INDUCTION: Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell – The Night That Killed WCW Once and For All

48 Submitted by on Thu, 01 September 2016, 20:00

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WWF, 2001

Amazing, isn’t it?

Amazing that in the FIFTEEN YEARS since it first happened, I have never inducted this match.  You’d think I would have done so – after all, this match was the single 15 minute segment that effectively killed any hope or prayer of WCW actually being used by the WWF following the buyout.  But I never have dove into this train wreck.

Any guesses as to why?

AJLee

Hey, wait sister.  I have a question for you instead.  What on earth is your husband thinking going into this weekend?

I mean, he does know he’s going to get his head knocked off, right?

AJLee

Well, good luck to him anyway.

Back to this article.  Look, I know why I’ve never covered it here.  I got so angry at the time it happened that I honestly never wanted to relive it.  Obviously I saw it live, and yes, I went over it several times as Bryan and I were penning The Death of WCW.  And each time, my frustration with Vince and Co. hit the roof.  Seriously, was it that hard to see that every single thing that happened on this Raw made it impossible for this match to be anything but the death knell for WCW?

How did this historic night begin?  With a recap of the great days of WCW?  A video package detailing the legacy of the WCW championship?

Of course not.

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It began with Mr. WCW himself, Shane McMahon.

TO BE FAIR…Shane was the storyline owner of the company, and was threatening to bring WCW back and make it a true competitor once again to the WWF.  In and of itself that’s a pretty stupid idea, but hey, if you want to trot him out to the ring as the face of the company, fine.  However, when you have him make a stupid, seemingly random announcement about how Booker T is going to be facing Buff Bagwell in the main event, you kinda should expect some boos.

Which is exactly they got.

And honestly, how could the company have imagined they’d get anything else?  Booker may have been a good guy in WCW, but he’d been attacking WWF guys and thus in a lot of ways that made him a defacto heel.  Bagwell, of course, was a complete heel.  So you have what amounts to a heel vs. heel match to kick off the all new WCW.

And WCW, as everyone in the crowd knew, were a bunch of losers.  Not only had they lost the Monday Night Wars, since they had “invaded” the WWF, they were pummeled at nearly every turn.  The week before, WCW tag team champions Chuck Palumbo and Sean O’ Haire hit the ring on Smackdown

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…and were more or less immediately laid out by fearsome main eventers such as AL SNOW.

Then there was DDP!  He showed up and entered into a feud with the Undertaker.  Ok, now that guy IS obviously the cream of the crop in the WWF.  But you know who isn’t a top level WWF superstar?

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Taker’s wife Sara…who pummeled Page with a kick right to the diamond vault.

Heck, even guys like Test, who had the audacity to TALK to WCW guys…

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…were destroyed by the likes of Bob Holly and Meng.

This happened over and over on a show that was supposed to RELAUNCH WCW!

Every single WCW personality was made to look like a complete idiot.

Save one.

And it wasn’t the WCW champion.

It wasn’t the WCW tag team champions.

It wasn’t the US champion.

Nope, it was…

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Torrie Wilson.

And why wasn’t she made to look stupid?

Because she desperately wanted to become a WWF superstar.

And like any other red blooded woman, she had the hots for Vince McMahon of course!

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So we entered into a show long storyline wherein she and Vince attempted to hook up in various erotic locations such as a shower…

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…and a broom closet.  But before Torrie could satisfy her primal urges with the manliest man of all men, the pair was continually interrupted by the likes of…

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…Kurt Angle, who asks Torrie if she’d like to see him gold medals…

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…and Perry Saturn, who just took a dump.

Apparently with Moppy in the stall.

This – THIS – is what the WWF presented to get you interested in their brand new organization.

And amazingly it gets worse.

 

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So the commentary team for Raw at this time would have been Jim Ross and Paul Heyman.  Yes, that Paul Heyman, of “Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Paul Heyman” fame.  But these two are NOT going to be the ones calling the WCW main event.  In fact, they don’t even WANT to call the main event as it’s obviously going to suck.  Paul even goes so far as to say, “Don’t blame me and don’t blame the WWF for what happens next.”

Seriously.

I’m not making this up.

THE MAN SAID THAT!

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Shane comes down to the ring looking like a man walking the final mile.  I mean, honestly, look at the poor guy – he must be staring at his chyron, with three WCW logos slapped near his name in a manner so haphazard it has me flashing back to my days with an Atari 800 and Print Shop.

