When watching from a distance it all seems so simple; just a bunch of guys putting on a show in a ring. The reality of it all is that this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Wrestling is much like a circus, constantly travelling the globe putting on shows 300 days a year.
When you really take a step back and look at how much better the production value has gotten over the years, it is quite amazing. With this being said, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes and in the ring in order for a show to flow properly. These behind the scenes events are usually kept quiet and done behind closed doors; they are simply things that the WWE doesn’t want the viewers to know about. Just like in a circus act, the magician never reveals his secrets.
In this article we will take a look at some of these secrets that WWE keeps quiet behind closed doors. So without further ado, here are 10 incredible behind the scenes secrets the WWE never wants to reveal. Enjoy!
10) WWE Pumps Noise Into Taped Shows
Ever wonder why the crowds on Smackdown, Superstars and Main Event are so loud and weird sounding? Well, that’s because the WWE pumps added noise into their taped telecasts. When a big bump or popular superstar makes his way to the ring, an audio record of a loud crowd is intensified. Look closely during episodes of Superstars or Main Event, the crowd is sitting not paying attention with most of them not even having arrived yet, and somehow they seem so loud.
The WWE is especially known to do this with superstars they are high on, like Roman Reigns for example. Pumping noise into the telecasts does not happen on RAW or PPVs because they are live, as the WWE simply does not have time to make these edits. This is the reason why RAW and PPVs have much more of that real feel to their telecasts. Edits are a huge part of WWE programming on a weekly basis.
9) Camera Work
In order for a show to be great, most of it really comes down to camera work. It certainly isn’t as easy as it seems. There are so many cameramen working during a telecast, and it’s all about the coordinators putting on the shots that are best for the given moment. The hard camera which superstars look at during a promo is usually the main camera of use. Wrestlers are told to talk into that direction while speaking. Wrestlers like Steve Austin reportedly hated this concept and would purposely walk all around the ring so the other cameras can get a shot. Austin did so to get more of a genuine feel to his promos.
A big factor for a cameraman is to make sure the wrestlers aren’t being looked at from up-close when they are calling a move or speaking to each other. If you notice during live telecasts when wrestlers are calling a move, the camera normally switches to another angle so the viewers at home are unable to see this go down. If they do catch a bad angle with the wrestlers speaking to each other, the camera will quickly cut to another angle. Cameras are not only useful for production value, but are also crucial in keeping the integrity of the business in check. As you can imagine, filming Smackdown or Superstars is much easier because of edits that can be made after the show. When you’re live, it’s all about getting it done in the moment which sometimes does lead to mistakes (as we’ve seen in the past).
8) Referee Involvement
Thanks to some awesome camerawork, it may not seem like the refs have a whole lot of responsibility, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Refs have a lot of duties during a match, and one of them is timing. Refs let the wrestlers know when they’re on a commercial break or when it’s time to go to the finish. Referees also used to hand wrestlers mini blades to cut themselves with during matches.
Refs are also in charge with putting up the ring before each show and getting a script on how their matches will finish. They’re not throwing down real counts, as they know when the match needs to end, and this is typically discussed by the parties involved in the match and referee himself. Ref involvement has much more meaning than many fans really think.
7) Writing Team
One of the biggest changes to the wrestling business was the hiring of countless writers backstage. Back in the attitude era, Vince McMahon, Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson would literally discuss what would happen a couple of days before pool side on a sheet of paper. Man oh man have those days changed. Today, the WWE has a massive creative writing team in charge of what goes on with each individual wrestler. Storylines are no longer done generally. Today, each wrestler has a specific writer that takes care of their character. As much as fans like to take their anger out on Vince, the problem is really terrible creative writing and not McMahon himself. Though with this being said, all storylines and ideas need to have the consent of Vince before they are given the green light. The same goes for NXT, as every idea and storyline needs to be passed by Triple H, and he ultimately has the final say regarding all operations. The writing team in NXT is looked at as the unsung heroes of the company’s success thus far.
“Blading” is a wrestling term used to describe the way wrestlers bleed during a match. Blading involves a wrestler intentionally cutting themselves in order to bleed during a match. The blade itself is usually hidden in the wrestler’s attire or in their wrist bands. In some cases, the ref hands wrestlers the blade when the camera is away from them.
