McMahon beating himself
WWE overkill leads to new wrestling organizations
TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun
When Vince McMahon bought out his biggest (and only) competition in 2001, wrestling fans were left with just one choice for their grappling fix -- World Wrestling Entertainment.
So when disenfranchised WCW viewers began to tune out of wrestling completely, McMahon realized the public needed an alternative to his gimmicky brand of sports entertainment.
To prevent any other company from filling that void in the market, McMahon decided he would create his own competition. He split WWE into two separate brands, Raw and Smackdown (he later added a third franchise, ECW).
The idea was each brand would be completely independent of the others, with its own distinct product to attract different segments of the TV audience and ticket-buying public.
The edict from head office demanded the brands would almost never interact, with any cross-promotional matches being the stuff Wrestlemanias are made of.
But somewhere along the way, that vision was lost. The lure of promoting each product across a spectrum of three major U.S. networks proved to be too much temptation for Vinnie Mac and, these days, a Raw star appearing on Smackdown or ECW is common.
In fact, WWE's entire fall season is going to be built around an inter-promotional tangle between the three WWE franchises. It could have been something special, if their storylines hadn't been completely intertwined all along anyway.
First, at the November 5 Cyber Sunday event -- WWE's revised version of the Taboo Tuesday pay-per-view flop -- the star players of all three leagues will go at it to determine the champion of champions. WWE title holder John Cena will take on World Champion Booker T and ECW champ Big Show in a triple threat match.
But that battle could only be the beginning, according to local advertising for the Survivor Series -- one of WWE's traditional 'Big Four' PPV events in late November.
An old school Survivor Series elimination match is being plugged for the show, with Raw stars Cena and DX teaming up against Smackdown's King Booker, Rey Mysterio and Batista. They will face the ECW team of Big Show, Rob Van Dam and Sabu.
The cross-promotional booking will likely continue until January's Royal Rumble, when WWE switches gears to start the build-up for Wrestlemania.
But amidst the hype for the WWE Battle of the Brands, two wrestling alternatives are taking advantage.
TNA is getting stronger by the day, offering a purer wrestling product for fans raised on WCW's less cheesy in-ring presentation.
And for viewers who originally liked the edge of ECW, MTV will soon launch its own grappling show, Wrestling Society X. Set in a dirty warehouse, the high-flying fights take place in the midst of an underground party, with punk bands and DJs blasting over the action.
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