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So Shane welcomes everyone to WCW and the mere mention of those three letters has the crowd already booing.  Oh boy.

But hey, no worries!  Let’s just send out the smoke show with the 42″ legs!

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Stacy Keibler is here!

Unfortunately she has to announce the referee for some reason.

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And it’s Nick Patrick, so she is is also booed.

And really, NICK PATRICK?  The guy that botched the Starrcade 97 “fast count” with Sting and Hogan and was also a heel ref for a good chunk of Nitro‘s glory era?  Who thought THAT was a good idea?

So the match gets underwa…no, of course it doesn’t.  See Shane is out there representing WCW.  And since he is affiliated with WCW, that means he, too, must be humiliated!

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Consider that – even a MCMAHON isn’t safe from the stench of WCW!

So he is thrown out of the building, and he doesn’t even fight it.  He notes that WCW will be all about the superstars, not authority figures.

Any of that crap sound familiar?

Yep – the same drivel he now babbles out every week on Smackdown!  No joke, it’s basically WORD FOR WORD what he said about WCW sixteen years ago.  As Arn Anderson babbles on about this being bigger than “D-Day or the moon landing” (!!!!!),  Scott Hudson even throws in a “what’s best for business” just to seal the deal!!

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Finally, the match gets started, and it’s…you know, not terrible or anything.  I’ll even go so far as to say it’s fine.  Like if there were two WWF guys out there, no one I think would have even noticed.  But then Buff does a little dance, and the crowd starts to get a tad antsy.  In his effort to calm the crowd, Bagwell kicks into high gear…

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…with the lightest chin lock you ever did see.

And you can imagine the reaction to that.

Obviously sensing a backlash is coming, Buff smoothly transitions from the chin lock…

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…to this equally comfortable looking maneuver.

To Bagwell’s credit, the booing stops.

Unfortunately, it is replaced by rather loud chants of “THIS MATCH SUCKS!”

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Booker takes control and hits some clotheslines and an axe kick, followed up by a spinarooni, which actually does get a slightly, somewhat, vaguely less negative reaction from the crowd.

But the most positive reaction of the bout?

Actually, the ONLY positive reaction of the bout?

That would be when Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kurt Angle showed up and beat the crap out of Booker.

They’re from the WWF, you see.  And Booker?

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Yeah.  Stinky old WCW.

But hey, enough of that!  Let’s get backstage and see what the real star of the show, VINCE MCMAHON, is up to!

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Why by golly, he’s in a laundry room with Torrie, removing his wedding ring so he can get down to some funky bidness!  In fact, let’s ratchet it up (down? you tell me) several million notches as we get the most Skinemax-tastic dialogue you ever did hear.

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Vince is so unbelievably awesomely sexy that Torrie can’t help but rip his clothes off.  She then tells him to close his eyes as she has a big surprise for him!

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ROBO LINDA!

I had posted this image as the GIF of the Week a couple days ago.  It garnered this response in our super secret area where we stash all those:

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Thanks, Thomas.  That’s something I’ll never get past.

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As Vince waddles off with his pants around his ankles, he goes into an admittedly fantastic tirade about how Linda really should have trusted him.  Won’t lie, that was funny stuff.

Not quite so humorous was the VERY end of the show.

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This was when we got to see Austin, Angle, and Buff beat Booker all the way through the back of the arena and throw him out the door, treating him, and thus WCW as a whole, like a complete pile of garbage.

But hey, wait a minute!

Wasn’t Bagwell a WCW guy?

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You bet he was!

So out with the other trash he goes.

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So Austin and Angle, from the WWF, literally close the door on WCW as the copyright notice appears on screen to end the show.

And now I’m all angered up again.

Thanks a lot, Vince.

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48 Responses to "INDUCTION: Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell – The Night That Killed WCW Once and For All"
  1. Adam says:

    I almost got a nostalgic chuckle out of seeing Moppy again, but my sense of humour got strangled by everything else.

    Even pretending that’s Virgil as the security guard next to Shane doesn’t help…

    • Mister Pink says:

      It’s hard for me to believe the money they threw away. Hard to believe has been so long…

      • Guest says:

        It’s interesting how people still latch on to this “all the money” they threw away claimBringing in Goldberg, an over the hill Hogan & Ric Flair, And an almost always terrible Scott Steiner,Alongside the full might of WCW wasn’t helping them in anyway especially if Vince had the bright idea of using in Cities where WCW wasn’t exactly well liked or well know just like this little shindig here.

