A reader emailed in the following earlier this week. We are keeping his name anonymous for obvious reasons. The fan worked last week's Smackdown taping in Arizona for the episode that will air this Friday. It provides insight into how WWE runs their production and also insight into segments that will air this week, including spoilers:
I worked the production crew on the Smackdown taping last week and wanted to provide some insights:
First, Its not difficult to see why WWE wants to branch out and provide live event production for outside entities. Their crew is incredibly efficient, and the operation is unbelievable. The WWE crew is also very courteous and knowledgeable. The stage manager, a man named Jet steers the ship, and he does a hell of a job.
A man named Paul Jay (although it may have been Jay Paul, it was a long day) had his last day on the job. I was told that he is an extremely well respected audio engineer/producer. The entire crew, wrestlers included, serenaded him while "so long, farewell..." played on the PA. He was presented with a cake, which Triple H gently smashed in his face.
There were several talents that I did not recognize from either NXT, TE, or the FCW roster page that got significant time in the ring during the early rehearsal, so I am guessing they were locals who were getting private tryouts with the company. They all worked matches, which Nunzio refereed. Some of them looked pretty good. There was a guy with a blond mohawk with a decent look. There was also a tag team that called themselves the "Freak Squad". Their look was less than impressive.
Derek Niekirk's dark match with Johnny Curtis was not especially smooth. He was in great shape, though.
The segment with the MITB participants received a full and very thorough rehearsal. Those who got mic time read directly from scripts. Cody actually read his script completely in character, which made for humorous moments when he flubbed a line or misread something. You can tell that Daniel Bryan is uncomfortable with the whole scripted promo thing. The promos were either rewritten, or the wrestlers went off script, as they were different for the show.
Triple H was very involved in every aspect of this segment. An interesting note from this was that Sheamus' run in came with music in the rehearsal, and if memory serves, they did not use the music in the actual show. I find that music accompanying the run in is typically non-sensical, so it was good to see that they eliminated that.
Also of note here, was that Triple H, in slacks and dress shirt, worked heavily with Sheamus and Wade Barrett, particularly Sheamus on his chair beat down. He was very hands on. Josh Mathews rehearsed his lines by himself in the back. Michael Hayes was also around for this. He has gotten HUGE. This whole thing was very intriguing to me.
Dustin Rhodes was in full agent mode, working with the Divas and lower level talents for quite a while. He looks to be pretty healthy. AJ and Alicia Fox received a good bit of attention from him. Bill DeMott was also around a lot. He was in a suit, looking more like a creative/business end person than people like Regal and Goldust who were dressed to train. He did not get in the ring. I did overhear him talking about his book with people.
Sin Cara seemed to be getting along with people quite well, maybe the move to Smackdown was beneficial beyond the post production! He and Tyson Kidd rehearsed for a LONG time.
Off to the side of the ring, Vince had a very long conversation with Randy Orton and Christian during the rehearsal. The whole thing was very business-like, but friendly. Orton, Sheamus and Christian were friendly and seemed to hang together most of the day. On a related note, lower level and upper level talents were very separated. They rarely mingled, if ever. Jinder Mahal was completely by himself most of the time. In general the whole crew seemed tired as some of them had done 3 straight days of TV. Then, they all got to go on tour. Yikes. Whether you are a personal fan of some of these guys or not, you have to respect what they put themselves through.
All in all a fascinating experience.