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    Mike on the Mat: The WWF Brand Extension

    And then there were two: Ric Flair’#146;s Raw and Vince McMahon’#146;s Smackdown!.As the story line goes, co-owners Flair and McMahon just couldn’#146;t get along,so each got his own show to run. In actuality, after every major wrestling promotionin the country but the WWF went out of business, all of the unemployed wrestlersflocked to the WWF. Ergo, there are simply too many wrestlers for one show.

    So a few weeks ago, a ‘draft’ was held for McMahon and Flair to maketheir top ten (seemingly random) picks for their respective shows, and a lotterywas held afterwards to distribute the various bottom feeders, whom no one remembers(e.g. D-Lo Brown, Raven, Hugh Morris, Chavo Gurrero Jr. et al).

    Raw‘#146;s (it’#146;s cool because it’#146;s in italics) major playersare Austin, the NWO, Undertaker, and Kane, while Smackdown! showcases the likesof Kurt Angle, the Rock, and the immortal (read: ancient) Hulk Hogan. WWF undisputedchampion Triple H will appear on both shows to defend his title.

    This won’#146;t last, of course. It is not a real split–rather, a story line–andrecent history tells us that a story line in the WWF has a life of about a monthif it is lucky. Expect there to be invasions aplenty as soon as the writersgrow restless. What really needs to be done is to have a separate creative teamoverseeing each show so there’#146;s some competition. As it is, the WWF hasbeen rather hit-and-miss (OK, mostly miss) since becoming the only major dogout there.

    More problems: Smackdown! has no heavyweight singles title on its show, otherthan HHH’#146;s appearance. All of the important singles titles are on Raw,and they stay exclusively on Raw. Raw, on the other hand, has no tag team titlesbecause ambiguously gay tag champions Billy and Chuck are stuck on Smackdown!Not like it matters, because there seem to be no tag teams left on either showanyway.

    Case in point: they split up two of the best working in the business today,the Dudley Boyz and the APA! The APA gimmick was great fun and worked becauseof Bradshaw and Faarooq’#146;s great chemistry together as drinking buddies.Bradshaw’#146;s getting a push on Raw now, but don’#146;t expect his popularityto stay high due to his lack of charisma. Faarooq’#146;s stuck on Smackdown!as a third wheel in the lame feud between Test and World’#146;s Strongest ManMark Henry. Buh Buh, the current Hardcore Champion, may have a chance at greatnessby himself, but D-Von’#146;s going to get buried in his terrible gimmick asthe spiritual savior of the Smackdown! audience. Religious gimmicks never work,and it’#146;s a good way to lose sponsors.

    The ‘brand extension’ was a good idea, but the WWF writing staffis simply too inept to correctly implement it. Give it a few weeks: there’#146;llbe ‘invasions’, and the split will be forgotten about quicker thanStephanie’#146;s pregnancy.

    Trivia question of the week: How did all of the former alliance members getinto the draft? Weren’#146;t they fired?

    Email Mike at [email protected].He’#146;s a great person, really he is!!!

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