Yesterday, a script from this past Monday's WWE Raw in Birmingham, Alabama appeared online. Our fearless leader tweeted about it from the official Cageside Seats' Twitter account:
The scripts for Monday Night Raw are always fascinating to look at. http://t.co/v1JGEfYMSX— Cageside Seats (@cagesideseats) April 16, 2014
It's a fascinating artifact, if just for a peak at the format. We thought we'd skim through and offer some thoughts on a few of the more news or discussion worthy items that jumped out.
First, the one getting the most buzz this morning...IT SAYS HIS NAME!
And her's too! Beyond generating hits for posts like this one, it probably doesn't mean anything, other than that Phil Brooks' contract isn't up yet. This would also indicate that AJ Lee's absence was planned, so everybody who's trying to start "she walked out too" rumors - cool it.
Next up...we got a little more than this from John Cena on Monday night, no?
This would certainly speak to the fluidity of these scripts. There's no notations about draft version, revision history or the date this iteration was written, so it could have come early in the creative process, before anyone came up with the hi-larious photoshop gag.
Cena also likely has more leeway for improvisation than most (or all) other Superstars, so for him, what's here is an outline of key points. He probably won't be taken to task for adding his own flourishes - the money he makes the company earns him that right. The other segment that stuck out as varying considerably from the script was Stephanie McMahon's scene with Kane, which not only lacks the Mr. McMahon-esque flourishes that Steph brought to her monologue, but also doesn't point toward a match with Daniel Bryan. Instead, she seems to be focusing on aiming the Big Red Monster at The Shield. But I digress...
The most damning thing about the script for Cena's interaction with Bray Wyatt is that the really damaging part of his segment from April 14th are all there on the page. The blame for storyline inconsistencies like "I'm unleashing the monster"/"There is no monster" appear to fall with future edits or John-boy himself. But "I beat you", "you're nothing to be afraid of" bravado is written down, so we may not be able to hang that on the leader of the Cenation.
There are a couple of cool features to the script that show WWE to be paying more attention to continuity and, if not long-term, at least mid-range planning. One is on the very first page, where it lists what the shows consisted of the last two times they were in Birmingham. That demonstrates a commitment to keeping the live experience fresh, and is a testament to why even jaded wrestling fans will usually recommend seeing a live WWE show.
The other is in checklists section after the script itself, and provides key story beats for each of the programs that will be featured on Extreme Rules, the next pay-per-view/special event on the calendar.
Again, there is no mention of an opponent for the WWE World Heavyweight Champion here, adding to the impression that a match-up with Kane is an audible because they were do focused on building to The Shield vs. Evolution that they kind of forgot that bearded guy.
They also spoil the outcome of the #1 contender for the Intercontinental championship tournament.
There's zero mention of Big E's history or motivation, once again confirming that for Creative, holding the IC belt is your character.
The checklists say a lot of the right things about making sure talent understands their character's motivation, confirming that each promo and pre-tape makes sense, etc. - and makes you wonder if the rumored re-writes or the multiple time this document says to check with "VKM", "KD" or "Paul" is what causes several segments a week from checking those boxes for fans.
But the whole things gives you an appreciation for how many balls WWE has in the air to produce one three hour show each week, let alone the other shows, internet and social media content. It's actually impressive that more things aren't overlooked or mis-handled on an ongoing basis.
There are a ton of other jokes to make (I, for one, can't wait for the debut of Tensai's new Latino alter ego, Jason Alberto), and probably a multitude of interesting observations that I failed to glean from my read through. But that's what the comments are for, and what you Cagesiders are so good at.
What jumped out a you from the leaked Raw script?