Although Brian G. James (aka Road Dogg) is no longer the co-lead writer for SmackDown LIVE, he will remain with WWE.
PWInsider’s Mike Johnson first reported that James is no longer the co-lead writer for SmackDown LIVE. According to Johnson, James notified WWE officials on Wednesday that he was “stepping down” from the role. However, according to a report by Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet, it was a mutual decision to change James’ position with SmackDown’s impending move to FOX on the horizon, and not necessarily him “stepping down.” WWE wants to keep his position flexible at this time and use him as a utility player, so they can see where he’d fit best going forward.
One source told Satin that it’s possible James could fill the producer role once held by Arn Anderson at live events, or perhaps even join the announce team. Their source says it wasn’t a contentious decision and all parties involved thought it was best.
Both PWInsider and Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer say James grew very frustrated in the role.
James served as SmackDown’s co-lead writer along with Stephen Guerrieri.
Unlike James, Guerrieri rarely attended television events as he worked out of WWE’s headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. While James didn’t work out of Stamford as much, one co-worker told Meltzer that he became increasingly frustrated with the number of hours he had to work.
James would split time between his home in Pensacola, Florida (and Skyping into the meetings) and in Stamford. In both cases, the meetings would take place all night and sometimes into the early morning. The belief is he became frustrated with working so hard in putting together a show, only to have the show torn apart and changed by Vince McMahon at the production meetings on the day of shows.
McMahon also scolded James more than once over continuity issues in storylines or if someone would point out a problem and James would try to defend it. According to Meltzer, McMahon was “riding him hard” because James wasn’t able to mask his frustrations.
The last few weeks were very hard for James. Johnson said that James reached a “breaking point” on Tuesday at SmackDown LIVE in Brooklyn, New York regarding McMahon’s script changes.
While James has yet to publicly comment on his status, he tweeted the following on Wednesday:
There is no word yet on who may be replacing James in the role, although several WWE sources stated that the way creative is currently driven, the lead writer is more of a formality today rather than a specific voice that drives the show. Everything pitched comes through the team to McMahon, is then approved (or shot down) by McMahon, and he then makes changes until the show starts. Although, McMahon sometimes makes changes while a show is taking place.