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Rare example of GOOD 50-50 booking?

> Hey Scott,
>
> Loyal Blog of Doom reader and occasional poster. Love the site, of course.
>
> I was thinking about past Wrestlemanias and examples of when WWE used the event to create new stars.  One of the first matches to come to mind was Rick Rude beating The Ultimate Warrior for the I-C belt at WM IV.  At the time Warrior was red hot, still basking in the glow of the HTM squash the previous summer.  Although he held the belt for a healthy 7 months, others (Savage, Santana, Honky himself) held it much longer previously. Warrior was clearly an up-and-coming star snd feeding him to Rude risked killing his momentum dead.  And although you could argue giving Rude the belt was creating a new star, the plan was simply for Rude to drop the belt back at Summerslam.  So, bam, instead of having two up and coming stars, you have the dreaded 50-50 booking of two guys with major PPV losses (to each other) on their records.
>
> Yet somehow both guys emerged from this feud stronger than ever despite the mutual jobs. It definitely helped when WWF began putting Warrior over Andte in 90-second squash matches on the house shows and pairing Rude with Piper on the opposite house circuit, but still, you had two guys survive big losses and move up the card.  It was perfect, almost the complete po site result you see these days when two guys trade non-decisive wins and wind up no better than where they started from.  Any idea how this worked, other than the sheets talent and/or charisma of the two guys involved?
>
>

Yeah, actually it used to be the rule.  Basically you'd have Killer Khan come in and destroy his way up the food chain from Pedro Morales to Koko B Ware to Brutus Beefcake and then finally the program with Hogan around the horn.   He'd make money and get the rub (especially if there was a big SNME blowoff) and then he would go back down the ladder in reverse on the way out.   Job to Beefcake, job to Koko, finally job to Pedro and leave.   You've just spread the Hogan rub over four guys,  and everyone ends up a bigger star.   Somewhere along the way that got perverted into skipping the vital middle steps and just trading wins right away.  

Comments

  1. For me, the best example is the rock/mankind feud.You had them swapping the belt back and forth like in a 7-game series where the teams are evenly matched and could win any game. They both upped their game for the next match and then the next match; if there was another match, you would have no idea who would come out as the winner. It elevated the rock from a wise-cracking midcarder to a serious wrestlemania main eventer and mankind from an upper midcarder to the second hottest face (right behind the most over face ever).

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  2. If this happened today, Warrior would have squashed HTM. Then jobbed 4 weeks in a row on Raw to set up a 5 man ladder match at the next PPV and then job the title off without being pinned. Then stuck on Prime Time Wrestling jobbing to Chico Santana while being made fun of by Gorilla and Heenan. Meanwhile Vince would wonder why Warrior didn't reach for the brass ring.

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  3. Great 50-50 feud muta vs sting. If you have t seen it from 1989 check out their matches for the tv title

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  4. The "Ken Patera Story" was a typical example of McMahon rewriting history to suit his needs. Generally by this point, anything that happened before 1984 didn't happen unless you were still with the company. They acknowledged Patera's Intercontinental title reign but they glossed over the fact that the Grand Wizard was his manager at the time not Bobby Heenan who was still with the AWA at that point. Plus, up to this point Patera was basically a career long heel and Heenan was just another heel manager he aligned himself with, not the cause of him "going down a dark path." Yes, he did start his second, then most recent stint, with the WWF with Heenan whom he aligned himself with in the AWA but I'm not sure wrestling fans of the time could recall a time when he was ever a face. This is not like an "Andre the Giant" who was a well known face who became a heel after associating with someone like Heenan, this was Ken Patera someone who always been a heel and always associated himself with the top heel manager within whatever territory he was in. Plus his constant complaining about not hearing from Heenan while in prison came across as whining. Why should Heenan, who is his business manager, write someone who couldn't make him money while locked up.

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  5. Mankind was behind Hulk Hogan?

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  6. Excellent example. And I'd even argue that Rock/HHH in '98 is also in that canon. They were both clear midcarders when it started. They traded wins, HHH wins the big blowoff at Summerslam 98, and Rock is suddenly a main eventer with HHH not far behind (and likely wouldn't have been very far behind at all if not for his knee injury).

