DS Shin of Ring The Belle recently sat down with former WWE creative writer Andrea Listenberger to talk about her path to becoming a WWE writer having come from the sketch comedy world. A storyline that Listenberger was known to have had a hand in was the Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville storyline. She talked about why it was a pleasure to work with Rose and Deville.
“I really enjoyed working with Mandy and Sonya,” Listenberger stated. “I spent more time talking with them because I spent more time working with them on some stories I may or may not have something to do with. The cool thing with all of the performers is that they have a very clear view of where their character is and have some ideas on where they want their character to go. The collaboration process was really cool in that regard.”
Listenberger was part of the mass round of cuts that WWE made back in April. She talked about her time in WWE and how she was used to things changing on the fly due to her time working on reality TV.
“For me personally, it wasn’t that huge of an adjustment,” Listenberger admitted. “In addition to being a comedy writer, before coming into WWE, I also worked a lot in reality television. I still do work in reality television.
“To put it simply, in reality we often joke around about ‘network notes,’ where one day they’re asking you to shoot something to day one thing. Then you get the footage back, and then you not only have to change it to have it say something entirely different but rework what you shot to kind of go against it’s purpose. Honestly, after going through a network notes process like that, it’s kind of par for the course to take the baby, throw it out with the bath water, start fresh, rework and refocus.”
While she wasn’t directly involved in the pitch for a LGBTQ storyline involving Rose and Deville, Listenberger talked about incorporating different genres into the world of pro wrestling. She noted that WWE storylines don’t truly have endings like traditional stories and that something also leads to the next story.
“Like I said, it’s a team sport, but I think the Internet kind of figured me out,” Listenberger said. “I don’t take credit for coming up with the idea to do a romance angle by any shape or form. I was just kind of lucky to be involved in shaping it and figuring out to execute it. It’s interesting to me to see different genres represented within the genre of wrestling because that’s what I think is so exciting about the form in the first place.
“For me, in any sort of storytelling I do, it’s kind of important for me to represent a full path and range of emotions as you’re going from start to finish, and what I think was different for me about working within the context of the WWE format is I’m used to saying, ‘OK, here’s the beginning, middle and the end.’ For them, there’s not really an end in the same way. A story rolls off to another story. An arc goes off to another arc, and I think that was kind of fun.”
Listenberger talked again about what it was like to not only work with Rose and Deville but also Otis and Tucker. She noted how welcoming they were to her even though she was not as versed on pro wrestling as them.
“They were great to work with,” Listenberger reiterated. “Like I said, everyone I worked with while I was at WWE was amazing. I was really lucky to collaborate with them and also with Otis and Tucker. They’re all very professional. They all have things that they want to accomplish, and it’s an interesting dynamic to have that collaboration with a writer and talent. I felt lucky that they kind of took me in and didn’t make fun of me too much when I might not have known certain wrestling terms right off the bat. They were very welcoming to me.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Ring The Belle with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.