10 Wrestling Bookers Who Damaged Their Own Promotions

When self-sabotage wins the race.

Vince Russo

Running a wrestling promotion is one of the hardest jobs there is in the creative world. One is not dealing with actors, nor are they dealing with competitive sportsmen.

They're butting heads with personalities.

Tailoring stories and characterisations to fit each member of a (presumably) eccentric and intimidating roster is a tall order. It's why for every successful promoter in history, there are 20 flops.

Staying with the times is another particularly hard objective as the years roll by. During his reign in ECW, Paul Heyman would model many of his characters on hip cultural and musical trends of the time. Characters like Raven, The Gangstas and The Public Enemy got immensely over because of it. Pulling this off successfully though is lightning in a bottle and Heyman's knack for the cultural zeitgeist is often what set him apart (that and his horrifying finances at the time).

Sadly the more common trope is to fail to keep up with the times successfully, leading to a stale, dated product that frustrates the wrestlers as much as the fans. For this and a whole lot of considerably worse reasons, plentiful promoters have wound up horribly hampering their own products.

Here are the worst offenders...

10. Dusty Rhodes (Jim Crockett Promotions)

Vince Russo

The longtime fan favourite enjoyed a bump up the corporate ladder in 1985 when he started booking Jim Crockett Promotions. Rhodes had plenty of solid ideas and a sharp eye for talent. He also didn't go out of his way to put the gold on himself like many bookers in a similar position might have.

That being said, even without the title, Rhodes ensured nearly every major angle was, in some way, really about him. One could almost call it the Dustyverse...

From putting the clamps on potentially rising babyface stars (bar Magnum TA, who Rhodes believed was a big star in waiting) to constantly handing himself big sympathy angles against The Four Horsemen, Rhodes remained front and centre. At a glance, this may not seem like a huge deal given his popularity but it ultimately soured many of JCP's core fan base on him.

When JCP acquired Bill Watts' Universal Wrestling Federation in 1987, Rhodes booked the subsequent invasion angle into oblivion. A quick series of title unification matches terminated the credibility of the invading roster almost immediately. Given the likes of Steve Williams (no, not that one), The Fabulous Freebirds and Rick Steiner came over with the purchase, this proved highly counter-productive business-wise.

Additional issues with Rhodes' booking lie predominantly in his much too stringent approach to wrestling psychology. 'The American Dream' was aghast at the thought of a babyface losing clean. Given JCP's fondness for long term heel champions like Ric Flair, this leads to endless false and non-finishes. No one likes a non-ending, especially when they paid good money to see it. The practice was so prevalent that such conclusions have become known as a 'Dusty Finish' in the years since.

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