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Former WWE Writer Says Vince McMahon Fired Him For Changing Controversial Script

Vince McMahon Article Pic 30 WrestleFeed App

Former WWE writer Michael Leonardi alleges that the company terminated his employment due to his decision to modify a script against Vince McMahon’s wishes.

Leonardi initially joined WWE in 2001 and worked in the on-air promotion department until 2005 before returning as a creative writer in April 2015. He was dismissed from his position in January 2016.

In his own words: “I was fired by Vince McMahon back in 2016 while trying to protect the company from airing a racially insensitive segment.”

Leonardi claims he was fired for altering a segment on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day edition of RAW in 2016. The original script, which he deemed racially insensitive, had Neville delivering a line referencing King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Leonardi recalls:

“The script called for Neville to speak up and tell everyone else that he’s got ‘a dream’ too and that dream is to win the Royal Rumble. And I remember Neville coming up to me after he read it, and he was like, ‘I can’t say this’.

(Trying to compare) a wrestler who wants to one day win the Royal Rumble to one of the most iconic speeches in American history about civil rights and how important that was – to try and play on that was just dumb, it was poor writing.

Not only was Neville not comfortable saying it, the other three guys in the room, Titus and R-Truth and Mark Henry, were like, ‘Yeah, this is f’ing terrible’.”

He explains that Neville and other wrestlers, including Titus O’Neil, R-Truth, and Mark Henry, were uncomfortable with the script and voiced their concerns. WWE eventually changed the script, but Leonardi faced backlash from McMahon for failing to deliver what he wanted.

“I’ll never forget this, [Vince McMahon is] staring at the screen, he takes off his headphones and he turns to me and said, ‘So, you didn’t give me what I wanted?’ I explained to him again what we did, the circumstances around it, the limitations that we had. I took full responsibility for it and then he just chewed me the f**k out, pardon my french.”

The following day at SmackDown, Leonardi received a script instructing Titus O’Neil to adhere strictly to its contents, and say it word-for-word. The filming process lasted two hours. Leonardi remarked that if given the chance to alter the situation, they would have recorded an alternative version aligned with the wrestlers’ preferences.

“We collaborated, we all put our heads together, my boss included, and we put together what we thought was the best possible thing. But Vince thought that was a major no-no, and I got fired for it.”

Regarding his departure in 2005, Leonardi recounts his objection to creating a video package for the Muhammad Hassan and Undertaker feud after the London bombings.

This led to his demotion, but he was reinstated when UPN demanded that the Muhammad Hassan character be removed from their network. Leonardi ultimately left WWE shortly after.

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