The Springer Column – The Art of War

Bradley Springer

Just a little note before we get into today’s column. This is my first column on Thanks must go out to Shak and all the other WZ columnists who voted me on so I could write here. This is a great opportunity and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Capella: D’you ever watch wrestling Ray?

Ray: Errr. Sure. I mean you know, now and then.

Capella: Cuz this is just like wrestling.

Ray: How?

Capella: Well it is reality, mixed with illusion, mixed with bullshit, mixed with … big scary guys from parts unknown, in dire need of psychiatric care.

From the 2000 hit Warner Bro’s hit motion picture, “The Art of War”

Imagine yourself in the gravest of adversity. For some of you it might mean that one of your parents is lying in a hospital bed suffering from cancer while you watch on, helplessly, unable to do anything. For others, it could be getting mugged while you walk out of the theatre with your girlfriend; and further yet, for someone else, it could be owning a wrestling promotion and watching the very foundations of it crumble while superstar after superstar leave because of a supposed “mole.” Fact is, we all face adversity everyday whether we realize it or not and sometimes, just sometimes, that adversity comes from someone that we thought we could trust, someone we thought we knew. Interested!? Sit back, relax, and enjoy another thought provoking edition of “The Springer Column.”

“The Art of War” was a book published shortly before 510 B.C. by Sun Tzu, one of the greatest military strategists of all time. “The Art of War” was published to be a guide for the Chinese Army and preached that wars are not won through battle but are won through outsmarting one’s opponent through subtle, deliberate acts. So the theories’ many applications are not only applicable to what we perceive as war today, but as a war among corporations, businesses, and dare I say, wrestling promotions. A war between promotions, WCW, WWF, and ECW, that several thought ended years ago has reared its unforgiving head once again. And while the players involved have changed (TNA and RoH instead of WCW and ECW) the very characteristics that made the war so unique, so intriguing among the IWC are still the same.

The Year: 1992. A disgruntled WCW on-air manager by the name of Paul E. Dangerously left the company amidst several attempts by Eric Bischoff to make his character look weak and silly. Paul, not liking the way Bischoff and his cronies had treated him, decided to swim towards safer water and shortly found a home. Paul was hired by Tod Gordon and a different branch of the old NWA; Eastern Championship Wrestling. Paul was soon promoted to head booker/producer/director and the product headed for a drastic change. Innovative storylines and characters became the norm for Gordon and Heyman. The duo always tried to find a way to push the envelope just a little farther, to involve the fans just a little more, and to find a way to become the #1 Wrestling promotion in the United States. The first of the three players had found its way into a war that they couldn’t get out of.

“In conflict, straightforward actions generally lead to engagement, surprising actions generally lead to victory.”

-“The Art of War” 510 B.C.

Eric Bischoff, realizing that the war among the brands had begun, began to try and defeat his enemies by using one of the most preached strategies in “The Art of War”: Defeating one’s enemy from within. Eric realized, as most great generals do, that you cannot simply win by throwing out all your pieces and hoping that they win, but you won by infiltrating the enemy’s lair and defeating them from within. In Eric’s case, he began to steal top-talent from both ECW and WWF totally suprising both promotions and leaving them in a state of disarray. Prominent WWF stars such as Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Lex Luger were all lured by the money. However, in ECW, it wasn’t monetary issues that led to their top-tier talent leaving.

“The Art of War is an Ancient Chinese military Strategy where you destroy your enemy from within.”

