Ask the Editor ASK THE EDITOR: Randy Savage-Vince McMahon, Flair Storyline Idea, WWE and Writers' Strike
Dec 13, 2007 - 1:41:00 PM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor
John Lucas asks: Ask the Editor is my favorite feature on the website. Here's a question. Vince McMahon has always put aside bad feelings towards others in the interest of doing business and making money. However, this does not hold true for Mach Man Randy Savage. What is the problem Vince McMahon has with Randy Savage? Does Savage have an issue with McMahon?
WK: It's one of the most widely speculated questions in the industry, and most people on the inside who speak about this believe it has something to do with interaction Savage had with Stephanie McMahon years ago. Savage left WWE where he was co-hosting Raw for WCW to become an active wrestler again and enjoyed a resurgence of his in-ring career at that point, but many wrestlers left under similar circumstances that McMahon has welcomed back in the interest of generating fan interest. I do know that McMahon bristles at the mere mention of Savage's name, and it's considered taboo within WWE to even acknowledge Savage in front of McMahon. McMahon has made is clear over the years bringing Savage back is out of the question and no up for debate.
Chris Ferreira: Why hasn't the WWE been affected by the recent writer's strike? I've read many WWE writers have worked previously in various TV backgrounds including soap operas and sitcoms. Those types of writers would surely be a members of the WGA. Are WWE writers something entirely different; therefore, not part of the Writer's Guild?
WK: WWE writers are not part of a writer's union, and if they are a member, it does not apply to their WWE jobs. It has occurred organically over the years because WWE didn't have anyone who would qualify as a scriptwriter 20 years ago; Vince McMahon and Pat Patterson booked and formatted the shows. As the years have gone by, the shows have become more scripted in nature, with Bruce Prichard handling a lot of format sheets in the early-'90s. It was when Vince Russo and Ed Ferrera took over a lot of the show scripting after Raw expanded to two hours that the format became more intricate and qualified as something similar in nature to a TV show or movie script. After Russo and Ferrara left, Stephanie soon took over the job as head of creative. She spearheaded making WWE's creative process more Hollywood-like, seeking out experienced Hollywood writers with limited pro wrestling knowledge rather than ex-wrestlers or people with roots in pro wrestling. That's when the process became truly analogous to what Hollywood writers do. However, WWE does not list credits at the end of the shows and Vince McMahon is still the primary creator of storylines, with the writers filling in the blanks on actual format sheets. McMahon's involvement in weekly TV scripts varies by the show and by the week, with his concentration primarily on the top names and himself. The other writers, such as Dave Lagana, Brian Gewirtz, Michael Hayes, Dusty Rhodes, and Ed Koskie face constant idea rejection and last-second creative twists by Vince McMahon between the time the first draft of the script is submitted and the final copies of the TV show format sheets are copied and distributed at the TV events. If any current or former WWE writers, or anyone with more specific knowledge of how the writers' guild works and why it doesn't apply to WWE, I'd be glad to expand on this in a future edition of Ask the Editor.
Mark Golden of Seattle, Wash.: It would seemingly be so ideal if the WWE would tout Ric Flair's "Last Match Tour" where they kept track of Flair's matches throughout the week's house shows. For example, Raw and Smackdown could have a segment each week with updates like: "Last night in St. Louis, Ric beat Khali via DQ, and Wednesday night Ric beat Mr. Kennedy in a Submission match in Tampa. This week on Raw, Ric will face Umaga. Be sure to check out WWE when it comes to your town, as you might just be in attendance for Ric Flair's last match!" What do you think?
WK: I've always been a proponent of making house shows seem more important with occasional title changes and a greater acknowledgment of what goes on at the events. Fans today understand that house shows are not where major news happens compared to TV and PPV events, but I think acknowledging them more often would help attendance, and your idea is one example of where that could happen. I like when WWE creates video packages of international tours or just regular house show tours to give TV viewers the flavor of what they're missing out on by not attending live. That said, most fans just want to see stars in person and aren't thinking that hard about how inconsequential what they're seeing is, because they just want to feel the pryo and be part of the crowd and be in the same building as the TV stars. I think there's a middle ground between listing detailed results at WWE.com and talking about house shows constantly on TV and what WWE currently does, which is rarely acknowledge them at all. The idea you have with Flair is one way to inject a little sense of relevance to house shows. I think part of the policy to ignore house shows is just inertia from the territory days when fans in each region thought their matches were special, and acknowledging a title match in another town watered down their experience. Promoters protected the idea back in the 1970s and 1980s that the same house show line-up took place night after night in different towns with the same results and finishes in each of the matches most of the time. There are still instances in recent years where a fan can read results of a Friday night WWE house show on a website and then watch everything play out almost exactly the same way n their town on Saturday night.
Have you got a question for Ask the Editor? I'm aiming to make this a regular feature at PWTorch, so help out by sending in questions or topics you'd like me to write about. I also answer questions in audio format for VIP members about once a week as part of the VIP Keller Hotline. click here.
Background on Torch editor Wade Keller: Torch editor Wade Keller founded Pro Wrestling Torch in September 1987. He has been interviewed as a wrestling expert by dozens of TV and radio stations across the country; he has also been quoted in dozens of major newspapers and magazines across the world. Media entities that have featured Keller in stories covering wrestling include National Public Radio, Fox News Channel, ESPN Magazine, the New York Post, Entertainment Weekly, the All-News Channel, the Associated Press, and the Washington Post. He also hosted his own weekly two hour wrestling talk show on KFAN sport radio in the '90s. Over the past 17 years Keller has also interviewed, one-on-one, wrestling's top names for in-depth "Torch Talks" and feature articles including powerbrokers such as Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff, Jerry Jarrett, Bill Watts, Jim Cornette, Jim Crockett, Jim Herd, Paul Heyman, Ed Ferrara, Terry Taylor, Kevin Sullivan, Jim Ross, and Vince Russo; top wrestling stars such as The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Mick Foley, Matt & Jeff Hardy, Rick Steamboat, Jerry Lawler, Bill Goldberg, British Bulldog, Road Warrior Hawk, Jesse Ventura, and Hulk Hogan; and legends such as Lou Thesz, Gordon Solie, Bruno Sammartino, Roy Shires, Terry Funk, and Verne Gagne. He is also host of the nationally distributed Ultimate Insiders DVD series.
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