        • Adam says:

          Well, let’s remember the Invasion PPV still holds the highest non-Mania buyrate in WWE history. This was after the Booker/Bagwell match, and when the Alliance was RVD, Booker, DDP,, the Dudleys and a collection of mid-card leftovers.

          People were still mad for the idea, regardless – so yeah, the bigger names would have made a difference. But Vince had better things to spend money on in 2001. Like the Times restaurant, and XFL.

        • Mister Pink says:

          I was referring to WCW in general, not the Invasion…reckon I could have made myself clear.

      • Brad says:

        Vince really couldn’t help himself……and even if he made WCW a separate entity in earnest, who’s to say it wouldn’t have ended up just like ECW did

  2. John C says:

    Ahhhh my eyes, memories rushing back of Vince and his pants being down around his feet. His pants were down. Around his feet. Awful thoughts of baby oil, grapefruits, the cold dead eyes of Robo-Tron Linda 5000 and again Vinces’ pants being down so low, so so low.

    And, AJ gif should officially replace the magic 8 ball for the times when you have to seek counsel on an important decision in your life.

  3. Jimbolian says:

    The only saving grace for this first “WCW” match on RAW would have been Judy Bagwell.

    Yeah, yeah, I know that’s saying the only saving grace for the Al Wilson angle if he came back from the dead and win the WWE championship.

  4. Cpt SuckePunch says:

    Off topic, but bring back Justin henry! Meme event was awesome, but when he did those ‘vince holds a company meeting’ photo bits, those were hilarious!!

  5. Thomas says:

    Contributing to an induction has made my day. Thanks and you’re welcome, RD!

  6. Raven7309 says:

    It’s funny, the one thing that made me realise that Vinny Mac would never, “EVEERRR” have taken the “Invasion” seriously was a change so small, seemingly insignificant, yet it spoke volumes: changing the WCW logo from the classic one to the godawful WWF version. ECW was allowed to keep its’ logo, but WCW? God forbid!!!
    The Invasion was a classic case of: “Shoulda, coulda, woulda.” If I may be allowed to play armchair booker, my picks for the heads of WCW leading the charge would’ve been: DDP, Booker T, Chris Benoit, and Lance Storm. My main spokesperson would’ve been Arn Anderson.

    • Tempest_Fennac says:

      I suppose Shane being the owner made sense being as they needed a reason of some sort to have WCW starts being legally allowed on WWF television (unless they just had it set up as being like the nWo’s early stages). I know what you mean about the logo and who should have lead it though, apart from the fact that Benoit’s neck injury meant he wasn’t around. As much as I dislike Goldberg, hiring him would have made financial sense even if Steiner didn’t want to sign due to health injuries and Sting and Flair decided to sit their contracts out. Having Shane staying in the background would have helped if an actual WCW guy was an onscreen leader while still giving a reason for the WCW people not being thrown out for trespassing. Do you think having the nWo there for the InVasion would have helped much? I know they had name recognition but their presence probably wouldn’t have been good for locker room morale.

    • Guest says:

      You do know that WCW had already changed their logo by the time Vince snatched them up right and that logo was far more crappy than the one WWE gave them?

  7. #OPC says:

    Did Buff ever have a title shot during actual WCW?

    • Adam says:

      Not that I can recall,.. not even Russo was that stupid. Invasion in a nutshell, basically.

      So it was either self-sabotage to help kill the angle in the crib, and piss away all the potential money; or Vince mistook both locker rooms hating Bagwell, and the office being sick of Judy calling up to whinge, for heel heat. My brain hurts from both, just for different reasons.

      • Deathedge says:

        He actually did… Twice. Neither were really significant though. He was a part of WW3 ’95 (Which was for the WCW Title) and according to IWD here: http://www.profightdb.com/wrestlers/buff-bagwell-601.html?title=221 he got one at a live show vs Jeff Jarrett.

        I also noticed they did this exact match on a WWF house show which, I have to assume, means they were testing it for this RAW. I wonder if the crowd reacted better to it there or not?

  8. Sam o says:

    The AJ gif just makes me miss her, Punk, and when Paige was relevant.

    Oh well, you can’t go home again.

