As noted, former WWE creative writer Kevin Eck recently joined The Wade Keller Podcast for a wide-ranging conversation about his time with the company. Eck discussed his experiences working with Vince McMahon.
Eck revealed how McMahon developed the strategy of moving the main event from the end of the show. Eck said it was based on the ratings dropoff that typically occurs from the second hour to the third hour of RAW.
"What's happened recently is that I think---when you look at the ratings, you always see consistently the third hour drifts off, and you see a higher rating during the second hour, so I think we're seeing a shift to where on Raw a lot of times, what is considered the Main Event is taking place at the end of the 9 o'clock hour and is drifting towards the 10 o'clock hour," Eck explained. "There is some prestige to appear at the end of the show, but I don't think it's the same to when I worked there, or with SmackDown, since it's a 2 hour show. Vince [McMahon] has seen the ratings trend that people aren't sticking around, no matter what they put at segment 15 and 16 in the long stretch just wasn't doing so well, so why are you going to put your most important segment in the hour to where people are tuning out?"
In recent weeks, the cruiserweights have main-evented RAW. While many believe that can be attributed to the popularity of Enzo Amore, Eck said it's all part of McMahon's strategy to put the stories of importance earlier in the show.
"The old format, that I worked under, I can tell you that there would have been no chance in hell that Enzo Amore and the Cruiserweights would be in the final segment," Eck said. "If you want to watch the main event of the show, look at what is going on around 9:55 and crossing over the 10pm hour; which looks like what is most important to Vince McMahon on the show."
Injuries have always been an obstacle that the WWE has had to work around. This year superstars like Big Cass and Jeff Hardy have been sidelined, which forces the company to change its plans. Eck discussed how McMahon finds ways to pivot and change storylines because the show must go on.
"Vince will always stress about turning a negative into a positive, and if someone gets hurt, even it's a top guy, it may suck but the company is going to go on," Eck said. "It's not like they are going to close shop so we have to make somebody else, or make their storylines better, that is the mindset that it has to be."
McMahon usually does his best to give superstars an opportunity, but it's up to the superstars to make the most out of what they are given. Eck recalled a story about how McMahon had high hopes for Brodus Clay, but Clay didn't seize his opportunity. Clay was initially billed as a monster heel but McMahon gave him the Funkasaurus gimmick, and Clay's attitude stopped him from fully embracing his character and thus ended his push.
"If you remember we had the endless vignettes of 'Coming Soon Brodus Clay.' You just look at the guy and think that he is going to be a monster. Vince just got it in his mind one day, 'I wonder if the guy can sing and dance.' What if we go in another direction? Then you had the birth of the Funkasaurus, and Vince was really behind the guy, but his push kind of died and it was because of his attitude," Eck said. "Vince saw a guy who wasn't completely not 100% embracing the gimmick; he also wished for him to lose weight. It's up to the guys a lot of times, and Vince will say that it may sound cliche where he says he will give you the opportunity and it's up to you to do something with it, and he feels like he gave Brodus Clay a golden opportunity and that in his mind Clay dropped the ball."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Wade Keller Wrestling Podcast with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Jimmy F. contributed to this article.