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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Stephanie Fears Creativity
April 13, 2005 by John Marc Cuellar


I am not a pessimist. I don't always complain about the wrestling product. I have been a fan of the WWF/WWE for over twenty years now and for the most part, have enjoyed the product for most of that time. I've never truly been turned off enough to leave the product and I doubt I ever will. I don't think anybody disagrees that the wrestling product is in a slump right now and has been in one for quite some time now. That doesn't mean that it's never good. There have been plenty of mark out moments filled into the product throughout most of the year. Yet, things are still bad. Why is that"

Well, we could blame the internet for ruining the element of surprise. We could blame it on the fact that there hasn't been a breakout star to catch the public's interest quite like Stone Cold Steve Austin ever since he made his mark in the WWE. We could blame it on a number of things. But I feel the blame lies on one individual.

That one individual is Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley. She is in fact the head writer of the company. And ever since she took over, the company has been on a downward spiral that occasionally has its high points but none long enough to start any kind of momentum. Sure, Vince McMahon has full control and should be the logical person to blame but when critiquing the job of his only daughter, what father wouldn't see anything but a job well done"

To give Stephanie one break, there is no doubt that having no competition to compete with is the main source of the problem. But I think other writers could still pull off a great show even with those limitations. To me, Stephanie McMahon has two really big flaws in her creative environment. For one, she seems to like writing on the fly. That should be rule number one in the handbook of how to write a professional wrestling show. Any feeble minded person would understand that you have to have a master plan. The WWE has always functioned on a long-term writing schedule. They have also always been pretty successful. Why Vince would allow his daughter to change that successful formula with an unproven formula of writing as you go along is beyond me.

Second of all, Stephanie McMahon has filled her writing staff with nothing but "yes men." We all saw what happened to Paul Heyman. In my opinion, he was the most valuable person on that writing team. However, because he came along with something called creativity, Stephanie McMahon didn't seem to like his presence. She wanted somebody to agree to her ideas, not to come up with ideas of their own. She has filled her team with Hollywood script writers who don't seem to know the first thing about professional wrestling. Occasionally they score, like with the dialogue we saw between The Rock and The Hurricane a few years back. But most of the time, they fail.

Since Stephanie took over as the head writer, we've heard the constant excuse of "the writers couldn't come up with any ideas for him" when a talented wrestler is released by the company. Excuse me, but isn't that what these guys are getting paid for" If you can't come up with a decent storyline for Chris Kanyon, D Lo Brown, Lance Storm, and Rhyno then you guys have no business being writers. I'm not saying that any of these guys are ever going to be the next Mick Foley. However, there is no reason why they should not have been given the same chance that Randy Orton was given. They are all just as talented, if not more talented than he is. I have nothing against Orton either, but he's the perfect example of how with the right writing any talented wrestler can at least be a successful mid-carder or tag team wrestler.

Vince Russo proved he wasn't a genius when he took over WCW's book. However, with the right filter (i.e. Vince McMahon), he produced some of the most entertaining stories I've seen in professional wrestling in my 20 plus year as a fan. To me, the year between WrestleMania 14 and WrestleMania 15 was pure gold! Russo took a nobody like Bob Holly and actually made me care about him for a year or so when he became Hardcore Holly. He's back to being the pits for me now though! That's because there isn't a talented writer coming up with storylines for him. Russo made every wrestler on the roster have a purpose. He made every segment of the show seem like a can't-miss part of the show. With Stephanie's crew, I'm lucky if I mark out once during the entire episode of RAW.

I am not saying that Vince Russo is the answer. Shoot, anybody could be the answer. All it takes is somebody with creativity and the willingness to listen to criticism. These are two things that seem to be missing from Stephanie McMahon's mentality.

Let's look at just a few of the mistakes she and her team have made over the past few years. The titles have become meaningless, 75% of the roster is directionless, storylines are left unfinished, stories are predictable and sometimes even downright upsetting (i.e. Katie Vick), and fewer stars are being made for the future. I mentioned Randy Orton earlier. Am I wrong in thinking that the only reason any attention was paid to his storylines is because he happened to be affiliated with Triple H for two years"

I used to think that Triple H was entirely what was wrong with professional wrestling. I was wrong. It's the person wearing his wedding ring. She is after, in essence, the person in charge of the entire product. I think the sooner that Stephanie McMahon is removed from the writing team and starts controlling some other aspect of the company, the better. She has had control of the writing team for a good amount of time and she has been proven to be a failure. Any other employee with that kind of a record would have been told that "the writers couldn't come up with anything for you" and would've been let go by the company a long time ago. Why is Stephanie McMahon different" There are plenty of areas in the company where I'm sure she would be brilliant. However, creative control just doesn't seem to be one of them.

Vince McMahon seems to fear telling his daughter that she isn't doing a good job. I fear having to watch the company I once obsessed about day and night continue to become a program barely more important to me as reruns of The Simpsons, Seinfeld, and CSI. I'm sure the wrestlers fear reading the next script when they show up for work on Mondays and Tuesdays. The whole company must fear waiting for the Nielsen's results. But none of this would be necessary. The show could once again be something to obsess over if somebody would take over the books with a sense of what's needed, with a sense of longevity, and with a sense of creativity. Why is that person not Stephanie McMahon" That's quite simple. Stephanie fears creativity!

by John Marc Cuellar ..