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  7. The "Monster of the Month" booking style would actually be a useful tool in this era of monthly special events.

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  8. I think if WWF in 1989 existed in today's climate, then Warrior would be Reigns and Perfect would be Bryan.

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  9. Where you gonna get the monsters though? NXT can only produce so many. Back in the territory days there were much more WWF could bring in.

    Heck, if there were more monsters out there Kane and Big Show would've been replaced a long time ago.

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  10. The Amazing GamecockMarch 10, 2015 at 8:04 PM

    This is how it goes today:

    Wrestler A wins a title.
    Wrestler A loses four weeks in a row because he said something stupid on Twitter/Vince forgets who he is
    Wrestler A does nothing for 6 months until Vince remembers who he is.

    Vince is so out of touch and insecure he will do anything to protect his brand.

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  11. Wrestler A finally loses title to Wrestler B.
    Cycle continues

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  12. The Amazing GamecockMarch 10, 2015 at 8:08 PM

    When I was young I us'd to wait
    On Massa and hand him de plate;
    Pass down de bottle when he git dry,
    And bresh away de blue tail fly.
     Jimmy Jack Funk and I don't care
     Jimmy Jack Funk and I don't care,
     Jimmy Jack Funk and I don't care,
     Ole Massa gone away

    - folk song sung by Vince McMahon growing up in his sharecroppers shed.

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  13. That is a big problem these days, everyone sticks around too long. Most of the memorable WWF runs were only 2-5 years at most, whereas most of the guys on the roster have been around for over seven or eight years. Heck, Kane is approaching twenty years with that character. The entire roster is pretty stale.

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  14. "Basically you'd have Killer Khan come in and destroy his way up the food chain from Pedro Morales to Koko B Ware to Brutus Beefcake and then finally the program with Hogan around the horn."

    I wasn't watching in the early 80s. I know Pedro was on the twilight of his career but was he really lower on the todem pole than Koko?

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  15. Pedro wasn't beating anybody by the late 80s. Koko got a decent push at first.

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  16. Im pretty sure warrior won all his matches between his two meetings with rude. And rude didnt get pinned in non title matches either. Thats the difference. They kept keeping them strong with jobbed and JTTS.

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  17. You know what else they didn't do during Warrior/Rude? DISTRACTION ROLL-UP FINISHES.

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  18. Wait! you are telling me the IC champ doesn't lose in non-title matches to jobbers? that's crazy talk.

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  19. I KNOW! ITS INSANE! HOW DID THEY EVEN MAKE MONEY THEN??????

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  20. You also had guys win squash matches on tv every week in the old days. You didn't really see them lose unless u went to the show or it was a PPV or big tv event. You felt more guys were a threat and could pull off a big win. When you have champions jobbing every week, no one is taken seriously.

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  21. Honky Tonk Man is still doing jobs to make back that IC Title run.

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  22. And those job guys knew their role and didn't complain. They were aware they weren't stars and that their job was to go out and make someone look like an experienced threat. And it helped that guys like say Tito near the end could get squash match victories all year so that you could buy him in his obligatory opening natch slot Wrestle mania slot putting over the new flavor of the time

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  23. Guys are much bigger marks for themselves these days

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  24. Yeah, Heenan grabbed the leg instead.

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  25. So after WM... Rusev can return jobs to a bunch of black guys for the year?

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  26. The real IC title died when Ultimate Warrior surrendered it. The one we have seen ever since is a lame imitation.

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  27. looking at guys like rude, jake, dibiase and even savage, it's amazing how short their careers were in WWE.


    Savage was only in WM2-8 as a wrestler. Dibiase was only in 4-9

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  28. Guys cycling in and out was a huge bonus in retrospect. They can freshen the scene up more often, and guys can go and rebuild elsewhere.

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  29. Rusev vs. Swagger with Swagger finally winning after coming up short 10 times over the last year would do wonders for that character. For the 2 months they were actually doing that feud seriously, that was the best put together feud on the whole program.

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  30. That there's no competition or territory system is a part of this, but that the wrestling business has gotten smarter and safer, wrestlers have gotten smarter and safer and now guys CAN make it to the main event by 28 and still be able to work at that level by 42 is a problem I don't think the business as a whole ever anticipated having to deal with and thus they have no clue what to do about it.

