Former WWE, WCW and ECW star Lance Storm has given his opinion on why the not so fondly remembered Invasion angle failed in 2001.
With the purchase of WCW in late March 2001, the possibilities seemed endless for WWE. Throw into the mix the closure of ECW and WWE sat atop the wrestling landscape completely unchallenged. It also left the company with access to the biggest talent pool in their history.
What followed was ‘The Invasion,’ where WCW and then ECW attempted to takeover WWE. The angle properly kicked into gear with the arrival of Lance Storm on Monday Night RAW on May 28th. Storm ran into the ring, planted a Superkick on Perry Saturn and promptly left.
Reflecting on his brief WWE debut on the It’s My House podcast, Storm recalled how he didn’t know he would appearing until a couple of hours before the show.
“Well it was weird because you never really knew what everything was going to be until it happened,” Storm said.
“So you never really had a chance to think about how we had the last Nitro where we were told we’d all be given an opportunity. And then, along the way I’m contacted and told that I’m one of the guys that are going to be employed moving forward. So it’s like, great. And then the kick-off of the invasion, if you will, in Calgary – I was told I’m just coming down to meet Jim Ross because they were flying all the talent to Connecticut to, you know, do your initiation orientation type of thing. And I just got the call from Johnny, John Laurinaitis. I was told we’re going to be in Calgary in a week there’s no point in flying you all the way to Connecticut just to sit down and have a two hour meeting with Jim Ross, just go to Raw, and you’ll have a sit down with him at some point during the day. Then an hour or two before the show starts. I’m told I’m on the show.”
Reflecting further, Storm explained that he was worried that the crowd wouldn’t recognise him, despite the show being held in Calgary.
“I remember at the time I was very nervous that the crowd would even recognize me in that brief moment, because there isn’t going to be the music on the Tron where they go hey that’s Lance Storm he’s from Calgary,” Storm recalled. “It’s just I’m going to run in, kick them and run out. I’m like ‘are they even going to recognize me? ‘There’s no time to think about anything and I didn’t know for sure if they had the Flairs and the Stings and so forth you know, you’d read rumours and reports but it’s like, it’s not like the company’s telling us that these are the 15 people we’ve hired these are the people we have. So we’re really just as talent flying by the seat of our pants just trying to do the best you can with what you’re given.”
As the invasion rumbled on, the angle gradually began to lose steam with multiple Superstars switching sides. In addition, the story began to revolve more around drama within the McMahon family and less about WCW and ECW. Along with this, Storm feels that a lack of a proper heel/babyface dynamic really muddied the waters.
“No one was established as the home team, babyface or heel,” Storm said. Like us coming in and invading had the rebellious outsider thing which is always kind of cool. And we weren’t painted strictly as heels, we weren’t painted as babyfaces and I remember one point in time, early on we were doing a segment and Jericho even said to me, he’s like ‘who are the baby faces here?’ Because when you’re constructing angles, matches and everything, it’s like good to know what you’re supposed to do, like to get a certain specific reaction. And it’s like ‘if we don’t know if the crowd is supposed to cheer this happening or not you change the way you do things.’ So that confused issues. I think the other thing too is once they couldn’t get us on a different separate show where like, once we’re all just showing up and wrestling on the same show, it doesn’t feel like outsiders anymore.
“But I think the big key and I sort of jokingly call it as the day that it died was when it became Vince McMahon versus Shane. If Paul Heyman had remained, like when we did the Alliance with ECW which is a really cool angle, I thought that was the best angle done in the whole invasion that one moment where the guys that were in WWE that were actually former ECW guys turned and joined us WCW guys. If Paul Heyman had remained like when he jumped up from the announce desk and got in the ring, if he remained the spokesperson of the ECW crew, or if we had, Eric (Bischoff) or Ric Flair as the head instead of Shane McMahon, I think at that point, it could have been so much bigger. Because it wasn’t at that point McMahon versus McMahon, it was actually WCW/ECW because no one’s more associated with the ECW brand as Paul Heyman, it was his baby.
And as far as the Monday Night Wars go, which is what anyone cared about at that point in time, Bischoff, it was his brainchild, it was his thing. Or you could go with Flair because again, I think when you think WCW Flair is the most associated name as the greatest champion of that company. So I think if you had either of those two and Paul feuding with Vince, then I think the invasion, even if we didn’t have a bunch more big name stars which obviously would have helped, those would be the key things.”
As the dust settle on the invasion, Lance Storm settled into a tag team role on Monday Night RAW. During his time in WWE, the former WCW Cruiserweight Champion became known for delivering monotone and flat promos.
Elsewhere on the podcast, Storm explained that this was by design, as he was constantly reshooting promo segments after being told that he wasn’t dull enough, adding that WWE’s vision for him was to be like Sam the Eagle from The Muppets.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.