Tag Archives: ECW

Interning for WWE: My Improbable Journey


In the summer of 2013 I achieved a goal I thought was unattainable. I interned for WWE. While every experience is different, here’s my account of what it’s like to hit the proverbial ropes for the pro-wrestling juggernaut.

Chapter One: The Application

Long story short, I needed to graduate college.

After a year and a half of applying for internship after internship, I was getting nowhere and was in a mild state of depression. To be honest, applying for this internship was a complete shot in the dark to humor a friend of mine (who happens to wrestle on the indie circut). After watching Raw one Monday, he informed me there were internships available and that I should apply (being a writer and all). I laughed it off and told him I didn’t have a prayer but I would apply because he told me to (and because he was willing to put me through a table if I didn’t).  When I got home I threw my hat in the ring (no pun intended) and figured that was that.

How wrong I was.

A few weeks to a month later I got a literal wake up call from WWE’s Human Resources department about the internship. I don’t remember a whole lot about the conversation because I was still groggy but at the end I was told I would be meeting with then Executive Editor Craig Tello (who went on to write WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan’s best-selling biography in 2015).

I was so petrified of jinxing myself that I didn’t tell a soul until I was about to leave for my first visit to WWE Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut (four hours prior to my interview with Tello).

To calm my nerves, I listened to Clutch’s discography for the entire duration of the three hour train ride (and 15 to 20 minute bus ride from Stamford’s Metro North stop to WWE’s Headquarters). When I walked in, it turned out I was an hour early. Being raised in a traditional Italian household, I naturally went to the deli across the street and ate to calm my nerves. It was then that I called one of my best friends and fellow WWE lifer to tell her the news.

To say I was quaking in my little space boots would be an understatement.

I once again walked into WWE Headquarters, resume and portfolio in hand and sat down in the lobby, admiring the golden life-sized Andre the Giant statue proudly residing there (as well as the giant banner boasting the upcoming Pay-Per-View). An escorted elevator ride later and I was sitting down in one of WWE’s many conference rooms.

After admiring the room and all it’s majestic memorabilia in a comfy rotating chair, Tello walked in and introduced himself. Unbeknownst to me I didn’t stand up to shake his hand because I was still basking in the glory of being in the building. When I realized what I had neglected to do, I thought I had already bombed the interview. Since I figured this was as close as I would get to the WWE, I no longer cared about my first impression and proceeded to say what came to mind (in the most professional way) after Tello asked his questions (which seemed very on-the-fly for the most part).

The conversation mostly revolved around re-iterating my resume, what I liked and disliked about the current product, what I would change and where I saw myself eventually (I kept pushing a magazine project I had done for a recent class I had taken, but since this was for digital content, Tello politely refuted my requests). He kindly escorted me to the door and I was happily complacent with the memory of being in the building once. On the way out, I placed my left hand in Andre’s hand and said goodbye (a weekly ritual I subconsciously kept).

A few weeks later, I missed a call from human resources during my shift at a deli for a local Key Food (which I hated and was the sole motivation for college graduation at the time). I figured the voice mail was just kindly telling me I didn’t get the internship, but an e-mail from Tello days later told me otherwise.

Memorial Day 2013 was a big deal.

After hammering out the details with Tello, it was decided that I would start May 28, the day after one of the many American holidays ruined by retail. I was stationed Monday through Wednesday and had the good fortune of having family in Connecticut. It was during this time I would become close with my cousin Tim, a retired Connecticut police officer. I stayed at Tim’s with his longtime girlfriend Debbie Mondays and Tuesdays for the duration of my internship.

I was going to be writing for WWE.com in WWE’s headquarters three days a week for practically the entire summer.

Chapter Two: The First Day

 It was a rainy Tuesday in Stamford.

I gathered in the lobby with the other interns, stunned that I would be engaged in a three month passion project in the least likely place I ever saw myself.

We were a large group, so we were herded like cattle into separate elevators that brought us to the confines of the cafeteria, catered by Panera Bread. Inside, we sat down in assigned seats adorned with care packages from our “mentors” (mine happened to be Tello). What followed was a standard orientation. During introductions, fellow interns proudly announced the prestigious universities they attended, but none more proud than I, the scrapper from Brooklyn College who clawed his way to the top.

After the orientation, paperwork was gathered and mentors collected their youth for the day. It was then where I was given a brief tour of the floor by Tello, greeted by legendary ring announcer Howard Finkel and former ECW and WWE color commentator Joey Styles (who’s desk was directly in front of mine). As the shock settled, I was seated at my first desk ever, briefly introduced myself to my temporary coworkers (all brilliant in their own right) and given a choice of a Christian, Eddie Guerrero or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin action figure to emblazon my desk (naturally, I chose Austin – who is proudly displayed in my man cave).

