There were major changes made today to the Raw and SmackDown writing teams, according to Dave Meltzer.
SmackDown’s lead writer, Ryan Ward, is out. According to Meltzer, it’s being called a “personal leave.” Pro Wrestling Sheet’s Ryan Satin added that he’s taking time away “for a short period of time” for unspecified reasons. Ward had been SmackDown’s lead writer since the brand split in 2016. It’s unclear if he’ll return to the writing team in another position.
SmackDown’s new lead writer will be Ed Koskey, who had been the lead writer of Raw. Koskey, who is the “Vice President of Creative Writing” in WWE, has been with the company for over 18 years and has been a “key writer” for over a decade.
Koskey will be working with Eric Bischoff, according to Meltzer, but it’s not clear if that means that Bischoff will have a lot more creative input. It was previously reported that Bischoff was not expected to be too involved in the creative process.
Raw will continue to be run by Paul Heyman, who will continue to work under Vince McMahon, who will still ultimately “run” Raw.
Raw’s new lead writer, working under Heyman, will be Jonathan Baeckstrom. Baeckstrom had been the lead writer of 205 Live since November 2016 and has worked in other various positions for the past six years. Heyman brought him in to be a writer on Raw when he became Executive Director.
In addition to the changes to the lead writers, the writing teams have been officially split up and assigned to specific brands ahead of SmackDown’s move to FOX next month, according to Pro Wrestling Sheet. WWE will also reportedly have a draft next month that will lead to a stricter roster split.
The changes to the writing team have been coming for a while, according to Dave Meltzer. Vince McMahon had been heavily editing SmackDown scripts for the past several weeks and a change on the SmackDown side was seen as inevitable, Meltzer says.
There have already been other major changes to the writing teams in the past few months. Back in July, the Raw and SmackDown lead writers who worked at WWE headquarters (the “home” writing team, in contrast to the traveling “road” writing team) Steve Oppenheim (Raw) and Steve Guerreri (SmackDown), were let go by WWE. In April, the Road Dogg stepped down as co-lead writer of SmackDown.