Team WWF (The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Kane and Big Show) vs. The Alliance (“Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T and Shane McMahon), Winner-Take-All Elimination Match, WWF Survivor Series November 18, 2001
I’ll be upfront here, I love The Alliance and the whole WCW/ECW Invasion angle. I understand the criticism that the WWF wasn’t exactly facing the toughest version of either roster but the invading WCW was pretty close to the roster that existed in the defunct company at its end. I also understand that a lot of the booking seemed like a big stunt but, well…yeah. That’s precisely what it was anyway. I’ll even defend the absence of the nWo, as that organization would have liked to see WCW burn and did. Regardless of opinion, the climax of this angle features one of the most star packed matches in the history of professional wrestling, with 9 huge names and Shane McMahon. I’m kidding Shane, you’re a big name too, you just stick out like a sore thumb here. The Alliance went through many iterations during its short run, but here showcased its most power packed line-up with three WWE Hall of Famers and two potential ones. I think Austin’s role in The Alliance is a fascinating one. In a sense, Austin was always Anti-WWF, bucking the status-quo and telling his boss where to stick it. Austin though, as a character, was too valuable for Vince McMahon to ever get rid of and thus got to run rough shot across the promotion. When the opportunity to bolt came around, he aligned against his enemy, Vince McMahon. But, the unique psychology of Professional Wrestling may have backfired here. There’s always been a lot of talk that The Alliance were meant to be the faces and that the eventuality would have been one show of WCW and one of WWF. Logically, Austin was to take his fans with him. He didn’t. The WWF crowd was just that. They had been loyal to the WWF over WCW for a long time and one defection wasn’t going to change that now. I’m sure Vince McMahon had to be happy that, at least when quick changes were made, his audience was loyal to his brand. Through a summer and fall of adjustments, the official attack ended here. Over the appropriately paced match, there are many twists and turns but the match never becomes “Over-Booked”. That’s in quotations because I hate that term (it really just means poorly told) but with the Monday Night War capping here, I figured I’d use the slang of the early internet days. Fighting through difficult odds and Y2J’s betrayal, The Rock and Austin find themselves as the final two competitors. I can’t help but think that maybe it should have been The Undertaker and Austin, or in another world, The Undertaker and Sting. Then again, in that other world, The Alliance may have not been the heels and the stakes may have been simply for equity. Since it is no mystery today who won this match, I think it is important to talk about the finish. Though The Rock would triumph, saving the WWF, he had to do it with a little bit of backhanded action. Kurt Angle’s turn back to the WWF was not only an affirmation of the power of the organization, but the final shot in the Attitude Era. Is there anything that defines the late 90s better than a turn? In the coming months, the WWF would forcibly be transformed into the WWE and have a couple of years of nice dream matches until losing its edge for a bit. Others would go on to innovate and the business would change along with it. Everyone knew that the Monday Night Wars were done, but Survivor Series 2001 made the results official.
This match is most easily available on the WWE Network, but can also be found on DVD.
You’re probably going “Hey Vinny, Survivor Series is next week. Shouldn’t you have waited?”
Don’t worry, I know what next week’s column is, and its War.