Of particular interest to me in the chapters of Inside Out were the chapters of Ole’s life as a booker. Ole gave great insight into the inner workings of a booker, from having to put up with the “stars” and saying it was the star’s decision or idea, to managing the business in every detail in every wrestling location (p. 160). Ole made the analogy of being a booker is like a salmon swimming upstream, taking the path of least resistance, and when it (he) reaches his goal, it dies (he gets fired). These chapters show how Ole took away the power from Dusty Rhodes in Atlanta and Ole mentions how he always took a stand on important matters otherwise the wrestlers would walk all over him.
These chapters also give us insight into his philosophy which was that he wanted all matches to have a finish in every town, whether it be Atlanta, North Carolina, Georgia or Charlotte; he did not want any draws or disqualifications. Ole also wanted his wrestlers to do real life stuff. He said he didn’t do anything that could not happen in real life. It was interesting that his wrestler baby-face Tommy Rich just had his butt kicked by Abdullah and Barnett wanted to fire the kid, Rich, but Ole said no. Ole had Rich in three rematches—all great bookings—and he lost them all. According to Ole, Rich had a heart of gold and was a fighter who never quit and that was how he was billed by Ole. The fans loved Rich for this. Barnett wanted a 1950s style or formula to make Rich a star, where Rich would beat half of the other faces, and then faceoff against a heel who beat his half of the heels.
Another item that came to life was how much money the bookers, or at least Ole was making at that time, $140,000 in the first year in 1976, and $180,000 the second year and well over $200,000 the third year. Without doing the CPI calculations, it is a safe bet to say this would be well over $500,000 in today’s dollars. This is huge money!
It amazes me how Ole gave this all up for a few years so he could get into the sawmill business. He says he was burnt out, and given the detail of what his booker work entailed, I can see why.