Now I understand not a lot of fans know what 50/50 booking is. Hell, they might not even know what booking is in the first place. Sorry, but the cat was let out of the bag a long time ago- wrestling is predetermined. Yes, someone knows who will win and lose. This is how matches can shape a story between wrestlers and further involve the fans and viewers and allow them to become invested in a particular wrestler or stable. Unlike many other promotions the world over, fans have bemoaned the recent usage of 50/50 booking by the WWE. But before I get into why this is a problem, let me throw a bit of history at you.
“Booking,” simply put is the process of laying out a story line of a match and program (otherwise known as an angle) in advance. The person in charge of this is known backstage as a booker. Guys like Dusty Rhodes was a booker for many promotions before making his way to the WWF/E and was a driving force behind many in ring decisions; who to push (try and make more popular), who would be champion, how would a match end ( this is one instance he is famous for among hardcore fans because he had a go-to way to end some big time matches called “The Dusty Finish“). A booker controlled all in-ring going on’s before WWE’s Attitude Era. Many of these former bookers were former or aging wrestlers that a promotion would hold onto for to their name, ideas, in ring experience and their reputation.
While smaller promotions might use bookers, the WWE uses a team of creative writers that take input from a “creative team,” a sort of council of bookers. Names like, Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara come to mind for being the creative minds behind the early days of WWF RAW. But what happens when you have a group of people that don’t have a true grasp of the business? People who have never run the ropes or have taken a bump, or even spoken into a mic in front of thousands of people before? We get angles that are just flat out horrible. Point in case, Mae Young giving birth to a hand. Yes, she gave birth to a hand, which was supposed to be Mark Henry’s love child. I just wrote that. I’ll never be able to take it back. But the problems many hardcore fans have with booking now are that the days of the “strong” wrestler are almost nonexistent. And the reason behind this? 50/50 booking.
I can remember so many times watching WCW on Saturday night and seeing guys like Vader and Steven Regal come out and trounce other local wrestlers. The “jobber”, or the weak guy, that’s thrown against big names before meaningful matches or angles, had one job: make the bigger name look like a stud – that he was among the elite. The WWE just recently went back to using jobbers, or developmental wrestlers, since the brand split. While yes, they are usually beat to a pulp quickly, it does help make a wrestler look “strong” to the crowd and deserving to win. This process is called a push.
When Seth Rollins went from being a member of the SHIELD to WWE Champion, he was pushed hard. Going from a stable member who would just punish guys, to singles competition with the talent to become a World Champion. Along the way he had his battles that he won against big names proving to fans that he was worthy of the title. This can be considered a good push. One example of a horrible push would be Roman Reigns. The fans didn’t like that he was being pushed as a baby face (good guy) when the crowd absolutely hated his guts, nor did they find him worthy of the championship. Be this for his technical skill in the ring or his promo abilities.
Fans now go from RAW to RAW and Smackdown LIVE to Smackdown LIVE seeing the same matches week in and week out. Wrestler A would beat Wrestler B one week, while the next week Wrestler B would win and so on and so forth until their feud ends in a blow off match at a PPV. This gets tedious. Not every wrestler is equally matched. Some have size, while others have skill over their opponents. This style of booking screams, “Change the channel!” when I see a few guys mixed up in the 50/50 loop. In my eyes WWE Creative teams are to blame for this.
I don’t know what is going on backstage, but after seeing a few squash/jobber matches with Strowman I started to think there might be a bit of a change backstage. It would be great to see the odd run in once in a while. A squash match here and there, but for the love of Thesz, stop the 50/50 booking! It doesn’t help either wrestler. Some days I wish for another Dusty Finish. I really do. Tell us what you think in the comments below! Do you think we’ve seen the last days of 50/50 booking, or could this just be a bump and it’ll come back even strong in the days to come?