Unfortunately, I was also introduced to my arch nemesis, Chris Buetra. Buetra was a spelling error of my last name the IT department made that has become my claim to blame whenever bizarre events occur. I was told of a Seamless account stipend I could use after a certain time. Since I was set to cover Monday Night Raw (WWE’s Flagship show) I qualified. For my first meal, I ordered a recommended Italian favorite from a well reviewed establishment. Unfortunately, Buetra ordered eggplant parmigiana from a Chinese restaurant and Tello informed me in front of the entire office after receiving a phone call from the restaurant.

Damn you, Buetra!

After the non-Raw coverage staff left for the day I met my Monday team, (also brilliant in their own right) rounded out by the voice of ECW himself (I made it a point to sit next to and ask questions as often as I could, absorbing his knowledge like a sponge). While watching the show, I naively conversed with Styles about storyline decisions I didn’t agree with before he politely told me to shut up and learn because this was after all, a learning experience. This was the first of many professional subtleties Styles would explain without having to.

Chapter Three: The Internship

Raw coverage would run smoothly (and mostly silently) over the next few months and my mind expanded to then unprecedented heights. The amount of talent in the entire Content department will destroy even the most prestigious of publications without blinking an eye.

Most Mondays would start with leaving my Brooklyn home three hours before scheduled and heading down to Stamford. If I was lucky, I’d catch WWE’s shuttle bus from the terminal and arrive 15-20 minutes early. On other days, I’d be forced to take the half-hourly city bus and cross my fingers. Upon arrival, I’d chitchat with coworkers and dive into whatever I had to do before Raw coverage. One of the big perks of interning with WWE is access to early and final drafts of scripts (I printed many for my private collection, but have never shared them out of respect for the company).

Tuesdays were interesting and busy. As always, it would start with a cup of coffee and a chat with coworkers in the action figure adorned cubicles while waiting for our computers to start up. We would then read the list of e-mails and I’d hit the bullet points for main stories up on the whiteboard. Shortly after, the content team would assemble into the conference room for a post-Raw meeting where we would pitch ideas based on events that occurred the previous night. After the meeting, I’d grab another cup of Joe and create whatever content was assigned to me for the day. At the end of my shift, I’d head down the hallway to the company gym – which is the size of a small Blink Fitness or local facility that screams 1988. It was here I would sporadically train with Mike – Vince McMahon’s personal trainer. Mike is one of the nicest and most humble people I’ve ever met and easily the most jacked. It was hard to tell what was and wasn’t muscle but knowing Vince, it was probably a requirement. After intense workouts, I’d head to the shuttle bus (if I was on time), hit the train to Tim’s and hang out with him and Deb.

Wednesdays was a bit more of the same, but the office would begin to dress up as figureheads were arriving to round out the week since all televised programming was finished until Monday (with the exception of monthly Pay-Per-Views). Content would have a weekly meeting concerning highlights and improvement areas while Creative would meet for the bulk of the day in a separate conference room on the same floor. On occasion I would run into tag team legends Brian James (better known as the New Age Outlaws “Road Dogg”) and Michael “P.S.” Hayes of the Fabulous Freebirds. During the afternoon, I’d meet with Tello to discuss my progress and the knowledge I had obtained. After my regimen I’d say my goodbyes, explore Stamford and head home to a very temporary job I disliked (fun fact: Key Food fired me on the Fourth of July after the deli manager tampered with my schedule, didn’t tell me and pretended I no-showed. I took it in stride, but would have preferred to have quit on my own after my internship expired. After non-stop work 28 days in a row, I was now technically unemployed).

Side note: To take a gig with WWE Creative requires an unparalleled iron will. This cannot be taught or learned. Positions rotate constantly for various reasons. If you have no prior knowledge of WWE or only view this as a resume booster you should apply for something else. Creative is not “just a job,” it’s a lifestyle.

Roughly a month after my unceremonious ties were severed with Key Food’s deli, my internship was set to expire. Throughout the remaining weeks of my internship, Tello and I would set up meetings with heads of different departments to help me attain a better grasp of how the company runs as a whole. While I wish I had recorded said meetings with Big Red, my trusty mp3 player and beloved recording device; I always had a small notebook where I jotted down every piece of information I could until my hands cramped up (tip for aspiring musicians/journalists: always stretch your hands). To quote journalism legend Mark McSherry (the professor of the above mentioned magazine class), I “got my tuition.”

