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

Smart answers to a myriad of problems
By VINNIE BARTILUCCI -- For SLAM! Wrestling

In one day, every wrestling fan and internet geek's wildest dreams have all become possible. Did you used to laugh and point at the guys who'd post on the chat boards and newsgroups about how cool it would be to see Goldberg fight Steve Austin? Laugh no more, it's now a possibility.

  Coke just bought Pepsi. DC just bought Marvel. Microsoft just bought...no, never mind, that happens every day.

  Vince McMahon has the two biggest brands now. ECW is all done but for the shouting. Save for the regional promotions, wrestling in North America belongs to Vince McMahon.

  WCW is supposedly going to remain as a spearate "company", with its own wrestlers, shows and storylines. But we'll see wrestlers come from one to the other, and storylines will weave from one to the other so that played right, there won't be a single wrestling program you'll want to miss.

  But it's not all the wonderful world fans are thinking it is. Here's a few potential problems and issues to think about, and my own modest proposals...

  Problem - Considering the WWF is right now much more popular than WCW, there's a risk of WCW being treated as the "other company" the WWF used to send wrestlers they thought needed more work (or a lesson in humility) to Memphis, but that can't be done any more. Will WCW be viewed as the "farm team"?

  My answer - Spread the wealth. Both companies must be viewed as important and separate companies for them both to survive. The WCW must not be seen as the place where everything is happening. If both companies are doing well, there's no problem with being champ of one and not the other. Bring some people to the WWF, send some people to WCW. Steve Austin might actually do quite well in WCW, really turning the company into something immediately watchable. Pool the cruiserweights into one company (I'd say WCW) and make that a division with some real excitement.

  Problem - 24 Pay per views a year. NOBODY gets them all. People will be forced to pick and choose, and the buyrates will suffer.

  My answer - 12 pay-per views a year, six for each company. One of the things that fans have been upset about monthly PPVs is that there's no time to build up interest in a feud. Two months is enough time to make the matches at the PPV MEAN something, not just be filler for the one or two they've been able to allot TV time to.

  Shows like Superbrawl, Starrcade, and of course Wrestlemania can become the major events thet were meant to be. King of the Ring becomes the All-Star-Game it's meant to be. And we never again have to see people appear in a singles match, and AGAIN in the Royal Rumble the same night.

  Problem - There are a few (okay, QUITE a few) people working for Turner that have been fired, screwed, ignored, or otherwise dissed by Vince McMahon, and vice versa. Vince Russo technically still works for WCW, as does Ed Ferrara. Then there's Jeff Jarrett, Terry Taylor, Shawn Stasiak, both Dusty and Dustin Runnels, and a host of others. Where will they go?

  My suggestion - Probably nowhere. There's maybe five people in the whole business that hate each other so much they won't mend fences and work together for the promise of Lots Of Money. Bret Hart is about the only person I can think of that will most likely never work with Vince. Probably.

  And let's face it, the question that everybody thinks about, but no one will ask...What about Hogan? He's a friend of Bischoff, true, but Bischoff has nothing to offer Hogan now. McMahon is the only game in town. Hulk as said he'd like to end his career in the WWF. He now functionally has no choice.

  Problem - Is there a demand for this much "attitude"?

  My suggestion - No. That's the point. Look, all the soap brands are made by like three companies. So when you choose between Spotzaway or Houdini-Kleeni, you're most likely giving your money to the same company. People like choice. Make the styles of the companies different enough that people turned off by the angles in one company will be attracted to the other.

  Problem - Why do any more? Vince McMahon now has no competition. Will we see the shows return to hours of jobbers, and nothing happening till the PayPerView?

  My suggestion - Highly unlikely. Twenty years ago, wrestling on TV existed for one reason only -- to drive people to the house shows, where the real money was made. Nowadays, the TV shows are a cash cow in and of themselves. Advertising revenues for one week of television probably outgrosses a week of house shows. So if the shows get boring, the audiences go away, and so does the money.

  Besides, Vince does have competition. Every other show on the air. He's won the wrestling war, it's now time to open fire on the rest of television. For Vince to grow now, he needs to attract new viewers, the ones watching Charmed or Monday Night Football or whatever else is on against his shows. And that's going to be harder than anything he's tried before. And he's gonna have to do it with things he's never tried before. And that sounds more exciting than a chair shot to the head anyday.

  If we thought this Monday night was going to be crazy before, this just turns it up to 11. People were going to watch the Last Nitro anyway (we're ghouls, admit it) but now it's not "The Last Nitro", it's the "First WWF-Owned Nitro" I was passably sure that WCW would get its best ratings in two years this week, now I'm positive of it. Every question that used to have the answer "no" now has to be "maybe"

  Will Vince show up on Nitro? Probably not: he's got Wrestlemania to push. But a video appearance? Maybe...

  Will we see WCW people show up at Wrestlemania? Probably not, they've spent too much time planning the card. But maybe...

  Will people jump to the WWF, and will others go to WCW? Absolutely. Willingly? Maybe...

  Will this turn out to be the more exciting year in sports entertainment ever? Well, maybe...


Vinnie Bartilucci was born on Prince Edward Island, kidnapped (okay, adopted) by Americans, and has lived in New York ever since. He can be emailed at vinnieb@2020webworks.com. He has written for us before:

More coverage of the WWF's purchase of WCW




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