Wednesday, June 26, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 150



Lesnar could be WWE champ soon

Wrestling is Life

Ed De La Garza

Vince Russo's back, Steve Austin's still in exile, Triple H is frail, Goldberg hasn't signed yet and the WWE is about ready to fold. In spite of all the news, we're going to head straight to hard-hitting, teeth-shattering, bone-crunching King of the Ring action.

Brock Lesnar defeated Rob Van Dam in the finals to become the 2002 King of the Ring. Winning the tournament is usually seen as a sign of future greatness. Seldom does the winner not become a big shot in the company. Van Dam is already a star and Lesnar needed to legitimize his current push.

Lesnar will now go into Summerslam with a shot at the World Wrestling Entertainment Undisputed Championship. If anyone other than the Rock or Triple H is champion at that time, you might have reason to expect one of the quickest ascensions to the WWE throne since Kurt Angle.

Triple H didn't win the title. He had elbow surgery today and could be out of action for up to six weeks, leaving only the Rock to take the title from the Undertaker. That's the likely main event for Vengeance in July.

The Rock won't lose to Lesnar in a main event -- at least not this early in the former amateur wrestler's professional career. But Lesnar will get a rub. And from the looks of things, he might actually start talking soon instead of letting Paul Heyman be his mouthpiece.

The cold, hard truth

WWE announced last week that Vince Russo was welcomed back to the company; he left three years ago. For the moment, Russo will only be used as a consultant and will report directly to Vince McMahon with any possible storylines.

His return was seen as an acknowledgement by the WWE that its current state of affairs needed to be corrected; it desperately needed help to hike its sagging ratings. It was a sign of a company grasping at straws as it attempted to fight extinction.

While there's no disputing McMahon feels the crunch or that business isn't exactly booming, we should all go back in time a few years. The wrestling business is far from a stable one. It's cyclical in nature and goes through a fair share of peaks and valleys.

Competition led to a wrestling revival five years ago. But before that, it had been more than 10 years since the WWE (then still the World Wrestling Federation), was mainstream. Hulk Hogan's original run was over and the "sport" was beset by inane gimmicks (dentists, accountants, truck drivers and clowns who wrestled).

If you see the WWE resort to keeping the title on a wrestler who used to be a zombie but turned into an outlaw biker, then you know the business is in real trouble.

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