BOOK REVIEW: There’s Just One Problem – True Tales from the Former, One-Time, 7th Most Powerful Person in the WWE
In There’s Just One Problem, former WWE head writer Brian Gewirtz tells of a contentious meeting with Vince McMahon that ultimately soured their then decade-plus working relationship. With RAW taking place in Miami that night, Brian pitched a line surrounding Dwayne Wade, then superstar player for the NBA’s Miami Heat, for The Miz to use to rile up the local crowd. Unaware of who Dwyane Wade is, Vince, dismissed the line essentially saying that because Vince himself isn’t aware of who Dwayne Wade is, then no one else would be.
Gewirtz points out that seeing as RAW’s ratings very much move up and down like a cork in the ocean during the NBA playoffs, the audience more than likely is aware of one of basketball’s best players. The end result was a screaming match in which both parties felt disrespected. This specific situation would lead Brian to reconsider his role as a WWE-lifer, and maybe see what else is out there. But how exactly did it get to that point? Why was a guy with a tenure of eleven years to that point still struggling to have his opinion heard?
While Gerwitz had always been a life-long wrestling fan, he was one of the first staff writers to come to WWE from Hollywood. Gewirtz had spent some time as a staff writer on the short-lived 90s sitcom Jenny, a vehicle for the then uber-popular Jenny McCarthy, and the MTV show Big Wolf on Campus.
While his Hollywood credentials may have endeared him to management, they bought little respect with the boys in the locker room. Having to essentially navigate two political systems (management and workers) was a full-time job in and of itself. You couldn’t get too close to any one performer lest you wanted to appear as if you had favorites. One such occasion is told in detail involving Gewirtz taking a trip to “wrestler’s court” (a mock trial in which one wrestler is accused of something by another backstage: usually a rookie running afoul of a veteran) when Gewirtz was accused of favoring Edge and Christian after Gewirtz was seen accepting a gift in what others assumed, was in exchange for more television time.
Brian was working behind the scenes in WWE and ended up getting close to one performer in particular in The Rock. There are more than a few stories detailing Gewirtz contributing to some of Rock’s most memorable moments in the early 2000s. His friendship and working relationship with Dwayne Johnson would both make him an invaluable member of the writing team but also would help open doors for him in Hollywood years down the road. With Gewirtz now a part of the time making Johnson’s NBC show, Young Rock, Brian has been able to seek more creatively fulfilling rolls outside of the WWE grind.
The truly fascinating moments in this book involve Vince McMahon. With all the recent news surrounding the former CEO of WWE, Gewirtz’s peek behind the curtain shows just how endlessly challenging it was working for a man who always insists he is right. While there are a few stories collected in here that have certainly made the rounds over the years (having to completely rewrite shows from the ground up at the drop of a hat), there are others that will make your head spin. If you’re a life-long watcher of WWE, you’re likely well aware of Vince McMahon’s penchant for toilet humor (vomiting, farting, etc). In one of his first meetings with Brian, Vince told him that WWE “doesn’t do comedy, we do humor” and that “there’s nothing funnier than someone stepping in dogshit. If I could, I’d write a whole show on people stepping in dogshit, I would.” Speaks volumes about what we’ve seen on TV for decades.
Vince always encouraged Brian to fight for his ideas but if he ever had a disagreement with Vince himself, Brian would never win, which is what ultimately damaged their working relationship. Brian knew he couldn’t win in an argument based on what should or shouldn’t be on television, but even after years and years of loyal service, Vince still would only listen to himself and if he didn’t get what Brian presented, it didn’t go on the show. I can only imagine how frustrating this can be for someone who knows the product inside and out and has proven time and time again to be of considerable value.
To the best of my knowledge, this may be the first book written by a former head writer within WWE. As expected, the job is not an easy one, and operating under a man with a work ethic the likes of Vince McMahon is a job that can only be done by select few individuals. With Brian having worked strictly as a writer and with no in-ring experience, THERE’S JUST ONE PROBLEM intends to give the reader a fascinating look at how just one aspect of the WWE machine operates but ends up showing much more.
There’s Just One…: True Tales from the Former, One-Time, 7th Most Powerful Person in WWE is available beginning today through Twelve Books