Blading can be very dangerous, however; in 2004, Guerrero accidently cut too much and sliced an artery on his forehead. Guerrero felt the effects of this for the next couple of weeks. Because of this and many other reasons, the WWE has band blood since changing to a PG rating in 2008. If blood does happen to appear, it’s usually by accident and in these cases, the match is stopped and the wrestler is cleaned up. However, recently Lesnar and The Undertaker decided to use blood in their match. McMahon was furious according to sources, as he did not know this was going to happen. It remains to be seen if blading will make its return to the world of sports and entertainment one day.
5) Scripted Promos
One of the biggest changes to the wrestling business today is the quality of the promos which have subsided enormously. The promos just don’t have any feel of realism anymore. Unlike the olden days, today’s wrestlers are given a script on exactly what to say. Former WWE legend Jim Ross also recently said that scripted promos are hurting the overall product. Ross claims that they are too predictable and come off as time fillers more than anything else.
Promos were not always like this. Back in the 90s wrestlers were given a lot of freedom with their characters. Today, only a handful of wrestlers can actually shoot (the small list includes Paul Heyman, John Cena and a few other long time WWE wrestlers. A wrestler like Dolph Ziggler for example, still has to follow a script like the rest of the superstars on the roster. That genuine feel seems to be lost; it remains to be seen if measures will be taken to change this.
Believe it or not, most weapons that are used are actually real. You can hear the impact of a chair when it crashes onto another wrestler’s back. Former WWE manager Harvey Wippleman is the WWE’s backstage concierge, and he’s usually in charge of buying any last minute items the WWE needs for the telecast. If the WWE needs a trash can at the last minute, Wippleman’s on it. The items are normally real and purchased from an actual store and not a prop shop.
However, some popular weapons are obviously reinforced. The tables and ladders are the only weapons that do have some give on them. Tables are reinforced in order to make it easy on the wrestlers to go through them. Can you imagine trying to put someone through a real table? Concussion city! Asides from these two weapons though, the items are quite genuine, including the patented sledge hammer which Triple H uses. You can credit some excellent camera work for making that seem more real than it actually is.
3) Commentators Talking To Vince On The Air
Those headsets you see on the commentators aren’t just to cancel out the noise, they are used to not only hear each other’s voices, but also have the boss himself Vince McMahon, relay them information during the show.
After taking over from Jim Ross permanently, according to rumors, Michael Cole got an ear full from Vince McMahon on a nightly basis during live episodes of RAW. Having McMahon in your ear isn’t very easy (as you can imagine). In addition to this, the commentators have a massive list of words they cannot say. The list of words commentators cannot say is quite large, but here are some of them: pro wrestling, wrestler, backstage, DQ, fans, faction, feud, house shows, belt and some other banned terms as well.
2) Storylines Written Months In Advance
When Seth Rollins fell to an unexpected injury, the WWE’s creative team went into a massive state of panic. A big reason for this was because the WWE’s creative team had storylines for Seth already written up to WrestleMania. This caused a huge number of re-writes (rumor has it that Sheamus was deemed to win the championship hours before the show). According to the original script, before Rollins went down, Reigns was slated to walk out of Survivor Series with the title and once again, face Rollins at TLC. With Rollins out, the creative team was forced to make new plans and these plans involved Sheamus and a new faction The League of Nations.
Barring injury scares, plans are usually made months before and sometimes even years before (like Rock and Cena). Plans are only subject to change when a wrestler goes down with an injury or an extreme rise to popularity (like Daniel Bryan for example who forced the WWE to re-write their plans on multiple occasions). Despite some of these rare instances though, most storylines are written months in advance.
1) Determining What Goes On In A Match
Believe it or not, 60% of a match is usually improvised. The only real part of the match that is discussed and planned is the finish. Matches are usually improvised with one wrestler calling most of the match. This usually falls on the heel of the veteran who controls most of the action, and he usually tells his opponent what to do throughout the bout. In more prestigious cases (like PPVs), some wrestlers do go over some things in advance. They usually practice some moves in the ring before the show.
While away from the company, Alberto Del Rio spoke about how he trusted wrestlers to lead matches (like John Cena for example). He however wasn’t comfortable with the likes of The Miz taking charge, and Del Rio would usually call these matches. The more respect you’ve earned amongst your peers, the more likely you are to call a match. As you might expect, the veterans not only call the matches, but improvise most of it. Like any other job, the more experience you get, the easier it becomes.