September 5, 2008
In a fantastic expose, comparing the oft-misunderstood worlds of mainstream show business and professional wrestling, veteran screenwriter (Liar Liar) Paul Guay discussed his tenure in both worlds.
"From Guay's perspective, it's clear why wrestling, and wrestling fans, exist only in stereotype in Hollywood," the story states.
Paul Guay states, "I really think it's as simple as the fact that it's fake," he begins. "Because it's fake, people look down on it, which doesn't make any more sense than saying: who likes Hamlet, that's fake."
He goes on to point out that the "real versus fake" debate simplifies the complexities of good storytelling in wrestling and gives people an easy way to label the sport: entertainment conglomerate and its fans.
"Yeah, it is fake, but is it well done? Do you get involved with the characters and their personalities? I think people stop at, 'Oh it's fake, therefore it's for children and idiots.' Well, there are children and idiots who like wrestling, but there are also intelligent people who like wrestling."
"Why not make a film that appeals to every semi-intelligent person out there? Those of us who fell in love with wrestling fell in love with it for a reason. Why not show the excitement of it, the ability to engage people? The experience of seeing a great wrestling match live hasn't been portrayed anything like it could be on screen."
Guay also describes how he went from being an A-List Hollywood writer to a member of WWE's elite creative team. "I pitched my wrestling movie to WWE Films and the then head of the film division said they're not doing wrestling films," Guay offers, at once understanding of the mandate for WWE Films to establish itself in the non-wrestling arena, but obviously frustrated to have hit another dead end.
"But, he said Stephanie McMahon was looking for writers for the TV show because at that point the ratings were not doing well (this took place in the latter part of 2002). She called and we talked briefly on the phone, then I flew out to Connecticut and interviewed with her. I told her what I would do with the WWE booking if I were God, and then she brought me the next day to meet with Vince, Paul Heyman, Brian Gewirtz, Michael Hayes, Triple H, and all the writers around the table. I sat down and Vince said 'shoot.'"
So I pitched them my approach, and Vince hired me."
Guay stated, about his time in World Wrestling Entertainment, "When I was in the writer's room, you wouldn't know if you were being worked or not," Guay explains. "Part of it is political because some people want to see the new guy fail, but part of it is just fascinating because with every word that comes out of someone's mouth you're not sure if it's just to see if you're smart."
The story also goes behind-the-scenes on the volatile relationship Guay witnessed between WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and Original ECW cult hero Paul Heyman. "They're both very strong personalities that were, when I was there, pulling in different directions, and it was clear that there were personal issues that were affecting what was going on," Guay theorizes.
During his time, though, and even after his short tenure had come to an end, Guay developed enormous respect for Heyman's abilities, behind the scenes. "When I talked to Paul privately, I was more impressed by what he said than by anyone else I've ever met in the wrestling industry," he explains. "His ways to pitch stars, to make stars out of guys...I've never encountered anything like it."
The story continues about Guay's observations in WWE.
Guay quickly points out that his admiration for Heyman does not necessarily preclude admiration for McMahon, and he doesn't feel the need to enter into an "either-or" appreciation of the pair.
In fact, he suggests, he can understand why, on the surface, some may find it hard to appreciate Heyman for his talents. "You've got Vince, whose company is worth a billion dollars," Guay begins. "You could say 'What has Paul Heyman done?' He joins a tiny company and runs it into the ground. That's true, that's part of Paul's story."
"But the other part is that he kept creating stars who were big enough that WWE and WCW were poaching them from this guy who they don't even admit exists, although apparently Vince is helping to fund the company under the table. What is it about this guy who hires unknowns but is showcasing them in a way that makes you want to poach them and bring them onto the main stage?"
"This is an interesting guy. I remember when I was there and we were talking about an upcoming pay-per-view, and Paul and I were out in the parking lot. He was pitching me on how to make Tommy Dreamer challenge for the title. Before he said anything, I thought 'Why do I want to see Tommy Dreamer challenge for the title?' 10 minutes later, I was thinking I want to buy that pay-per-view, that's a story I want to see told. Heyman is just great at creating a scenario that you'd want to invest your money to see, which is a remarkable talent."
A large part of the interview deals with Guay's desire to still do the movie about pro wrestling. After reading the story, you'll come away with the understanding that he really does love it and is one of WWE's most passionate fans.
I thoroughly enjoyed the interview, which can be read here.