Vince McMahon’s reputation for micro-managing almost every aspect of WWE goes back decades. Whether it’s rewriting shows at the last minute or ensuring that his performers are heavily scripted, the chairman makes sure that he’s in control at all times so every show goes off without a hiccup. This has earned him the reputation of being somewhat of a control freak in the wrestling community, but his company’s success speaks for itself.
Another aspect of WWE programming that McMahon monitors is the commentary. While speaking on the Prime Time with Sean Mooney podcast, Corey Graves opened up about what it’s like to be a commentator during episodes of Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live, with the boss always listening to every word and not being shy about reprimanding announcers through their headsets while they’re live on-air.
“I think he gets that I generally understand the story, even if I don’t know where we’re going with it, which I try not to know. So I think I’ve earned his trust to a point, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still moments where I’ll say something and he’ll, you know, I can’t necessarily repeat what he says to me all the time, but it’s definitely an experience. It was definitely hard to get used to, but now I think I am as used to it as I will ever get.”
In the interview, Graves also revealed that he’s been hounded by McMahon while the camera was focused on him during a live television show. According to the color commentator, these moments have been awkward for him as it’s difficult to keep his train of thought focused while his boss is yelling in his ear.
.@WWEGraves may have been missing from your ???? this week, but we've GOT HIM here on the podcast! ???? Listen as Corey goes in-depth about his journey inside – and outside – of the ring. And yes, the #GodDamnClowns. ????
— Prime Time with Sean Mooney (@primetimemooney) August 21, 2019
While Graves’ words suggest that McMahon allows for his commentators to showcase their skills, it does sound as if they have some specific guidelines to follow. One of the main criticisms of WWE shows in recent years has pertained to the stale and overly scripted nature of the commentary, which often fails to capture the spirit and excitement of the action going on inside the ring.
During an interview with The Miami Herald, a legendary WCW commentator said that it’s obvious when commentators are being fed lines, and it prevents them from bringing their personality to proceedings, as well as doing the job they trained for years to master.
This also ties into the opinion that WWE shows are overproduced in general. It’s rare to see superstars perform promos that haven’t been written for them, which has resulted in some performers failing to showcase their full personality.