THE JOHN REPORT
The Good and Bad Things About Invasion plus a Preview
The month of July is traditionally a slow month for the WWF. In the past the
July PPV (usually named Fully Loaded) has done a good job of leading us into
the second biggest PPV of the year in August, that being Summerslam, but
this year it has a greater responsibility. In the past two weeks the WWF has
done a marvelous job in promoting a PPV that could end up being the most
important in their history. I know that's a cliched statement but in this
case it may really be true.
In today's column I've decided to take a closer look at several key things
heading into Invasion that you should keep a close eye on. For every good
thing I will write about there will be a bad thing to counteract that. At
the end of the column I will throw out a prediction or two as well so when
all is said and done I think you'll know what I think about the PPV and what
I think should happen heading into Summerslam. Without further Apu, here she
Good: Interest is High
The ratings for Raw & Smackdown have increased slightly in recent weeks and
many insiders are predicting that Invasion's buyrate will top everything
else from this year except for WrestleMania. That's saying a lot because the
Royal Rumble & No Way Out were exceptional PPVs that had good buyrates
themselves. Now that the WWF has a larger audience again with a renewed
interest in the business I hope they capitalize on it with a good show from
top to bottom. I think they will but we won't know for sure until it's all
over at 11pmET on Sunday night.
Bad: Nothing is on the line
While the WWF vs. WCW/ECW factor provides fans with new matches that they
can sink their teeth into, there really is nothing at stake at the PPV. The
casual fans usually make a big deal about who has what title but at this PPV
there are few belts on the line. In fact, off the top of my head the only
one I can think of that's on the line is the Hardcore title. What about the
WWF World, IC, Tag, Light Heavy or European titles? What about the WCW
World, US, Tag or Cruiser titles? A lot of those champions will be squaring
off but if nothing's on the line why should we care? My guess is they will
save more of that stuff for Summerslam although if it was me I know I'd want
to book for this month rather than next month. This is what happens with hot
shot booking though.
Good: Steve Austin is fresh again
This subheading may have you scratching your head especially coming from a
huge Austin fan like me. Well, the point of the "fresh" comment is that
people are starting to talk about Austin a lot again. His merchandise was
the top seller on WWFShopzone.com this week for the first time probably
since he turned heel back in April. The pops he received on Raw & Smackdown
this week were enormous. Sometimes it's hard to put an emphasis on the main
dog because he's already at the top of the mountain but the WWF has done a
good job of making Austin the centerpiece of the Invasion storyline and it
has been great to see.
Bad: Steve Austin is hurting
The downside of all this is that Austin is still in pain from injuries
suffered at King of the Ring. Jim Ross reported on Friday that he has three
broken bones in his back and two in his hand yet he's still going to give it
a go at Invasion. He'll be okay in about two weeks but until then he will
wrestle in only one match, the Invasion PPV. He has only participated in one
match since King of the Ring and that was the forced tag match on Smackdown
this past Thursday. Thankfully, Austin doesn't have to give us a memorable
performance like he did at No Way Out or WMX7 because he'll be in the ten
man tag and that will allow him to wrestle safely without causing more
injury. Hopefully he'll be closer to full health by Summerslam because they
need him, whether as a face or heel, as much as anybody.
Good: Paul Heyman's Promos
Every time Paul Heyman opens up his big mouth you can't help but listen.
He's the kind of guy, like a Jim Cornette, that no matter what he says he
always manages to capture an audience's attention. I loved the promo from
Raw two weeks ago when ECW formed and he continued that this week with his
promos. I'll miss his commentating work but he is a valuable promo guy so at
least we'll still get to hear from him.
Bad: Stephanie's Promos
I can't stand daddy's little girl. She annoys the hell out of me. I know she
plays a heel and she's supposed to do that but it's a different kind of
annoying. Her ego is too big to keep her on the sidelines so she has to come
in and steal the spotlight from Heyman and the ECW guys. I mean, why does
the faction need three non wrestlers cutting promos? Heyman and Shane are
fine but Steph needs to shut up. Pass the microphone to capable promo guys
like Tazz or Raven and get the hell out of the way. Plus, what's with the
push up bras she wears? One day she's as flat as an ironing board and then
on Smackdown she stuffs her bra with toilet paper to make them look bigger.