I still have that small notebook.

Chapter Four: The “Dusty” Finish

My internship was expiring in a week and I didn’t want to go. I felt I had some sort of unfinished business to take care of, since my requests to cover live events and Pay-Per-Views were rejected by higher ups (though Tello fought for me). SummerSlam, one of WWE”s biggest and oldest events was two weeks after my internship expired. During one of our final meetings, I  pitched covering SummerSlam in the building with the rest of the staff to see how it’s done since it was improbable that the company would fly me to Los Angeles, California where the event was being held. Tello approved and I felt a rare sense of importance.

The week before the internship expired, Human Resources arranged an intern only event with the Boys and Girls Club of Stamford. While it was fun schmoozing with the interns and participating in activities, I would have rather have been grinding it out in the office (plus, the kids thought they’d be hanging out with WWE Superstars instead of interns).

My last official week was bittersweet. While I finally was able to interactively participate in and manipulate an episode of WWE SuperStars (one of the smaller shows) via the then very new WWE App, I was unable to transcribe an interview with former Superstar and gigantic actor Kurrgan due to the Stamford bus and New York bound Metro North’s schedules; putting the only loss in my assignment completion column (much like The Undertaker’s WrestleMania record).

Two weeks later, my family and I had our traditional Italian Sunday dinner and I bolted to Stamford like a bat out of hell, for I’d be gone until the morning came. Unfortunately, Buetra beat me to it – making sure I had forgotten my key card and that IT ignored the sign on my desk and deleted my account.

It was WWE’s biggest party of the summer and my invitation got lost in the mail.

While I played the best hand with the cards I was given, I couldn’t quite shake off my questionable luck and was off balance with my tasks. Needless to say, I was not pleased with my performance. There is no doubt that Buetra was laughing manically on WWE’s roof (joke’s on him, I graduated the following year).

After a handful of apologies, handshakes, thank you’s and goodbyes, my arranged car was ready to take me home. I grabbed my gear, basked in the moment and shook Andre’s titanic golden hand for the last time.


Solving the Bray Wyatt Problem



The story of WWE’s Bray Wyatt is troubling.

When he debuted on the main roster in 2013, he was considered the next big star. His promos were incredible, his wrestling abilities were above average for men of his size and his faction carried a following. Wyatt was very over initially because he was very into his character.  While his first feud with Kane was mediocre at best, fans looked past it and have mostly forgotten it as the flash-in-the-pan as it was because of confusion surrounding the booking and at least Wyatt defeated The Demon.

Over the next eight months, The Eater of Worlds was sparingly used while his family did the dirty work for him, cutting electric promos in the wake of destruction. His feuds with Daniel Bryan and The Shield were amazing and elevated The Wyatt Family to the degree everyone hoped. It seemed Wyatt was poised to become the top heel by the end of 2014.

Until his horrendous feud with John Cena reared its ugly head.

Wyatt cut weeks of brilliant promos only to once again become another obstacle for “Big Match John” to shrug off and overcome like he always does. Wyatts matches with Cena were very one-sided and did not elevate either talent. The only match Wyatt wound up winning was a cage match at Extreme Rules 2014 thanks to the help of a questionably possessed child.

You read that right.

While Cena went on to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the rest of Wyatt’s 2014 resulted in very meaningless midcard feuds with Chris Jericho, Ryback and R-Truth (this isn’t a jab at the talents Wyatt was working with, the problem is that WWE has made it very clear over the past few years that these are the “we have nothing for you” feuds with the exception of Jericho; who returns simply to put others over – which is a very nice but overused gesture). He also dissolved his stable for unknown and illogical reasons. It looked as if Wyatt was on the rise when he feuded with fan favorite Dean Ambrose, but sadly creative dropped the ball yet again when Wyatt became victorious thanks to a TV that exploded at random in an otherwise good match.

2015 was no different. Wyatt feuded with The Undertaker and Roman Reigns on multiple occasions but sadly never went over and wound up looking like a false prophet rather than “The New Face of Fear” he claims himself to be. Even after reforming his faction and adding a powerhouse in Braun Strowman, Wyatt continued to look like a joke due to poor booking. Although Wyatt did round out the year by defeating the ECW Originals team consisting of The Dudley Boyz, Rhyno and Tommy Dreamer, no one seemed to care because all of these men were in their 40’s and it would have not been believable otherwise (which is the main reason why Wyatt’s Undertaker feud may have done Wyatt more harm than good).

