Wednesday, November 7,2001 Volume 67, Issue 55


WWF dominance of wrestling nearing end, Triple H returns

The Wrestling Report

Ed De La Garza

I've convinced myself that professional wrestling is dead. We're now watching the industry's death throes and are but moments away from seeing Vince
McMahon peddling his wares in bingo halls across the Northeast.

It's a dire situation, to say the least. But it's happened before.

In the mid-1980s, the World Wrestling Federation was relegated to Saturday mornings. Fans were treated to much-ballyhooed angles like Bobby
Heenan stealing the British Bulldogs' beloved Matilda. We wondered why nobody took the Honky Tonk Man seriously as a recording artist. He was,
after all, cool, cocky and bad.

This was the era of dual identities. One could be a supermodel and a wrestler. You could run a billion-dollar corporation and still find joy in fighting in
the squared circle. You could be blessed with the most ultimate of power and use it to battle a balding middle-aged man.

The smaller companies struggled in bingo halls and convention centers but still managed to survive, despite McMahon's strong-arm territorial tactics.
The WWF became a household name only because McMahon pushed the brand name down people's throats.

Casual fans didn't know about World Championship Wrestling -- until Ted Turner started putting money into it. We fast-forward to 2001 when there's
only one "major" company. But it's not the only one.

Eventually, someone with Turner's bank account will put money into one of the smaller companies. Upstart organizations like Hulk Hogan's recent foray
won't make it. It'll take a smaller organization, with a built-in infrastructure, to make wrestling fun again -- not just for its die-hard fans, but for the
all-important casual fan.

Triple H-rated

Triple H single-handedly carried the WWF when Steve Austin and The Rock were out with injuries. The federation belonged to him in 1999 and part of
2000. He quickly became the WWF's version of Ric Flair -- someone who could back up his talk with in-ring ability.

He was also one of the few superstars who would job to younger talent or make even the stiffest of wrestlers look good. But in the midst of a run with
Austin as WWF Tag Champions, Triple H suffered a freak injury that's kept him out of action for six months.

Finally, if you believe early pay-per-view hype, Triple H should be a key factor in December. But for that to happen, he has to come back this month. The
one person who made me watch Raw should be back soon. Survivor Series should be very interesting.

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