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  31. It is also weird that we look at guys like Cena, Orton, and other guys in their mid-30s as old whereas in earlier eras guys their age would be reaching their peaks in terms of being draws. Someone like Cody Rhodes who is only 29 seems old to the fans due to his WWE run of eight years and counting.

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  32. Storyline reasons aside, I never understood Patera blaming his actions on Heenan. How exactly did Heenan force Patera to hurl a boulder through a restaurant window?

    This was one of the few cases where Heenan, a dastardly heel, was completely in the right while Patera, a sympathetic babyface, was completely in the wrong.

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  33. AverageJoeEverymanMarch 10, 2015 at 9:20 PM

    Good thing Perfect didn't know that when he died.

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  34. Booker T/Benoit Best of 7 series. Made BOTH guys

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  35. 50-50 booking in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just how it's presented. As others have noted, feuds like Rock/HHH or Rock/Foley had that feel of a playoff series that goes to a seventh game, since both foes are so evenly matched that any result could happen.

    That's because all these matches MATTERED and each result led into the other. Today, you'll have a situation like the Usos facing Kidd/Cesaro on literally six consecutive TV shows, each bout is between 4-10 minutes long, they all hit mostly the same spots, trade wins...and none of it matters. The announcers spent maybe 40% of the match on the feud's same talking points, and the rest of it discussing main eventers or inane bullcrap. The matches and wrestlers are both treated like literal filler to pad out the three-hour broadcast, and after years of seeing midcarders presented in this way, the audience has been conditioned to not care.

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  36. absolutely. it especially helped to familiarize they audience with and at the same time put over their moveset.

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  37. I think it's not even necessary for A to say something stupid etc. I truely believe that those "in charge" think that being a champion already makes the workers kind of "bulletproof" and that because of that they can afford to lose (the classic misconception that the belt makes the wrestler instead of the other way around).

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  38. That's a really important point about a wrestler's age.

    Big Show was a main eventer in his first match and was 23.

    He's been a top guy that entire time. No wonder we think he's stale.

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  39. Smh

    Really? 2015 and you guys still argue if W/L count in a rigged non sport? Jesus...are we going to debate climate change next?

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  40. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogMarch 10, 2015 at 11:08 PM

    Guys trading wins makes a feud better when used.sparingly and with actual stakes. Booker vs Benoit was such an even match up that they traded wins and had to do a Best of 7 to figure out the better man. Great matches, added meaning to the TV title, and both guys came out of it better for it. The Angle-Benoit and Rey-Eddie matches had a similar feel where you believed either guy could win on any given night

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  41. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogMarch 10, 2015 at 11:10 PM

    They could have just had Rude keep the belt and defend against Brutus or someone at SummerSlam. Warrior can get revenge on Heenan by beating all his Family and beating Andre at SummerSlam to get 5 min alone with Bobby. Warrior didnt need the belt back if he was getting the world title anyway

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  42. Good call by Eadie to request Fuji over Johnny V.

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  43. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogMarch 10, 2015 at 11:13 PM

    Bret, Hennig, Michaels, Rock, HHH would probably disagree

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  44. 50-50 booking works great when it's an established guy willing to put over a newer talent.


    DDP/Savage feud in '97 was somewhat 50-50, and that shit made DDP.


    It's bad when WWE does it with guys that are already on the same level, where it does absolutely nothing for either guy. Ziggler-Kofi, Cena-Orton, Usos-everyone, etc. They do this all the damn time and all it does is force them to tread water and gradually lose their heat.

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  45. They could disagree all they like, but they would be wrong.

    The IC champ has never been seen on the same level as the WWF champ since Wrestlemania VI.

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  46. Is this Perfects last great match?

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  47. I know Big Show would have had to cooperate, but I remember being impressed when Hennig gave him the Perfectplex.

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  48. Who can work a head lock sequence better - Bret v Henning or Flair v Steamboat?

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  49. What's cool about the early KOTRs is that there was always one ABSOLUTELY BITCHIN match in the Semifinals. In 1993 you got this, and in 1994, you got Owen vs. 1-2-3.

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  50. Trying to remember if there was a good one in 98.

