Wrestling Watch

As the Swerve Turns

The plot begins to thicken for Vince McMahon and Co., and Mike Flaherty likes what he sees

Triple H | DOCTOR EVIL Triple H has yet to return to the ring since his surgery
Image credit: Triple H: Tom Buchanan/WWF
DOCTOR EVIL Triple H has yet to return to the ring since his surgery

The WWF may split into rival leagues

The word on the proverbial street is that the WWF, having deep-sixed the Alliance at the ''Survivor Series,'' will soon take another crack at establishing two ''sub-promotions'' under the WWF banner (CEO Linda McMahon likened the new entities to baseball's American and National leagues). The dawning of this new era will reportedly take place on the Jan. 7 edition of ''RAW'' (Mondays, TNN, 9 p.m.) live from Madison Square Garden, where a draft of sorts will be held, assigning each superstar to one or the other ''leagues.''

Post-''Survivor Series,'' the WWF had initially treaded water with wacky, self-contained plotlines like Mr. McMahon's Kiss My Ass Club and Rocky and Trish's could-be romance. But last night's ''RAW,'' from Anaheim, appeared to begin the run-up to an eventual break.

Of course, the motivating forces behind the split will be McMahon and WWF coowner Ric Flair. The increased heat between the two of them is the strongest signifier yet that a schism is imminent. A run-in by Vince's new flunky, Booker T, at Sunday's ''Vengeance'' pay-per-view that all but assured Jericho of the undisputed championship in the main event's title-unification match has put the two at each other's throats. Things are still very fluid, of course, but as of now, it looks as though Vince currently claims, among others, Booker, Kurt Angle, the Undertaker, the Dudleys, and Jericho as his subjects, while Flair appears to have Austin, Rock, Rikishi, and Rob Van Dam on his side.

The big question mark is Triple H, who, despite the promotional posters for ''Vengeance,'' still hasn't made his return from quadricep surgery. He's guaranteed that he'll be at January’s ''Royal Rumble,'' but look for him to show up sooner rather than later. But on whose side?

The next few weeks promise to be very interesting as the two factions slowly cleave into full-fledged sports-entertainment entities. Under one scenario, the two groups will be largely independent, with one featured on ''RAW,'' the other on ''Smackdown!'' A couple of PPVs a year — most likely at Wrestlemania and Summerslam — will feature inter-promotion action.

If all this is true, I'd suggest: 1) Watch closely over the next few weeks, as the WWF is bound to set the stage with a slew of hard-fought rivalries, alliances and swerves, and 2) Enjoy this anything-goes transition period, where anyone on the WWF's huge roster can potentially be booked to fight anyone else.

The bad news is that, come 2002, those booking possibilities will become seriously diminished (for instance, if the current allegiances were to hold, there would only be two opportunities a year to see Angle vs. the Rock, or Austin vs. the Taker, for example). The good news is, two promotions means twice the subplots and, presumably, some new blood to fill out the two rosters (Scott Steiner? Goldberg? Rey Mysterio Jr.?). Stay tuned.

Are you looking forward to a dual-promotion WWF?

Originally posted Dec 11, 2001
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