Sometimes you just have to look in the mirror.
It’s hard to understand, and I certainly don’t expect you to, but when you’re the head writer for the largest wrestling company in the world, and at the current moment the competition is kicking your ass, you literally get to the point where ANYTHING GOES. Now, understand, I’m not talking about a level of desperation… it’s not that… you just feel the pressure of having to pull out all the stops. Anything and everything goes, you MUST take chances, and you MUSTN’T be afraid of both the unknown and pushing the boundaries.
And, yeah… sometimes you go too far.
As the head writer of the show I was privy to a lot of information, but not necessarily all the information. When it came to issues with talent, that was handled by JR, and I made it a rule to never overstep my boundaries. If there was something I NEEDED to know in order to do my job, they told me. If the information wasn’t VITAL, at times I was kept in the dark. For whatever reason, over the years a lot of people have a problem believing that—but—it was the truth.
My job at WWE was to simply write the best television show I was capable of writing. The constant “drama” that always surrounded the wrestling business was something I tried DESPERATELY to stay out of. My philosophy was that it was NONE of my business until they told me it NEEDED to be my business.
I’m not going to lie, despite popular demand of what my adversaries would want you to believe about me. That’s just not me. Being born and raised in an Italian New ‘Yawk’ family, you were always raised to tell the truth regardless of the circumstances, and, yeah, being honest cost me DEARLY in the wrestling business because the one thing the carnies, the con-men, the liars and workers in the business can’t handle is THE TRUTH.
Why? It’s simple—because they are constantly LYING. That’s just the nature of the beast. Being honest and truthful never has, doesn’t and never will work in professional wrestling.
Yes—I knew Hawk, Michael Hegstrand, was having issues with drugs. You can’t help but to hear the chatter in both the locker room and the office.
Hawk wasn’t the first wrestler to have drug related issues and he certainly wasn’t going to be the last. But the boys have a way of hiding it. Remember they are workers. They work you to believe what they want you to believe and they’re DAMN GOOD at it. So with Hawk… I didn’t feel like it was a matter of life and death, perhaps he had just gotten hooked on something that helped him mask the physical pain he was feeling. Many of them do.
Now, when you are writing and producing about 150 shows a year, you use anything and everything to try to make each episode different. No matter WHAT it is; divorce, infidelity, criminal records, addictions… anything goes. You just exaggerate the real life situation for entertainment purposes. Writing that now I realize just how HORRIBLE that is, but back then it was the truth.
I had no idea that Hawk’s addiction was as serious as it was. NONE. How would I know? I only saw him at TV where as a pro, he was always ON. He never brought any problems he may have been having in his personal like to work. So to me, writing into the story that Hawk was “struggling” was just another storyline. At no time did he ever object to it, so I really had no feeling whatsoever for how serious the issue was.
If I had known, I would have never done it. But, I didn’t, so I did.
It was after a TV taping where I was at the airport waiting to fly home. God, I just could never wait to get home. I always wanted to get home. It was at that time that I saw Animal, Joe Laurinaitis, pushing Hawk through the airport… in a wheelchair.
I will never forget the sight. Joe was doing it in such a nonchalant manner, hoping that nobody would notice, but everyone did.
Hawk was comatose and foaming at the mouth. He was totally out of it. At that moment I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had no idea that Michael was in this way. No idea. Again, had I known…
After that, I immediately killed the storyline. This was no longer entertainment; this was a man’s life—and ultimately his death.
Man, I just had no idea.
And, I live with it every single day.