Wrestling has had no shortage of invasion story lines, whether it be UWF vs. JCP, nWo vs. WCW, or WCW vs. WWF. There’s one common thread in all of those angles that should be too obvious to even mention: they all involved one wrestling organization taking on another.
In the fall of 2000, however, WCW made like Goldberg and threw out the script, booking an invasion not against another promotion, but against an American Gladiators knock-off.
Battle Dome lasted only two seasons in syndication and was basically American Gladiators with elements of sports-entertainment thrown in. WCW took one look at this organization (probably on a Saturday afternoon after WOW: Women of Wrestling) and decided that it was its ticket back to the top of the wrestling world.
There are a lot of complications that come with writing a story that plays out across two different TV shows, especially when one of those shows is live and the other is taped weeks in advance, and especially when one of those TV shows is produced by WCW, which does not have the greatest track record in terms of continuity.
For simplicity, I’ll start with what happened on Battle Dome.
First, Diamond Dallas Page, Buff Bagwell, Rick Steiner, and Ernest Miller invaded the Battle Dome arena and spat in the ring, with Steiner going so far as to steal the Battle Dome belt.
The next week, they took over the announce booth but were run out of the arena by the Battle Dome Warriors.
This led to a showdown between Rick Steiner and Battle Dome’s T-Money, a former NFL player who looked just like Terry Crews because he was Terry Crews.
After Steiner arrived that day with his entourage, Battle Dome’s Bubba King cut a promo on Rick Steiner calling him a fake and a phony… and ugly.
Steiner was understandably furious as he heard the comments and had to be restrained by his WCW compatriots.
T-Money cut down the WCW guys, as well, dismissing their work as “fake junk”.
We then saw footage of Steiner warming up backstage, playfully sparring with the WCW guys in what turned out to be the exact same footage as seen minutes earlier.
In the cage, T-Money and Steiner prepared to see just who was the tougher fighter by suiting up and trying to get a ball into a cylinder. Steiner had enough after only half a minute, ditching the ball and brawling with Crews.
A brouhaha broke out, with Crews cheap-shotting Steiner and Steiner cheap-shotting the referee.
On a later episode, Steiner and T-Money again squared off, and again a big pull-apart brawl broke out between the Dome dudes and the wrestlers.
While this story line was playing out on syndicated television, it spilled over onto the live Nitro.
Unbelievably, the Battle Dome Warriors were shown on camera sitting at ringside.
Unfortunately, this shocking turn of events was completely ignored just seconds later as yet another shocking development (the arrival of Jamie Knoble without a mask) distracted the announcers. It’s as if the Battle Dome guys weren’t supposed to appear on camera yet.
After the commercial, DDP made a surprise return to WCW. At least, it would have been a surprise had he not shown up previously on Battle Dome with other WCW guys.
He cut a promo – a shoot promo! – about getting excited about wrestling again after being “one negative S.O.B.” “And you know what that means!” said Scott Hudson.
It means, “son of a bitch”.
Before DDP was through, he diverted his attention to the five Battle Dome Warriors seated at ringside.
After taunting the five of them over their low ratings (as if he were one to talk; by this point, Nitro was only doing less than a point higher in the ratings than a 2017 episode of RAW), Page brought out three WCW pals to even the numbers…
Buff Bagwell questioned the warriors’ sexuality by calling them “Battle Dome queers.” And if anyone’s an expert on being heterosexual, it’s Bagwell.
He’s a professional now.
Rick Steiner, who was also making a surprise return (and whose previous appearance on Battle Dome had ruined that surprise) gave the invaders John Cena’s catchphrase, and it was on!
Terry Crews’s crew hopped the guardrail and attempted to brawl with the WCW gang until security intervened.
By Buff Bagwell’s count, this put WCW up 1-0…
For some reason, despite ripping on the warriors and their low-rated TV show, the WCW announcers knew all their names. Why would they watch a TV show they hate just so they could make fun of it later? Anyway, back to my Wrestlecrap article…
The next week, the WCW announcers recapped the events of “last week”, where the WCW wrestlers spat on the Battle Dome ring and invaded the announce booth (which happened on two separate episodes of Battle Dome).
The Battle Dome Warriors thus retaliated by taking the fight overseas, showing up to Nitro in London so that Terry Crews could call Doug Dillinger, “Santa Claus” backstage.
The invaders then brawled with the WCW contingent, all while wearing the exact same clothes they had worn the week before.
The following week on Nitro, only four of the Battle Dome Warriors showed up, meaning that the numbers would finally be even…
…except Rick Steiner showed up alone this week, his friends having been reassigned to other, more important feuds.
And in his possession was the Battle Dome championship belt, which he had stolen weeks earlier, despite WCW’s announcers never having mentioned this key fact.
Despite the four-to-one handicap, Steiner nonetheless challenged T-Money Terry Crews to a fight in the ring.
Naturally, the Battle Dome guys beat down Steiner and took their belt back (while Mark Madden chided them for no-selling).
You would think that after retrieving their property and proving their superiority over WCW, the Battle Dome Warriors would just walk away, never to return to Nitro.
And that’s exactly what happened, as the story line was never mentioned again.
Leave it to WCW to book an invasion angle and have their own side lose miserably. I mean, again.
See if you can figure out who benefitted from this angle:
The Battle Dome guys called WCW fake on Battle Dome…
…WCW called Battle Dome fake on Nitro…
…while the WCW wrestlers reminded their own fans that people thought their show was fake…
…and Battle Dome used a transparently fake story line to somehow prove to their own fans that they were real.
In the end Battle Dome just barely managed to outlast Nitro.