Former WWE creative writer Freddie Prinze Jr. spoke about an interesting production meeting he was once part of while with the company during a recent edition of his Wrestling with Freddie podcast.
It all started with Vince McMahon wanting a promo battle between Sheamus and Wade Barrett.
“I sit down and every single professional wrestler employed by the WWE on the roster is in the production meeting. All of the writers and agents are in the very back. Vince is sitting at the front of the room behind a table with protein bars and energy drinks. He gets up and starts talking about what he’s wanting, what they’re lacking, and what he’s not seeing from them. He literally says the words, ‘You have to give me a little razzle dazzle.’ The writer to my left, who’s a younger guy, whispers, ‘What the hell does razzle dazzle mean?’ I know none of the wrestlers really know because he said it’s like Vaudeville. He made this comparison when he said to me, ‘We give them some comedy. We give them some music. We give them some suspense. It’s Vaudeville Freddie, it’s Vaudeville.’
Vince in the meeting said, ‘Now you’re going to show me what you got. Let me get some volunteers.’ A few people put their hands up. Sheamus gets up and walks to the front. He takes initiative. He doesn’t wait for someone to say yes. He takes initiative and Vince likes that. That’s an Alpha move. Wade Barrett gets up next. We have an Englishman and an Irishman. This should be a really easy promo for these guys to cut. Vince said, “I’m going to give you a premise. You’re a dog and you’re a dog. Now make me want to watch you fight.’ My heart stops and I’m not even the one doing it. You can feel the panic. Everyone got tight. There was so much tension. You can see sweat beads all over Wade Barrett’s forehead. Sheamus is stone quiet. He doesn’t move. He looks like one of the English soldiers outside the palace. They’re frozen. 30 seconds go by. Not a sound. 45 seconds go by, nothing. I’m dying. I want to jump up and say, ‘Stop.’ It’s like watching a murder. A minute goes by. Sheamus says by accident out loud, ‘I think I’m having an out of body experience’, and no one laughs because they can’t believe that it just came out of his mouth. Wade takes the first step. He growls, and as soon as he growls, and Vince gets up and yells, ‘Not an actual f*cking dog. Son of a b*tch.’ and he storms out of the room. He came back and said, ‘Let’s try again.’ Sheamus is going to be the babyface dog and he starts talking. He said, ‘I’m a good old dog. I’m loyal’, and Vince said, ‘Just forget the whole damn thing’ and storms off. Promo class is cancelled.’
‘I went to Vince’s office within five minutes and I knocked on the door. I said, ‘Let me talk to you about promo class. I said, ‘I think you’re using terminology they don’t understand, and I think they get nervous at the fear of failure in front of not only their peers, but in front of people who make decisions on their careers. I don’t think it’s an environment that’s conducive to success. This is going to sound off the wall, but what if I did what my acting coach did for our class? You give me one of these rooms that is not being used, and I’ll teach them the same way all these young actors were taught. I started hitting him with all the actors that were in my acting class not realizing he wouldn’t know who Kirsten Dunst was. He didn’t know who I was. He didn’t know who any of these people were. We had a deep class, all successful actors. All of us were working. He said, ‘Yea, go find a stage manager and let him know.’ The next week, I showed up, and all the stage managers who had avoided me like the plague, none of them liked me, the main dude said, ‘Freddie, I’ve got a room ready for you. We’re ready to start your acting classes. We’re calling it a promo class. Everything is going to be taken care of for you.’ The promo class was going to happen before the production meeting, so now I’ve just given myself more work. I have to do both. I have an hour with talent, and then I get to sit in a 13 hour production meeting for a live show and give everyone 16 seconds to prepare for it. I see the sign, and it’s glorious. It says, ‘promo class’, and they did all the digital stuff on the printer. They made it look professional and it’s right on the door. I open the door, I get inside, and I’m not joking, it’s a utility closet. There’s no chairs and it’s about the size of a prison cell in Alcatraz.”
H/T to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription