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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

WCW has date with Toronto


By GLENN COLE -- Toronto Sun
  Some thoughts and notes on the wonderful world of body slams, choke holds and bad acting:

PAY PER SNOOZE: The WCW is coming. The WCW is coming. You can be excused if you are underwhelmed, but it's understandable considering the WCW's plummeting popularity. But the WCW Web site shows there will be a pay-per-view card at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday, Nov. 21.

The regular cast of characters is expected, including the unretired Bret Hart. Toronto is different from the U.S. markets and some of the wrestlers who are wildly cheered south of the border -- such as Bill Goldberg -- were jeered here in March. Hulk Hogan, who was a villain at the time in the U.S., was cheered lustily here, while U.S. hero Ric Flair heard more jeers than cheers.

No word on what the card will be, but if Hart is working, he will be prominent.

SMACK THIS: They are prime-time numbers that would make a certain professional hockey league drool. And while there are many skeptics, it appears that UPN's WWF Smackdown is an early hit. It garnered a 4.2 rating in its debut last week and there is no reason to believe it cannot increase its audience as the WWF seems prepared to sacrifice other shows to make it a hit.

One could argue that Smackdown in the past two weeks has been just as good as Raw and certainly superior to Heat. As Raw has been blowing away WCW Nitro all spring and summer, Smackdown smashed Thunder in the ratings, knocking it from the top 15 in the U.S. cable ratings. That is bad news for CTV Sportsnet, which carries both Heat and Thunder, although it has not carried Thunder in its 8 p.m. slot for several weeks and won't during the winter because a number of NHL games will be carried on Thursday night.

No word on whether any Canadian outlet will be picking up Smackdown, though you can bet it is being looked at seriously.

HERE AND THERE: ECW's numbers on TNN last Friday were 0.9, which is less than so-so. Here's hoping its productions improve in the coming weeks. There is lots of room for improvement ... No, the Big Boss Man did not make Al Snow eat his dog on Smackdown, although some people with IQs in the low 50s might believe it. Still, on a show watched by kids, did the WWF really need that angle? ... WWF didn't win any friends in Winnipeg when four of its stars no-showed. Good thing Winnipeg native Chris Jericho was on hand to be a part of the main event on a card he was not scheduled to work ... Don't expect The Rock and Mankind to be tag-team titlists for a long time, They have bigger fish to fry ... The Dudley Boyz, formerly of ECW, made their first appearance on Smackdown Thursday night and then gave one of the most unintelligible interviews ever ... In case you hadn't guessed, Berlyn is Alex Wright ... Chris Benoit's mat skills are great. He has to work on his microphone skills ... Raven is back with ECW, where he seems to fit in better ... Word is that Buff Bagwell, who has been a WCW mainstay for several years, wants out. He still has less than six months to go on his deal.

INDEPENDENTLY SPEAKING: There are two independent cards in London, Ont., this month while the Toronto scene is strangely silent. UCW has a Sept. 15 show set at Fanshawe Community College Fitness Center at 1460 Oxford St. E. Bell time is 7:30 p.m., with Edge and Christin of the WWF set to battle Scott d'Amore and Rhino in the main event. Too Cold Scorpio is also on the card. A week earlier at The Ceeps, the Hardcore Wrestling Federation features the Honky Tonk Man against Stunning Sean in its main event. Jimmy Snuka will battle Jack Damage. The same group has a card in St. Thomas on Sept. 19.