What I Would Do If I Was A WWE Writer
Written by Brandon Lewis on July 8, 2019
Header Photo Credit: SEScoops.com
Smackdown Fist Stage Photo Credit: whatculturewrestling.com
On June 27, WWE announced a major shakeup in their creative team: Paul Heyman was named the Executive Director of Monday Night RAW while Eric Bischoff was appointed the same position for Smackdown Live. Both men will essentially be taking over most of the creativity for both brands as WWE begins a new era this October when Smackdown heads to FOX.
Heyman and Bischoff are both known as great minds in the wrestling business. Creatively, Heyman is famous for the “Smackdown Six” era in the mid 2000’s and for the rebirth of ECW in 2006. Bischoff is known for his work in WCW during the “Monday Night Wars” when wrestling was arguably at its highest point, along with some of his work in TNA during the early part of this decade when TNA was the second best pro wrestling promotion on the planet.
Vince McMahon will get the final say on what actually appears on WWE television, but McMahon and wrestling fans, including myself, are hoping that both Heyman and Bischoff can help get the WWE ship back on track as this has been one of the worst years in recent memory for the company.
Back in May, I wrote an article on why I think it is time for McMahon to hang up the boots because he’s lost his touch. I touched on how WWE does not tell good stories anymore, and they do not promote well enough in my opinion. I can not get excited for RAW and Smackdown Live every week if I know I am going to get essentially the same show for a month until the Pay-Per-View(PPV). It’s 2019: I want action. I do not want half the show being boring with pointless interviews and filler matches to pass the time until the main event, which at that point, the main event means nothing to me because I am already tired from wasting two or three hours of my night watching nonsense.
I do have faith in Heyman and Bischoff because they are proven commodities. RAW already felt different this week with the Braun Strowman-Bobby Lashley stage explosion, Corey Graves screaming “HOLY SH*T” and the stuff that went on with the Kanellis’. All of those ideas were ideas of Heyman reportedly.
The ‘edginess’ WWE and Heyman tried to show with RAW is reportedly because WWE knows that with AEW getting their own television show in the fall on TNT, they will lose their teen audience to AEW because of the promotion’s TV-14 rating.
Most people backstage liked Heyman’s ideas, including McMahon himself, which is a good sign for things to come. I cannot wait to see what Bischoff does with Smackdown Live. The Bischoff era will reportedly start July 16, the Smackdown Live after Extreme Rules.
I have a feeling that a war is about to break out between WWE and AEW, similarly to the Monday Night Wars. Most of the higher ups in AEW, including Chris Jericho, Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, started the promotion to one up McMahon, and to show talent there are other options besides WWE, and I am here for it! There’s nothing better in life than competition, and AEW will certainly give WWE a run for their money.
In this article, I am going to be taking the side of WWE, specifically a WWE writer. In this scenario, it is currently the day after Summerslam and backstage at RAW, all of the WWE writers have been called into McMahon’s office for a meeting with him, Heyman, Bischoff and the top officials from both the USA Network and FOX. I have been assigned as the “CEO-like” writer.
My job description includes overseeing WWE storylines and making pitches to Heyman and Bischoff to help RAW and Smackdown be the best wrestling shows they can be every single week. As a part of my job, I also help each writing team with the script each week to make sure they are done on time.
Once everybody gets settled around the discussion table, McMahon asks me my opinion on what I want to see change in WWE. I tell him six changes I would make:
1. Eliminate the Wild Card Rule
I would explain to everyone that the Wild Card Rule is a must go. I would tell the USA Network and FOX officials that I know you want storylines to continue on both brands, but then what is the point of having brands? As Bischoff once said, each brand needs to be distinct as possible.
There’s no point in my opinion to have two wrestling shows a week for the same company if the majority of the storylines are the same. It’s too much repetition. The only people that would be able to cross brands would be the Women’s Tag Team Champions and the 24/7 Champion because there’s not enough women to create two separate tag team divisions at this point, and the 24/7 Title is self explanatory.
2. On the first episode of Smackdown Live on FOX, do a WWE Draft
With the Wild Card Rule now gone, my pitch would be that we need to give Heyman and Bischoff a clean slate. Let them pick their own rosters LIVE on Smackdown with a draft system like WWE had from 2002-2011 and with the initial return of the brand split in 2016. The Superstar Shakeup just isn’t a draw, and sports fans know the term “draft.”
I would tell the USA Network that it is important we give the draft to Smackdown this year because they need to establish themselves on the first night on a new network. Then, starting in 2020 the draft can flip flop networks every year, so it can be on RAW in 2020, Smackdown in 2021, and so on.
3. Create separate stages for both RAW and Smackdown and separate PPV’s besides the “Big Five”(NOTE: Saudi shows and other International shows do not count as a PPV in this scenario)
When WWE had the original brand split, both RAW and Smackdown had different stages. Smackdown is known for its iconic fist stage. With the stages being the same as they have been for the last decade, it does not have the same feel. Just changing the colors from red to blue and having the announce table in different positions does not do it. They need to be vastly different in EVERY area.
Same deal goes for the PPV’s. Besides Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Money In The Bank, Summerslam and Survivor Series, each brand needs to have their own shows. The brand exclusive PPV’s from 2016-2018 were really good, and they allowed more talent to be showcased.
You could bring back some of the old names like Unforgiven and Bad Blood, or you could create your own. Plus, it’s better for RAW and Smackdown to promote their own special events rather than promoting the same event with both shows in my opinion. It’s all apart of the concept that this brand split needs to feel real. With FOX, the Smackdown pre shows could even be aired LIVE on FS1 like how UFC used to air their Prelims before a PPV on FS1.
