|By Raj Giri||July 25, 2012 | Comments|
There are interesting ways to look at this. UFC, which I would say isn't the greatest company in terms of risk management, they passed on doing a channel. That says a lot. It takes a lot of discipline and a lot of analysis in terms of what the pros and cons are to this. I think they were very smart to have passed on this.
WrestlingINC: It was kind of around that time when Lesnar left. At first, they were trying to keep Raw and Smackdown! equal, trying to have the same number of big stars on both brands. Then, around the time that Brock Lesnar left, it became abundantly clear that Smackdown! was the "B" brand. Was that something you guys talked about and what was the reason behind that? Because it seems like it's irreparably hurt the brand.
Bauer: Yes (we did). I think it depends on who the lead writer was. When you had lead writers who were willing to fight and they wanted a show that could compete, you had a better product. When you had a lead writer that just went along just stay there, I'm butchering the expression, I know, I think you saw the brand diminish. It was the lesser brand and they just felt like they wanted to be subservient and the brand suffered because of it. By the time I was there, it was such a distant second show and I was hired to help kind of bring some bang back to the show and bring in a higher profile so it was Smackdown I predominately worked on. I contributed to Raw, I contributed to every pay-per-view and every production... Saturday Night's Main Event, but in the beginning, it really was a Smackdown thing for me.
Most of my career, I worked with young talent. I loved working with young talent. Especially after Gary Hart brought me into his fold and mentored me and brought me up to speed with how to book properly and how to make talent, how to present talent and get the most out of them. Everything which happened after MLW, with the mentoring -- it was an incredible experience. He almost became a father-like figure to me.
My thing was always -- I loved [working with younger talent]. "So, we have no stars. You want to take John Cena, but you'll give us Batista but you're going to take the biggest surging star. Fine." Because that puts me in the position of molding new talent, creating new characters and scouting and recruiting both in the developmental scene and on the indies which I was very wired into since my days with MLW. So, that's what I did. I would pluck talent, watching every demo take and along the way, I had a lot of hits and a few misses.
I found MVP's tapes and he was a guy I remember shooting down and remember not doing much with MLW shows. He was known then as Antonio Banks and I just didn't see anything there. It was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made because the guy obviously was a f--king winner. So, I see this tape and I know him but I watched the video and this guy is a totally different guy.
He's packaged himself, he's presented himself as Montel Vontavious Porter. He had the suit. He has the whole shtick, he has the background and the origin story. He has a catchphrase. He has it all. He's the quintessential ready-for-TV talent. I'm blown away by it so I show it to Dusty Rhodes. He goes on and says, "This is one of the greatest demos he's seen." I say, "I think we should show it to Vince." So, I bring it to Vince and show Vince the tape and Vince goes, "Is this guy under contract?" "No." "Get him under a contract." We get Johnny Ace, he's under a deal and MVP basically got himself in the company. Within a few weeks, he's training with (Chris) Benoit out in Atlanta to debut in October or November of that year. I think that's how it worked, I might be skipping a year here.
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