SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)…
WWE announced today that Paul Heyman is out as creative director of Raw. He remains with WWE as an on-air talent, although what that will entail unless Brock Lesnar is around isn’t clear. Bruce Prichard, who was brought in to replace Eric Bischoff as the creative director of Smackdown, will expand his duties to include both Smackdown and Raw. The following is the statement WWE issued to PWTorch.com.
“In an effort to streamline our creative writing process for television, we have consolidated both teams from Raw and SmackDown into one group, led by Bruce Prichard. Paul Heyman will concentrate on his role as an in-ring performer.”
Keller’s Analysis: The reaction I’ve heard so far has been surprise, first and foremost, with some being in favor of the change and others against. One person said Heyman had a reputation of being “toxic” behind the scenes, a trait that has followed him for decades including from early critics such as Bill Watts and Eric Bischoff. Another said he hadn’t delivered good enough Raw ratings, so change isn’t a surprise as Vince McMahon would need someone to blame, fair or unfair. Another felt Heyman was doing a great job and had the respect and admiration of the wrestlers he was working with. One source says the feeling behind the scenes with wrestlers was that Heyman was building new stars, and it wouldn’t have instant results, but it was the most prudent long-term plan. When considering the circumstances of having limited access to talent and little or no live audience for months, it was a bad combination since it’s hard to build new stars when you don’t have an audience and a setting that frames them as such.