“It’s All About What Vince Likes” – Former WWE Writer Reacts To Lawsuit
A former WWE writer has given his thoughts about Vince McMahon and the company’s creative direction following a lawsuit that came out recently against WWE.
For most of the last 40 years, Vince McMahon has been the guy calling the shots for WWE creatively. As the WWE Chairman and CEO until July 2022, he had the final say over everything that appeared on television with dozens of writers working for him. A lot of people don’t like that it happened that way, but that’s how it was for many years.
In July 2022, Vince McMahon retired from WWE due to numerous hush money payments, which led to Paul “Triple H” Levesque taking over as the Head of Creative and the Chief Content Officer of WWE. Vince returned to WWE as the Executive Chairman this past January and he does tweak things, but Triple H is still in charge.
This week, a former WWE writer named Britney Abrahams is suing the company because she alleges that she was discriminated and retaliated against for objecting to “offensively racist” pitches and scripts. Abrahams worked for WWE from 2020 until being fired after WrestleMania 38 in 2022 due to taking home a chair from the event, which she claims other writers did, but they didn’t face punishment for it.
Former WWE writer Dave Schilling, who is an African American just like Abrahams, spoke to Fightful’s In The Weeds with Jeremy Lambert & Joel Pearl about the writing conditions in WWE when asked about the lawsuit. Schilling worked for WWE in 2019.
“My thoughts were probably similar to a lot of people who are people of color who work for WWE, which is, not terribly surprising that someone would be upset about things they experienced at the company. It’s not the best place to work if you’re a person of color, you’re a woman, you’re LGBTQ.”
“It’s difficult because there are a lot of people there who are older, who are maybe not as sensitive to certain things, and at the end of the day, the person who makes the decisions is Vince McMahon. Even today, Vince has a lot of power and a lot of say so in what goes on the air and Vince isn’t the world’s most sensitive person.”
As for what makes it on television, Schilling made it clear that it’s all about Vince McMahon.
“It’s all about what Vince likes. A lot of these broad caricatures are things that Vince likes. I can’t speak to what happened after I left, but I’m sure he thought that Apollo Crews doing an accent was going to get over. You look at the history of WWE, and there are tons of examples of stereotypical characters. This is not a new thing or a new phenomenon.”
When Schilling asked about what would need to change, he talked about how some of the older people there might have to move on.
“A lot of people have to retire. I don’t know if we need to continue to hear what Michael Hayes has to say about storylines. I think he can put together an amazing match, but do I need to hear Michael Hayes, or Vince McMahon, or Bruce Prichard tell people in their 30s, 20s, children, what is entertaining? This is no knock on them, they’ve all done amazing things in the wrestling business and given me decades of enjoyment. They were all very nice to me.”
“There needs to be more youthful energy in wrestling. AEW has done a good job of presenting their characters in a way that is more appealing to younger audiences. WWE, in a lot of ways, Roman Reigns and the Bloodline are very modern characters and exciting and cool, and even though they are heels, they are thought of as cool. The people making the decisions are old, and at some point, those people need to move aside.”
“Tony Khan, as a booker of AEW, is doing a good job, but he’s not surrounding himself with younger people. He’s not surrounding himself with a team of writers who can say, ‘this is cool, this is not cool.’ Not to say Tony doesn’t know what’s cool, he’s probably my age and as checked in as I can be in my mid-30s. We need to have that youthful energy.”
“That’s what is so exciting about AEW and, on some levels, WWE, but there needs to be more. The more people of a certain age step aside, the better it will be for everyone and there will be less of this kind of tension between the sensibilities of 2023 and the sensibilities of 1987. That’s the hardest part about working there. Those guys don’t get it sometimes, and you wish they did.”
WWE has not yet responded publicly to the lawsuit.