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  51. Severn vs. Rock was amazing from a sociological standpoint (but a train wreck), otherwise Shamrock vs. Jarrett wasn't too bad.

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  52. All I remember of Severn/Rock was D'Lo hitting the Lowdown on Severn while wearing the chest protector.

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  53. All-time clash of styles. Rock had no idea what to do.

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  54. ....listen to JR go with it too.

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  55. Severn wasn't really suited for the WWE. His theme music was badass though.

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  56. I'd upvote you x1000 if I could. A bad motherfucker was walking when that song came on.

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  57. Perfect/Bret? He'd be completely in his element.

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  58. If it didn't likely sound "outdated" to Vince, give that to Reigns if you want him to be over.

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  59. thats a great spot, because its simple. You think its gonna set up the Curt-ziguri and Bret just sweeps the leg

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  60. Or a remade, updated version of it...totally. It's a heel theme, but I'd take that ball and run with it.

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  61. You know what you call that when you do a bunch of cool little shit and build to some bigger moves and move back to a smaller move to gain the advantage and back to a big move? Oh yeah.... its wrestling.

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  62. Or, if Ryback were a heel. Would be better than his Feed Me More music, although I guess it gets a chant from the crowd. I assume, I haven't watched in awhile.

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  63. That would be Benson's greatest "Fuck You", especially if he followed it up by telling his estranged kids "NOW do you wanna buy the team?"

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  64. That's....pretty ingenious actually.


    FEED! ME! MORE! (to those opening drums)

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  65. Listen to that IC TITLE MATTER

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  66. From the fingers to the double suplex over the ropes...


    That alone is ** out of the ****1/2 that this gets.

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  67. Bret OUTWRESTLED Curt for 3 seconds. Thats it.

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  68. Wrestling, dude. The way it should be.

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  69. Steve Gleason's tweet about the Graham trade was just "...Sheesh".

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  70. The soggiest hot dog in the tray, brah.

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  71. The begrudging handshake post match.

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  72. "Maybe the greatest hero in the history of the planet!"


    WOW.


    This is where the power lies.

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  73. Jimmy Hart never fit with Hogan for me....


    Hes supposed to be a bad guy.

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  74. Jimmy Hart...

    That promo...

    Where have I heard that?

    These lyrics...sound totally....American Made......brother.

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  75. He wasn't completely turned from the Darkside, as we'd find out about 9 months later.

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  76. Yeah, that'd be like Heenan managing the Warrior.

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  77. Perfect example....


    "Sorry Hulk. I know I had earthquake try to kill you"

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  78. What was Hart to Hogan? His business manager? Cause it's not like Hulk needed Jimmy to cut promos for him.

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  79. His fucking driver. Pretty much, like hed carry his bags, book him hotels... his gofer.

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  80. Well, his main course was Jimmy, and he had some Beefcake for dessert.

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  81. Kinda makes sense. Jimmy was just riding Hogan's coat tails. Realized after all these years the money he could make with Hogan instead of against him.

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  82. Hogan, at this size...could've totally been able to work with Bret.

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  83. For as much shit as we give Hogan, deservedly so. I always popped for his corner clothesline.

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  84. My feeling was....

    You gave to the Warrior.

    Give Bret a chance.

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  85. Perfect example again is Reigns. Have him use Hogan's corner clothesline. It's an easy enough move for him to pull off, and would look good in his match with Brock.

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  86. Not a bad idea...just...there's a lot of tweaking for Roman that needs done.

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  87. Some big power guy needs to use it again, cause I was always a mark for it. Reigns, Ryback, Cesaro. Somebody.

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  88. Agreed. Johnny Valiant was just... too weird. He felt more like a comedy manager, except they didn't have comedy teams. As mis-cast it seemed to have him managing Brutus and Valentine, he was completely wrong for Demolition.

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  89. The problem of every wrestler nowadays being a wrestling fan first, as opposed to the old days when, for the most part, wrestlers were a) amateur athletes that failed to make it to the pros for a reason or another or b) guys with an impressive look (height or musculature) that were talked by wrestlers and/or promoters to get into wrestling, saying they could make a good buck.
    And for the most part, none of those guys were wrestling fans, so they didn't had any dreams or expectations. They just wanted to get paid.