Not only did Wyatt lose most of his big matches in 2015, but he was booked into a horrific routine. Wyatt would come out, cut a cryptic promo, send his family out to attack whoever he was feuding with, lose the big match and then act as if nothing happened the following night. The few times he did win, it was made obvious. Wyatt has been booked so badly into oblivion that it seems that he may wind up as a comedic face in the near future.

The 2016 Royal Rumble has the potential to 180 Wyatt’s problematic situation.

Being that the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is on the line, WWE would be wise to have Wyatt hold the gold at the end of the 30 man Battle Royal.

Have Wyatt enter at some point in the middle but not officially enter the ring until all four members are in the match at the same time. Wyatt moves along with his pawns and the entire faction lays waste to the entire locker room. The final eight participants should look like Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, a returning Triple H (or Jericho), Ambrose and the Wyatt Family. Have everyone go to town for a good 10 minutes before the only participants left are Reigns and the Wyatts. Have Reigns try as hard as he can to build sympathy but unable to leave with his championship due to the Wyatts numbers. Once Wyatt (and ONLY Wyatt) eliminates Reigns, Wyatts cronies Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and Strowman sacrifice themselves for their leader and new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

While the downside would rekindle a feud we’ve already seen, the upshot could be fantastic if Wyatt were booked and treated as a legitimate threat going into WrestleMania.

Enter Lesnar, who is furious at his Rumble loss. Have him challenge Wyatt at Fastlane and have Wyatt go over convincingly (clean or not). Lesnar has been booked so well since his return to WWE that anyone beating him who’s name isn’t John Cena will look like a monster. Wyatt can also use the fact the he’s beaten the man who beat The Streak in his promos against Reigns to increase credibility.

When ‘Mania does indeed come Reigns should go over because he should legitimately be over with the fans. Wyatt’s defeat of Lesnar should be enough to suspend even the smarkiest fans disbelief long enough for his match with Reigns to have that “big fight” feel. During this match, it is essential that Wyatt defends his championship alone. Keep the remaining members of the Wyatt Family out.

Let the two heavyweights go at it in an epic war and Wyatt will stay over.

With a talent so charismatic, it’s a shock that WWE has stunted Wyatt’s growth as a main event player as much as it has in such a short while. With a literal golden opportunity on their hands, it’d be a shame if Wyatt isn’t utilized to his full potential in the coming weeks.

Wyatt is not only on the Road to WrestleMania, but redemption as well.



Manopera! Episode 7: Giant Sized WWE TLC 2015 & NXT TakeOver: London Review


In the final edition of Manopera of the year, Chris and “Spaceman” Frank analyze WWE TLC 2015 and NXT TakeOver: London.

Spaceman Frank’s WWE TLC 2015 Predictions


By Frank Lucci

I could start this prediction article with yet another tirade about how poorly the WWE has booked their programs and how the lazy writing from the creative team has made what should be an exciting Pay-Per-View into another mediocre event. Instead, I’ve decided to list three positives to keep in mind while watching TLC.

  1. They have gotten rid of the incredibly stupid stairs add on from last year.
  2. The Big Show is not set to appear.
  3. NXT is holding another Takeover event later in the week.

With this in mind, here are Spaceman Frank’s TLC 2015 predictions.

Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Jack Swagger – Chairs Match for the United States Championship

With a stairs match no longer able to provide people with a bathroom break, the WWE has reverted to having the Chairs match as the least hyped match on the PPV.

Alberto Del Rio has done nothing since returning to the WWE, despite beating John Cena clean for the championship, being managed by Zeb Coulter, joining the already ill-fated League of Nations stable and then (thankfully) ditching Coulter. With Swagger having the same amount of momentum as his opponent (aka zero) and an awkward stipulation to work in, this match is sure to disappoint. I see no reason for Del Rio to lose the belt here or anytime before Cena returns.

The ECW Originals (Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Tommy Dreamer and Rhyno) vs. The Wyatt Family(Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) – Elimination Tag Team Tables Match

It is a sad state of affairs when it is disappointing that Spike Dudley is not booked into a feud. ECW reunions are played out beyond belief, but yet again we got to see the four or so semi-functional originals trotted out for a nostalgia pop. The Dudleys have fallen off the map hard since their return over the summer and the Wyatt Family has not fared much better.

That being said, much of the talent in this match should make this an entertaining affair as long as creative does not overbook things. I also like that we finally get all the members of the Wyatt Family involved in a PPV match and Rhyno has shown in NXT that he can still go.

