Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: Vince Russo Shoot Interview WCW 2000

Presented by Sean Oliver and Kayfabe Commentaries

Nitro started the year by being cut back to 2 hours. Given their roster cuts and inane storylines, that had to be a godsend. Russo says he had nothing to do with the decision but he supported it because keeping viewers for 3 hours is an impossible task. There are too many other options to watch.

Russo didn’t worry about TV rights and revenue; he just focused on the on screen product.

Bret Hart worked a full schedule despite having a concussion. Russo says he didn’t know how severely Bret was hurt and Hart wasn’t complaining.

George Steele, Tito Santana and Jimmy Snuka are booked by Russo to face Jeff Jarrett in one night on Nitro. Russo used them because he loved the old WWWF and WWF guys and he knew they would pop a rating.

Ed Ferrara and Russo knew right away that both talent and management targeted them as soon as they signed with WCW.

Jeff Jarrett was durable and that was a big reason Russo liked to push him so much.

Hart’s concussion forced the January PPV to be rebooked. Then Jeff’s wife called Russo and alerted Russo that Jeff had a concussion thanks to Snuka so he was also off the PPV.

Madusa and Oklahoma had an evening gown match. Vince believes the boys need to realize that they are entertainers and not “wrestlers”.

TNA had too many workers who were worried about “workrate” and not getting themselves over as stars. The boys were too worried about Dave Meltzer’s opinion.

Bully Ray is “one of the last true artists” in the business.

Dixie Carter didn’t watch Chief Jay Strongbow, Waldo Von Erich or Bruno Sammartino and so she doesn’t understand the business. She would read the Internet to determine who to push even if Hogan and Bischoff or Vince would say otherwise.

JR has been apologized to over the “Oklahoma” gimmick. The character started in Vince McMahon’s office where Ed would do the impression to amuse McMahon. Russo said it wasn’t booked to hurt JR, just for entertainment.

Russo bashes Christopher Daniels for worrying about workrate over entertainment.

He justifies booking Madusa as Cruiserweight champ by explaining that she could beat half the guys in a shoot and it’s fake anyway and fans need to understand the fact that the wrestlers don’t really beat anybody.

Vince Russo is demoted from head writer to being put on a committee with Kevin Sullivan and Kevin Nash. Russo wanted to quit anyway so he refused the demotion and went home.

The veterans didn’t like Russo because he wanted to push new faces over the old farts. Even JJ Dillon, Kevin Sullivan and others in the office wanted Russo gone.

WCW exec Bill Busch was trying to reign in the mess in WCW. Russo equates him Dixie Carter.

Ed Ferrara stayed on in WCW and it strained his relationship with Russo.

Tank Abbott was booked to win the WCW World title. The plan was for Sid to work a 30 min Royal Rumble style battle royal and Abbott was to come out last and KO Sid. Russo justifies this by saying it wouldn’t be expected.

The current WWE product is buried as being the same show for 5 years. (AT LEAST!!)

Tank’s UFC credentials are used to justify the idea of being booked as champion. So being legit was ok in this case, but earlier (with Madusa) it doesn’t matter because it’s all-fake anyway. Got it.

The Radicalz (Saturn, Eddy, Malenko and Benoit) quit WCW over Sullivan being named booker again. Russo was already gone and he was pleased that the guys were going someplace else where they might be happy.

Mike Graham was another WCW agent who was against Vince’s master vision.

Russo liked Sid Vicious a bunch. Sid had great intensity.

Bob Backlund’s crazy promos made Russo pop.

Ric Flair returned months after last being seen being buried in the desert by the Filthy Animals.

Russo took Flair and Hulk off TV for a few months so he could bring them back later and book them stronger in “legends” roles.

Scott Steiner shoots on Flair during a live Nitro promo. Russo wished that more guys could turn legit heat into worked promos and make money off their arguments.

Bobby Walker, Hard body Harris and Sonny Onoo sued WCW for racial discrimination. Russo loved Ernest Miller because he was a great entertainer. Russo told Miller he didn’t need Onoo as a manager and somehow this turned into Vince Russo is a racist.

The Lucha workers wore masks so Vince didn’t feel they could emote to US audiences. They also often didn’t speak the language. So again Russo is called a racist. Vince defends himself by pointing out that Konnan and Rey won the tag titles on the first show he booked.

HHH buried Goldberg on national radio. Bill was steamed.

James Brown was paid to be a surprise performer at Superbrawl. Russo can’t believe WCW didn’t plug this to try and pop some extra buys.

Hacksaw Duggan becomes TV champion after finding the title in the trash. Russo was a fan of Duggan’s entertaining personality and stuck him in a janitor gimmick. He felt Jim couldn’t go in the ring anymore so this would give him a chance to remain on TV.

Russo sucked up to Flair all the time and was stunned when Flair buried him after WCW died.

Mean Gene was arrested for a DUI and nearly smashed into a patrol car.

WCW decided to bring Eric Bischoff and Russo back in as a team in March.

Russo was the WWF Magazine editor in 1997 and he tried to jump to WCW. He then went to Vince and tried to get more “power” in the WWF creative unit. McMahon was mad at first but quickly added Russo to the writing team.

Once Russo joined the writing team for the WWF, ratings rose and Bischoff was eventually released as WCW president because of the money bleeding out. Russo wondered how Eric would deal with working with the man who could be credited with costing him his million dollar executive role.

The ratings went from a 3.0 to a 3.5 when Vinny Ru took over WCW in late 99. They collapsed when he was removed. He felt that rebuilding the ratings would now be impossible because the fans were jerked around so much.

