Former ECW, WCW and WWE star Lance Storm was the first wrestler from WCW to appear as part of the Invasion angle for WWE back in 2001. In an interview with It’s My House Podcast, Storm talked about learning when he’d be making his debut on WWE TV as part of the angle.
“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 kickoff 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.”
Storm’s debut on RAW saw him cost Perry Saturn and Terri Runnels a mixed tag match against Steve Blackman and Trish Stratus thanks to a superkick on Saturn. Storm talked about how nerve wracking the whole experience was, despite being in his home town.
“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 rumors 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.”
Ultimately the Invasion angle would go on to become what many consider to be one of the more disappointing angles of this era. Storm largely concurs with this opinion, believing the lack of established babyfaces and heels and poor representation at the head of WCW and ECW was the cause.
“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.”
Another side at the time for Storm was having to get a new visa. Despite having the ability to carry over the visa he was using in WCW, Storm was told by WWE to get his own, which they then ended up billing him for $5000.
“I was really annoyed that I had my WCW visa, which was a three year visa, and I’d only used one year so had two years remaining,” Storm recalled. “And when I dealt with the lawyers that I got in because I had to provide information, they said the visas are transferable, as long as you’re in the same field. So my visa through WCW would be valid to work in WWE. But WWE said ‘no. We don’t want to use yours, you want to get our own.’ And then they billed me for it! ‘But this one’s still valid, I don’t want to pay five grand!’ But again, in the grand scheme of what I made over the next, you know, four and a half years whatever it was in WWE, it worked out.”
You can watch the full interview below.