Erick Rowan was released by the WWE in April as a part of the Covid cuts. He recently was a guest with Chris Van Vliet and discussed the end of his run with the company. The two spoke about his last storyline which involved him carrying around a cage on TV. Rowan told Van Vliet about what the original payoff to the storyline was planned to be.
“Original payoff, Well, first, it was me saying what and why and I was very miserable backstage,” Rowan explained. “I think the first day I found out, I had a note. I did like three things backstage that day and I was like, ‘what the hell are we doing? what am I talking to here?’ So, I kind of explained my concerns about going from where I was to this cage, the downsides of it and the way they said it, they tried to make it seem like it was a good thing like, ‘Oh, well, you’re going to work said babyface because said babyface is going to kill what’s ever in that cage accidentally’. It’s going to drive you on a rampage where I can go back to that crazy kind of psychotic unstable character, which I wanted to be and then, that babyface turned heel and they kept extending the cage again just a long period of time and that’s when I started pitching different things to be in the cage because it was drawing so much interest, but at a certain point, you have to show them what’s in this cage and it has to deliver. So, I pitched something I thought would have delivered and I was told no, it’s going to be this. Yeah, it’s just what it was.”
There was a time where Rowan’s opponents would bleed from looking at the cage. Rowan said that there was no long-term plan but he said that he believes the idea was for a spider to be in the cage all along.
“No, that was where we don’t know what it is, but I think they knew it was a spider all along because they were having this mechanical sweater being built this whole time, but not telling the guy that was carrying the cage,” Rowan said. “So, yeah, it was just one of those things and you like to think they would have had a better plan for it, but it just happens on the foil you carry around.”
Rowan said he tried to continue to pitch different ideas for his character and the storyline but all of them were never used.
“So, as many ideas as I pitched during the whole cage storyline, fell on deaf ears or whatnot,” Rowan said. “You always feel a disarm that when you’re like, ‘Okay, well, it’s going to be this thing. It’s going to be the spider which is obviously fake, I still pitch stuff the following week to maybe make that spider work, because maybe that wasn’t exactly what it was, but I have a twist on it.”
Rowan said he kept pitching and pushing for Ma Petite from American Horror Story to be inside the cage as the big reveal.
“One idea that I had that kept getting extended, extended and extended because originally, I liked the whole rat idea,” Rowan explained. “I liked the idea of this babyface accidentally killing something that I held dear to me. I love that story that would tell. It would be able to show a different dimension if they give you the time to show it and convey that emotion on television, which they barely ever gave me anyway, but specifically, I wrote a big pitch out to Paul Heyman to show Vince [McMahon] and I would have the cage built just slightly bigger and for one appearance on TV, I wanted to bring in the lady Ma Petite [Jyoti Amge] from American Horror Story. She’s a sag actress from India, one of the smallest women in the world.”
Rowan went on to discuss how this reveal could have further developed his character during the storyline.
“So, she’s got the acting experience and entertainment experience and it would have been the shock and awe of me having a relationship with this little woman, kind of a blossoming friendship that you could see,” Rowan said. “You could have a scene because she’s a tremendous actress when I’m seeing that show and just the unveiling of me taking her out the cage and my whole pitch, was I’m not locking her in the cage because I’m some weird creep that wants to kidnap the woman. I’m locking her in the cage because I know how horrible the outside world is and I wanted to lock her to keep her safe from the atrocities that are out there, because the Erick Rowan character, his whole life was treated so badly by everybody around them. I mean, you had Brodie [Lee] slapping me every week.”
Rowan said that he believed the company would only have to bring her in for one day and could shoot multiple scenes for television with her that would help to wrap up the cage storyline.
“You had Bray [Wyatt] as the cult leader and you had Strowman [Braun Strowman] just taking the making the black mask and trying to imitate me and trying to be the better version of me,” Rowan said. “As the character was very interesting, we should have been able to tell all these stories, but we never had the time. It was just always stuff in the background. So, this was all stuff I wanted to pitch with her, and then since she’s not a wrestler and not a regular on the television program, we could have brought her in for one day and we always filmed so much stuff throughout the day. We could have filmed two or three weeks of television if I had her just for one day.”
Even though this idea never became a reality Rowan said he continued to pitch ideas to try and make the entire cage angle work.
“So, I was pitching, we could show the relationship buzzing for a couple of weeks and then something horrible happens to her and she dies, which sends me on a rampage and you see a different side of me,” Rowan said. “Whether it be I turned face there was–I thought there was enough interest where it would create a fun story for people to get invested and they want to know what happens next week because they were starting to do it with the cage, but they let it go so long, that this was the only thing that I could think of or close to at that moment, that would have done its justice and I’m really upset that it didn’t go through and why a spider idea, but I tried to make the spider work too and you talk about different pitches, the week they showed the spider, I went back and said, ‘Okay, this is not going to work’. It was clearly fake, I said.”
Rowan said he would speak with Paul Heyman and try to bounce his different ideas off him.
“I wrote another pitch,” Rowan said. “This one into Heyman again, because he’s creative with Vince and I pitched, well okay if that didn’t work, I’m a big fan of horror movies and serial killers and stuff like that, not what they do, but I’m just a fan of the true time genre and watching horror movies and the different character development of those people and one of the things I thought about was the movie, “It”. Pennywise is basically the reincarnation of your worst fears. It wouldn’t be weird for a character to just stalk somebody, not in the creepy sense, but in the sense to be able to find out what that person’s worst fear is. So, yeah, the congo line is definitely afraid of the spiders. Maybe, I’m afraid of blood, so whenever I put it in, I cut myself, because I’m afraid of my own blood and I had to overcome my own fear.”
The fear aspect of his idea would have helped to develop his character as well as showing a different side of whoever he was in the ring with.
“So, I had the whole pitch where that would be the character and we would have to look into everybody’s own worst fears,” Rowan explained. “So, I would basically be beating up the babyface and that babyface would have to overcome his worst fear to beat me. I thought that would be another interesting thing and you can do it with everybody because everybody has fears. As big and bad as a wrestler is, he’s going to have a fear, because he’s a person and everyone has fear.”
It was just another interesting idea that he said he came up with that ultimately would not come to fruition.
You can view the full interview above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chris Van Vliet with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.