  9. Gerard says:

    Imagine an alternative world where wcw had survived and wwe had gone out of business how would the world of professional wrestling be different now?? Would there be a TNA or roh?? Would Vince be begging Shane and Stephanie for a job?? The possibilities are endless of what could have been!! I could write several pages of what ifs and could bes but that would get very boring after awhile but yea just think about what might have been???

    • Tempest_Fennac says:

      As in the real WCW? Vince would have needed to get a job from Bishoff rather than his kids for one thing. 😛 WCW’s roster in ’97 was ridiculously huge from what I can gather so there is a chance that enough WWF wrestlers would have ended up having to go abroad or work on the indies if they couldn’t get their own promotion together. I suppose the extra name recognition that stars who ECW could afford may have helped the company get a better TV deal earlier than they did in real life.

      • Gerard says:

        Hey your right the real wcw was run by Eric bischoff not Shane!! But yes it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if wcw had lived.like I said originally would we need companies like TNA or roh?? What would the wrestling world look like with no WWE or even WWF??

        • Tempest_Fennac says:

          If the WWF had failed to go national in the ’80s, I’d guess it would have either lead to Jim Crocket having a monopoly or possibly different promotions surviving. I know the mid-’80s oil shocks caused problems economically in the UWF’s core area and Verne Gagne seemed opposed to any sort of modernisation from what I can gather so both of those would have probably gone the same way as they did in real life (I don’t know much about the other promotions which existed so I can’t speculate about those).

  10. Geoff says:

    And the universe implodes creating a super massive black hole so big, it sucks everything out of existence and into another dimension right back into this dimension only everything is now mirror like.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This whole shebang was one of the worst and most mishandled angles in wrestling history.

  12. Sir Cheese says:

    It was clear that Vince McMahon never wanted WCW to survive as a separate brand, and this induction proves that. One thing that was not mentioned in this induction is that this Raw took place on 7/2/01 in Tacoma, WA, which isn’t exactly WCW territory. However, on 7/9/01, Raw was held in the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, which, as we all know, was the home of WCW. I think that, if they held off on this match until they were in Atlanta, then there would have been a completely different crowd reaction. Quite possibly, WWF guys would have gotten booed out of the building, and Buff and Booker would have gotten over huge as babyfaces. Vince wasn’t having any of that. Vince obviously booked this match and the numerous WCW beatdowns that took place throughout the show in a territory that wasn’t going to be favorable to WCW in order to “prove” to everyone that WCW was weak.

    On a side note, Stephanie was introduced as the owner of ECW at the 7/9/01 show in Atlanta, which isn’t exactly ECW territory. On 7/16/01, Raw was in Providence, RI; on 7/23/01, Raw was in Buffalo, NY; and, on 7/30/16, Raw was in Philly, all of which are ECW territory (especially Philly). Imagine if they would’ve introduced Steph as the owner of ECW at any of those shows. The crowd would’ve booed it out of the building! I wonder how long the crowd would’ve chanted “she’s a crackwhore!” WWF certainly didn’t want that happening on Raw, so they made sure to introduce Steph as the ECW owner somewhere else.

    Regardless of what people may think, Vince knows the audiences (at least he did back then) and knows where things will get reactions and where they won’t, and he booked the 7/2/01 Raw accordingly. Booker and Buff were set up to fail from the beginning just due to the fact that they booked this WCW “main event” in the city where they did.

  13. Alexandru says:

    Let’s be honest this match was doomed to fail for a number of reasons: WWE fans were conditioned to hate WCW why would they be invested for a match between 2 wcw guys? The match was painfiully boring, Bagwell was a career midcarder and Booker T was barely a solid main event guy yet i.e. not to much starpower in this match.

    • Dr.Gonzo says:

      Barely a main event guy?? You didn’t watch much WCW,huh? By the time the Benoit series was over, Booker was top tier.

      • Guest says:

        Not in Canada at the least.

      • Tempest_Fennac says:

        As much as I like Booker T, his main event run in WCW seemed kind of lacking due to the ridiculous booking (I’m mainly basing this on what I’ve read about WCW’s dying days being as I wasn’t watching it at the time sadly). 5 world title reigns in the space of less than a year and Russo’s booking didn’t seem likely to really establish anyone as a credible main eventer. Maybe if he’d beaten someone like Hogan or Flair to capture his first world title while holding it for at least 4 or 5 months while defending it against similarly big stars rather than having the Bash at the Beach 2000 mess starting things off, things would have worked out better? Admittedly Buff being booked in the match was never going to help things. I know some people have said that Lance Storm would have been a better opponent, but do you think anyone else would have worked better?

