Recently released WWE writer Kevin Marshall called into Wrestling Observer Live earlier this week and gave some fascinating insight regarding the creative process involved in producing WWE television. In light of ongoing reports that WWE (specifically, Vince McMahon) is constantly rewriting scrips for RAW, even while the show is the air, Marshall vented about Vince McMahon "micromanaging everything to death" -
“Basically everything is micromanaged to death and I know there is a lot of talk of ‘they’ over there when we talk about the writing process for the show. It is no secret that the buck stops with Vince, but when I was there, and I guess that this started sometime before even I started there back last October, he was micromanaging everything to death. Basically you’re sitting there trying to write for him and you’re trying to figure out what he wants. The job became very quickly trying to figure out what Vince is thinking and then having him tell you he’s changed his mind. So when we talk about the show being rewritten as it’s happening, what I need people to know is that that show was likely written well in advance and there was an attempt at it, but either nothing was approved or everything got scrapped and rewritten by the man himself.”
Marshall said that the creative team works under a constant aura of uncertainty, knowing that they are writing specifically to please Vince McMahon, not necessarily what they think is the most compelling material. He described Vince McMahon’s reaction to finalized scripts “a crapshoot.” Sometimes, production meetings go smoothly and are done in under an hour. Often, extensive rewrites are made.
Another big issue is that the creative team has become fragmented into two main groups. One group of writers works full time at WWE headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, while another team is constantly on the road with WWE and assists with the production of the shows and the ongoing revisions. Marshall believes the creative division needs to be overhauled and streamlined.
When asked about the biggest misconceptions that fans have of the creative team, Marshall explained that the writers don't pick and choose who should be pushed and who shouldn't - and said fans need to realize how difficult it is to create at least 7+ hours of fresh programming each week.
“Well, I think the biggest misconception is that we sit around and we decide who gets pushed and who doesn’t, that we sit there and lay out what the tent poles are going to be for the year, like ‘hey, John Cena should win the title, blah blah blah’. We don’t make those decisions, we don’t make those calls on finishes, we don’t sit there and hold talent back.
I think that’s the biggest misconception is the idea that we just sit around and we bury talent and we try to come up with ideas to make everybody look stupid. That’s certainly not the case! Just speaking from a writer’s perspective, I never met anybody who was in the business of trying to make somebody else look bad. I think it’s very easy when you watch our product, and I think just when you watch professional wrestling in general, to get the impression that wow, they’re really going out of their way to make this guy look stupid.
It’s really just a combination of things: 1) There’s a lot of politics that goes on behind the scenes that the creative team is not in control of; [and] 2) There are certain guys that probably are their own worst enemy, as we all are, myself included.
It’s a lot, lot harder than it looks, especially when you have a limited roster, which when you thumb through it on WWE.com that roster looks huge, [but] when you lay it down on a piece of paper and you have to fill like sixteen segments for Monday and then twelve for Tuesday, which is Smackdown, and then you have Main Event and Superstars and everything, it’s really, really hard.”