Changes to the WWE creative team are always interesting. This pair of items from PWInsider are even more interesting than most, partly because they came down around WrestleMania - the biggest event on the company’s calendar. But mostly because they’re both allegedly triggered by different run-ins with the man atop creative and all things WWE, Vince McMahon.
First up, just days after his induction into the Hall of Fame as part of D-Generation X, Brian “Road Dogg” James is said to have resigned as co-lead writer of SmackDown. The veteran performer has been a writer for WWE since 2012 and in his current position since 2014. Insider’s sources tell them James has been frustrated with Vince McMahon making changes to the show’s script. If you follow what is advertised for the Tuesday night broadcast versus what makes the air (something wrestlers themselves joke and complain about online), this checks out. April 9’s episode in Brooklyn was said to be the “breaking point” for the D-O-Double G.
There’s no news on who might replace him. James was in charge of the blue brand’s “road” creative team. It’s said his co-lead writer Steven Guerrieri on the Stamford, Connecticut “home” team is still in place. The lead writer position allegedly has diminished in importance of late as the person is mostly responsible for pitching to McMahon, who is the “specific voice” we hear coming through on all WWE’s television.
There’s also no word on if James will take another job in WWE, or if he’s leaving the company. If Road Dogg exits WWE, you can expect rumors to quickly follow that he could join his old tag partner Billy Gunn at that “piss ant company” rumored to land on Turner television.
UPDATE: There is now a substantially different version of the story which says James and WWE mutually agreed to a new role for him. You can read about that here.
Insider’s other story isn’t as big a name, but it’s an even wilder tale. On the WrestleMania recap edition of his Xpac12360 podcast, new inductee Sean Waltman told a story about a writer getting fired at the Hall of Fame because Bret Hart mentioned Vince McMahon’s name during his speech. Apparently, there’s a long-standing edict to not mention Vince or his backstage role during the ceremony, and The Hitman’s anecdote about the boss liking The Hart Foundation did not go over well with McMahon. Writer Robert Evans, who produced the segment featuring Bret’s speech, took the fall for it and was allegedly fired in gorilla on the night of the event.
The Hart Foundation’s induction was eventful for other reasons, and one wonders if the stress of everything which went on during that early portion of the ceremony played a role in this - but we’ll probably never know. Insider speculates the D-X segment which closed this year’s Hall of Fame broadcast and featured numerous Vince namedrops, and Gunn joking that McMahon couldn’t fire him, was sparked by Hart talking about VKM earlier in the show.
Evans, who wrestled in Chikara and Ring of Honor as RD Evans and Archibald Peck before joining WWE, has been on the creative team since 2016 and was reportedly well-liked by his co-workers.
Overall, The ‘E continues to sound like a wild place to work. And it doesn’t sound like it’s gonna change any time soon.