Please, gimme a break. Either get a boob job like everybody else or stop
trying to pretend. Another thing I've noticed is that when the WCW/ECW team
walks out for their promos the WCW women, Stacy & Torrie, are never there.
Is that because if they were out there Stephanie would be overshadowed by
the actual, you know, good looking women? Nah, couldn't be. I don't think
she is ugly or anything, I just think she has to stick with one look and
keep it. Maybe I'm being too hard on her or maybe I'm just speaking the
truth. You figure it out.
Good: Referee Match should be funny
As a wrestling fan for over seventeen years now I still laugh every time I
see referees fight. Nick Patrick is especially great as he oversells
everything very well and he is by far the greatest corrupt referee I have
ever seen. The old "arm cramp" trick will never get old with me.
Bad: Referee Match could be ugly
While it is good for comedy I sure hope it doesn't last more than three
minutes. There's not a whole lot they can do out there so I'd expect just a
huge brawl, if you can call it that, with all the refs coming out to fight
with eachother. If it goes longer than three minutes it could be trouble as
the novelty will wear off and they will be exposed as two people who should
not be in a match. Still, I'm looking forward to it as good comedy in a
Three Stooges sort of way.
Good: Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy
Before I tell you why this is good let me explain why I'm not a big RVD fan.
When he wrestled in ECW his ego was out of control. During his matches he
would pause for long periods of time during moments where he could have been
keeping the action fresh by doing the little things (e.g. punches, kicks,
etc.). He would have match good 25 minute matches that could easily have
been great 20 minute matches. Those are some of the little things that
separate the great ones (Austin, Flair, Hart, Michaels, Benoit) from the
good ones. In the WWF RVD won't have to worry about that. Right now he is
just one of the boys although in a few months he could easily be at the top
of the card. That's how much talent he has. It's just a matter of
incorporating the little things into his game and once he does that he'll be
there. He is the best athlete in the business today and on Sunday those that
don't know that already will get a chance to see it. If this match goes at
least ten minutes it has the chance to be the best one on the card as long
as RVD avoids his old bad habits (resting, posing, etc.). It'll be a classic
for the lovers of those Sabu spotfest type matches but it also has the
chance of being a good wrestling match too if they try to make it a match
rather than just a stunt show. With a good performance here I think RVD will
vault himself into the top three wrestlers for the WCW/ECW faction and based
on his great job on Smackdown I am expecting him to do that.
Bad: Two WWF Title Holders are not wrestling
As a PPV that is supposed to be the biggest test in the history of the WWF I
think they've forgotten to include two people that should be there. Albert
(IC Champ) and Matt Hardy (Euro champ) are nowhere to be found on the card
at this point. I'm not going to sit here and say that Albert needs to be
there because he is great (that would be a lie) but he is the IC champion.
It's supposed to be the #2 title yet the champion isn't on the card. What
does that say to me? It says that Albert should not be the IC champion. They
should have put that belt on somebody like Edge or Christian or somebody who
is at least on the card. The same can be said for Matt Hardy. I think they
can always add a match like Matt vs. Dreamer for Heat or the PPV but it
would have been nice if they would announce something like that beforehand.
The point is that if a guy is holding a title for your company he should be
wrestling on what is supposedly the "most important PPV in WWF history."
Good: The Bra & Panties Match
Well, duh. Need I say more?
Bad: Mae Young isn't there!
While the bra & panties match is sure to be five stars on the smut scale it
would be even better if Mae Young was a part of it. Yeah, there's no denying
Who the hell am I kidding? I was ready to write a really sarcastic paragraph
about the lack of Mae Young at the PPV but I couldn't stomach it. I'm still
having mental flashbacks of Royal Rumble 2000. Ughhhh.
Good: ECW Theme Song
It's the best music in the wrestling business. Every time I hear that song
from the TNN show I get excited because it's just so damn good. While we're
talking about music I'm also glad the WWF kept Booker's and Kidman's music
because I like those themes as well.
