In the midst of WWE's pivotal transition from its iconic Attitude Era to a more family-friendly PG format, the transformation's profound impact on the product's presentation was felt by all, particularly the creative minds behind the scenes.
Former head writer Brian Gewirtz recently opened up about the dramatic shift, shedding light on the challenges the writing team faced during this transition time.
Gewirtz's Candid Clash: PG vs. G Era
In a candid conversation on "The Masked Man Show," Gewirtz said, "It said PG era, but really it was the G era." He recounted a memorable clash with none other than Vince McMahon himself, where a simple word choice ignited a heated debate.
Gewirtz shared, "I had someone write, 'I don't even give a damn,' and he says, 'God, you can't say damn, we're PG,' and I'm like, 'Yes, that's my argument, too. We are PG, that's why it's not something else.' " This argument continued to simmer, driven by Gewirtz's pointed observation that the use of the word in question wasn't off-limits for a certain wrestler even within the confines of the PG guidelines.
He highlighted the irony, stating, "But we literally have a character who only says 'Damn!' and his t-shirt that says 'Damn!' on the exact same show." A nod to Ron Simmons' iconic catchphrase, this instance showcased the nuanced inconsistencies that emerged under the new era's guidelines.
Gewirtz disclosed McMahon's rationale, sharing, "He's [McMahon] like, 'Oh that's different, that's his thing.' " For writers accustomed to crafting compelling promos, the restrictions imposed by the PG shift posed a significant hurdle, particularly for Gewirtz, who had penned memorable lines for legendary figures like The Rock.
The process of adjustment was gradual as WWE's creative team navigated the uncharted waters, learning to embrace the creative constraints set forth by McMahon, whose stance remained unwavering. While the shift to a more PG-oriented presentation marked a departure from the edginess that characterized the Attitude Era, it also showcased WWE's adaptability in catering to a wider audience.
Brian Gewirtz's insights offer a fascinating glimpse into the backstage dynamics and the ongoing dialogue between creative vision and the realities of a changing landscape, ultimately shaping WWE's evolution into a brand that transcends eras and appeals to a diverse fan base.