I was watching an old backstage interview conducted by Gene Okerlund and it made me think. Will we ever see a wrestling interviewer become as beloved? Today it seems like most interviewers are anthropomorphic microphone stands. There are bright spots like Renee Young, David Marquez and Sarah Shockey. Unfortunately big promotions don’t give these talents the opportunities necessary to hit Mean Gene levels of admiration. Interviewers are the touch point for an audience. So, why aren’t interviewers valued as much the other talent? Why has the backstage interview become a lost art?
Interviewers don’t get the opportunity to show personality:
The backstage wrestling interviewer needs a personality and a relationship with the audience. It helps get heels over. Nobody would care that Britt Baker is being rude if we didn’t have an established relationship with Tony Schiavone. It also helps the get babyfaces over if we trust the interviewer telling us of their greatness. Promotions have put too much emphasis on the wrestler because they forgot the value of the interviewer.
Interviews aren’t allowed to be improvised:
A lot of today’s scripted interviews come off as boring and stale. Interviewers and wrestlers need freedom and time to improvise. Improvisation is a fun way for wrestlers and interviewers to break up the monotony. You need to let them have fun because it translates to the viewer. It’s also great because you let creativite people do what they do best. Unfortunately it can take a lot of time and failure to develop improvisational skills. It also takes a level of trust that big promotions aren’t willing to give.
Interviewers don’t stand up for themselves:
Everyone loves an underdog but nobody likes a pushover. The doormat wrestling interviewer has become a troupe. It’s boring if a doormat character doesn’t stand up for themselves because there’s no payoff. There are lots of ways an interviewer could stick up for themselves while conceding physical dominance. I loved when Gene Okerlund would answer threats of physical violence with threats of lawsuits.
Big companies are afraid to break the interviewer mold:
These days it seems like the WWE Is manufacturing robots with microphones because of their army of good looking young backstage interviewers. The fact is that talent can be found in any demographic. It’s important to be unique in wrestling and big personalities are often found in unique places. Having a “type” makes it less likely that you’ll find a generational talent because it shrinks your pool of candidates.
Individuals taking over the interview:
Far too often wrestlers stop an interviewer during their first question and snatch the microphone out of their hands. The practice has become one of my biggest annoyances because of its overuse. It works in certain situations but now has become cliche. Cutting a promo in a vacuum can be far less effective because you have nobody to bounce your personality off of. Overbearing interviewers can also be terrible because of their efforts to steal the show. The backstage interview has become a lost art because wrestlers and interviewers lose sight of the common goal. Working together is always best because everyone looks good.