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WWF RAW- July 2, 2001

by Scrooge McSuck

WCW Bagwell Booker

Presented LIVE on TNN from the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, WA. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. We recap some of the recent actions involving the WCW, including Linda McMahon making the announcement that the next PPV will be themed around the WWF vs. WCW rivalry. Ignoring revisionist history, the idea of WWF vs WCW was a big deal to me, especially since the product felt a little cold after WrestleMania with little interest in Undertaker as a top babyface chasing the WWF Championship.

Vince McMahon comes out to open the show proper. I've made this complaint in my 2002 recaps, and I'm sure it goes for most of the next 20 years, but one of my least favorite parts of the 2–3-hour format of TV is almost always opening a show with a 15–20-minute promo segment. The crowd jeers Vince, which I'm sure is irking him because that gives the impression that WCW are the babyfaces. Vince says July 22nd will be the greatest day in history when it'll be WCW vs WWF. Vince says there won't be an invasion, it'll be an annihilation. How can you compare WCW to WWF? That's like comparing our nation's capital in Washington D.C. to the state of Washington. Vince makes fun of their weather and all they're known for is growing a bunch of apples. WHAT IS THIS? Let's compare the WCW Champion, Booker T, to the WWF Champion, STONE COLD Steve Austin. Booker has no integrity, he's a sneak and a cheat, while Austin is a Champion of Champions. Vince is about to make a guarantee when he's cut off by the music of Kurt Angle, who has been sidelined since King of the Ring after suffering some significant damage in his street fight with Shane. Angle apologizes for the interruption, but Vince's words were so moving, he couldn't help himself, wishing everyone had a boss like Vince. Booker not only lacks integrity, but he lacks intensity and intelligence as well. We recap Booker's recent sneak attacks on Austin and Vince. I forgot Booker WASN'T treated as a total joke coming out of the gate.

Here comes Austin (still using the Disturbed remix of his music, but not for much longer), looking unhappy with the recent events. Angle promises to make sure Booker T never attacks Austin or Vince again. Austin wants to know how Angle is going to protect anyone with Stone Cold's foot stuck up his a$$. Austin and Vince don't need nor want Angle's help. The bottom line is Austin thinks Angle is a complete Jacka$$. Angle retorts that he's a hero, not a Jacka$$, and they go back and forth until Vince puts an end to it. Vince says if they want to go out it, then beat the hell out of each other if they must. They ready up for a fight, then end up taking turns hugging Vince. Well, that went a different route than expected. Now Shane McMahon interrupts. Ross is still treating Shane like a babyface, thankful this put an end to the Hug-Fest in the ring. Shane questions if this is Raw or an episode of Sesame Street. If this is Sesame Street, tonight's episode is brought to us by the letter “I”, which stands for “Invasion.” Shane says he's OK being the underdog at Invasion. He challenges Vince to an “Inaugural Brawl”, with the WWF's best against WCW's best. Tonight, history will be made IN THAT VERY RING when the WCW Champion Booker T defends the title against Buff Bagwell (neither man got an overwhelming response, but the crowd didn't poop on them, either). Tonight, R-A-W becomes W-C-W.

Bradshaw and Faarooq are backstage, talking about there being a mole in the dressing room, and promise to go mole hunting.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Albert (c) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Sara):

In no universe does it ever feel normal for the Undertaker to challenge for the Intercontinental Championship. We're deep in the middle of the “DDP stalking Undertaker's wife” storyline that everyone so fondly remembers. Speaking of being fondly remembered, Albert is still a member of X-Factor, though that group wasn't long for the world at this point. Albert won the belt last Thursday on Smackdown in a hell of a match that nobody expected to be as good as it was. We get the mandatory hoss fight face-to-face. Albert with a shove and he pounds away on Taker with rights. Whip to the corner, Taker ducks a clothesline and hits Albert with a side-angle back suplex. Taker drops a pair of elbows and charges into the corner with a clothesline. Albert counters a second charge into the corner, catching Taker in a bearhug. Taker goes to the eyes for the escape, only for Albert to cut him off with a pump kick. Albert meets an elbow in the corner and Taker bounces off the ropes with a diving lariat. Taker with the Chokeslam. He signals for the end, but DDP runs in and blasts Taker with a chair for the Disqualification at 2:47. DDP with a Diamond Cutter to put an exclamation point on it. Now he's picking a fight with Sara until Kane comes out. Sara gets to give DDP a low blow and they feed DDP to Undertaker, but Albert makes the save for some reason. I've seen worse from a 3-minute match featuring either Taker or Albert.

