WWE - RAW
You know, I was never a wrestling fan. Growing up, I didn’t watch it on TV. I knew some people that were heavily invested in wrestling. People that I thought knew it was fake. People that “should know better”. I wouldn’t say that I though I was above it, but for whatever reason it never appealed to me.
My first time directing the promo package for the WWE took place at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia PA. It was storming the entire time, cold, miserable, wet. If you remember the asylum scenes from 12 Monkeys, this location was literally the same place, but freezing and wet. I was told to not refer to the talent as “wrestlers”, they were to be referred to as “superstars”. This concerned me.
The first of the Superstars arrived, John Cena. He was the champ, the head Superstar, THE MAN. Here we were in a damp chilly actual prison, and Cena comes in and asks “OK so what do you want me to do?” I explain what we’re doing, and he gets down to his wrestling kit, which was essentially a speedo and boots and tells me “Let’s do this!” Not only was the top Superstar great to work with, the entire roster were exemplary cast and knew the value of their exposure on the network.
Later that evening, I was invited to watch the big show. What a production! And the fans were so invested, the presentation so grand, the connection so genuine… The fireworks, the body slams, the double dealing foes and the heroes, all of them truly Superstars. But these Superstars worked hard to to perform twice a week all yealr long. They identified with their fans, and made sure the fans new as much.
From that day forward, I may not have become a regular viewer, but I will always be a fan of the WWE and especially their Superstars.
Client - USA Network
Director - Evan Mathis
DP - Joe Meade
Set Design - Julian LaVerdiere
Producer - Liz Gaffney