The infamous Invasion storyline of 2001 saw an influx of new talent to WWE, with Buff Bagwell among them. Before the storyline officially commenced, though, the sports entertainment behemoth promoted a WCW Nitro takeover of Monday Night Raw for one match only, as Buff challenged Booker T for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
Taking place on the July 2nd, 2001 edition of the red brand, Booker T ultimately retained the title, albeit via disqualification. Kurt Angle and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin’s interference led to the match being thrown out as they assaulted T and, later, Buff Bagwell. For Bagwell, this marked his only televised WWE bout.
Discussing the match in a new interview with Chris Van Vliet, the five-time WCW World Tag Team Champion explained how Shane McMahon had allegedly threatened to fire him if he dared to look into any of the television cameras:
“We were in Tacoma, Washington and the next week is Atlanta. Now you are Vince McMahon, are you going to put us in Tacoma, or are you going to wait seven days and put us in Atlanta? They call it the Invasion, what are we invading, Alaska? Little things I never told anybody, they were about to play my music and Booker went out first. Think about it, he had 2 belts, and I went out second, I never saw that before. He may have not got music, I will have to check that.
But my pyro was off the charts, here was what I was told ten seconds before I came through the curtain. Out of nowhere, like a ghost, Shane McMahon appears. He says, ‘Mark, you can’t look in the cameras?’ I go, ‘What?’ He goes, ‘You can’t look in the cameras.’ I go, ‘Shane, that’s all I do. I look in the cameras, I pose and wear the top hat, that is my whole gig, bro.’ He says, ‘You can’t do it or you’re fired.’
I want you to watch a Buff Bagwell match anytime the year before, and then watch that match. I don’t look anywhere near that camera the whole time in three years. That takes me completely out of my world. I come out, do the pyro, do the posing, but then it is like where is the camera? I see it and I start talking to someone over here, I was out of my game right there. They took my leg off right there. I was told not to look in the camera or I was fired.”
Buff Bagwell In WWE: What Went Wrong?
Though he appeared for the WWE at the following day’s SmackDown tapings, taking an assisted Powerbomb from The APA, Buff Bagwell was told he was being let go from the company. Attitude issues, an altercation with The Hurricane, and persistent phone calls from his mother Judy requesting time off for him were cited as the reasons.
Alongside sporadic appearances for the now-IMPACT Wrestling in the mid-2000s, Buff has remained a mainstay on the North American independent circuit, wrestling as recently as October 2022.
If you use any quotes from this transcription, please credit Insight With Chris Van Vliet and link back to this article with a H/T to Inside The Ropes.