In Matysik’s piece, “The War,” he brings up a real issue that had always been a part of wrestling and that is how bookers who also happen to be wrestlers balance making decisions that benefit the business and those that benefit themselves. This is one of those examples that really show what our guest has been writing about. For bookers, wrestling is business and not entertainment. I was astounded to read about the way Harley Race would book matches for himself. I take different conclusions from his actions and those like him. This kind of booking was part of what brought the downfall of the NWA and led to the emergence of the WWF and WCW. Booking the top star in a territory and having him lose only on rare occasions and have losses come by disqualification may make the crowd angry or turn away from a product that did not fulfill their need to see a new champion or title change or to see a new star rise. Old bookers like Verne Gagne and Fritz Von Erich were also wrestlers and bookers at the same time but they did not fall into this self preserving pattern. Sure, Gagne was the champion most of the time but he did put the business before himself and thought about how to move forward and not just keep himself at the top. Similar situations have arisen before. The Cliq, which supposedly had lots of creative control in the WWF in the mid 90’s used their influence to keep themselves from losing matches. Triple H in the WWF and later WWE would seemingly keep himself at the top at the cost of keeping rising stars like Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit down. Though it does seem that having bookers and wrestlers separate kept things fresh and was key to the success of the WWF. New stars could rise but I do think that there will be periods where wrestlers will put themselves before the business and the fans.
I also found the way Matysik writes about Vince McMahon Jr to be really interesting. It seems like he is putting a lot of effort to not show anger or disdain for Vince McMahon. Vince did put him out of business and Matysik did describe different situations where Vince was doing shady things like trying to woo television stations that Matysik had his program in. I think that there is a lot of respect for Vince in this article. It is pointed out many times that the NWA territories were not doing the right things to react to the onslaught of the WWF. They set themselves up to fail by establishing a business model that did not take into account any sort of business. So this respect for Vince could come from the fact that he saw the opportunity to make wrestling bigger than it was, something the territory bookers did not want to do. He also respects Vince for giving him a job that let him be a family man and what Vince did for the business and made it what it is today.