For Your Consideration…The Firing of Dave Lagana

Welcome to Week 44 part one.

I know what you’re thinking, it’s not Thursday. Don’t worry, I’ll have my regular Thursday column up, but this is a special edition because I couldn’t wait until Thursday to comment on this.

Alright, this week’s column is not vested in the strange and magical world of professional wrestling. This column does not deal with snarky comments about who should be getting pushed and who’s getting screwed over by who politically. You know, we get so wrapped up in arbitrary nonsense (which is the fun part, mind you), but at the end of the day people do this stuff for a living and their very financial livelihood depends on what goes on in that ring.

David Lagana was fired by World Wrestling Entertainment and it is one of the most mind-boggling events possibly ever to occur at the WWE.

For Your Consideration…The Firing of Dave Lagana

Now I can understand how people can rip into Vince Russo because we all kinda know “the deal.” Vince Russo worked for WWE Magazine and was the only guy who wasn’t a Vince McMahon yes man and was willing to say things guys like Patterson wasn’t. Russo and Vince were almost to the point of equals, with McMahon finally trusting someone other than himself to write stories about borderline incest and fake kidnappings. Vince Russo invented Crash TV (and by invented I of course mean aped from Paul Heyman and wrote it off as his own) and knew that such a title came with high risk and high reward. The risk that Russo incurred was that at some point McMahon would get bored of his style like a child with ADD and fire him. The reward, however, was the chance to hold the book free and clear in WCW, where Ted Turner’s lucrative bank account would afford Russo the budget to appease his most deviant ideas. In the end, his freedom would be his downfall and now he’s floundering as one of several executioners slowly torturing TNA to death.

After Russo’s departure, Vince realized you can’t trust anyone outside of your own blood (and even those that are your blood, as is evident by the fact that Vince forced his own father out of the business). Vince gave the book to his capable daughter Stephanie, who-like her or hate her-has as much experience as anyone when it comes to writing a show. At the end of the day, all decisions became Vince’s. It was a true rewrite of history, because if there was an impression that Vince McMahon wasn’t the one true genius behind the Attitude era then his grasp on the throne could be challenged. With Stephanie came an edict, “All shall write what they please, but all who write must please the boss.” Now, if any genius idea came from the braintrust, it came about because it was approved and shaped by Vince McMahon.

The McMahon as Lear analogy was made before, yet it is a rock solid truth. Vince believes that he must protect his reputation at all costs. If people see him as a unified creative genius, then they will buy whatever bullshit he tries to sell. Thanks to his logic, it was he who single-handedly killed WCW and he who single-handedly brought ECW to the public conscience. Sure, he is the true integral part, but there were others responsible. When Vince Russo stabbed him in the back and left for WCW, suddenly the emperor risked being seen without his clothes.

Stephanie’s creative “team” was less about creativity and more about making Vince happy. They couldn’t risk anything rocking the boat, because no one was quite sure if the Attitude Era was all a product of McMahon or Russo and any true deviation could expose just how weak the company was. This brought in Brian Gewirtz and David Lagana, the twin guns of mediocrity. Gewirtz and Lagana were both “Hollywood” writers because they both came from the dregs of television writing. But hey, if Russo could book wrestling with zero storytelling experience, imagine how great Hollywood writers would be!

In theory they were the best people to bring in to achieve Vince’s goal. Hollywood writers generally do what they’re told so long as they get paid and are thought of as tortured geniuses. Lagana and Gewirtz heard the edict of more of the same and gladly shoveled more coal into the WWE furnace. Their era has ushered in a lot of stuff that felt like live reruns, but who were we to complain? There was no viable alternative and what they cranked out was perfectly acceptable. Hell, it was better than the early 90s.

These two take a hearty helping of bullshit from the IWC for doing their job. There is no encouragement to rock the boat for them because the slightest anti-Vince action could lead to them getting kicked out on their asses. The WWE Creative Team seems to change every few months, yet there are at least 2 constants, Dave and Brian. Why is that? Because they are good at their job.

The job of a WWE writer isn’t that glamorous. You generally have to deal with the long hours of thankless labor and have to shlep from city to city without the fame and glory that the wrestlers achieve. Maybe that’s why characters like Big Dick Johnson and Runjun Singh come from, because those behind the scenes crave the spotlight? The essential plan of attack seems to be that Dave and Brian come up with the pitches and then it goes through the Stephhhanie machine until it looks nothing like the original idea and then this flavorless mush of a storyline is fed to Vince in small doses so that he somehow believes that its his idea in the first place. Then they go back and pound out the details in such a way that Vince can present these pitches as if they were his own, all the while the writers just grin and nod their heads for fear of losing them.

Dave Lagana survived this long clearly by staying out of the way. He was head writer of Smackdown for a while, which is like being line leader for the special needs class. Smackdown is a clear autopilot show because anything that catches on gets stolen by RAW and anything that doesn’t just gets instantly dropped in favor of something equally as stale. He then got moved to ECW because there was this perception that he was Heyman’s “boy”, which is about as far from the truth as it gets. Sure, anyone who was a mid-90s mark was an ECW fan, but no one would willingly align themselves with the Heyman Kryptonite if they wanted to keep their jobs. Lagana ran ECW just as paint-by-numbers as he did Smackdown. Nothing Earth shattering and just enough big men to keep the boss happy was a formula he could have kept going from now until kingdom come.

Now, all of a sudden, he’s gone. Why? His quality of work hasn’t changed much. ECW is still the same vanilla gunk it always has been. And the reports online? That he’s been leaking storylines? First of all, why would anyone risk their financial future to make the dirt sheets? What is the financial benefit to appease marks while knowing you will almost assuredly get fired? Second, whatever stories get leaked seem to at least pique interest as opposed to turn fans off. Oh no, we knew there was going to be an Elimination Chamber! Does that mean I’m not going to still enjoy it? Of course not.

Then there’s the great catchall that someone said something about him to someone else who said something to someone else who said something to the Undertaker. Please. If this supposed daisy chain occurred and that’s why he got canned then I hope it was for something truly spectacular like he got caught with his dick in Linda. If it’s something petty this far into his career then that’s just insane. The man worked for the company for almost a decade at this point, you’d think there’s some job security.

But I guess the firing of Dave Lagana has sent a message to the rest of the creative staff; loyalty means nothing compared to the word of the Undertaker. So Dave Lagana did his job and he did it fairly well and now he’s out on his ass at a time when there’s a writer’s strike that has put a lot of people out of work (though it should be over any minute now). You all know I’m generally the guy sticking up for the WWE and the first to rip creative (especially Lagana), but this just sucks.

This has been for your consideration.