Bad: Some of the new WCW music sucks
I am a fan of Shane-O-Mac's theme song but I don't like the ones that DDP,
Mike Awesome and Lance Storm come out to. Ah well, it's only theme music so
there's no point in complaining too much.
Good: Jim Ross
During the past two weeks of shows JR has done a superb job in getting over
the storylines for the PPV. His enthusiasm for the business is always great
to hear and because of him the last four shows have been entertaining to me.
Bad: No Color Commentator
When Jerry Lawler left the WWF earlier this year to tour the indy scene with
the Road Dogg (now there's excitement!) I wondered who would pick up the
slack as an announcer. Luckily Paul Heyman was there and to my surprise he
turned into a really good announcer who did a great job of advancing
storylines and providing a laugh or two. With Heyman now having an on air
role with ECW the spot is open again. Rumors of Lawler returning will always
be there but I'll believe it when I see it. Until then it looks like we'll
have to hear Michael Cole as the color guy. There could be somebody new by
the time Invasion hits on Sunday but I doubt it will be somebody with
experience (Lawler or Heenan) so JR will have to do an even bigger carry job
in the weeks to come.
Good: Vince McMahon as a babyface
It's about time Vinny Mac had a babyface role. He has played a good heel for
the better part of four years now with a few brief runs as a babyface. Those
stints as a face rarely lasted for more than two months though so hopefully
this time it does last. People are ready to cheer Vince and if you ask me
it's about damn time.
Bad: I've run out of topics
Hey, maybe this is a good thing. You decide.
A Quick and Painless Invasion
For those of you who have asked me if I am going to do previews again on a
full time basis the answer is still no. However, because this is the first
"inter-promotional" PPV in wrestling history I feel the need to throw a few
predictions out there. It may not be the World's Greatest anymore but it is
still written by "that idiot who doesn't use his last name" John C. So, for
the second time in this column, here she blows...
Billy Kidman vs. X-Pac
This should be a good match because X-Pac has been working hard lately and
Kidman seems to have found a love for the business again. He was unmotivated
during his last days in WCW although I can't really blame him for that. I
think X-Pac will take it because he lost cleanly during their Smackdown
match and if you know X-Pac you know there's no way he jobs two times in a
Tazz vs. Tajiri
Remember their ECW matches with Tajiri getting his ass kicked by the
no-selling monster (or midget) known as Taz? Well, those days are over and
it's time for Tajiri to get his revenge. I think Tazz needs to be near the
front of the ECW/WCW storyline but he needs more work in the ring before
that so look for Tajiri to go over here thanks to help from Willie Regal.
Earl Hebner vs. Nick Patrick
Picking a winner here is irrelevant but for prediction's sake I'll go with
Patrick. I think we'll see the other referees get involved here too so it
could be pretty funny or really ugly depending on how much patience you have
Winner: Nick Patrick
APA vs. Sean O'Haire & Chuck Palumbo
The Acolytes are not the best opponents for O'Haire & Palumbo to showcase
their athleticism so this one could be ugly. I think the WCW guys will take
the win here thanks to interference from somebody. I'm guessing it'll be
guys who aren't on the PPV like Stasiak and/or Kanyon although I would like
to see a clean pin for the WCW/ECW team at some point in the night.
Winners: O'Haire & Palumbo
Edge & Christian vs. Lance Storm & Mike Awesome
Shouldn't the tag belts be on these guys instead of the ones mentioned
above? Some people have wondered why they haven't re-formed the Impact
Players team of Storm & Justin Credible. I'll tell you why; it's because
Awesome is better than Credible. Need any more explanations? I think this
will be a really good match with four solid workers although what do you
expect when you have three Canadians in there? I think Storm & Awesome will
take this one because they were humiliated on Smackdown and they could use
the win a lot more than E&C.
Winners: Storm & Awesome
Trish & Lita vs. Stacy & Torrie
Four hot women, three of them have boob jobs, two of them have no business
in the ring and one of them wears skirts so short that they look like a
collar. How's that for a countdown? Anyway, I have no idea who will win nor
do I care. That doesn't mean that I think this match shouldn't be here. I'm
glad that it's here. In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing a rematch every week on
Raw. Just don't tell my wife I said that! I'll take the WWF girls to win
although I think by the end of it all four babes will be in bra & panties so
the fans are the winners.
