As expected, reports are starting to come in about what led to WWE’s announcement that Raw and SmackDown creative would centralize under blue brand Executive Director Bruce Prichard with team red E.D. Paul Heyman moving into a strictly on-screen role.
Dave Meltzer’s report in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter fits with what we already covered in our Rumor Roundup. The juiciest tidbit comes from a front office source who told Meltzer:
“I am shocked it took this long. Everyone knew it was coming. Vince did not like Paul.”
While it’s headline-grabbing, this isn’t terribly surprising information. We’ve heard talk of Heyman butting heads with the McMahons going back to his days working on SmackDown in the aughts. Usually it was Stephanie, but that her CEO father didn’t see eye-to-eye with the former ECW head man isn’t shocking.
As to why Vince McMahon and Heyman weren’t on the same page lately, Meltzer writes that it was due to a change in “mentality” brought about by the coronavirus pandemic:
“It’s said by those close to the situation that once COVID-19 started that McMahon’s mentality changed about everything. Previously, the mentality was all about the future. The XFL was a long-term play. Raw under Heyman was a long-term play. Expanding NXT into Europe and Japan, and opening up other markets under Paul Levesque was a long-term play. Now the mentality is to worry about what you have and think about now, even though the company is going to be more profitable this year and next than probably any time in its existence.”
The focus on “now” apparently means the end of the plan to build new stars on Raw, something that Heyman presented as an 18 month project when he was hired a year ago. The frustration PWInsider wrote about stems from his belief the new talents they’ve been pushing aren’t getting over. This despite the fact there are no live crowds to help indicate how fans are reacting to them.
Unlike folks in management, the Raw roster is said to be “stunned” by Heyman’s ouster. Many of the people who are around on Monday nights are there because Brock Lesnar’s advocate advocated for them. It’s speculated that nearly everyone outside of Edge, Seth Rollins, Charlotte Flair and Randy Orton could receive less opportunities with McMahon & Prichard running the show.
The crew Heyman was focusing his 18 month plan on was apparently a topic of conversation behind the scenes, per Meltzer:
“There was a joke that nearly two decades ago Heyman built Smackdown around the so-called Smackdown Six. And that now he was building Raw around the Smackdown Catering crew, noting that most of the people on the show where people who were on Smackdown and getting no television time, such as Andrade, Zelina Vega, Buddy Murphy, Aleister Black and Apollo Crews...”
If Vince was laughing at that “joke”, I don’t like those folks chances.
We’ll see how the latest plan to turn things around creatively and ratings-wise goes. But if the last several plans to turn things around creatively and ratings-wise are any indication, we have a pretty good guess.
Gee, wonder what all those plans had in common...