Ex-WWE Writer Talks New Book and ‘Unexpected’ Career in Wrestling

Time moves fast in the full tilt world of the WWE: scripts are hastily written on airplanes, matches hashed out in the backseat of cars, and entire shows created over hotel breakfasts, sometimes with the finishing touches added mere seconds before a wrestler walks out to the ring.

For the writers creating the show on the fly, each day can feel like a lifetime.

“They say one year as a wrestling writer is like five in the real world,” longtime WWE writer Brian Gewirtz tells PEOPLE with a laugh. And with a 12-year career as one of the company’s head writers, “that’s like, what, 60 years almost?”

Gewirtz, 49, is now the executive producer of NBC’s The Young Rock and gearing up for the release of his debut book, There’s Just One Problemon August 16. The biography chronicles his unlikely road to becoming WWE’s head writer after being unexpectedly thrust into the one-of-a-kind writer’s room, while weaving together first-hand accounts and stories about some of the biggest names in history of professional wrestling.

“It was such an unexpected path,” Gewirtz says, recalling how he even still gets goosebumps thinking about his experience working with wrestlers like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and John Cena. Just this past July, Gewirtz was cleaning out his parents’ basement when he stumbled upon old wrestling action figures, some of whom — like his childhood hero “Rowdy Roddy Piper” — he later got to work with while constructing episodes of Monday Night RAW or the annual WrestleMania.

The television writer reminisces on the hectic, yet hilarious day-to-day experience of working with WWE wrestlers firsthand and then later going on to help produce on television shows and movies for Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions company.

Brian Gewirtz.
Sasha Israel

There’s laugh-out-loud stories of WWE talent nearly peeing themselves mid-flight in front of the entire company, heartwarming chapters about Gewirtz becoming friends with his childhood heroes who have since passed away, and tense moments about the real-life drama that sometimes occurs over the not-so-real-life drama on the show.

One chapter is dedicated to one of the most high-profile examples of such tension, which happened between Johnson, now 50, and Cena. 45. during their three-year rivalry in the early 2010s. Gewirtz recalls the two stars routinely going off script to make cracks at one another, then refusing to meet or rehearse before live shows. Gewirtz jokingly writes that the rivalry became so heated off-screen that one night Cena “might or might not have tried to murder me” when the two got into an accident on a go-kart track.

“It all worked out in the end,” Gewirtz writes, noting the success of their history WrestleMania matches in 2012 and 2013, “And it only took about ten years off my life.”

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In another chapter, Gewirtz shares “the most intense, emotional, nerve-wracking, yet triumphant” experience of his career, when he found himself writing a Saturday Night Live sketch for Johnson, who was hosting the show, before the pair soon booked it to San Francisco for WrestleMania, writing his script for the next show overnight on the plane. And, as Gewirtz became accustomed to during his time at WWE, he then found himself scrambling to make edits seconds before Johnson stepped out in front of the crowd.

It’s one moment among many that often left Gewirtz shaking his head and asking, “How did I get here?” he writes in the book.

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Gewirtz says it feels like he always knew he wanted to write for television, saying he was “laser focused” from a young age after seeing his uncle, fellow screenwriter Howard Gewirtz, in the credits of the show Taxi in the 1980s. In his early 20s, Gewirtz spent four years treading through Hollywood, working on several short-lived shows like Fox Family’s Big Wolf on Campus and Jenny McCarthy’s self-titled NBC sitcom Jenny.

And then came a fateful opportunity in 1999 to write scripts for a one-off WWE special on MTV, which included working with Johnson, as “The Rock.” Soon after, Johnson, who says in the book that Gewirtz is “one of my best friends” and an “unsung legend” in the history of pro wrestling, had recruited the writer to come work at WWE.

“It was definitely a shock to the system, transitioning from working on sitcoms to working in WWE,” Gewirtz says. “Especially during that era when there were so few of us on the creative team and so many hours to write for every week. You had less writers than you had hours of television to produce. That’s unique to wrestling, I think.”

Courtesy Brian Gewirtz

Johnson recruited Gewirtz a second time in 2012, when the writer left WWE to head back to Hollywood, where he joined the movie star’s Seven Bucks Productions group and has helped write and produce multiple shows with Johnson, including their current Young Rock series. Gewirtz credits Johnson and fellow company founder Dany Garcia with inspiring him to write his new book. “Dwayne and Dany’s encouragement really jump started it,” he says.

The stories in There’s Just One Problem give readers a look behind the veil into one of the most unique writer’s rooms in television — from Gewirtz’s nerve-wracking recollection of being chastised in front of the entire locker room in a makeshift tradition called “Wrestler’s Court,” to fonder memories of writing a script with special guest Bob Barker in his hotel room before a show, or holding his breath as a last-second script change plays out in front of 77,000 fans at WrestleMania.

The book paints a hectic, yet exhilarating picture of daily life as a wrestling writer working amongst some of the biggest names — and personalities — in pro wrestling history.

“There’s a whole spectrum of stories between the good, the bad and the stuff that drove me absolutely crazy,” Gewirtz says. “There’s Forrest Gump-ian levels of wrestling history and lore that I happened to be there for.”

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