Jess wrote:
You are so right! I only started watching wrestling about two years ago, and I thought that the storylines were pretty good. Then, my brother introduced me to some clips and matches from the Attitude Era, and I thought: " Man, I should have listened to my brothers five years ago and watched wrestling." The story lines now, in comparison, are God-awful. Dawn Marie romanced the elderly, HHH did something of unspeakable horrors to a mannequin, and the tag team division is nothing but a bunch of guys who either think they live in Mexico or wear ugly looking coats (I'm looking at you, Billy Kidman). Back when I first started watching wrestling, I wouldn't miss five minutes. Now, I don't give a care if I miss a month! It's all the same thing: one guy has the title for three months (if they're lucky) then it goes back to HHH, woman who can wrestle are either fired or stuffed in the locker room, and Undertaker hardly has a match! Hopefully, one day, Vince can find someone who has creativity to be on the writing team!
KeyserSoze893 wrote:
I think Vince Russo's biggest problem when he got to WCW was also listening to critisicism and getting input from other wrestlers aside from J-A-DUBBA-R-E-T. I think a lot of the new gen wrestlers are very uninspiring and thoughtless when it comes to being on the mic. They mostly come out already with something to say, and try to get what they had written down and expect a reaction. Watching Roddy Piper work with Stone Cold at Wrestlemania was a gem because you know Piper was naturally reacting when the crowd was saying WHAT"!
Dev Hasan wrote:
Okay, Ive read alot of columns and this is one of them that make alot of sense. Stephanie McMahon has no wrestling sense or orignality. Your right at it aint Triple H's fault but it is Stephanie's fault. When was the last time the company did something good" The last good match I remember was Chris Jericho vs Christian - I.C Championship in a ladder match.

They could really make a huge storyline. I mean what cant you do with Orlando Jordan" you can re-do the Nation of Domination and put him in with D'lo, Ron Simmons and Godfather and bring him back as Karma.

You can have something cool also like JBL and Triple H as the 2 top heels of the company teaming teogther. And after a few months after feuding they have a mis-understanding and they turn on each other.

Chris Jericho still a young guy. He can wrestle, he can do crazy ass moves in the ring and he can also talk on the microphone. When Stephanie McMahon became his valet in 2002 it felt as if Stephanie was FORCING Jericho to give the belts to Triple H at WrestleMania 18. Jericho could do another run as WWE Champion and watch it turn.

Chris Benoit was the champion for about 9 months. Then he had to drop it to someone who has no respect or anything for the busniess and is the most immature jackass in the backstage of WWE. When Benoit won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, I was like "wow...reminds me of when Bret won it" There hasnt been a guy with the same wrestling skills and wrestling talent similar to Bret's.

Batista aint much. Sure he is great. I don't want to bash him cause he is one of my favourites but I don't see his championship reign leading anywhere...

I think they do need to bring back Vince Russo to try and help. He did go to WCW but I think McMahon and him need to have a talk and work things out and they can help each other. McMahon can have a good busniess in return and Russo can have his old job back in return.
Andrew taylor wrote:
Too true. Its not Triple H's fault that WWE is going down the toilet right about now. Stephanie isn't just uncreative, she is, at times, a camera hog. I didn't watch WCW or WWE in the olden times, but they sound much better than things do now. Very rarely do any of the people in the matches have any chemistry, and Steph never even made a feud between the two toughest guys in wrestling during 2002 (Batista and Lesnar). I'm not saying I don't respect Stephanie, because I do, but she needs some better writers, and to create another two-year feud, like the now-legendary HBK-HHH rivalry. That's one of the only good storylines she's come up with in two years. I feel that some people like Russo or Heyman should perhaps be put above her. That might help somewhat. Cheers.
Terry wrote:
A few things. * Stephanie doesn't do the writing. *Stephanie isn't the head writer. (Vince is) Her job is to act as a middle person between writers and Vince. *It's Vince that has final say on everything. * I'm a guy, but I got to believe that if Shane had Stephanie's job, we wouldn't hear half the bitching. Even though he's a McMahon too. Of course this is the site that thinks the lead singer of the DX band is HHH's brother. Which is not true, but why have the truth hide a good lie
Eenovel wrote:
I agree with John about Stephanie McMahon. She is the main problem with the WWE right now. I think the core problem of the writing is the weak dialogue. WWE dialogue was raunchy, irreverent, and at the same time intelligent. As an example, the dialogue between Rock and Jericho during Jericho's debut was nothing short of brilliant. Another example was the dialogue between Austin and Vince when Vince got arrested. That was smart, and at the same time, hilarious. You didn't have to be a wrestling fan to understand that dialogue, and because of that, the WWE attracted a whole new world of fans.

Another problem is the natural talent of the creative staff. The creative staff would come up with 2 or 3 good ideas and they save those ideas for their top talent, and they have no good ideas for the rank and file. During the Attitude era, the creative staff would have 2 or 3 brilliant ideas for their top talent, and use the rest of their smart ideas for the rank and file guys. Guys like Mark Henry, Bob Holly, Al Snow, and other rank and file guys were put in good situations, and they will be remembered for being in truly funny, and unique storylines.

Stephanie McMahon have no creative talent, and the same applies Gerwitz and Lagana, and that is the crux of the problem with the WWE. Writers with wrestling experience and or knowledge don't mean a thing unless you have talent to back it up. The same applies to Hollywood writers as well coming into the wrestling business. Vince need to find writers that have the ability to write smart storylines. Vince also must find someone who is open minded, and allow other people to bring in smart ideas to the creative staff, regardless of whether they are writers, wrestlers, rank and file employees, or even the average fan. Stephanie McMahon can't do that, and therefore, she must be released. And if the new head writer can't get a better effort from the rest of the writers, then heads must roll. A message ought to be sent to the creative staff that abusing loyal fans (because loyal fans may complain, but will always watch, and getting people to watch is the goal of Vince McMahon) won't be tolerated.
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