Former WWE writer Dave Schilling recently discussed the news that the company is being sued by a former writer for “discriminatory treatment, harassment, hostile work environment, wrongful termination, unlawful retaliation against the Plaintiff due to her race, color, and gender” during an interview with Jeremy Lambert and Joel Pearl.
Schilling commented that he was not surprised by the lawsuit, especially given that WWE is not the best place to work if you’re a person of color, a woman, or LGBTQ. According to Schilling, this is because many people working at WWE are older and may not be as sensitive to certain issues, and the person who makes the decisions is Vince McMahon, who isn’t “the world’s most sensitive person.”
“My thoughts were probably similar to a lot of people who are people of color who work for WWE, which is, not terribly surprising that someone would be upset about things they experienced at the company. It’s not the best place to work if you’re a person of color, you’re a woman, you’re LGBTQ. It’s difficult because there are a lot of people there who are older, who are maybe not as sensitive to certain things, and at the end of the day, the person who makes the decisions is Vince McMahon. Even today, Vince has a lot of power and a lot of say so in what goes on the air and Vince isn’t the world’s most sensitive person.”
Schilling went on to explain that many of the characters and storylines in WWE are based on what Vince McMahon likes. He stated that there are many examples of stereotypical characters in WWE’s history, and that this is not a new phenomenon.
“It’s all about what Vince likes. A lot of these broad caricatures are things that Vince likes. I can’t speak to what happened after I left, but I’m sure he thought that Apollo Crews doing an accent was going to get over. You look at the history of WWE, and there are tons of examples of stereotypical characters. This is not a new thing or a new phenomenon.”
When asked about what could be done to change the environment at WWE, Schilling suggested that many of the people who make decisions at the company need to retire. He argued that there needs to be more youthful energy in wrestling, and that WWE needs to surround itself with younger people who can say what is cool and what is not.
Schilling praised AEW for presenting its characters in a way that is more appealing to younger audiences, and he argued that WWE needs to do the same. He also suggested that Tony Khan, the booker of AEW, needs to surround himself with a team of writers who can provide youthful energy and help him to understand what is cool.
“A lot of people have to retire. I don’t know if we need to continue to hear what Michael Hayes has to say about storylines. I think he can put together an amazing match, but do I need to hear Michael Hayes, or Vince McMahon, or Bruce Prichard tell people in their 30s, 20s, children, what is entertaining? This is no knock on them, they’ve all done amazing things in the wrestling business and given me decades of enjoyment. They were all very nice to me. There needs to be more youthful energy in wrestling. AEW has done a good job of presenting their characters in a way that is more appealing to younger audiences. WWE, in a lot of ways, Roman Reigns and the Bloodline are very modern characters and exciting and cool, and even though they are heels, they are thought of as cool. The people making the decisions are old, and at some point, those people need to move aside. Tony Khan, as a booker of AEW, is doing a good job, but he’s not surrounding himself with younger people. He’s not surrounding himself with a team of writers who can say, ‘this is cool, this is not cool.’ Not to say Tony doesn’t know what’s cool, he’s probably my age and as checked in as I can be in my mid-30s. We need to have that youthful energy. That’s what is so exciting about AEW and, on some levels, WWE, but there needs to be more. The more people of a certain age step aside, the better it will be for everyone and there will be less of this kind of tension between the sensibilities of 2023 and the sensibilities of 1987. That’s the hardest part about working there. Those guys don’t get it sometimes, and you wish they did.”
In Schilling’s view, the more people of a certain age step aside from WWE, the better it will be for everyone, and there will be less tension between the sensibilities of 2023 and the sensibilities of 1987.
What do you think about Dave Schilling’s comments on the environment at WWE and the need for more youthful energy in wrestling? Do you agree that WWE needs to surround itself with younger people who can bring a fresh perspective to the industry? Leave a comment.