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From the RSPW FAQ:
As NWA champion, Buddy Rogers' bookings were controlled by Toots Mondt, promoter in the Northeast. The other NWA promoters were dissatisfied because Mondt rarely let Rogers defend the belt outside the Northeast. Mondt and Vince McMahon Sr. wanted to keep Rogers and the NWA title, but Rogers didn't want to lose his $25,000 deposit on the belt. So Rogers lost the NWA title to Lou Thesz in Toronto on January 24, 1963. Rogers was not recognized as the first WWWE champion right after losing to Thesz. Instead, Rogers was awarded the WWWE title in mid-April 1963, with the explanation that he has won a (fictitious) tournament in Rio de Janeiro. He lost the title to Bruno Sammartino a month later on May 17, 1963. Rogers would have likely had a longer reign as champion, but, he suffered a heart attack shortly before the match with Bruno. This explains both the brevity of the match (47 seconds) with Bruno and the subsequent disappearance of Rogers from the ring. Rogers retired after this match, although he did return to the ring in 1967. The name change, a purely cosmetic one, took place in mid 1979. Ownership and front office personnel remained unaffected. About this same time, the WWE phased out their North American title and replaced it with what is today known as the Intercontinental title. For the sake of clarity, all WWWE and WWE titles mentioned in this document are referred to as WWE titles.
The WWE has three tiers of bookers. Vince McMahon has final say over all booking and will generally control the overall direction of the product. Jim Ross and Bruce Pritchard make the day-to-day booking decisions for the storylines and angles and generally wield the true power in the booking department. Dennis Brent, Vince Russo, Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco script the interviews and storylines, and also design and develop the various characters used by the WWE. The Undertaker is a notable Patterson creation, for instance. Vince's son Shane is rumored to have his father's ear and specifically is to have suggested the more "adult" approach the WWE has taken as of late, and may be part of the booking committee. Sgt. Slaughter has some position in the head office, but his job title or duties are unknown to the author. Former WCW head booker Terry Taylor recently joined the WWE's front office, although not as a booker.
From 1971-1983, the WWE joined the NWA as a regional promotion and the WWE World title was dropped in status to the WWE title, a regional title. By 1983, Vince McMahon Jr. had taken over control of the promotion and wanted out from the shadow of the NWA, so he changed the name of his title to the "WWE Championship" and established the WWE as an autonomous organization with World title status.
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