Column: Bookers Make The Stars

by Will Benson on 19th July 2008

First of all, since this is my first column, i’d like to go ahead and say hello. In the internet wrestling community I go by Roxxi Laveaux Fanboy. Elsewhere I go by my lifelong moniker of Tsaalyo Phoenix. But if you want, just call me by my real name, Adam. I look forward to entertaining you all with my comments and opinions. If there’s one thing I don’t do, it’s follow the crowd. Most of my opinions tend to conflict with the majority, so look forward to that in everything I write. Now then…

“Ric Flair was a 16 time world champion! Triple H is a 12 time world champion! Booker T is a 5 time 5 time 5 time 5 time 5 time WCW champion!”

If you could stop acting like winning a championship on a scripted television program is some kind of notable accomplishment, that’d be great.

Now don’t get me wrong, those three people are/were absolutely amazing athletes, and they certainly do deserve a lot of praise for what they are/were capable of. But more and more, I don’t see them being praised like that. I see people worshipping them, and their main selling points being their kayfabe accomplishments. Do you know what goes into winning the WWE or TNA Championship? It takes the writers coming together and saying “then ________ will take the title from ________ at No Surrender, but ________ will win it back at Bound for Glory after surprise interference from ________.” Being a 12 time world champion simply means that the writers decided that your name would fill in that victorious blank twelve times in your career.

And coming off of that point, I submit to you that for the most part, the bookers make the stars, not the athletes. For example: what do you get when you take a Booker T, subtract all title reigns, and if he fails to get over immediately in a feud you throw him on ECW/the lower card and don’t give him any mic time or notable push? You get Shelton Benjamin, Elijah Burke, or Elix Skipper. What do you get when you take a tag team that the crowd goes absolutely insane over, remove their titles, switch their brand, and them force them to job for a year? Paul London and Brian Kendrick. They’re not any less talented than they used to be; they have full ability to steal the show just like they did when they held the tag titles longer than any other team; but now when they come out it’s in virtual silence. The bookers took two superstars who once lit up entire stadiums and absolutely killed their careers, and now nobody cares about them.

Look at The Rock. Talented, godlike mic skills; he will be remembered forever. But what would have happened if WWE decided not to push him? What if they stuck him in the midcard and didn’t give him any mic time? Would you today be inquiring as to what The Rock was cooking? No. You’d remember him as… what am I saying, you wouldn’t remember him at all, unless he pulled a Damien Demento and started Youtubing.

Look at Triple H. He went from jobbing to Ultimate Warrior and getting the Pedigree unsold in a squash match at Wrestlemania to being what he is today, all because of bookers giving him the air time and allowing him to show the world what he could be.

Look at Jessica Kresa, aka ODB. She was originally in WWE development, but WWE didn’t want to do anything with her and TNA picked her up. If she joined the Divas, do you think crowds would be on their feet chanting her name even when she wasn’t even in the match? Of course not. She’d be in bikini contests and jobbing to Kelly Kelly. The talent, the presence of Jessica would never be realized.

How about Kurt Angle? Stadiums lit up for him in WWE, then he was sent to ECW to job to everyone and nobody really cared about him. Then he moved to TNA, was given air time, and now crowds light up once again. They boo mostly, but he’s a heel, that means he’s doing it right.

Christian was completely wasted in WWE; he was only notable because he was with Edge. But then he jumped ship to TNA, and now crowds light up with “INSTANT CLASSIC!” Clap, clap, clapclapclap. “INSTANT CLASSIC!” Clap, clap, clapclapclap. And while we’re on the subject of WWE-wasted talent that thanks to TNA booking crowds go insane over, take a look at Gail Kim.

Vladimir Kozlov. Nobody cared enough to cheer or boo him, but WWE bookers kept pushing him. His local talent jobbers got bigger pops than he did during the squash matches, but WWE bookers kept pushing him. And lo and behold, now he’s over. Just on a midcard level perhaps, but people slowly grew to like him because he was given a hard, dedicated push by the bookers.

I could go on but I think the point is made. Bookers alone make the stars. There are people who deserve to be in the main event but aren’t (Shelton Benjamin, Elix Skipper, Paul London, Brian Kendrick, Eric Young, Elijah Burke, Jacqueline Moore), and there are people in the main event who have absolutely no business being in it (I’ll leave this list up to you). There is a limit to this of course – the crowd will catch on to a superstar having absolutely no talent (Voodoo Kin Mafia), but when it comes right down to it, you only cheer for who the bookers let you cheer for. If The Rock was never pushed, perhaps he’d have a sort of cult following like Shelton Benjamin has thanks to his unmatched ring abilities, but the vast majority of wrestling fans would not care about him. They’d be on their feet screaming for whoever the bookers decided to give the championships to instead.

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