Torrie Wilson is wandering around backstage. The Fink greets her, letting her know he's the first-ever employee of the WWF. That's an incredibly long handshake, designed for Torrie to be creeped out. I guess we were due for our yearly "humiliate The Funk" segment. Torrie is looking for Vince McMahon's office, by the way.

Molly Holly (w/ Spike Dudley) vs. Crash (w/ Jacqueline):

Last Thursday, Crash and Jacqueline got into it after losing a mixed tag match to Molly and Spike, including Crash getting knocked on his butt. I guess they've made up since Thursday. I don't get Molly retaining the family surname, while Crash is just Crash. Crash brushes off a lockup and whacks Molly across the back. Molly takes advantage of Crash being distracted by Spike and takes him down with a spinning head-scissors. Molly with a victory roll for two. Whip is reversed and Jackie pulls Molly to the floor. Crash goes for a tope but catches himself on the ropes in an ugly botch. Back inside, Crash remains in control, taunting Spike. Jackie comes in to straddle Molly across the top rope, but SWERVE, she hangs Crash up on the top rope and Molly finishes with the Molly-go-Round at 2:02. If that wasn't enough, Jackie leaves Crash laying with a Tornado DDT. If you thought Crash's stock fell hard after his run as the King of the Hardcore Division, this was the nail in the coffin.

Vince McMahon, Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, and Steve's wife are in Vince's office, still steamed about earlier. Torrie Wilson enters, asking if she and Vince can finish their conversation from Thursday about a contract. Austin makes sure to give Vince a hug before leaving the room. Vince ogles Torrie on the way out, of course. Austin says Vince took the business out of the room because he didn't want to be in the same room as Angle, then Angle put the blame on Debra, with Austin reluctantly agreeing with him.

Last Thursday, WCW Tag Team Champions Chuck Palumbo and Sean O'Haire laid out Bubba Ray and D'Von Dudley, but for once, the WWF Locker Room intercepted them during the escape and put the duo through a pair of tables.

Backstage, Christian is admiring his reflection in Edge's King of the Ring Trophy. Christian talks about how he would be King of the Ring if the brackets were switched around and Edge had to face Kurt Angle in the Semi-Finals. Christian wants to make everyone proud by winning the Light-Heavyweight Title and takes the trophy to "get it polished.""

William Regal gives Tajiri a pep-talk while doing a great impression of Scotty 2 Hotty's Worm. He's interrupted by the Dudley Boyz, who want to know the deal about their match with Chris Jericho. Regal says word going round was Jericho might defect to WCW, so this is his punishment for not showing loyalty to the WWF.

Hardcore Holly denies being the mole. Bradshaw and Faarooq never thought it was him. Holly says they should think about who wasn't there when they beat the hell out of Palumbo and O'Haire, and who wasn't there when he jumped on the limo when they chased Shane and Booker T out of the building.

The parade of backstage segments continues as we find Torrie and Vince in a shower. Torrie says she's willing to do anything for a chance to be at the top. Torrie's acting ability is terrible, then I'm distracted by Vince coming on to her sexually. Thankfully, Steve Austin interrupts, asking what they're doing in the shower ("sometimes the best place to do business is in the shower"). Vince suggests finding a place a little more private as he stares at Torrie's rear.

