One of the biggest critiques in regards to today’s WWE product revolves around the writing staff. Former WWE superstars and personalities criticize the company for being overly-scripted, employing too many writers, or both. In the 1980’s and 90’s the creative staff consisted of a handful of individuals, usually with intimate ties to Vince McMahon.
Things changed drastically when the WWE became a publicly-traded company, one of which included the expansion of the writing staff. Since the late 90’s, many writers have come and gone, but the staff has grown to upwards of 30 people. One of the benefits in a lot of people’s eyes to the brand split is that the writing staff was split in half as well.
Instead of a room full of 30 writers, there are 12-15 dedicated only to RAW, led by Edward Koskey, with another 12-15 writing exclusively for Smackdown, led by head writer, Steven Guerrieri. It might still be too early to tell which brand is leading the way in the aftermath of the brand extension, and it’s arguable whether there are any key distinctions separating one show from the other. It’s all under the same WWE umbrella, but fans were led to believe the products would be different.
Both on camera and backstage, there is a friendly ratings battle taking place as both the superstars and writers want to be working for the superior brand. But now, according to a recent report from Daily Wrestling News, Vince is seeking additional help from a WWE legend and Hall-of-Famer. As noted, Vince’s creative staff used to consist of himself and only a couple other WWE figureheads. Most weeks in fact, Vince and Pat Patterson would sit poolside and write that week’s show themselves. And now, Vince is turning to Patterson yet again.
Pat Patterson is probably best known for being the first Intercontinental Champion in WWE history and for being responsible for the creation of the Royal Rumble. Now, in the twilight of his WWE career, Patterson is generally consulted when the company is putting together the Rumbles, and only periodically through the year. But with the resuscitated brand split still in its infant stages, Vince is asking for his guidance, presumably for both brands in an effort to distinguish each brand as its own unique entity.
Vince’s hope is that Patterson becomes more involved and more hands-on at least up until next year’s WrestleMania. That will have given the WWE Universe an adequate amount of time to soak in the progression of each brand with their marquee feuds culminating at that event.
Patterson recently released his book, Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE, and the company’s official website published an excerpt detailing how Patterson developed the Royal Rumble concept, and interestingly, how it was initially received by the WWE Chairman. He wanted to create something special, introducing the timed intervals as opposed to the Battle Royals which began with every participant already in the ring.
“The more I kept running the idea over in my mind, the more it took shape and I was sure I was on to something. I felt it: every instinct in my body told me it would work. So I finally brought the idea to Vince. He laughed at the concept at first, saying that an hour was way too long to keep fans interested. I didn’t get upset; I knew sometimes he needed time for ideas to sink in. But I made sure to say, ‘All right, but keep it in mind, will you? Because I know this can work.'”
Patterson then told the story of how he and Vince met with the USA Network with the idea of running a three-hour WWE special. They met with Dick Ebersol, with all agreeing that they needed something to make the event extra special. Patterson said it was out of desperation that Vince “pitched” the idea to Ebersol.
“‘Pat, tell Dick about your stupid idea for that battle royal.’
“‘First, it’s not stupid. I think it’s a good idea. G****** it, I think it’s a great idea.’
“Ebersol loved the concept right away. He immediately imagined the drama of the clock ticking down onscreen and the audience’s anxious anticipation of who was going enter the ring next being played out every two minutes.
“‘Vince, it’s great TV,’ he said.”
The goal remains the same nearly 30 years later: to make great TV. Hopefully Pat Patterson is instrumental in creating more of it in today’s world.
[Image via WWE]