A former WWE employee has hit out at the company over the way that there were utilised as well as the overall corporate culture.
In early 2020, writer Dan Ryckert announced that he would be joining WWE, where he would be working on a series of new podcasts.
However, during his time with the company, WWE underwent a period of great upheaval, with vast personnel changes both on-screen and backstage. In recent years a number of former employees have spoken of the challenging work environment within the company, as well as a difficult corporate culture.
Speaking in a new interview with MinnMax the podcast creator opened up about the difficulties he faced while working with WWE. One element of his frustration stemmed from a number of meetings which were designed to come up with a new podcast featuring The New Day.
“Early on, it was a lot. I was doing some traveling, not a ton, but like wearing suits and stuff, things that I didn’t have to do before. But it’s more like running from meeting to meeting and kinda dealing with more of the corporate crap. These meetings and stuff, they feel like they’re straight out of a dumb comedy or something where like nobody could ever be this way.
I remember for instance, so we had this business partner when I first started, before the pandemic. They would fly in these experts, these podcast marketing experts from Beverly Hills. It was always a big deal where it’s like, okay, we’re gonna have a three or four hour meeting with this company. I got pulled into this room and there’s this whole PowerPoint thing and they’re trying to think of ways to do a podcast with the New Day.
The New Day, as a wrestling fan and a friend of those guys, the answer is let them talk because they are hilarious. Don’t screw with the rapport, we don’t have to overproduce this thing and put all of these segments [together] and stuff.”
Ryckert went on to detail a couple of ideas that came up in these meetings that were always destined to go nowhere. This included a Fortnite-based Twitch stream called “Ya Boys Are Twitchin?
“Like, there were slides like, I remember a couple of the ideas or one of them. They said ‘Now we here at blank have a mad hook-up with the Color Run people and WWE crushes epic podcasts, so why don’t we use our mad hook-up and you crushing your epic podcast to make the most epic [podcast].’ I was just like ‘What does that mean?’
They were like ‘We could do a partnership with the Color Run and they could like record a podcast from the Color Run. While they’re in the Color Run, they could be talking with people and talking to each other.’ I’m asking and I’m like ‘Wait, you’re asking us to record a podcast while they’re running in a race with street traffic. Do you want live mics on them, what do you mean here?’
It became very clear that all they cared about was the synergistic business opportunity that they had a mad hook-up with the Color Run. But then when that didn’t go anywhere, the next one they had was and also keep in mind here, these are people that don’t know wrestling at all. It became very, very, clear, very, very quick.
They said ‘Twitch is a live video game streaming platform where people can play games and chat with their friends. Fortnite is one of the biggest games out there, so what if we did something called Ya Boys Are Twitchin?’. This is like the most, yanno, marketing thing ever where it’s like, The New Day, occasionally [Xaiver] Woods would be like it’s ya boys the New Day.
Of course they were like ‘Well, we could brand that as like Twitching With Ya Boyz or Ya Boyz Are Twitching’. That was on the slide, Y-A-B-O-Y-Z-A-R-E Twitchin apostrophe. They were like ‘They can chat with their fans while shooting them in Fortnite’. I was just like ‘What do you mean? What is that podcast? What is this product, who is this for?’. Are we just opening up voice chat? What do you think this is, why don’t you just let three hilarious friends talk to each other about the things they like to talk about.”
The creator went on to explain that he went away and came up with his own ideas and even produced a pilot. However, this was quickly shot down.
“I was creatively infuriated the entire time I was there but like the friendships and everything that I formed and my core team that I worked with. But guys like The New Day and everything, they’re is a lot of excellent and incredibly talented people there that aren’t being allowed to be creative. But these same people that were like [pitching] the Twitchin With Ya Boyz or whatever, we made a pilot.
I learned from enough wrestlers from this company that you gotta make the thing and show it to them and then they’ll [understand]. I just decided like ‘Okay, I’m gonna get Woods and we’re gonna record a pilot for a video game podcast.’ I’ve known Woods for over a decade, there’s a rapport there, we both know our games very well. We can joke with each other, it seems like all the ingredients are there.
It was around the time that FF7 remake came out, I remember we talked, it was a longer podcast, just me and Woods talked about FF7, Doom Eternal, kinda of that era, early pandemic stuff. It was great, lots of jokey stories and stuff. It reminded me of the real fun podcasts from Game Informer and Giant Bomb.
Meanwhile, I present this to these people and these business partners and I was told like ‘Oh, we just don’t think there is much of a market for a video game podcast’. And I’m like, I seriously wanted to be like ‘Motherfuckers, I see the numbers. Do you know the numbers that we had at the last place where I made video game podcasts and how many more [views] against the ones with the billion dollar company backing it and promoting it.’
Once Fire Escape started and Fire Escape was murdering all of WWE’s numbers. [This is] a billion dollar corporation that brought me in to launch a podcast, but didn’t let me launch a single podcast. But like, I see the numbers on all of them and Fire Escape killed all of them cumulatively and still it’s like ‘So you’re still not gonna let me launch a podcast? You still don’t think I know what this audience wants?’.”
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.