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Vince Russo


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I'm curious to read the opinions of what the posters here think about Vince Russo. I watched the Rise and Fall of WCW on Netflix today, and for the most part, people were pretty negative toward him. Jim Cornette is famous for verbally lambasting the man as well. A lot of people would even argue that Vince Russo is a big reason, if not the sole reason, why TNA is unwatchable.

 

Thoughts on Vince Russo?

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The living, breathing death of professional wrestling. If he wasn't around to push WWF go into the direction it did in the late 90's, someone else would have. He took WCW beyond the point of no return creatively, thus contributing the demise of what should still be WWE's strongest competition.

 

Beyond that, I don't know what to make of him personally. His born-again routine seemed the least sincere by coming off as overly sincere, going as far to regret booking controversial angles because of it. The whole "Oklahoma" gimmick offended me personally, as someone who has sympathy and patience with people who have debilitating handicaps.

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I'll take this opportunity to say the one positive thing I think of whenever Vince Russo comes up and that is, under his time as head writer of WWE, all the low-to-midcarders served a purpose, we're unique from one another, and received a response from the crowd. Granted, they were put in odd storylines, but at least they were given direction.

 

This became really apparent to me watching some late 90s-early 2000s WWF PPVs recently, which is something I think is missing from current WWE. I think it was Wrestlemania 2000 that had the throwaway hardcore battle royal and even in that, I felt like I knew the background and gimmicks of everyone involved.

 

Today, if you did a similar match with Caylen Croft, Trent Barreta, Curt Hawkins, Chris Masters, most members of The Corre/Nexus, Primo, Tyler Reks, and The Usos, among others - current fans would just see a bunch of dudes in similar tights and have no connection to them. I mean, Masters might be recognized because of his work 4-5 years ago, but I imagine many regular fans couldn't tell many of them apart.

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The thing I have always noticed most strongly about Russo is his apparently lack of any filter for future consequences. If he had an idea, it seemed he would just run with it. It might pop the crowd now, but next week or next month how do you dig out of the hole/corner?

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I think the best description about his booking that I ever heard was: "He is a person who remembers all of the great WWF angles of the 1980's but completely forgot how they got there and what happened afterwards".

 

I can't stand him. I've watched wrestling on TV for years and the only show that I refuse to watch is TNA. It's the worst wrestling show ever. I would watch GWF, CZW, HUSTLE, GLOW or just about anything before TNA.

 

Here are my issues with his shows:

- Everytime I watch TNA I see nothing but authority figures arguing over who is more powerful or women screaming at each other. Right around when Hogan started, he had 7 different authority figures.

- He cannot book a clean finish to save his life. It doesn't matter what the match is, someone must interfere or cheat or a ref must take a bump.

- His love of gimmick matches. At one point during a span of 3-4 months, he booked more gimmick matches than normal matches.

- No one on his shows ever get along with their partners.

- I watch his shows and end up more confused than before. I literally have to question myself when watching it about every 5 minutes. Bryan Alvarez takes pages of notes on the shows and still has no idea what's going on most of the time.

- The constant turns are quite confusing. A guy on wrestlecrap counted something like 54+ turns in 40 weeks of watching TNA(starting from the Hogan era). Anytime I watch it, I have to debate with myself on who the face is.

- Within the last few weeks he booked a show with a total of 17 seconds of wrestling in the first hour and 10 minutes of wrestling overall.

- All the dropped/forgotten storylines. I'm still waiting for the information on the storyline about the Pope's dogs and still wanting to know who kidnapped Joe.

 

Those are just a few reasons, but that gives you some of my issues with him. He's an enemy of wrestling and I can't until he gets fired.

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Russo to me is partially responsible for the resurgence of wrestling in the late 1990s. Vince, who is normally the power hungry chief was seemingly lost and needed help. Russo brought about the booking and nonsensical material needed to push the WWE past WCW. For all his strengths, which in my opinion, are completely underwhelming in contrast to his weaknesses, attempted the same methodology in WCW, the fly by your pants, high on drugs, driving in the wrong lane at 165MPH kind of thing. At any rate, WCW lacked the personnel that the WWE had to connect Russo’s insane point A to point Z logic. It is telling of Russo’s career that he was fired by a company that had lost the necessary direction to continue competing with the WWE and was replaced by the person who had beaten the WWE but had fumbled at the one-yard line causing the subsequent touchdown and loss to begin with.