My biggest issue is with Dreamer’s involvement with the match. Dreamer is a veteran performer and is still a decent hand in the ring, but the man has a lengthy history of concussions. Why the WWE would book him into a match that involves massive dudes throwing each other into tables yet Daniel Bryan cannot be booked in any capacity in the WWE despite being medically cleared by independent neurologists is beyond me. With so little star power on Raw and Smackdown these days, Bryan would be a welcome addition to the show as a wrestler, authority figure or even a manager.

Back to the actual match now. With both the Wyatt Family and the Dudley’s hurting for a win this match will be hard to call. I believe the Wyatt Family will pull out a win by taking advantage of the part timers on the ECW team along with the fact that they are massive fucking dudes.

Charlotte (c) (with Ric Flair) vs. Paige – Divas Chapionship Match

It’s mind boggling how badly the WWE has botched this feud. Since creative can’t decide what to do with Charlotte, I would not be surprised to see her turn heel on both Paige and her dad, then immediately turn face and join The New Day for five minutes before forming a new faction with Bo Dallas and Barry Horowitz called “The Charleston Chews.”

Anyway, Charlotte seems to be set to give in to her inner Flair and cheat her way to victory. This would be much more impactful if Becky Lynch was her opponent for the title instead of Paige, who seemed to appear out of nowhere to challenge Charlotte. A placeholder feud between two talented women, Charlotte will retain and most people will remember the likely heel turn more than the in ring action.

The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and/or Xavier Woods) (c) vs. The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) vs. The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara) – Tag Team Triple Threat Ladder Match for the WWE Tag Team Championships

Perhaps the best reason to watch TLC, this match seeks to emulate classic ladder matches between several teams and should give these hungry high flyers ample opportunity to steal the show. Granted, the booking leading into the match has been bland besides The New Day’s usual shenanigans, but considering the talent and exciting stipulation here fans can expect some fireworks. The New Day will retain and hopefully get even more chances to get ridiculous on Raw.

Kevin Owens (C) vs. Dean Ambrose – Intercontinental Championship Match

Another potential show stealing match pitches two savvy grapplers against each other for the IC belt. While the pair’s Survivor Series match disappointed, this can be chalked up to the tournament forcing Ambrose to save his energy for his later match. Owens and Ambrose have had a chance to develop chemistry since their previous encounter. If given the right amount of time, these two can definitely give fans something to cheer about and remind people why we enjoy wrestling in the first place. Owens retains and keeps the feud alive for another PPV.

Sheamus (c) vs. Roman Reigns (TLC match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship)

WWE almost had me getting behind Sheamus as champion. His Sheamus 5:15 gimmick and his braggart style was fairly entertaining and showed why he was more deserving of the title than Reigns.  In addition, him forming the League of Nations using several underutilized wrestlers almost had me thinking the internet wrestling community might back him. Then on the go-home Raw before TLC, the WWE booked Sheamus to look pathetic and revealed they have little faith in the man.

The only person looking worse than Sheamus is Reigns, who delivered yet another terrible promo that revolved around casual racism and testicle jokes. And yet WWE still wants us to view Reigns as a sympathetic character despite the fact that:

  1. Reigns has challenged for WWE World Heavyweight Championship on PPV five times (including TLC)  in 2015 (and had two additional championship matches at PPV’s if you include Money in the Bank cash ins).
  2. He also headlined Fastlane in February and won the Royal Rumble.
  3. He partners with Dean Ambrose, who goes from nearly winning the belt to being kicked back down to sidekick status yet again.

Out of 13 total PPV’s in 2015, Reigns has been in the main event seven times. It is time to end the experiment and for WWE to realize that Reigns simply is not main event material at this time. During this time of record low ratings the WWE cannot hope that the mixed reaction Reigns gets will somehow morph into a John Cena style pop (as there is no time to wait for Reigns to figure it all out while ratings tank).

With Cena, at least respect is there. As far as Reigns is concerned, he is headlining the majority of the year’s PPV’s and cannot gain any traction with fans. It was very telling that Reigns got jeers instead of cheers when shown crying after Survivor Series. Even worse is that WWE has sacrificed Sheamus (who could have used his upcoming role in TMNT 2 to gain a new level of popularity and mainstream recognition while being champ) to try to get us to feel bad for a bland guy who gets yet another chance at the gold.

Sadly enough, I see Reigns winning to end the Sheamus experiment and Brock Lesnar finally coming back at the Royal Rumble to set up a WrestleMania rematch between the two.