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FRIDAY

Pity Vince McMahon: A year ago, when he bought out his last national rival, AOL Time Warner’s World Championship Wrestling, it seemed as if nothing could stop the World Wrestling Federation juggernaut. Since then, he’s seen a steady ratings submission. Formerly the undisputed king of cable, wrestling was recently body-slammed out of first place by a certain foul-mouthed rock ‘n’ roll family. Stuck with a roster featuring talent who had mostly bolted in the ’90s to join the WCW—and who have since come back into obedient orbit around the McMahon sun—the organization now hosts matches (even main-event ones) whose participants, if not actually on Social Security, are at least receiving those retirement projections every year. And an aging workforce (pictured) isn’t Vince’s only problem. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, arguably the WWF’s biggest draw, walked out on two scheduled TV broadcasts and is now off the current roster. But the biggest blow came not from petulant talent or rival impresarios; it came from a panda. On June 17, Great Britain’s House of Lords ruled that the World Wildlife Fund had sole rights to the initials WWF. Despite an ad campaign with the slogan “Get the ‘F’ Out,” the loss of one of the world’s most recognizable brands will not help the newly named, stumbling WWE. Add to that a product whose most interesting story line at the moment involves 1996 Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle and a wig, and you have to feel for Vince. Come support a struggling counterculture entrepreneur at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 28, at the MCI Center, 601 F St. NW. $18-$40. (202) 432-7328. (Janet Hopf)