Scotty 2 Hotty vs. Tajiri (w/ William Regal):

Color me surprised that solo Scotty is getting time on Monday Night Raw in 2001. Injuries must've really taken a toll on the roster at this point, with Crash vs. Molly also being on the show. J.R. lets us know that Scotty returned from injury on Thursday in a losing effort teaming with Tajiri. Tajiri with a side headlock and shoulder block. Scotty takes Tajiri down with a back suplex and follows with a series of elbows for two. Whip to the corner and Tajiri dumps Scotty to the apron. Whip to the corner and Tajiri traps Scotty in the Tarantula, triggering a loud “ECW” chant. Scotty counters a hurricanrana with a sit-out Powerbomb. They trade chops until Scotty plants a boot to the midsection. Scotty with a Super-Kick, knocking Tajiri out of the ring. Scotty with a baseball slide before sending Tajiri back in the ring. Scotty with the bulldog, setting up the Worm. Regal hops on the apron, distracting the referee from seeing Tajiri counter with the green mist, and the roundhouse kick finishes at 2:51. Even though Tajiri is hanging around a heel and doing a heel gimmick with the mist, the fans love him.

Vince McMahon brings Torrie to a sanitation supply room. Kurt Angle interrupts, asking what they are doing in a mop closet.

Booker T is trying to get a cold beverage from the vending machine when he stops Test passing by, asking if he was thinking about joining WCW. Test says it's all about the money, and maybe one day that belt will be his.

Chris Jericho vs. The Dudley Boyz:

The Dudley Boyz are the reigning WWF Tag Team Champions, but this is a Non-Title Match, of course. As we've discovered earlier, Jericho is in this spot as punishment for the rumor that Jericho would jump to WCW with the WWF Championship had he won the WWF Title at the King of the Ring. Bubba Ray and D'Von get the jump on Jericho, pounding on him in the corner. Jericho avoids an assisted avalanche, laying out Bubba Ray with a heel kick and knocking D'Von out of the ring with a clothesline. Bubba cuts him off with a Hot Shot and D'Von comes off the top with the family jewels diving headbutt. Bubba yells at the referee, allowing Jericho to roll him up for a two-count. D'Von with a whip and diving back elbow. Whip and the Dudley's with a double-team flapjack for two. Jericho fights off another double-team. He takes D'Von down with a bulldog and slams Bubba off the top turnbuckle. Jericho gets the better of the one-on-one with D'Von while keeping Bubba out of the ring. Walls of Jericho applied, but Bubba pulls Earl Hebner out of the ring. He whacks Jericho from behind with a clothesline and whips out a table. Here's Little Spike Dudley to even the odds, hitting Bubba with the Dudley Drop across the sternum of D'Von. Jericho with a Lionsault (that mostly misses) to pick up the three-count at 4:54. I'm not a fan of jobbing your Tag Team Champions in this type of situation under any circumstances. I thought it was an entertaining match until the finish.

Vince continues to be a pervert hitting on Torrie Wilson, including a make-out session that NOBODY could've asked for. They're interrupted for the umpteenth time by a flushing toilet and Perry Saturn walking around with a mop head.

Chris Benoit (accompanied by his wife, Nancy) visits the doctor for his neck injury. F*ck Chris Benoit.

WWF Light-Heavyweight Championship Match:
X-Pac (c) (w/ Justin Credible) vs. Christian (w/ Edge)

J.R. notes this is the first time Edge has carried around his own trophy in the company of Christian since winning it. There's one babyface in this match, and he's the guy holding the oversized trophy at ringside. Loud “X-Pac Sucks” chant. Lockup and X-Pac cranks on a side headlock. Christian counters a hammerlock with elbows to the side of the head. Crisscross and Christian cuts X-Pac off with a short clothesline. Whip is reversed and Christian catches X-Pac with a powerslam for two. X-Pac fires right back with a standing heel kick. He puts the boots to Christian and comes off the ropes with a sliding leg drop for two. Christian fights out of a chin-lock but runs into a spinning heel kick for a near-fall. X-Pac gets Christian in position for the Bronco Buster, but Christian cuts it off with a heel kick of his own. Whip is reversed and Christian counters a heel kick with a gut buster. Credible hops on the apron and gets decked by Edge. Christian “accidentally” whips X-Pac into Edge, then hits a reverse DDT. Justin Credible hops in the ring with the Light-Heavyweight Title, but Edge stops the interference. X-Pac recovers the fumbled belt, blasts Christian with it, and retains at 2:33. That finish had way too much going on for the bottom of the barrel Light-Heavyweight Title. I know the point is to continue driving a wedge between Edge and Christian, but we just saw a backstage segment where Christian was coveting Edge's trophy. We know the turn is coming.

