Recently, on Talk Is Jericho, Raven said Paul Heyman was the best booker for whom he ever worked. He discussed coming up with the Raven character and said that Heyman identified with Raven. Also, Raven talked about the downfalls of ECW and TNA.
According to Raven, Heyman was the best booker in the professional wrestling business, as he would have a long-term plan, but would remain flexible enough to change course if things were not working out.
"To me, the booking that was always the best was Paul E.'s, like, he knew where he wanted to go. You've got to have a destination and then you've got to have a starting point and then you have some bits along the way, some beats that you might hit, and then you have to be open to see, 'oh, this is working. We'll go this way. That's working. We'll go that way.' And then also listen to the audience and watch the reactions. And if you have to change your endgame, you change your endgame. Just because that's your plan, it may not be the thing you want to end up doing, but you have to be able to think on your feet and recognize a wave that's coming in. But also, recognize a wave that doesn't mean anything."
Raven claimed that when he left WWE in 1994, he was promised a spot at Smoky Mountain Wrestling by Jim Cornette; however, Cornette kept blowing him off. Raven said that it getting blown off by Cornette was a blessing in disguise as it allowed him to go to ECW.
"Cornette promised to bring me in [to] Smoky Mountain [Wrestling], where [Jericho] never tried, and he kept blowing me [off], 'next month, next month', but now, with that, I'm so glad he blew me off because I was watching ECW and I said, 'man, it's the greatest show I've ever seen' and it was! It was even better than Bill Watts's UWF!" Raven added, "I didn't think Paul E. liked me, so I called up ['Diamond' Dallas] Page [because] I knew they were friends. I said, 'Page, get Paul E. to hire me!' and I came up with the [Raven] character."
Raven said that inspiration struck when he was developing the Raven gimmick, as he was able to come up with the character in two minutes.
"I was just sitting there one day and I was trying to come up with an outfit and the whole thing came in, like, two minutes. Like, literally, inspiration. And The Crow [film] was out and I was like, 'I don't want to be like that,' but then I'm like, 'what was his name? Eric Draven? Raven? Draven? Raven? Quoth the Raven Nevermore. That's it.' And then I knew I had it because then I had the catchphrase too."
In addition to being indirectly inspired by the Crow, Raven said that his gimmick was influenced by Jim Morrison, Robert Plant, and Generation X. Raven described the character as being emo before it was even a term.
"I guess, emo, you'd throw in the word now, but that wasn't a word then. But it was a tortured, poetic soul who always thought that he was getting a s--tty deal, but blamed everybody but himself."
Raven stated that he was initially brought in to ECW to put over Tommy Dreamer. Heyman thought the Raven gimmick was going to be a comedy grunge character until he saw Raven cut a promo.
"[Heyman] thought it was going to be, like, a comedy grunge character or something, but then I went up to the studio to do a promo and I cut some, like, I cut a Raveny promo, and Paul E. was like, 'wow!'"
In Raven's view, all professional wrestling bookers see themselves through one of their characters and while Vince McMahon identified with 'The Million Dollar Man' Ted DiBiase and 'The All-American' Lex Luger, Heyman saw himself as Raven.
"Every booker sees himself through a certain character. Like, Vince saw himself as 'the Million Dollar Man' [Ted DiBiase] and then Lex Luger, the patriot. That's who he [saw himself as]. All bookers do that and Paul E. saw himself through Raven."
As for ECW's demise, Raven suggested that the company could not get a good television deal and the competition with WWE and WCW was too much.
"[ECW] couldn't get on USA Network and then TNN just didn't have the marbles. They didn't have the juice. And [ECW] were too big to be small and too small to be big." Raven continued, "if [there] was only one other company like there is now, they would have survived, but against two monster companies, who were both monster, who basically stole every good concept that ECW had [there was no chance]."
Conversely, Raven said that TNA's downfall has been bad booking.
"I think TNA has had some of the worst booking in the history of the [professional wrestling] business," Raven said. "How the hell do you draw a 1 rating or whatever or a 1.2 rating? How can you not get a 2.5? You [have] got [Hulk] Hogan. You [have] got [Kurt] Angle. Like, how bad do the storylines have to be that you couldn't draw more people? Some of the worst booking over time that I've ever seen."
Raven suggested that part of the problem was Vince Russo's treatment of professional wrestling championships.
"Look, Russo was good at a lot of things, but he was also bad at a lot of major things. Like, Russo was good with my character. I can't complain about that, but he also believed that title belts weren't worth anything because it's a fake title. I go, 'then, if it's a fake title and that doesn't mean anything, then why should anything mean anything?' The title has to mean everything." Raven continued, "him and Disco [Inferno] used to be like, I remember we'd get together and we'd go over the show that he'd write before he'd give it to Jeff [Jarrett] and he'd be like, and him and Disco would be like, 'yeah, the fake belt, the fake belt!' and I'm like, 'that's insane!'"
Raven covered a lot of topics on the podcast including his stint with WWE in the early 1990s, partying with Shane McMahon, and much more. To listen to the rest of the show, click here.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Talk Is Jericho