4. Bring back “Saturday Night’s Main Event” for FOX
Since FOX lost its rights to UFC to ESPN, there Saturday’s are now open post football season. There’s not a better way than to promote WWE than having an extra show once every couple of months on a Saturday a couple weeks away from a PPV than Saturday Night’s Main Event. It worked wonders for the USA Network when it aired on NBC during the mid 2000’s.
If USA Network wants Saturday Night’s Main Event, my argument to them would be you get Tribute to the Troops. Give FOX a chance. The better Smackdown is, the more people will tune into RAW.
Yes, we do want realism in our split, but both RAW and Smackdown are under the name WWE. If people like what they see on Smackdown, they will want to see what RAW has to offer. You already have an audience with WWE. FOX does not, and we need to build them up as much as possible. We can do a lot of RAW vs Smackdown matches on Saturday Night’s Main Event to give RAW superstars exposure to FOX television.
5. We need to emphasize long-term storytelling again
Most of my first four ideas have been aimed at USA Network and FOX. This idea is specifically for McMahon, Heyman and Bischoff.
WWE’s best storylines historically take place over a six to 12 month period. Usually, the face is climbing over obstacles for months and months before he finally takes down the heel, who by the time the face is ready to conquer the heel, the heel becomes a magnet for heat.
Look at the Daniel Bryan storyline from Wrestlemania 30. The Kofi Kingston and Becky Lynch storylines from this past year’s Wrestlemania. Roman Reigns finally conquering “The Beast” Brock Lesnar at Summerslam last year.
What do all of them have in common? They all were drawn out over time. Fans became frustrated with the heel overcoming the beloved face time after time that when the face finally won, the crowd went bananas.
A story has a beginning, middle and end. In today’s WWE, typically a storyline starts, but it never has an ending. It goes for a few weeks, and then it eventually just disappears.
While WWE is not a Soap Opera, a long term story needs to be written like one. Soap Opera’s have drama, suspense, twists and turns and eventually a happy ending. If WWE can write better stories, the product instantly becomes better because stories give fans a reason to tune in every week.
I remember in 2007 when I first started watching WWE. It was Friday, May 11. Undertaker was defending the World Heavyweight Championship vs Batista in a brutal Steel Cage Match on Smackdown.
It ended in a draw because both competitor’s feet hit the floor first, which meant that Undertaker retained the title. Then, out of nowhere Mark Henry runs down the ramp and destroys the champion motionless in the center of the ring. Next, Edge’s music hits, and the Ultimate Opportunist cashes in his Money In The Bank briefcase and wins the World Championship.
That moment created a 14 month saga between Edge, who at the time was the most hated wrestler arguably among the WWE Universe, and the Undertaker, one of the most popular wrestlers of all time. Their feud ended with the Undertaker chokeslamming Edge through the ring and sending him to “hell” after their Hell In A Cell match that main evented Summerslam in 2008. I was one of the only people during that time that loved Edge, so I was upset he left for four months, but that storyline was so good that it kept me invested in wrestling while he was out, and I never looked back.
There’s a Youtuber I watch named Tubby Emu. From 2011-2017, he ran a WWE gaming channel, and he also talked about wrestling. Then, in 2018 he quietly disappeared because he was getting sick of playing the same old WWE games, and he thought he could write better stories that WWE.
About a month ago, he returned to Youtube with this video I am going to link below about the Wrestlemania 36 main event. To me, it makes perfect sense, and it is a perfect storyline. It is the type of storytelling I want back in WWE.
As I tell the Edge, Undertaker and Batista story, and as I show the Tubby Emu video to McMahon and the others, I am telling them that this is the type of storytelling we need back in the WWE world.
6. Make championships mean something again
I just got done telling the creative team how the Edge, Undertaker and somewhat Batista feud for the World Heavyweight Championship kickstarted my love for wrestling. Nowadays, championships just do not feel special. I don’t feel a significant difference between the WWE Championship and the Universal Championship versus the Intercontinental Championship and the United States Championship, and that’s a problem. The top champion for each brand should main event the majority of their shows throughout the year in my estimation to prove they are the top dog, whereas the “minor” championships should be used as a stepping stone to the bigger championships.
Now, I am not saying that the IC and U.S. Championships should not main event. The Ricochet and A.J. Styles matches the last couple of weeks on RAW for the U.S. Championship have been good, but they have not been main event worthy in my opinion. I thought the Seth Rollins-Dolph Ziggler rivalry last year for the IC Title was the best story going on television.
Their matches were great, but they also told a great story on why the IC Title meant so much to them. Nowadays, it feels like both titles are an afterthought and while the U.S. Title may finally start to get the attention it has not gotten since the A.J. Styles-Kevin Owens feud in 2017, it still does not feel important, and neither does any title right now in WWE. If you swap championships with Seth Rollins and Ricochet, it would not feel any different in my opinion.
With those six changes, I firmly believe WWE can re-establish themselves as a great wrestling company. Currently, WWE has been picked on as the old wrestling company that is about to blow up because nobody knows what they’re doing anymore. While I do not believe that is the case, there are changes that have to be made to ensure that WWE makes both the USA Network and FOX happy for years to come starting in October, and I believe these will do the trick.
I believe my pitches to McMahon, Heyman, Bischoff and both TV officials is well thought out, and not too much to ask. Let me know via the comments, email or social media whether or not you agree with my take, and what you would do to change WWE. Sorry for such a long article! This was about a month in the making, and I wanted to share my thoughts with all of you.
Brandon Lewis is the Web Director for blacksquirrelradio. Follow him on Twitter @brandonlewis_7. Email him at [email protected]