Bradshaw is convinced that Test was the stooge. One of the referee's narcs that Test was last seen talking to Booker T. IN HIS DEFENSE, Booker T stopped him and initated the conversation.

Tazz is at WWF New York. Last Thursday, Tazz demanded an apology from Steve Austin for his assault on Michael Cole or have an apology beaten out of him. Austin rejects the offer and put a beating on Tazz in front of his hometown fans. If you think this is it for Tazz being humiliated by Steve Austin in 2001, then I've got a surprise for you.

Test vs. Rhyno:

Last week on Monday Night Raw, Mike Awesome, representing WCW (I know, because he had a WCW shirt on), attacked Rhyno and pinned him for the WWF Hardcore Championship in the hollowed grounds of Madison Square Garden. I guess the winner of this match gets first dibs at Mike Awesome “at Invasion on July 22.” Yeah, THANK GOD CARD SUBJECT TO CHANGE. Rhyno jumps Test coming through the ropes. Whip to the corner and Rhyno meets an elbow. Rhyno quickly shrugs it off and runs through Test with a clothesline. Suddenly, a large group of WWF Superstars (the underneath guys and the APA) make their way down the ramp. Test cuts Rhyno off with a Full Nelson Slam as the WWF guys (Haku! Jerry Lynn! K-Kwik!) get closer to the ring. Test goes for the Pump-Handle Slam, but Rhyno counters, pounding on the back of the neck. Test regroups, hitting a big boot. Bull and Hardcore Holly hop on the apron, distracting the referee as Bradshaw hits Test with a clothesline. Rhyno with the GORE-GORE-GORE for three at 2:13, and it's only a few seconds until the Geek Patrol put the boots to Test for being the alleged stooge, capped off by the APA giving him a double-team Powerbomb.

Matt Hardy & Lita (w/ Jeff Hardy) vs. Big Show & Trish Stratus:

What the hell is this? If you could honestly tell me that you remembered MATT HARDY was the European Champion at this point, I'd say you're a bigger fan of the WWF than I was. I don't remember who took the belt from him either. Remember, Trish was still a mostly untrained valet at this point, so don't expect much from her. Big Show's credibility took a huge hit in 2001. Last week on Raw, Trish forced a kiss on Matt, and Lita didn't appreciate it. Show backs Matt into the corner and unloads with knees. He tosses Matt across the ring and drops him face-first with a press slam. Trish tags in and is quickly swept off her feet. Lita with the tag and the trash talk is on. Trish with the first slap, and it's all Lita from there. Lita climbs the ropes, but Big Show stands in her way to save Trish. Show lays Matt out on the floor, then counters Jeff's dive off the barricade. Back inside, Trish hits the running bulldog for two. Lita counters the second attempt, sending Trish into the corner. Double low-blow and DDT on the Big Show, and Lita finishes Trish with a sh*tty Twist of Fate and Moonsault at 3:19. The action was awful, but the crowd was hot. Post-match, Show is a sore loser and teases assaulting Trish, but Jeff makes the save.

Vince McMahon is STILL trying to get Torrie alone. Meanwhile, Shane McMahon comes across Buff Bagwell, who is looking jacked and ready to go. He tells Shane he doesn't need luck; he relies on skill. He's Buff and he's got the Stuff.

The WWF Sunday Night Heat Patrol celebrate their Mole Hunting. Sgt. Slaughter interrupts the celebration, letting them know that he was with Test when he was missing from the scene of the crime last week, reminiscing about the Street Fight he had with Pat Patterson back in ‘81. Oh well, you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

Jim Ross and Paul Heyman reluctantly sign off and hand things over the rest of the broadcast to WCW. Oh yes, it's THAT MATCH, AND IT'S NEXT.

Shane McMahon makes his way to the ring, complete with a WCW graphic on the screen, WCW ring skirt, and WCW referee Nick Patrick with, you guessed it, a WCW referee shirt. Shane is still getting a decent babyface reaction for this segment. Scott Hudson and Arn Anderson take over the play-by-play and color commentary position, while Stacy Keibler does the ring introductions. William Regal (with Tajiri) interrupts the proceedings, telling Shane McMahon he will be escorted from the building.

