On April 25, former WWE writer Britney Abrahams filed a lawsuit against WWE, Vince McMahon, and other executives alleging racial and gender stereotypes in scripts and wrongful termination.
In the lawsuit, Abrahams alleges that she was discriminated against and fired for objecting to "offensively racist and stereotypical jargon" in scripts for black performers. The lawsuit cited Bianca Belair saying “Uh-Uh! Don’t make me take off my earrings and beat your ass! " and Apollo Crews speaking with a “stereotypical and exaggerated Nigerian accent." The lawsuit also cites "discriminatory pitches" for Reggie (Scrypts in NXT) where he would be "hunted" by Shane Thorne and a love triangle between Mansoor, Aliyah and Angel Garza, which included Mansoor's secret being that he was behind 9/11.
Appearing on In The Weeds with Jeremy Lambert & Joel Pearl, former WWE writer Dave Schilling weighed in on the lawsuit and his experience at WWE.
"My thoughts were probably similar to a lot of people who are people of color who work for WWE, which is, not terribly surprising that someone would be upset about things they experienced at the company. It's not the best place to work if you're a person of color, you're a woman, you're LGBTQ. It's difficult because there are a lot of people there who are older, who are maybe not as sensitive to certain things, and at the end of the day, the person who makes the decisions is Vince McMahon. Even today, Vince has a lot of power and a lot of say so in what goes on the air and Vince isn't the world's most sensitive person," he said.
Schilling noted when it came to ideas that are presented on television, "It's all about what Vince likes. A lot of these broad caricatures are things that Vince likes. I can't speak to what happened after I left, but I'm sure he thought that Apollo Crews doing an accent was going to get over. You look at the history of WWE, and there are tons of examples of stereotypical characters. This is not a new thing or a new phenomenon."
Schilling was a writer in WWE in 2019 and worked on the KofiMania storyline, which had elements of race as Kofi had been in WWE for over a decade and had to earn his shot at the WWE Championship because he wasn't seen as being "on that level."
When asked what could be done in WWE for the environment to change, Schilling said, "A lot of people have to retire. I don't know if we need to continue to hear what Michael Hayes has to say about storylines. I think he can put together an amazing match, but do I need to hear Michael Hayes, or Vince McMahon, or Bruce Prichard tell people in their 30s, 20s, children, what is entertaining? This is no knock on them, they've all done amazing things in the wrestling business and given me decades of enjoyment. They were all very nice to me. There needs to be more youthful energy in wrestling. AEW has done a good job of presenting their characters in a way that is more appealing to younger audiences. WWE, in a lot of ways, Roman Reigns and the Bloodline are very modern characters and exciting and cool, and even though they are heels, they are thought of as cool. The people making the decisions are old, and at some point, those people need to move aside. Tony Khan, as a booker of AEW, is doing a good job, but he's not surrounding himself with younger people. He's not surrounding himself with a team of writers who can say, 'this is cool, this is not cool.' Not to say Tony doesn't know what's cool, he's probably my age and as checked in as I can be in my mid-30s. We need to have that youthful energy. That's what is so exciting about AEW and, on some levels, WWE, but there needs to be more. The more people of a certain age step aside, the better it will be for everyone and there will be less of this kind of tension between the sensibilities of 2023 and the sensibilities of 1987. That's the hardest part about working there. Those guys don't get it sometimes, and you wish they did."
WWE has not commented on the lawsuit. Fans can read the full lawsuit by clicking here.
Check out the full interview with Dave Schilling in the video above.