On a recent episode of the WWE After The Bell podcast, Corey Graves caught up with WWE producer Adam Pearce where they discussed Pearce's transition from a wrestler to his many roles behind the scenes in WWE. Graves asked what the difference between being a wrestler and a producer is, and Pearce said that all he needed was to be told what to do and to have the WWE terminology explained to him.
"So this is going to sound crazy and it's going to sound like I'm completely minimizing things, and maybe I am to certain degree, but all I really needed was to know what my marching orders were, i.e. 'Hey, you're in charge of this today. This is what we want to get out of this today', and then, terminology," Pearce explained. "That was the only difference in the way that I manage television on my own coming to WWE, and I credit that to having people around me prior to WWE who had been through the system or worked with the system to kind of give me the insight into, hey, this is how it's 'done.'
"So when I was able to slide in that chair, the one thing I've always appreciated about WWE, at least from my standpoint, they've always said, 'Hey, there's the fire, jump two feet in that fire and see how it feels,' and then you do that. And maybe you burn a little bit, but I didn't."
Pearce later described the day in the life of a WWE producer. He talked about the vast amount of responsibilities and the ability to adapt to plans changing at any moment.
"Producers' days, at TV especially, start before everybody else's. For context sake, as soon as we get done doing this, I'm going to get in the shower, put my suit and tie on, and drive to the ThunderDome because we're going to produce some television today," Pearce used as an example. "I'll get there three or four hours before anybody else. We'll sit in a meeting; you know the meeting. We will go through the festivities of the day that may or may not change at all. It may be etched in stone, and we may follow through with one set of plans immediately.
"I have become extremely adept at rolling with the punches, and oh, the punches, they will be coming, and they will be coming fast and furious at numerous, numerous counts. So producers are on their toes constantly. We are the behind-the-scenes deliverers of information sometimes wanted, sometimes not. We are responsible for making sure that our specific duties for the day, be that one segment, two segments, three segments, or more not only hit their time but provide the content we're responsible for. So sometimes, that means I need to get in a ring and teach somebody how to do something I've never done before.
"Those are always fun days, and then I've got to - once the broadcast comes to fruition - sit there in the chair we're talking about, with the headset, and communicate what we're seeing to our broadcast partners, our television truck, our producers, and our directors before it actually happens so they can have their cameras in position to capture the images we trying to give the viewer at home. And if all of that happens in a perfect world, we'll hit our time to the second, everyone will be happy with what they saw, and we'll move on to the next day. And that's just describing a TV day."
WWE has not been able to run live events during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a recent report has said that WWE will be moving on from the house show model. However, Pearce noted that the way talent work on TV and on live events "is night and day", explaining how talent are able to learn and experiment more on live events and improve without fear of failure on a big stage.
"I think it's a huge part of our industry that, by in large, the fan that watches on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays doesn't see. The difference between what we do on television and what we do in an arena setting or on international tours, in a lot of ways, is night and day," Pearce pointed out. "You have a lot more freedom working in and around with people all around you, which obviously, 2020 has changed the game completely in terms of doing that, but that's where you kind of cut your teeth.
"And that's where you have the opportunity to really apply your trade, and learn new things, and fail at new things so that you learn how not to fail at new things. It's a very challenging environment on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in a very different way than what we're discussing right now, but the art - I won't say it's lost either because I know some of our brothers and sisters can still do that art. I can't wait until our world goes back to some sort of normalcy so we can write and start seeing that art again."
Pearce also discussed the WrestleMania match he was a producer on this year in Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women's Championship. He praised both Superstars in how they were able to work in an empty arena.
"That's why I felt so strongly and positively about what/who I worked with at WrestleMania," Pearce admitted. "If we go back to WrestleMania, we're in the Performance Center. There's not a soul around the ring. There weren't any fans. We didn't have the LED boards at that point. There was nothing to really react to if you're in the ring, so we made an emphasis to react to each other in a real and visceral way.
"Let's not throw away the smallest detail; let's react to the smallest detail, and I'm proud to say Charlotte and Rhea Ripley, I think they knocked it out of the ball park that day. I was so proud, maybe as proud as I've been as a producer at WWE in the five years I've been here, just because they didn't throw anything away. They took it all in and they used it"
Pearce said his favorite part of his job is when after a match or segment, Vince McMahon and others backstage stand up and give the Superstars a round of applause. He noted that gesture is to not only show appreciation for the talent but also to everyone who was involved in that match or segment.
"My favorite thing, bar none, is when you have a match-- and you know how it is. Whether you're in the match or you're responsible for putting the match together, your heart and soul is now part of that thing. That piece of business is now in you, and hopefully, part of you goes into that and it comes out," Pearce expressed. "We just had one last week on TV.
"I won't mention the wrestlers, but when they come back from the ring with smiles on their faces, knowing that they just beat the tar out of each other for a couple of segments, and the Chairman of the Board stands up and gives them a round of applause, that means everybody involved with that segment - the wrestlers, the referee, the cameramen, the producer, the director - nailed it. They all did their job. And when it comes back into a standing ovation from the crew and Gorilla, there's nothing better than that. Everybody shakes hands, tip the cap, and walk out the door. It doesn't get any better."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WWE After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.