In this, our second part of a three part exclusive interview with current HDNet employee David Lagana, WrestleZone shifted its focus from Lagana’s current projects to his time spent in WWE, and his eventual departure from the company back in January of 2008.
Lagana described how his tenure in WWE ended quite simply “I was on vacation, I got a phone call to see Stephanie, [McMahon] and that was it. It had been six years almost to the day. I went to WWE in the hopes of lasting six weeks to go to Wrestlemania 18 and it became my life.” But while some former WWE employees might look back in anger when reflecting on their tenure with the company, David Lagana had nothing but rave reviews of his experience on the creative team. “I learned a lot about myself and about human beings and emotion in those 6 years. It’s the dream job;, flying on private planes, limos, hotels, traveling the globe and writing television that airs the same week you write it. I’m sure everyone thinks they can do it but the day to day grind is something no one can really imagine.” I’m sure it helps that Lagana has been a lifelong wrestling fan, and was not one of those straight-from-Hollywood writers that is often times cast in the role of creating a product that they either have little knowledge of or have never truly enjoyed and respected.
When Lagana entered WWE back in 2002, he worked under Paul Heyman on Smackdown for a year before eventually being thrust into the lead writer job; a job he admits he wasn’t ready for at first. Years later, he was reunited with Heyman when WWE launched its version of ECW on what is now the SyFy network. During his 6 years with the creative team, David Lagana had his hands in creative that helped not only pave the way but guide the careers of many of the company’s most popular superstars. He recalls working with John Cena in 2003 and watching his star rise by saying “[John Cena] was really one of the first big projects.” Igniting John Cena and taking him from being the new guy in the locker room to someone who became an almost instant success seemed to be a memory Lagana was most fond of. “What was so great about John at the time was his passion and it led to eye-catching, star making work. It was like ‘John, Brock Lesnar just injured you, we’re going to shoot five weeks of these raps,’ so I’d give him a location and a theme, he’d go off, come back with a rap, we’d shoot it and put it on TV. I’ll never forget Vince’s face when we showed him the first one. ”
Lagana had his ups and downs with talent dealing with the day to day pressure of the job but seeing a talent “get it” and the crowd respond was always satisfying. Situations like Mr. Kennedy (Anderson) working a Velocity match in Columbus, Ohio and the next week he was called up to Smackdown, the first three months of Carlito as a heel, and The Boogeyman becoming much bigger than anyone ever thought including a match Wrestlemania 22. We asked Lagana about another talent, John “Bradshaw” Layfield. With JBL’s ascension to the top of Thursday nights came a lot of internet criticism that he was not cut out to be a main event player and that he didn’t quite deserve such a high spot in WWE. Lagana brought up there can be negativity on any idea but it’s the final execution and how the talent does with it that will judge its success. “JBL turned out to be a great foil for John Cena and took the spot and ran with it.” While most fans criticized JBL’s in-ring wrestling ability, most also agreed that his character was not only persuasive, but believable as well. Lagana shed some light on that feeling when he told us “During that year, JBL went from being in The APA to becoming a World Heavyweight Champion. And he was molded in Vince’s image. That character was as close to Vince as it could be, and that’s who JBL is.”
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