WWE BUSINESS: Inside WWE's 'SmackDown' and 'Raw' Creative team shakeup (TheWrap.com)

Posted on 9/06/119 by Mike Informer

Inside WWEs SmackDown and Raw Creative Team Shakeup

Main-roster shows all get new head
writers in scurry ahead of SmackDown move to Fox

Tony Maglio | September 5, 2019 @ 11:19 AM
Last Updated: September 5, 2019 @ 11:54 AM

WWE is undergoing a major behind-the-scenes shakeup, with
Raw head writer Ed Koskey replacing Ryan Ward as
SmackDown lead writer under executive director Eric
Bischoff, an individual with knowledge of the plans told

Jonathan Baeckstrom, the former lead writer of 205 Live,
is backfilling Koskeys lofty Raw role under executive
director Paul Heyman. The changes have been in the works for
weeks and follow what the insider called a botched summer
storyline involving a doppelgnger for bad buy Erick Rowan.

Ward will be taking a short-term leave of absence, the
insider said, declining to specify the reason for his leave.
Should he return to WWE from that leave, Ward will likely
join the home team or the companys non-traveling group
of writers. That would be considered a major step down for
Ward, who reassumed his position as SmackDown head writer
earlier this year.

Recently, Ward had shared the lead writer role with Steve
Guerrieri, whom the WWE insider said was fired several
months ago. (Guerrieri did not respond back to requests for
comment.) Before that, D-Generation X wrestler-turned-
backstage heavyweight Road Dogg Brian James stepped down
from the gig at what is sometimes referred to as WWEs B
show. Those changes both predate Bischoff, a former WCW
president who stepped in to oversee SmackDown in June.

Raw, WWEs flagship show, has had more consistency. Koskey
has served as the longest-running lead writer of Raw and
has 20 years of experience with the company.

A month ago, Baeckstrom was moved way up the ladder at
Raw, the insider said. Chad Barbash is the new lead writer
of the cruiserweights show 205 Live. There are
approximately 25 writers across WWE. That staff is now being
split among the two brands, Raw and SmackDown.

A rep for WWE issued this response to our questions for this
story: We dont comment on employee matters.

The WWE insider said the shuffle of executives is due to a
perceived lack of direction at SmackDown, which is four
weeks ahead of its big move from USA Network to Foxs
broadcast channel. The billion-dollar deal puts a lot of
pressure on the SmackDown creative team.

A rep for Fox Sports did not immediately respond to requests
for comment on the new SmackDown changes.

The SmackDown moves also come amid growing questions about
Bischoffs leadership of the show. The insider cited
Bischoffs decision to hire Stevie Long, a former Sons of
Anarchy writer who was found asleep in the writers room by
longtime producer Michael P.S. Hayes on his first day on the
road with WWE. (Long is still with WWE.)

Bischoff declined to comment; Longs manager was unable to
provide a comment from his client by the time of

Bischoff and his SmackDown creative team have also come
under scrutiny for this summers Erick Rowan doppelgnger
storyline, in which an unknown attacker drop heavy backstage
scaffolding on top of Roman Reigns, injuring the companys
No. 1 star.

According to the WWE insider, the storyline was botched so
bad that explaining to anyone what it was supposed to be
wouldnt make any sense at all.

The following week, Reigns car was hit by another car in
the arena parking lot.

The whodunit played out over several weeks, with prime
suspects and bad guys Erick Rowan and Daniel Bryan claiming
to have found the person responsible.

At the end of the next SmackDown episode, they pulled the
hood off of an unknown man who looked just like Rowan,
revealing who Bryan called the culprit to Reigns.

A week later, an unconvinced Reigns shared found grainy
video footage of a man who looked just like Rowan in pants
and a pulled-over hoodie walking away from the assault. That
apparently proved that Rowan himself was the attacker to
Reigns and Bryan, at least.

The lookalike, who certainly could have been the man in
Reigns video, has not been mentioned since, and there are
numerous wrestling blog posts and Reddit threads trying to
figure out what happened in real life.

Rowan viciously attacked both Bryan and Reigns at the end of
Tuesdays SmackDown Live.

Rowan and Reigns are set to face off at WWEs next pay-per-
view event, Sept. 15s Clash of Champions. There is still
one SmackDown episode before it, so if there will be any
real and really, retroactive storyline payoff to the
lookalike angle, it would have to be on Tuesday.

In late June, WWE handed the Raw TV reins to ECW founder
Heyman, while WCW alum Bischoff got SmackDown Live.

SmackDown will move from USA to Foxs broadcast network on
Friday, Oct. 4, when it will celebrate 20 years of the blue
brand. Back in May 2018, TheWrap broke the news of Foxs
SmackDown acquisition and its shift from Tuesdays to
Fridays. We were also first to report that the show would
remain live.

USA Network will keep WWEs flagship series Monday Night
Raw. It also gets the pro-wrestling promotions minor-
league NXT show from WWE Network. That one is set to
compete head-to-head with TNTs upcoming AEW series, which
will launch on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

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