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April 1, 2002 Observer Newsletter: WWF brand split begins, Steve Austin goes home

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The World Wrestling Federation took one of its biggest risks in years by going through with the long proposed brand split and draft on 3/25 while arguably its biggest drawing card, and one of the key people in making this split work, was sitting at home.

The plan had always been that with the popularity of Steve Austin and Rock, that each would head up a brand, and with only one chance per week to see each of them, it would be strong enough to maintain current ratings and sell tickets in major cities on the road even with what on paper would be less talent depth.

Austin walked out after Wrestlemania, and after attempts all week for a reconciliation failed, didn't appear at television this week either. The original plans were for Austin to be the top draw on Ric Flair's Raw show. They built an angle for TV around Austin not being there, saying that due to a contractual situation, Austin couldn't be picked in the draft, selling the idea that Austin would go to the highest bidder.

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