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Dr. Tom




Damn you, Vince McMahon. You had to go and do it. It wasn't enough for you to own your own wrestling company, plus the remains of two others, was it? It wasn't enough to have both your Heirs To The Empire involved with those two erstwhile promotions, was it? It wasn't enough for you to promise to grind those two promotions under your heel, was it? No, it apparently wasn't. Damn you, Vince.

You made me mark out all over again.

I was never one of the "Mutants from Philly" ECW marks when that promotion was in its heyday. But on Raw, when ten workers and Paul E. announced the invasion had just been taken "to the extreme?" Yeah, I was marking out right there in my den. Raven, Taz(z), The Dudleys, Lance Storm, Mike Awesome, Rhyno, RVD, Tommy Dreamer, Justin Credible . . . ok, they're missing Jerry Lynn and Tajiri (for now), but isn't it cool to have ECW back in the house? If the WWF is smart, they'll milk the chaos this creates for a few months, getting maximum mileage out of the "ECW!" chants that seem to break out on every show.

I was never a big fan of WCW, either. Unfortunately, I took my lengthy sabbatical from watching or following wrestling (1989-1998) during their best periods, and only started watching when they were already on the slippery slope to oblivion. So I missed the halcyon days of the NWO when it was fresh. Hey, but how about that New Blood Rising? Oh, right. Toward the end, I thought they developed some good workers for the future (many of the cruisers and the NBT), but the old politicians still took up too much space on the roster and time on the tube. But recently, with the invasion, my interest in WCW has been piqued. The WWF has signed the vast majority of their good workers (and a few shoddy ones, too, but they're learning right, Buff?), and with an infusion from some WWF guys, the WCW relaunch should be a success.

Until Raw this past Monday, I was convinced the Invasion angle was doomed. They were horribly bungling it at every opportunity. But they took a good first step by finally making Shane a heel. That gets the rest of his guys heel heat, too, which is what invaders should have. Of course, the ECW roster got face pops, but there are Mutants in every WWF crowd. In short order, as WCW/ECW causes enough chaos, the boos will rain down on the ECW contingent, as well. They need to make a statement by hurting someone, though. If Benoit had been able to wait a couple of weeks to have his surgery, they could have "hurt" him, thus making the big statement they've really yet to make. But there's still time for that.

Now that the dust has settled and the mark-out adrenaline rush has abated, I can look at Raw and see the classic signs of Vince Russo booking: swerves and turns galore, general chaos, and a feeling at the end best summed up as "WTF?" The difference between Raw and most Russo booking is that Raw was good Russo booking. Russo just used bad Russo booking. You know you're hopeless when you can't even plagiarize yourself without looking like an ass. Anyway, instead of Russo's usual train wreck, Raw came off as well-orchestrated chaos. Good chaos. The kind of chaos that gets you to mark out instead of scratch your head and shout, "Put down the crack pipe, Russo!"

Where this leaves the WWF in storyline terms is very up in the air right now. I thought the end of the divorce angle, promised the day after the Invasion PPV, would neatly tie up all the loose ends and divide up the TV time. After all, why have the wrestlers battle it out when the McMahons can put themselves over in the resolution? But with the invasion now in a much higher gear, I'm not sure they'll go that way anymore. They still could, but that would be immensely disappointing. The best thing they could do is have Linda refuse any settlement for now because Vince's empire is already divided. This could lead to Linda trying to put everything back together, and make Vince a reluctant hand in the splintering of his own company just to keep half of it away from his wife. The added benefit here is that any TV time WCW gets would be earned in the ring, not in a deus ex machina "divorce settlement."

The invasion has now gone extreme. It's also gotten a whole lot more interesting and been salvaged from the crapper it had been in the first two weeks. I hadn't really marked out in a while, and Raw had me marking out like a ten year-old at a Hulk Hogan match.

Damn you, Vince.

And thank you.

Dr. Tom

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