 

Having watched a lot of Memphis and the Jerry Lawler compilation, it seems as though Russo has attempted, and on more than one occasion, to recreate the shoot like environment that Memphis had with its controversial angles. Unlike Memphis however, WCW, and now TNA, lacks the talent to pull off the risqué angles that Memphis routinely did. Furthermore, the WWE has tried using similar angles (Austin being hit by a car a la Lawler) but with marginal success as well.

 

Russo will be remembered more for his shortcomings than his triumphs, which I think is unfair considering the demise of WCW started before Russo ever got his hands on the wrestlers’ careers. There has always been more than one culprit behind the internal destruction to the equivalent of ancient Rome in WCW, and it really started with its greatest savior Eric Bischoff, who ultimately turned out to be its greatest persona non grata.

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I think his booking is one part amusement, 5 parts trainwreck. The whole thing is just constantly in fast forward for absolutely no reason. Constant turns to the point none of it means anything. Thinks everything needs a gimmick, even in situations that it should be plainly obvious this isn't the case. Cage matches to set up the cage match PPV and the like. He came up with a lot of dumb bullshit that would bring heat on the company he was working with for no good reason, but it's now reached the point where nothing he writes is really shocking anymore. So you're just left with dumb bullshit. He seemed acceptable when he had other people keeping him on a leash, although the last point about shock for no reason stands.

 

He seems to hate tag team wrestling and doesn't have any faith that people will just watch the bloody match. Every tag team match in history must have either a partner turn or a screwy finish. I mean this is partially a joke you can make about his singles booking as well, but in tag matches it ceases to be slight hyperbole and enters into the realm of "would be funny if it wasn't true".

 

I get a kick out of reading some of the stuff he writes. I read TNA spoilers all the time with some degree of fascination. Wouldn't actually subject myself to dedicating time to watching the show. There doesn't seem to be any reason to think that there aren't other people available who could do a better overall job.

 

In the big picture he's done 1000 times more harm than good.

 

I wouldn't hire him to run my company if he offered to work for free.

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He has done more damage to pro wrestling than anyone else has (although Bischoff isn't THAT far behind), and it's unbelievable that the wrestling business still finds a place for him to be employed.

I find this somewhat surprising. I would have thought that dishonorable distinction would be levied upon someone like Vince or to a lesser degree, Benoit. Not saying Russo is not on the list, just never thought he would be #1.
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WCW was pretty bad in '99 before Russo came in, but not so far gone that the right person couldn't have turned things around.

 

After Russo had his run, there was no way to turn WCW around.

 

He also created a culture where writers write to show the value of writers instead of to get over talent.

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He has done more damage to pro wrestling than anyone else has (although Bischoff isn't THAT far behind), and it's unbelievable that the wrestling business still finds a place for him to be employed.

I find this somewhat surprising. I would have thought that dishonorable distinction would be levied upon someone like Vince or to a lesser degree, Benoit. Not saying Russo is not on the list, just never thought he would be #1.

 

 

Honestly, the only people who think Vince damaged pro wrestling are bitter old carnies who worked for (or ran) territories that didn't see what Vince saw.

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I wish more people knew Russo's history leading up to his WWF gig because it sure does flesh everything out more.

 

He was running his video store and putting up the money to sponsor and "prouduce" John Arezzi's time buy radio show in NY. When the WWF sex scandals hit, Arezzi hit them as hard as anyone. Titan approached Russo (who wanted the show to be more lighthearted anyway), so he hijacked the timeslot and Arezzi's newsletter. He took over with his ridiculous cartoony Vicious Vincent's World of Wrestling show, which was very rah rah WWF. Russo eventually lost his store and the show, but he got hired as editor of WWF Magazine. And that's where the story you know starts off.

 

With no scandals, Russo never gets any power in wrestling and just fades away. Or becomes a Lanoesque figure. Maybe.

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Russo was right that the WWF was behind the times in 1996 and needed to change their philosophy. But 15 years later he's the one who can't change with the times. His style seemed fresh in 1997 and parts of 1998 but by 1999 it was getting out of hand to the point where RAW was tough to sit through without feeling, I don't know, "dirty"

 

Russo in WCW was never going to work. WCW just didn't have the production staff to pull off Russo's vision of wrestling. Who can forget that Nitro in (I think) November 99 with all the disastrous backstage vignettes that were flubbed where the production guys could be heard on camera and talent was interacting thinking the segments were over. I recall a story where a WCW staffer went up to Bill Banks and said something to the effect of "we're not cut out to do all this". So from a presentation standpoint they were doomed from the start. And the booking was more about being clever for the sake of being clever than to get anyone over.