  14. GeneMean says:

    I’m starting to think that the Invasion angle was really all about Vince putting himself over and not about giving the fans the dream angle they had been hoping to see for years.

    • Guest says:

      I know of very few people who had this supposed “dream” angle on the brain most of them certainly didn’t think that WCW would be screwed over so badly through various sources. They’d get bought out by WWE in the first place.

    • Brad says:

      Of course! Have you seen a WWE DVD? Where not only do they spin the stories to constantly be favorable to WWE at every other company’s expense, but they have past and present stars gush over the “benevolent” Vince McMahon and sounding like they belong in a cult of McMahon worshippers…lol

  15. Porter Sultzbaugh says:

    Torrie Wilson and her breastacular self… screensaver 4 life

  16. Geoff says:

    Torriewilsonherbreastacularself.com. Bet that URL’s not taken.

  17. Daniel Johnson says:

    Honestly if wwe would have waited a week till they were in Atlanta. The story of the invasion might have been a whole lot different.

  18. Caracalla says:

    The problem is that WCW didn’t DESERVE to be booked strongly. They were a Southern wrasslin’ carny act, and everyone knew it.
    Every attempt they made to branch out to a wider audience was constantly hobbled by their WWE 1980’s leftovers like Mean Gene. They simply were never on the level of WWE, aside from a few moments in 1996.

    It’s probably why I loved the Invasion angle, because they were booked as well as they should have been.

    • RD Reynolds says:

      Except, you know, the two years when they beat the crap out of the WWF.

      And all those years before when their viewership numbers were actually really close.

      Take that out, and yep, they were never close. Except all the times they were.

      • Caracalla says:

        Yeah, they were close. But after the short spurt of the nWo, and WCW’s involvement with Japan, they went back to the kind of Jim Herd antics which screwed the company before.
        In 2001, you weren’t getting the 96/97 WCW, you were getting the normal WCW – which was filled with meathead jobbers who couldn’t cut a promo to save their lives.

        My point is, by the time the Invasion angle happened, WCW didn’t DESERVE to be shown as competitive. They weren’t. You know what I mean, you watched the shows they were putting on at the time. They had became what TNA is now – a Southern carny act.

    • Tempest Fennac says:

      While I can see the point about the old WWF guys being a handicap in the long run, Hogan’s initial involvement did pop some decent Buy Rates against Flair and the nWo angle benefited from his involvement. The creative control clauses a lot of these people had (and their refusal to put over other people) was the biggest problem with their presence in my opinion.

  19. ClawsomeMan says:

    And that’s why I skipped most of 2001 in wrestling, unless I got the almanac from PWI.

  20. Koko B Flair says:

    I was at this show. It was in Tacoma, Washington. A place with no natural ties to WCW or to anybody involved in the first wave of WCW guys/girls who came to WWF. Before the Buff-Booker match started to suck, the mood wasn’t entirely anti-WCW. It was more like, apathy. It just wasn’t a WCW crowd. Thing is, they were going to be in ATLANTA the NEXT WEEK. Why not wait and do the big WCW debut there?

  21. Casey says:

    I was just listening to a bit of the 03/27/2001 episode of Observer Live back when it was on Eyada. Dave and Bryan were discussing the previous night’s final Nitro broadcast…and I can’t even really think of the right words to say to describe listening to that show knowing now what we didn’t know (but really feared) then.

    WCW’s fate was sealed long before this match. It was maybe the final straw but if not on this night, then another. Honestly, it never really got any better. I know some people liked adding ECW to the mix but it was a one night pop and then the alliance meant nothing.

  22. Kevin says:

    What really irks me is that technically when all the invading WCW wrestlers first appeared, it could easily have been a reset on everybody, since everybody initially got a huge pop (Look at Lance storm). kinda like brand split/ mock draft. People say, well in WCW they weren’t main-eventers, but all you needed was at least a couple of them to hold there own against the main guys. A couple of long 4-5 star matches and that person would easily be over. Just that Steiner had stinker with HHH so he’s out, Booker was sabotaged by….HHH so he’s not credible either and etc etc.

  23. Mister Forth says:

    No way WCW was meant to be over.

  24. Jacob says:

    I just love the revisionist history here on how Vince said “well we tried to give the a show”…NO NO NO!!! You fucking liar! The evidence is against you on that!

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