But Mike Flaherty wonders if this inscrutable episode bodes well or ill for the future of ''RAW''
Vince McMahon

The WWF decimates the renegade Alliance

After Sunday’s ”No Mercy,” a pay per view that was long on grappling expertise and short on plotline advancement, the Oct. 22 ”RAW ” (Mondays, TNN, 9p.m.) opened with a beaming Vince and Linda McMahon, striding to the ring hand-in-hand to dress down their silver-spooned spawn, Stephanie and Shane (woo-hoo!), and pledge the end of the Alliance (D’Oh!). As it turned out, the WWF did indeed decimate the renegade faction, prevailing in six of last night’s seven bouts (the lone Alliance winner being golden boy Rob Van Dam) and in the process gaining control of WCW’s Cruiserweight and U.S. titles, and the WWF European and tag team belts.

Hopefully, this will turn out to be the first brilliant step toward some dramatic coherence between the warring parties, whether in the confines of one mega promotion or two distinct entities, but the WWF-Alliance conflict has been so ineptly handled thus far that marks have got a right to be highly skeptical. And this inscrutable program did not inspire confidence.

Kidman vs. Tajiri, Bradshaw vs. The Hurricane, Rob Van Dam vs. Big Show, Rock and Jericho vs. The Dudleys
These matchups looked like the bill from one of the WWF’s international pay-per-views, which showcase a helluva lot of talent but often have little or no connection to the storylines we see in the States. In the case of Kidman and the Hurricane, it also perpetuated the mistreatment of promising Alliance stars who are being squashed in order to push WWF talent.

Test and Booker T vs. Undertaker and Kane
Another victim of wrongheaded WWF scheduling is Booker T, who has been doing the job and playing the fool for too long. He did it again tonight. Beside, shouldn’t this foursome’s angle have been resolved at No Mercy?

Mighty Molly and Ivory vs. Lita and Trish Stratus
An utterly lackluster, meaningless matchup that resurrects a nagging complaint: The WWF needs to decide whether or not it wants to have a women’s division. If so, they need to get serious about it and feature regular matches and ongoing feuds. And, for God’s sake, retrieve the title belt (left unclaimed since Chyna’s unceremonious departure) and make it mean something. If not, keep the hotties around as dastardly valets, a grappling tradition that, sadly, has been pretty much abandoned in the wake of the WWF’s ”Attitude” era.

Time will tell whether WWF fans are in store for a brave new world or the same old story. What do you think?

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