 

as for TNA. It's a joke and I don't even know if any promoter worth a damn could turn it around as long as Dixie is in power. If Russo were gone the younger mid card workrate guys would get more time for their matches but I don't know if all of a sudden a bunch of new stars would be created

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Yeah, it's all been said. If there was ever such a thing as a wrestling Satan, he would have Vince Russo's face.

 

The guy just plain doesn't understand wrestling. Not only that, but also, he actively DISRESPECTS it. He disrespects the industry, the workers and the fans and seems to have it as his goal to destroy wrestling. He has succeeded, in my view, at least in breaking it. His legacy is one of the reasons I no longer watch the current product.

 

As much as I dislike Eric Bischoff - another guy who doesn't seem to understand wrestling - at least he has some redeeming qualities: he was actually ok as an on-the-screen personality and booked some very solid shows (if only because he was willing to be hands-off and let another booker do it - e.g. Spring Stampede '94).

 

Whenever I've put on TNA on random occassions, only ever for 10 minutes or so before I switch it off in disgust - it seems like a time warp. All that authority figure, GM bullshit feels dated to me. That's one of the things I'd love to see go in wrestling today, the on-air GM. At best he should be a ceremonial figure who only gets wheeled on when a MASSIVE call has to be made.

 

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.30 seconds in says it all on Russo's philosophy

"When you are talking about money, you are talking about old school. I was hired to bring ratings."

 

What an idiot.

 

I watched that clip, and I am not even sure what it means. He's saying being concerned about drawing money is old school?

 

In the sense of this argument, Ratings=Money. So it's the same thing. . .

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I can't stand him. I've watched wrestling on TV for years and the only show that I refuse to watch is TNA. It's the worst wrestling show ever. I would watch GWF, CZW, HUSTLE, GLOW or just about anything before TNA.

This pretty much encapsulates why Russo is so bad. I love wrestling. I am willing to watch just about any wrestling out there. I will buy dvds, I will search youtube for certain matches, but I will not watch TNA which is on tv for free every week.

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Everybody's already mentioned most of the things I hate about Russo. I will add one more, though: he seems utterly incapable of booking anyone but a white male without turning their gimmick into some kind of clumsy, offensive stereotype. All the shit he pulled with the luchadores in WCW is the most obvious example, but there are plenty of others. Consider TNA's history of repeatedly booking evil Mexican stables, entirely populated by wrestlers who aren't actually Mexican. And he has a bad problem when it comes to women. He seems to see them like Joe Ezterhaus did, as interchangeable sex objects who are only good for getting into catfights, and who will always inevitably stab their man in the back.

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He was running his video store and putting up the money to sponsor and "prouduce" John Arezzi's time buy radio show in NY. When the WWF sex scandals hit, Arezzi hit them as hard as anyone. Titan approached Russo (who wanted the show to be more lighthearted anyway), so he hijacked the timeslot and Arezzi's newsletter. He took over with his ridiculous cartoony Vicious Vincent's World of Wrestling show, which was very rah rah WWF. Russo eventually lost his store and the show, but he got hired as editor of WWF Magazine. And that's where the story you know starts off.

 

With no scandals, Russo never gets any power in wrestling and just fades away.

I am not sure if I am reading/understanding this correctly. So, Vince Russo ran a video store and a radio show. Someone on that radio show (John Arezzi) badmouthed WWE about the sex scandals (which I also don't remember) so WWE contacted Vince Russo to get the show taken off the air? Then Russo replaced that radio show segment, with his own pro-WWE segment?
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Basically, yes. Russo's video store sponsored John Arezzi's radio show in the New York market. Arezzi developed a reputation for absolutely killing Vince during the steroid/sex scandals in '91-'92. So McMahon talked with Russo to get him to pull his sponsorship of Arezzi. Russo took control of the show, made it far more pro-WWF, and when it eventually failed, he landed with Vince editing WWF Magazine (which is hilarious if anybody ever saw Russo's writing, as he is not what anybody would call a good writer).

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