People who grew up in the 1990s remember Freddie Prinze, Jr., as the star of seminal, generational classics like Wing Commander, Head Over Heels and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. WWE diehards know him as the subject of that, “yes, Freddie Prinze Jr., the actor once had a WWE job, no, seriously” conversation that pops up every few years. If you weren’t aware, yes, Freddie Prinze Jr., the actor once had a WWE job (no, seriously) as a member of the creative team in 2008 and 2009. The guy from Summer Catch, yes.
With WrestleMania approaching, GQ sat down with The Prinze to ask him about his time with WWE, his thoughts on the current product, and how ideas make it from the creative team to TV. The short answer? “Not very well.”
From the interview:
Once you get to TV, it becomes a different pitch process. Now the script is more complete. We’re told how much time we have for specific matches and the time for segments. Now it’s almost like round robin where everyone is in the room and has a say—the writers, the agents, the people behind the cameras. Everyone gets their words in there and Vince considers what everyone is saying and he gives the final “Yay” or “Nay.”
Once he says yes, then the writers need to hustle to link up with the wrestlers. I would always email at least a rough draft to the wrestlers early and say, “You know, a lot of this stuff is probably going to change, but it’s live TV.” If it’s a backstage segment, I’d be directing and producing it. If it’s in the ring, you go in this secret room called Gorilla where Vince sits with all the monitors, watching them like a hawk. You sit right next to him and you’re talking the camera trucks through what is going to happen. If you’re lucky enough to have had time, you’ve already rehearsed it, but usually you’re telling them, “Okay, we’re gonna interrupt him here and now Kevin Owens is gonna come out and he’ll say his piece.” You’re basically making sure everything is going off without a hitch as best you can and the wrestlers either sink or swim.
It actually has very little to do with me at that point, it’s their job to get over. Then afterwards your wrestler comes up to you and looks at you like a puppy dog, even though they are 6 foot 10 and outweigh you by 200 pounds, and say, “Did I do a good job?” And it makes you feel very strange and weird. But that’s basically from script to show right there.
You can read the entire piece here. There are bits about Awesome Kong, Jeff Hardy, Stone Cold Steve Austin and more. And if you doubt The Fred’s understanding of the product, remember: He once brought Vince McMahon out of a coma.