The Alliance came about as a result of the World Wrestling Federation's purchase of World Championship Wrestling (WCW). The Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) name was brought in later to help boost the presence of WCW.
The original plan was for the WWF-owned WCW to be a face group, led by Shane McMahon (who was the storyline owner of WCW) to go against the heel owner of the WWF, Vince McMahon. During May and June 2001, wrestlers identified as being "under contract to WCW" (such as Lance Storm and Hugh Morrus) "invaded" WWF programming, interfering in matches. The ultimate goal, reportedly, was for WCW to "take over" one of the WWF's two primary programs, either Raw or SmackDown!, and rebrand it as its own separate entity. To test the waters for this, the final twenty minutes of the July 2 Raw telecast was given over to WCW, which brought in its own commentators (Scott Hudson and Arn Anderson), ring announcer (Stacy Keibler), referee (Nick Patrick), ring apron, and Chyron graphics, to present a match between Booker T and Buff Bagwell for Booker's WCW Championship. This continued on Smackdown!, where Gregory Helms defended the WCW Cruiserweight Championship against Billy Kidman and Booker defended the WCW Championship against "Diamond" Dallas Page.
However, the Booker/Bagwell title match was very poorly received both by television viewers and the live crowd in the arena, with the two WCW matches receiving a similar reaction. The decision was thus taken to make WCW a heel group. On July 9 on Raw, Shane was scheduled to face Page in a street fight. However, the two instead attacked the Undertaker.
Later that night saw the return of ECW, where ECW Alumni from both the WWF and WCW, along with the debuting Rob Van Dam & Tommy Dreamer, and Raw color-commentator Paul Heyman, announced that "[the] invasion has been taken to the extreme!" Vince and Shane agreed to join forces to take out ECW once and for all in a twenty-man brawl. However, when WCW and ECW faced off in the ring, they instead congratulated each other. It was revealed that ECW, with new owner Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, had merged with WCW to form a "supergroup" to more effectively challenge the WWF. This combined group was originally known as "WCW/ECW" but the rights to ECW's assets (including the use of its name on-air by the WWF) were still being debated in bankruptcy court, so the name of the group was shortened to The Coalition and later The Alliance.
At WWF Invasion, Team WCW/ECW (Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, Rhyno, and The Dudley Boyz) defeated Team WWF (Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Kane, Kurt Angle, and Chris Jericho) in a ten-man tag team match billed as the "Inaugural Brawl." During the match, Austin turned heel and joined the Alliance, helping them score the victory.
Over the next few months, the two sides fought back and forth. Except for a few wrestlers (X-Factor and Christian for example), every feud was a WWF wrestler(s) versus an Alliance wrestler(s). Ten combined WWF and WCW championships were defended among all the wrestlers in the various feuds. Over time, numerous WWF superstars would defect to the Alliance, including Test, William Regal, and Christian.
In October, both sides agreed to end things once and for all. A "Winner Take All" classic Survivor Series elimination match was set for the Survivor Series, with the losing company going out of business forever. In the end, Team WWF (The Rock, Chris Jericho, the Undertaker, Kane, and Big Show) defeated Team Alliance (Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, and Shane McMahon) when Angle turned on Austin, putting The Alliance out of business. Every Alliance member with a championship (Austin, the Dudley Boyz (with Stacy Keibler), Christian and Van Dam), along with Test, who won the "Immunity Battle Royal", were guaranteed jobs in the WWF. The other Alliance members were officially fired. Some of them would be hired back one by one over the next few months, with the majority of them returning when the Brand Extension began. Finally, the WCW United States and Tag Team Championships were dropped, the Cruiserweight Championship replaced the Light Heavyweight Championship, and the WCW Championship was renamed the World Championship.
Members of The Alliance
- Brian Adams
- Buff Bagwell (released before the WCW/ECW merger)
- Booker T
- Bryan Clark
- Chavo Guerrero, Jr.
- Hurricane Helms (would eventually become The Hurricane during the Alliance storyline)
- Mark Jindrak (rarely appeared throughout the storyline)
- Chris Kanyon
- Stacy Keibler
- Billy Kidman
- Hugh Morrus
- Sean O'Haire
- Shane McMahon (WCW Owner)**
- Diamond Dallas Page*
- Chuck Palumbo (defected to WWF in November, 2001 to team with Billy Gunn after being fired by The Alliance)
- Nick Patrick (referee)
- Charles Robinson (referee)
- Billy Silverman (referee)
- Shawn Stasiak
- Torrie Wilson (one of two members to defect to the WWF midway through the storyline)
* = Started appearing on WWF television prior to the Invasion storyline.
** = Never appeared in WCW prior to WWF's purchase.
- Mike Awesome**
- Justin Credible *
- Tommy Dreamer
- Bubba Ray Dudley*
- Stephanie McMahon (ECW Owner) ***
- D-Von Dudley*
- Paul Heyman (RAW announcer, ECW General Manager) *
- Raven *
- Rhyno *
- Lance Storm**
- Tazz (SmackDown! announcer) *
- Rob Van Dam
* = Was working for WWF prior to the Invasion storyline
** = Was working for WCW at the time of collapse
*** = Never appeared/ wrestled in ECW
- Kurt Angle (the traitor; later revealed to be a Vince McMahon-planted mole)
- Steve Austin (the Leader)
- Christian *
- Debra (the 'First Lady')
- Brian Hebner (referee) *
- Ivory (the 'Mentor to the Ladies of the Alliance') *
- Mighty Molly
- William Regal (Alliance Commissioner)
- Steven Richards
- Terri Runnels
- Test *
* = Never appeared/ wrestled in WCW or ECW