Winners: Lita & Trish
Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy
Like I said earlier this will be the sleeper match on the card. For Van Dam
this is probably the most important match in his career. A good job here and
he's mostly likely on his way to the top. A mediocre performance and he
could be sucked into the vast land known as midcard status. I think this
will be great because these two are the best flyers in the business today
and with a hot crowd behind them there's no telling what they can do. I
think RVD will take it here with the Five Star Frog Splash most likely
coming from some place other than the top rope, maybe a ladder or something.
Winner: Rob Van Dam
Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho vs. Booker T.,
DDP, Rhyno, Dudley Boyz
This one has to go at least twenty minutes because it's the one match people
will remember from this PPV. With ten guys in the match they will be able to
keep everybody fresh so it could turn out to be really special. I don't
think it will be as good as the Calgary Stampede '97 main event or the ten
man tag from the Dallas Raw back in February 2000 but it should be a
compelling match on its own. I think the end will see seven of the wrestlers
on the ground brawling while three people remain in the ring. One will be a
WWF guy, one will be a WCW guy and the other one will be Steve Austin. Let's
say the two guys are Taker and DDP. They'll be battling when Austin goes up
to Taker suggesting they double team Page. Instead, Austin will hit the
stunner on Taker to let DDP get the pinfall for the WCW victory. A victory
for the WCW/ECW team in this match is crucial. They are the heels so they
need the first big win. That's what the babyface comeback is all about. A
WWF win has little impact while a WCW/ECW win allows the story to continue
on for several more months
Winners: Team WCW/ECW
The only two people in the WWF that can turn to the WCW side are Austin or
The Rock because they are the two biggest draws in the company. They have to
headline Summerslam against one another because that's the match that will
draw the most money. How do they get to Summerslam? Well, I'll tell ya how.
After the match it will be revealed that DDP kidnapping Debra was a hoax and
that Austin was in on it all along. He can then cut a promo on Raw saying
that the old Stone Cold is never coming back. He can say that Vince McMahon
turned him into a cowboy hat wearing, guitar playing wuss and that he'll
always be a sadistic bastard that is against Vince. The WCW/ECW team will
dominate that week's programs leaving Vince McMahon to wonder what he has to
do to counteract them.
A week later on Raw, July 30 in Philly, Austin will open the show with a
promo without his new friends. He calls out Vince McMahon who admits defeat
because the WWF champ has joined the other side. Vince claims that he has no
answers to the WCW/ECW team. Then, as the fans begin to lose all hope, out
from the crowd comes The Rock to attack Austin from behind. He'll grab the
WWF title from Austin's possession and threaten to dismantle it unless
Austin gives him a shot at Summerslam. Austin, being the obsessed champion
that he is, accepts to the stipulation as the crowd goes apeshit.
At Summerslam Rock challenges Austin for the WWF belt, Kurt Angle challenges
Booker T. for the WCW belt and The Undertaker takes on DDP to finally settle
their feud. With those three matches at the top of the card the WWF can draw
a huge buyrate. There are a lot of other matches they can throw out there
like Edge vs. RVD, Rhyno vs. Kane, Kidman & Chavo vs. The Hardy Boyz and a
lot of other interesting matches that will be new to most fans. I think the
one match they have to give us at Summerslam is Rock vs. Austin and the best
way for it to work is for one of them to turn heel and right now I'd have to
say Austin is the smart choice.
This was a fairly long column so I think it's best if I just wrapped it up
quickly by saying that I'm really looking forward to Invasion on Sunday
night. While it may not be the greatest card in terms of match quality
there's no denying that it's a very important show with a lot of historical
significance behind it. I think they'll deliver the goods and I know that
when they do I'll be back here Monday to talk about it. Until then, have a
great weekend and enjoy Invasion.
I'm out like Buff Bagwell in a contest to determine the WWF's Employee of
Smell ya later,
Mail John C.
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