Death of the Territories by Tim Hornbaker might be his best work yet. The book carefully narrated the first world war of wrestling between the WWF and everybody else. Every wrestling fan knows about the Monday Night Wars. The years 1996-1998 changed wrestling forever, but the war in the 70’s and early 80’s was the first one.
The book carefully details the plan. Vince McMahon Jr. was on a mission to make his promotion a national brand. He began to buy up television rights in what were off limit territories at the time, so he could set up his own live dates. Once he put his product on television he would book live shows. The television set up the live gate. These moves by McMahon allowed the WWF to expand across the United States.
The territories tried to match the expansion of the WWF, but most didn’t have the desire or the money to compete. They were unable to fend off the WWF because they spent more time fighting each other than the enemy. A mistake the book shines light on is the fact that the territories didn’t bother to shore up their own product.
It didn’t make sense for these smaller promotions to try and expand because there was no way they could compete. The WWF didn’t win every city. Some cities were very loyal to the territory and didn’t support the WWF. McMahon bailed out of certain cities, so it’s certainly logical that stronger territories could have survived with proper leadership. However, many times instead of the territory building that area stronger they would go to a WWF city.
These territories would have been able to survive by focusing on their own product. They didn’t spend time with the current fans, and decided to focus on obtaining new ones. This type of action caused the loyal one’s to look elsewhere.
Yet I believe the WWE is much like the NWA was then. They gobbled up everyone and there has been little to no competition. Until now. The indies are growing. The ALL IN pay per view was a perfect example that the WWE isn’t the only fish in the sea anymore and that’s a very good thing. The independent scene should all buy copies of this book and study what not to do if you want to beat the WWE or at least compete.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys wrestling history or who knows nothing beyond the WWE. It’s a great read.