-Capella, “The Art of War” 2000 Warner Brothers

Tod Gordon, the very man who founded Eastern Championship Wrestling, was hired by Bischoff in 1997 to help “steal” talent from ECW, becoming the infamous “mole.” Gordon lured Raven and Steven Richards to the WCW while also trying to get such names as Perry Saturn, Kronus, Mikey Whipwreck, and several others. Heyman had heard rumors from several of his performers that there was a man on the inside helping out his most hated enemy. Due to these rumors and the actual departure of his best wrestler, Raven, Heyman started a full investigation. Heyman even went as far as threatening several wrestlers with their jobs if they wouldn’t disclose certain information about this “mole.” However, before things could reach the point of Heyman actually firing someone, Heyman had broke into Gordon’s cell phone and listened to several voice mails from Bill Alfonso regarding his status within ECW and how Gordon had been trying to sign him along with several others to the WCW. Gordon abruptly resigned while Alfonso was forced to job to Beulah McGuillicutty just to keep his jobs cell phone and listened to several voice mails from Bill Alfonso regarding his status within ECW and how Gordon had been trying to him along with several others to the WCW. Gordon abruptly resigned while Alfonso was forced to job to Beulah McGuillicutty just to keep his job. Bischoff had hit him where it hurt the most…The inside of his ECW family. The Art of War was used and used effectively and ECW’s downfall had only just begun.

Years passed and while the WWE eventually won the Ratings War, several strategies were learned and implemented by all parties involved; however, more so by one man than anyone else, the one man who managed to survive the war, Vincent K. McMahon.

On the cusp of all the recent WWE departures one has to wonder why so many talented workers are now gone from their comfortable paying jobs.

Was it because of the money?

Was it because of their talent or lack thereof?

Or perhaps, the truth lies deeper within…

” Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never peril.”

-“The Art of War” 510 B.C.

I think Sun Tzu was right, to defeat your enemies you must know them and yourself. And although I dare say Vince has never read “The Art of War,” he knows this himself.

While many believe that allowing Steven Richards to work for RoH is a good showing on Vince’s part, I believe that the truth in whole or in part is that Vince is trying to maybe, just maybe, get a leg up on his competition. By having Steven in the inner circle of RoH management Vince is able to keep tabs on the promotion and is trying to keep it from destroying what he has worked so hard to achieve, his WWE franchise. While many of you may say this is preposterous and that RoH has no way of competiting with the WWE outside of a regional perspective, the subtle fact still remains the same; Vince doesn’t like competition.

And what of his biggest competitor, Total Nonstop Action, TNA?

TNA has been on the forefront of wrestling for the past 2 years. Giving hope to those who wished for an alternative to the weekly WWE programming that they have been subjected to over the past four years. Wishing that maybe TNA would be able to dethrone the media giant and become the #1 promotion in the United States, and as we all can see, Vince knows this as well. Vince doesn’t necessarily fears competition, but he loathes it, despises it if you will, and what better way to keep tabs on TNA than to publicly release certain superstars TNA was bound to pick up to keep his tabs on them. Rhino, Charlie Haas, Billy Gunn, The Dudleyz are all major names that TNA has signed or will sign in the upcoming months. Some of you may be questioning my reasoning but let me just point out one fact to you all…Rhyno worked One Night Stand after being fired by WWE management for getting rowdy in a hotel. Why would a man who after being publicly humiliated by the WWE, return so shortly to work the event? It could be because of money. It could be to make himself look better. Or it could be because Rhyno really wasn’t fired at all.

Maybe this is all underneath Vince McMahon and he would never resort to such tactics, but we all remember Katie Vick, don’t we? How about Billy and Chuck? Edge, Lita, and Matt? Muhammad Hassan? Or how about almost suing TNA for showing up at one of their tapings? D-X going to WCW? Billionaire Ted? All ridiculous ideas, gimmicks, and storylines, Vince has used to make money or to defeat his competition. You see, Vincent K. McMahon is a brilliant businessman, a brilliant promoter, and a brilliant owner, he has seen the war that has began to brew among the WWE and TNA and he does intend to squash it. Not from the outside this time however, as that would cost many viewers in the process, but from the inside.


A war is coming; alliances will be formed, secret pacts will be signed, and supposed friendships will crumble, and in the end, Vincent K. McMahon will still remain on top. Why? Because he knows “The Art of War.”

Security against defeat implies defensive tactics; ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive. Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength; attacking, a superabundance of strength.

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-“The Art of War”

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