an ally out of fellow Canadian Test who pushes Edge to stand up to his dickhead brother in front of his hometown at Wrestlemania. The match is finally set for a clash of "brothers". It is all going well for Edge, until he is once again betrayed, this time by Test who big boots him behind the referee's back, allowing Christian to win by pinfall. Test joins the UnAmericans and explains it was all a ruse so that they could get Christian his Wrestlemania win, proving to be better than Edge.


Jazz has held the women's title since Survivor Series and has been on a run of dominance ever since. Lita and Trish are not friends but they form a loose alliance to try and overthrow the seemingly unstoppable Jazz from the top of the division. The two women wrestle a good match, but of course the dominant Jazz walks out still the number 1 woman in the company.


The nWo are back and they are running roughshod throughout the company, they represent WCW but they don't seem to care who they cross paths with. Hall & Nash call the Outsiders the greatest, most dominant tag team in wrestling history. There has never been another duo in WCW, WWF or anywhere who can bring the pain quite like them two. They are interrupted by the Brothers of Destruction. Kane and Undertaker absolutely disagree with that sentiment and start fights with the Outsiders. It is another tag match at Wrestlemania for the Undertaker, I wasn't planning on this but I realised that the best team to stand up to the Outsiders are these brothers. Undertaker and Kane vanquish their black and white foes, Undertaker goes 10-0 at Wrestlemania.


The rivalry between Steve Austin and Triple H is one that can be retraced years. Both men have never liked each other, they probably never will. Triple H returns as a face at the Rumble and has come to help save the WWF. He is disgusted by how Austin turned his back on the company who turned him into a star. Austin retorts "Did they make me a star or did I make the company a crap load of money?" Austin recalls how Triple H couldn't cut it in WCW and he would have failed in WWF too if he wasn't banging the boss' daughter. Whilst we have seen them feud a lot, this is the first time with the face/heel roles reversed so it is definitely quite different. This should be a no DQ match, Triple H scoring a clean victory over the Rattlesnake on the grandest stage.


After his appearance at the Royal Rumble, Ric Flair announces Mr Perfect as a WCW signing. Perfect says all he wanted was to wrestle, but Vince forced him into commentary and that is why he left the company. Legends Flair & Perfect will team up as they take on Vince & Shane McMahon in a Street Fight. It is a back and forth garbage brawl full of spots and weapon use. I'd have Big Show make an appearance to help the McMahon's dispose of Flair & Perfect, winning the war for WWF and all of the company control going back to McMahon.


For the first time since the first Wrestlemania, the WWF championship does not main event the show. I'm normally the type of guy that says "the world title should always close the show" but there are specific circumstances when that shouldn't happen. Wrestlemania X-8 was one of them, thanks to hindsight I can book the correct main event. Chris Jericho defends the Undisputed title against Kurt Angle. It would be another great match, plus Jericho isn't playing third wheel to a HHH-Stephanie love triangle. He can play the weak heel, but if he isn't going to win cleanly then he needs to be booked as a smart champion which is what Jericho is. Angle won the rumble and they have been in and around each other for the last year and a bit. Give them 15-20 minutes to work their magic. I would have Jericho retain his championship here, he can hold it for a couple more months before dropping it to the Rock ahead of his match with Brock Lesnar at Summerslam.


So yeah, the show really should have been main evented by Rock vs Hogan, right? It's nothing remarkable from a wrestling standpoint, however the crowd reactions, involvement and the crowd work by both men is god tier. No one has the audience in their palm like these two. I'd still have Rocky go over, then he turns face and helps the Rock fight off Hall & Nash who run to deliver an nWo beating. Rock and Hogan close the show doing poses and stuff to send the crowd home happy.


Here is a quick recap of my rebooked card:

RVD (IC) vs Matt Hardy (European), Championship Unification

Booker T vs DDP, number 1 contender for WWF Championship

Dudley Boyz (C) vs The APA vs Spike Dudley & Tazz vs UnAmericans, Tag Championships

Rhyno (c) vs Jeff Hardy, Hardcore Championship

Edge vs Christian

Jazz (c) vs Trish Stratus vs Lita, Women's championship

Brothers of Destruction vs The Outsiders

Steve Austin vs Triple H, No DQ

The McMahons vs Ric Flair & Mr Perfect, Toronto Street Fight

Chris Jericho (c) vs Kurt Angle, Undisputed WWF Championship

The Rock vs Hulk Hogan


Following Wrestlemania, they introduced the first ever draft with the brand extension which I think flows nicely after the end of the Invasion. It means that you can split people up and begin new feuds and stories away from the one running story we've had for the last year. What did you think of my booking? This had a lot more meat on it, because the Invasion angle was so significant to the year that it is weird it has zero representation at Wrestlemania. I didn't have to, but to me rebooking the Invasion made sense and also made it easier to structure a brand new card that way. Let me know what you think, check back here tomorrow when we talk about Wrestlemania XIX. The hipsters who say Wrestlemania X-Seven isn't the best will usually say this is the best one. Another tough challenger for rebooking. Until then, take it easy.


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