Throughout wrestling history, nearly every promoter has relied on his or her wits and instincts. They’ve also relied upon at least one booker and a guy to coordinate with talent. This process usually works in concert to produce great rosters for paying fans to come out and see.
Jim Ross is probably the most famous Head Of Talent Relations there ever was. Good Ol’ JR has stated over the years that he ran his department as if he was a head coach building up a sports team. Just like a lot of great sports dynasties, not all rosters live up to their full potential.
7 Early 80s AWA
Founded by Verne Gagne in 1969 the AWA existed for more than thirty years as a stronghold Territory throughout the northern Mid-American states and parts of Canada. But when Vince decided to take the WWE National, Verne was one of the big names that chose to stand against instead of stand with and make more money.
For a brief time, he had the roster to do so. With Mean Gene on the stick, Bobby Heenan managing the likes of Nick Bockwinkel, who was AWA champion, Jesse Ventura, a young Curt Hennig, and a certain red and yellow mammoth of a man all crossed into AWA territory. But once financial issues hit, all the big names left. Had Verne opted to work with Vince, there would be a much different history told.
6 Early 1990s WCW
WWE and The McMahon Family should thank their lucky stars of the short-sightedness of WCW in the early 90s. They had all sorts of up-and-coming young talent that had they let flourish, there’s a good chance that there wouldn’t have been a need to oust Booker after Booker and eventually land on Bischoff.
But Easy E also made some early moves that looking back we’re quite detrimental. Perhaps the biggest offenses were Booker Ole Anderson telling a future Deadman he would never draw a dime and Bischoff firing Austin via FedEx.
5 1990s ECW
Paul Heyman’s eye for talent seemingly knows no bounds. It’s just his wallet and ability to save money and tell the truth comes into question sometimes. Particularly when discussing the history of ECW. While the paragon of violence was able to showcase dozens of talents – many of whom are still active on top of today’s wrestling world. Eddie Guerrero became a legend. Chris Jericho is the top attraction of AEW. Rey Mysterio is the first ever active wrestler to also be a Hall Of Famer.
Wrestlers like The Dudley Boys and Tommy Dreamer would have never been given a shot anywhere else, but because they succeeded in ECW, they were given the tools needed to succeed anywhere.
4 Mid-2000s TNA
If you listen to folks that were there like Eric Bischoff and Bruce Prichard, the main Brain trust of TNA was usually a disjointed mess. Vince Russo, the aforementioned Bischoff (who was also Hogan’s proxy), Prichard, Dixie Carter, and a random cast of characters all had the company’s best interests in mind. But they seldom could agree on what those best interests were.
That meant all sorts of instances of one hand not knowing what the other hand was doing. It also meant that a slew of legends like The Main Event Mafia and fast rising greats like AJ Styles and Samoa Joe were left in the lurch.
3 2018-2019 WWE
In 2017, a Twitter wager between Cody Rhodes and human paraquat Dave Meltzer became the impetus for the first ever All In. From that moment forward, up until the launch of AEW, WWE was doing all it could to hoard a bunch of talent and lock them down into contracts. It’s a shame that indie stars were just gobbled up without any clear direction on their character.
As for WWE, they weren’t just gearing up for their own expansions, they were gearing up for the Wednesday Night War. The pandemic had changed a lot of those plans, which left a lot of the roster that had been signed hung out to dry, and they headed to AEW anyway at the first chance they got.
2 2001 WWE
While there have been a lot of big weeks and years for several companies and the industry at large, there might not have been a more exhilarating multi-week period than when WWE had actually bought their largest competitor – WCW, WrestleMania 17 happened, and ECW went under as well.
One might think that with the influx of talent that WWE would have made the craziest Invasion storyline of all time leading into have three separate brands and shows. Seemingly it was a combination of ego and unwillingness to build up some of the new talent to the level they needed to be in order to make The Invasion angle truly work.
Instead, WWE just kept relying on their already established stars and of course, oversaturated the storyline with more McMahon family drama. By the time the Invasion storyline finally ended at Survivor Series 2001, it was not a moment too soon.
1 2021-2022 AEW
With just two hours a week and Tony Khan collecting talent like Dark Helmet collects space toys, AEW had an embarrassment of riches on their hands.
However, with the lack of hours to showcase it and storylines not being given enough time to grow, mature, flush out these characters, the fans are left to decide and decipher what the angles are and that isn’t always a good thing.