What’s the story?
Gedo, the creative genius behind New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s explosive resurgence since the dawn of 2010s, was recently voted the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Best Booker of 2017.
In case you didn’t know…
This award recognizes those bookers that use their creative intelligence and understanding of the intricacies of pro wrestling to create storylines and matches that yield a huge return.
Previous winners include: Giant Baba for his booking of All Japan Pro-Wrestling during the early 1990s, Paul Heyman for his ECW promotion, Vince McMahon for his booking of the golden years of the Austin/Attitude Era, and Gabe Sapolsky for booking Ring of Honor during its strong early years during the mid-2000s.
As a wrestler, Gedo has been an accomplished wrestler, winning multiple awards and titles throughout his native Japan. But it’s his skill as a booker – a term used to describe a match-maker and creative decision-maker in pro wrestling – that has made him into such an important person in today’s wrestling world.
The heart of the matter
Gedo won this award by an absolute landslide, to the point that it wasn’t even a contest. Both Triple H and Jun Akiyama, the second and third place bookers, respectively, received less than 5% of the amount of votes that Gedo won.
This 2017 marks the second year in a row that Gedo won it by himself, and his sixth win overall as he shared the award between 2011 and 2014 with his former tag team partner Jado.
With this streak, Gedo has won this award more than any other booker. Even both Paul Heyman and Gabe Sapoplsky (whom Heyman once called his protégé) only won this award four times each, while Gedo has won it a total of six times.
With NJPW’s product being so popular right now, there isn’t likely to be any major change in NJPW’s booking staff or booking philosophy anytime soon.
As such, you can expect Gedo to be in the same role for a long time, especially now that the company’s wrestling product continues to make significant inroads to the WWE-controlled North American wrestling market.
As NJPW’s head booker, Gedo deserves immense credit for NJPW’s success. He has done something that few bookers in recent years have done: he has basically allowed NJPW’s wrestlers to create their own gimmicks that are done the ‘Stone Cold way’, meaning that they’re extensions of the personalities of the wrestlers portraying them.
By making the wrestlers invest in their own characters in this manner, Gedo is giving each wrestler a reason to work as hard as possible so that each character/act does its best to become as popular as possible.
Moreover, Gedo has given some wrestlers extensive freedom to help their characters evolve. Take The Elite, for example. The Young Bucks and their various friends and stablemates have come together in a weekly show called ‘Being The Elite’, which showcases their lives inside the ring and outside it.
The Bucks’ tongue-in-cheek jokes about the wrestling business and ever-growing popularity has made them into one of the biggest draws in the wrestling world (it also helps that they have well over 100,000 YouTube subscribers).
Their show has become so influential that storylines that take place on their show have been written into the Bucks’ actual in-ring storylines, and storylines that start in the ring also play out on their weekly show.
Gedo gave them the freedom to promote their own storylines, channel and brand, which in turn translated into greater fan interest (and therefore, more money) for the companies they’re signed to, especially NJPW.
The Young Bucks’ success in this manner is, essentially, the polar opposite of Zack Ryder. Ryder tried to get himself over with his own YouTube channel and own resources, and was effectively punished by WWE management for doing so. The Young Bucks did the same thing, and NJPW head booker Gedo saw it as a means to promote his company (albeit indirectly), so he gave them the OK to keep doing so.
THAT is what a good booker does: they do whatever they can to create more interest in the wrestling storylines that they showcase, instead of trying to use their authority to satisfy their own whims and desires.Published 17 Mar 2018, 13:54 IST