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  90. That's what you get for not using jobbers. If WWE let local guys come in and have entertaing 4-5 minute matches then their stars could get wins without damaging eachother's pushes. Sadly Vince and co are so paranoid they think a SUPERSTAR getting a few hits from an Indy worker will damage their credibility more then having them run in place until they are fed to the guy above them.

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  91. In the grand scheme of life W/L records of real sports don't mean anything either. People like to discuss how booking affects the presentation.

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  92. Battle Kat LitterMarch 11, 2015 at 4:06 AM

    I agree with this, but I'm old school

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  93. Battle Kat LitterMarch 11, 2015 at 4:16 AM

    Not so much W/L records, but being a rigged 'sport' you should be able to make everything exciting in a way that real sport can't. Imagine if you could book an NFL season. It would be the most exciting season ever! There would be close finishes, comebacks, underdog stories, rivalries which have a conclusion, dream matches. Yet, in the only truly rigged sport out there they are failing miserably to build any anticipation or excitement at all!

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  94. But why? For example King of the Ring 2000 had in the quarterfinals Angle, Jericho, Benoit and Eddie. And one semifinal was Rikishi vs Val Venis and not Benoit vs Guerrero. The final match could have been Angle vs Benoit, but we got Angle vs Rikishi instead. Why? It's like chosing bronze over gold, because you want to make the silver looking better...

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  95. It's not the actual number of wins & losses that matter: it's the perception of the fans of who are winners & losers. If all the wrestlers do is trade wins then they are all perceived as equal, thus no one becomes interesting to root for. You are only left with character & storylines to hold your interest, and classic narrative storytelling usually involves someone overcoming the odds, proving themselves more dominant than an opponent, etc.
    There is no tradition in storytelling of the hero who is no better than anyone else and is regularly defeated by villains half the time. It's even worse when these traded wins move beyond predictable to expected. Imagine watching a "real" sport where every team in the league wins exactly half their games, there are no playoffs, and the champion is picked at random and they too lose half their games. That would be a very boring sport to watch, get emotionally invested in, gamble over, etc.

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  96. Jericho and Benoit's feud from 2000-2001 did a great job of elevating both guys and it was the definition of 50/50. They even traded pins at Wrestlemania 2000.

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  97. "Lukewarm" MrJustinBMarch 11, 2015 at 6:18 AM

    Not that I want to review a review, but I dig the shoot interview tidbits you sprinkle through, Bayless. For a long time I've thought that doing reviews of older shows with a bit of "what we now know" would be a cool idea.

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  98. Thank you. I try to add some facts like that in here based on all of the shoots that I have. I feel like it spices it up a bit.

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  99. I'd agree, but The World Heavyweight Champ vs. The Intercontinental Champ thing was part of the draw at WrestleMania VI. Putting a title against a title meant that both guys had something to lose, even if one of those prizes was valued less than the other.

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  100. "Upping their game" is basically the most important part. The Usos, for instance, were progressing very nicely and putting on really good matches a few years ago, but once they won the titles, they seemed to get kinda lazy.

    The same applies to the matches themselves, as well - a great feud keeps growing in intensity, usually with added stipulations or larger rewards. That was a big part of the short-lived Shield/Evolution feud, one of the only examples in recent memory. I'm not suggesting constant HIAC or TLC matches, but no reason they can't do more "basic" things like 2/3 Falls, Street Fights, Strap Matches, Elimination Matches, etc. If one guy's a submission-based wrestler, do a Submissions Only match one month, and then a No Submissions match the next. Simple stuff that advances the story. Increase the intensity and stakes.

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  101. I think this is more basic booking than the 50-50 we see today. Face gets screwed by heel, face gets revenge. The difference to me is the build. This took months to play out, where now, this would take place in two months at best, and one or two weeks at worst.

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  102. 50/50 booking isn't necessarily a bad thing if it tells a story and if the matches are good. In this case, the angle was great (Rude cheats to win at WM5, Warrior gets revenge at SS), and the matches were really good. I'm a mark for that SS match; the action, the storytelling, and the fantastic commentary by Ventura all make it an easy **** for me.

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  103. I chalk it more to kayfabe.

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