WCW World Championship Match:
Booker T (c) vs. Buff Bagwell:

Watching this over 20-years later, it's surreal to see the WCW brand all over WWF television, on the flagship show, no less. Remember on the March 26th episode of Raw, when Vince McMahon polled the audience to gauge interest in some of the stars of WCW? Buff Bagwell received a surprisingly good reaction, considering he was never a WWF guy. As I've mentioned in the opening segment, Booker T's attacks on Austin and Vince have been well-received as well. I love Arn Anderson, but he's ATROCIOUS as a commentator. Buff attacks before the bell, unloading with rights. Booker fights back, only for Buff to rake the eyes. Whip to the ropes and Bagwell surprises Booker with a double-arm DDT for two. Whip to the corner, Booker brings up a boot and lays Buff out with a standing heel kick. Whip to the ropes and Booker with an elbow for two. Buff quickly regains control, hitting a Hot Shot and swinging neck breaker. The crowd seems distracted by something happening away from the camera as Buff slaps on a chin-lock. The crowd is already turning on the match despite a decent start. Booker fights to his feet and throws more right hands. Whip and Booker T with a glancing blow dropkick. The crowd rains boos on them as Booker makes another comeback. Whip and Booker with a diving forearm for two. Booker with a boot and scissors-kick, followed by a spin-a-rooni. The crowd pops... because Steve Austin and Kurt Angle rush the ring for the No Contest at 4:55. Buff joins Austin and Angle in putting the boots to Booker T. Meanwhile, Torrie Wilson removes Vince McMahon's trousers, only to pull a swerve and have Vince confronted by his wife, Linda. Now that their little side story is done, we return to the beat-down on Booker T, as he's thrown out the door. Buff celebrates taking the trash out and now it's his turn to feel the wrath of Austin and Angle, and he's thrown out as well.

What the f*ck was this? OK, the match wasn't the best, but what they were doing was perfectly fine, if a little sloppy since they probably haven't worked a ton in recent months, but the crowd rejected the match as soon as the bell rang, with jeering and chants of "boring" and "this match sucks" among others. The best reaction was for the top two heels doing a run-in. You can point the finger at a lot of things, but what reason holds water? Booker T and Buff Bagwell, while not the upper echelon of WCW stars as far as name value goes, were still credible names. Maybe Booker T came off as a heel doing so many sneak attacks? No, because the crowd popped for most of his appearances over the last week and a half. Was Buff working lazy? No, I don't think so. Buff was never a great worker, especially after the neck injury, but the crowd made up their mind before he went to the lone rest hold of the match. I don't buy the “well, they did the show in Tacoma” excuse. Tacoma gave a loud “ECW” chant for Tajiri, several thousand miles away from the defunct promotion's homebase of Philadelphia. If the crowd was deathly quiet, I might accept that, but they rejected the match hard, something I didn't see again from a WWE crowd until WrestleMania XX when the MSG crowd had zero tolerance for Goldberg and Brock Lesnar on their way out. Whatever the reason, this match and this crowd response was all it took for the immediate future of WCW as a stand-alone brand to be reconsidered, and as we know, the WCW name would only survive for so long on WWF television until it was quietly dropped in favor of the “Alliance”, which became the group of WCW and ECW talent, as well as defecting WWF Superstars.

Final Thoughts: WCW becoming a stand-alone brand under the WWF umbrella is still one of the biggest "what ifs" in company history. Eventually, the Raw and Smackdown brand split satisfied the need of two dedicated rosters receiving equal television exposure but imagine “WCW” under WWF management. What names would they have signed to bolster the Main Event scene? Were WWF guys going to be shipped to the WCW show instead of paying out Time Warner deals for the top names on the market? Would we get an early preview of what "WWE Presents ECW on Sci-Fi" would be? Despite the failure of launching a WCW exclusive television program, July 2001 would push forward with more debuts and surprises, and maybe we'll check in on more of the shows that bring us to Invasion.

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