Former WWE Writer Claims Vince McMahon Fired Him For Changing Racially Incentive Segment

Former WWE writer Michael Leonardi claims that the company fired him for changing a script against Vince McMahon’s wishes. He joined them in 2001 and worked in the on-air promotion department until 2005, before returning as a creative writer in April 2015. He was fired in January 2016.

He posted two videos on his LinkedIn account that detailed both departures. Leonardi captioned his first video, “I was fired by Vince McMahon back in 2016 while trying to protect the company from airing a racially insensitive segment.

“For years I felt ashamed and replayed the situation 1000’s of times over in my head trying to figure out what I could have done to not get fired. In light of everything going on, I just wanted to get it off my chest as I’m finally starting to feel like maybe I didn’t deserve to be fired.”

In the first video, he claimed he was fired by the company for altering a segment on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day edition of Raw in 2016. He admits it still bothers him and wonders what he could have done differently.

The segment featured Neville, Titus O’Neil, R-Truth, and Mark Henry, who received the script on short notice.

“The script called for Neville to speak up and tell everyone else that he’s got ‘a dream’ too and that dream is to win the Royal Rumble. And I remember Neville coming up to me after he read it, and he was like, ‘I can’t say this.’

“(Trying to compare) a wrestler who wants to one day win the Royal Rumble to one of the most iconic speeches in American history about civil rights and how important that was – to try and play on that was just dumb, it was poor writing.”

He pointed out that it makes Neville appear weak, not a babyface. He claimed Truth, Henry, and O’Neil were all uncomfortable with the line.

“Not only was Neville not comfortable saying it, the other three guys in the room, Titus and R-Truth and Mark Henry, were like, ‘Yeah, this is f’ing terrible.’”

They were uncomfortable with the situation, and the talent did not wish to film it. They attempted to avoid appearing racially insensitive. WWE changed the script to have R-Truth deliver the line instead of Neville, which Leonardi described as “light and fun.”

Dave Kapoor (Ranjin Singh), Leonardi’s boss, informed McMahon of the changes, prompting Leondardi to explain the situation.

“I’ll never forget this, he’s staring at the screen, he takes off his headphones and he turns to me and said, ‘So, you didn’t give me what I wanted?’ I explained to him again what we did, the circumstances around it, the limitations that we had. I took full responsibility for it and then he just chewed me the f**k out, pardon my french.”

The next day, at SmackDown, Leonardi was handed a script and told that Titus O’Neil had to read it word for word. It took them two hours to film this. He stated that if he could have changed things, they would have filmed it in a different version that the wrestlers preferred.

“We collaborated, we all put our heads together, my boss included, and we put together what we thought was the best possible thing. But Vince thought that was a major no-no, and I got fired for it.”

Regarding his 2005 departure, he stated that he was supposed to create a video package for the Muhammad Hassan and Undertaker feud leading up to The Great American Bash, but he asked to work on something else because he felt the angle was insensitive in light of the July 2005 London bombings.

He was demoted as a result before being reinstated after UPN insisted that the Muhammad Hassan character no longer be shown on their network, prompting him to leave shortly thereafter.

(H/T to for the transcription)