The Next Night
Now here's where things really begin to take shape. If you'll recall The Rock was leaving for several months to film The Scorpion King, so to write him off TV they had to "suspend" him. Also to further Austin's heel turn he aligned himself with the despised Triple H, forming The Two-Man Power Trip. I loved this alliance but again, it hurt business so I'm willing to erase it from the history books (particularly since it was short-lived).
Time for the Justin version: Austin goes to the ring, takes the mic, and explains why he accepted Vince's help at 'Mania. During his year-long absence he was obsessed with winning back the WWF Championship. It's all he thought about. Then Triple H sidetracked him, and even bested him at No Way Out. But when it came time to face The Rock, he was gonna do whatever it took to win back the Title, even duping Vince into thinking Austin would be the corporate Champion he wanted back in 1998. So Vince agreed to help him beat The Rock. But Austin'll be damned if he's gonna do anything differently than he ever has.
The Rock interrupts and points out that Austin couldn't beat him straight-up so he had to get help. Austin says "I told you Rock that I was gonna do whatever it took to win back this Title."
Vince comes out and berates both Rock and Austin, and says he's not worried because in four weeks at Backlash Austin will defend the WWF Title against the man who beat him at No Way Out, Triple H! The Rock reminds Vince that as the former Champion he is entitled to a rematch and is going to enact that clause tonight!
The main event arrives and Austin and Rock have a hard-fought rematch (Vince sits at ringside), with neither man seemingly able to get the duke. Suddenly JR announces that there's been a security breach outside and there's some sort of commotion in the backstage area. There's a split-screen keeping up with the action in the ring as the backstage camera tries to capture what's happening. We see about fifteen masked men beating up the security team and they start pouring through the backstage curtain.
The ring is suddenly swarmed with these masked assailants who beat the snot out of Rock and Austin, as Vince watches in bewilderment. After laying out both guys, one of the masked men slides out of the ring and grabs a live mic, then slides back in and unmasks, revealing Eric Bischoff. "I told ya Vince, this war is far from over!" One by one the attackers unmask, revealing Diamond Dallas Page, Buff Bagwell, Lance Storm, Mike Awesome, Hugh Morris, Mark Jindrak, Sean O'Haire, Chuck Palumbo, Billy Kidman, Shawn Stasiak, and Kanyon, leaving two masked men. The first pulls of the mask and rips open his shirt, revealing WCW Champion Booker T! Finally the last man takes off his mask, revealing Ric Flair!!
Flair takes the mic and says WCW is still very much alive and is taking back Monday nights. Team WCW then beats up everyone at ringside. Bischoff lays Vince out with a spin kick before Flair, Booker and Page powerbomb The Rock through both ringside tables, thus "injuring" him and writing him off the show (Plus setting up the Rock-Booker match down the line). Team WCW proceeds to destroy the entire ring (much like what The Nexus did upon their debut). A swarm of WWF talent runs out from the locker room and Team WCW retreats through the crowd. JR closes the show by saying "We are at war!!"
The following week Vince addresses the RAW audience assuring everyone that the situation from last week is under control. Eric Bischoff and the WCW roster made an unauthorized appearance on WWF TV and disrupted the broadcast, and thanks to security measures he has taken, they will not be seen or heard from again on RAW or Smackdown.
For the most part the show builds toward the regularly-scheduled Backlash card, which would be as follows:
Steve Austin (c) vs. Triple H - WWF Title
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit - Iron Man Submission match
Edge & Christian (c) vs. Undertaker & Kane - Tag Team Title
Chris Jericho (c) vs. William Regal - I-C Title
Eddie Guerrero (c) vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy - European Title
Shane McMahon vs. Big Show - Last Man Standing
Rhyno (c) vs. Raven - Hardcore Title
On the go-home show, during a Taker/Kane promo, the signal gets hijacked by Bischoff, telling everyone that Taker and Kane may be favored to win the WWF Tag belts, but he has a team that will destroy them. Perhaps they'll even be there at Backlash to congratulate them, should they beat Edge & Christian. The camera zooms out to reveal Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon!
At Backlash Rhyno retains over Raven, Shane beats Big Show, Eddie retains against the Hardys, Jericho retains, Benoit beats Angle 3-2 in regulation time, and Taker & Kane win the Tag belts from Edge & Christian. As they're celebrating two of the cameramen storm the ring and bash them with cameras, and take off their disguises to reveal DDP and Kanyon. They get several shots in before security chases them through the building.
In the main event of the show, Austin narrowly defeats Triple H but before the show goes off the air, Bischoff hijacks the signal again, congratulating Austin on retaining the Title, but also mentioning that Austin has never beaten the WCW Champion. "Before there was a WWF Champion, there was a WCW Champion, dating all the way back to 1905!" The shot zooms out to reveal Booker T, who says he's coming to take Austin down.
Continued in Part 3.....
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