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  Nov 10, 2001



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

Finally some good news
By T.J. MADIGAN -- Calgary Sun
 As Jim Ross would say, business is about to pick up.

 Last week, with ratings, advertising and revenue all hitting new lows, the WWF's future seemed bleak.

 The last seven days, however, renewed hopes the bad spell is about to take an upturn.

 The good news began with more than 52,000 tickets being sold last weekend alone for Wrestlemania in Toronto next March.

 Any doubts Canada deserved to host the event have now been totally erased.

 In just one week, they've grossed more than $3.5 million US -- already overtaking the total gross for last year's record-setting 'Mania in Houston.

 Ticketmaster Canada also reported a new record: 2,000 seats being bought in the first 60 seconds on sale.

 Regardless of what goes down from here on in, the event is virtually guaranteed to be a success, at least financially.

 Of course, Wrestlemania will be cancelled if the Alliance wins the big match at Survivor Series, which kinda leaves a big, gaping hole in the plot.

 The ongoing dissension-in-the-ranks angle is designed to draw attention away from the glaringly obvious fact the Alliance CAN'T win.

 And it's working.

  In fact, the last week has seen the WWF writing team go all-out to have the storylines make more sense.

 Granted, they're still hot-shotting for quick ratings (e.g. The Rock/Jericho rematch being given away on free TV) but they're also planting the seeds to develop longer-term angles which can evoke more emotional crowd reactions.

 Possibly the most important thing to happen on TV this week was that awkward silence between Kurt Angle and Stephanie McMahon in the backstage segment on Raw.

 Yes, the acting was bad.

 Yes, the skit was cheesy.

 But the vital part was the scenario it's subtly setting up.

 The hottest feud of 2000 was Angle's war with Triple H, set against the backdrop of a love triangle with Stephanie.

 When neither Helmsley nor McMahon would allow themselves to be portrayed as the dumpee, the storyline was dropped without a conclusion.

 They may be a year late but the resumption of the feud will give the returning Triple H an instant main event push and deliver the long-awaited payoff to an already-hot feud with a lot of history.

 Another much-anticipated angle that will soon be executed is the Hardy Boyz break-up. The duo were originally scheduled to do battle at last year's Wrestlemania until the plans were postponed in favour of a TLC match.

 They had a friendly one-on-one before King Of The Ring but other than that, the WWF was hesitant to split up their most popular tandem.

 Now, with Lita (Matt Hardy's real-life girlfriend) as the on-screen catalyst, they finally seem ready to pull the trigger on the demise of the most popular tag-team in Federation history.

 Perhaps the biggest sign the WWF is finally listening to the moans of viewers was the reduced McMahon presence on Raw and Smackdown.

 While not exactly non-existent on TV this week, the McMahon clan didn't do run-ins in every big match. They didn't pop up in every backstage segment. Shane and Stephanie weren't even in the ring for Steve Austin's big speech.

 And most crucially, Vince wrote himself out of the Survivor Series main event, "giving" his place on team WWF to the Big Show.

 At first, it was presumed the recent push for Big Show was to prepare him for a run with the returning Rikishi. Now, though, it seems like management is about to entrust him with a main event spot.

 The Show (Paul Wight) was the biggest free agent in wrestling history, signing a massive guaranteed deal with the WWF at the peak of the Monday Night Wars.

 His sloppy work-rate, bad eating habits and attitude earned him a mid-card slot, followed by a relegation to the minor leagues.

 It seems he's paid his penance and is finally being given a second shot at the top of the roster.

 The WWF has also finally executed the Chris Jericho heel turn.

 It's looking like RVD will be joining the babyface ranks in a matter of weeks.

 They're expanding the hilarious Hurricane gimmick, giving Shane Helms an alter ego.

 Although it hasn't been hinted on TV yet, there's word from Titan Tower they'll be getting rid of some titles in the near future, unifying the lesser belts and putting all their focus on a few major championships.

 All the signs indicate there are genuine changes being made to freshen up the product at long last.

 Let's just hope it's not too little, too late.

 INJURY NOTE:

 The Rock had his elbow X-rayed after taking a chair shot in his Raw match with Chris Jericho. There was no fracture, so he worked Smackdown, albeit with his elbow taped. Paul Heyman suffered a bone bruise on his right tibia in the same match when his leg caught under the collapsing table.


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