Russo buries “The Dog” gimmick that Al Green was given. It must have lacked the nuances that Beaver Cleavage and other Russo creations had.

“Ready to Rumble” premiered. Russo hated the movie.

In April WCW re-launched with Eric and Russo at the helm. Eric wanted to strip all the champions. Russo was worried Bischoff was planning on sinking the promotion and blaming it on Russo, then retaking his spot as head of WCW.

Vinny Ru believes Bischoff made the call to put him on screen as a character. Russo was okay with this because he knew how to be entertaining and he wanted to be the on screen promo guy to try and save the promotion and himself all at once.

The New Blood were intended to be the faces, but Russo knew the old guys would get sympathy and the young guys would be looked at as cocky.

Tammy Sytch was brought in to be another familiar face on the rebuilt roster.

David Arquette is booked to win the WCW World title. DDP suggested to Vince that David should be brought in since he was a big fan and part of the WCW movie.

All the newspaper mentioned Arquette’s win. Russo didn’t care about the criticism because it’s fake and he figured he could book anything week to week as long as it was bigger and better than last week.

Randy Savage makes a one match return, he would leave because of money issues. Russo wanted to book him as a special attraction because of his status as a legend.

Jeff Jarrett beat DDP and Arquette in a 3-way triple-decker cage for the title. David had no fear and did anything asked of him.

Kanyon was always looking for ways to put guys over and failed to worry about getting himself over.

Kanyon takes a bump off the cage and smashes through the ramp way at the Kemper Arena. This was less than a year after Owen Hart had died in the same place. Russo claims he didn’t put 2 and 2 together.

The WCW title changes a gazillion times in a matter of weeks. Vinny Ru says why wouldn’t the title change all the time? Surprises make for entertainment. Sean tries to call him on growing up on dominantly booked WWWF champions and Russo blames the “dirt sheets” for smartening up the fans and making him book swerves.

Booker T was given the gimmick as “G.I. Bro” for a few weeks. Then Russo realizes he wanted T to become a title contender and they killed off the gimmick.

Bill Goldberg returned after many months off. He is turned heel two weeks later. Goldberg wasn’t going to matter in the long term because WCW needed a year of consistent booking and the current WCW desperation meant everything needed to be hot shotted.

WCW lost about 20 million dollars in 1999. In 2000, they were on pace to lose 60 million. With that news coming out in June, rumors of WCW going on sale began.

Russo didn’t care about WCW being sold since he had heat with Goldberg, Hogan, Bischoff and others. Vince was depressed.

Russo avoided the Internet from his days with McMahon on. He claims Dave Meltzer buried the “This is your life, Rock” segment that popped a huge rating. Then Vinny knew the ‘net had nothing valid to say.

Bryan Alvarez never contacted Russo for his side of the story while Alvarez was writing “The Death of WCW” book.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Death-WCW-Wrestlecrap-Present/dp/1550226614

(Cheap plug since Alvarez and I have a working relationship with his “After Dark Radio” Facebook page and seriously…fuck Vince Russo.)

Eric Bischoff was booked to beat Terry Funk in a hardcore title match. Again “because it’s entertaining!” is the excuse. Russo was paranoid that Eric only agreed to it because he could use it against Russo when seeking Vince’s head with the executives. (So I have to ask: Why book something that you feel is so shitty that it might be able to be used against you later in manner that proves you can’t book?)

Ric Flair loses to David Flair and Russo in a handicap match. Flair has his head shaved and is forced to retire after the loss. Vinny Ru didn’t want to shave Flair’s head out of respect, Flair wanted to do it to help get the angle over. Ric later blamed Russo for booking this mess.

 

 

Vince didn’t tuck his chin during a bump and received a concussion during the match.

Bischoff started to bury the WCW product and WCW execs held a meeting with Eric and Vince to try and straighten things out.

Russo kept wrestling while concussed and he claims 3 different workers gave him stiff shots to try and mess him up further.

WCW Saturday Night at 6:05 is cancelled. Vince relates his long love of the business and talks about going to Florida and seeing a Dusty Rhodes vs. King Curtis match that was beyond violent.

Jeff Jarrett lays down for Hulk Hogan on PPV and Vince cuts a “worked shoot” promo on Hogan afterward. Hogan uses the promo as an excuse to sue WCW and leave the mess.

Booker T beats Jarrett later that same night for the title. Booker was picked by the whole writing team to be the new champ and it had nothing to do with WCW’s race lawsuit.

Hulk Hogan refused to go along with Russo’s plan that saw a ton of run ins and Hogan beating everyone off. Hogan’s end game was to become the WCW champ and he didn’t want any other finish.

 

 

Russo didn’t tell Jarrett that Hulk was in on a long-term angle and merely told him that Hogan wants the title so go out and lay down. Russo then argued with Jimmy Hart in the back so the boys would think it was a real shoot. Hogan and Bischoff then storm off and leave the building without anyone but Eric, Hogan and Russo knowing it was all “fake”.

Hogan was not contacted the next day and that made Hogan think he really was swerved. WCW execs told Russo to not book Hogan anymore because he cost too much, so Vinny Ru didn’t bother to tell Hogan the plans changed.

Judy Bagwell was booked to be in her son Buff’s corner while “On a pole” (this time a forklift). Russo says he is amused by “pole matches” and thinks the average fan would want to tune in and see this wackiness unfold.

Lance Storm is booked to win the US, Hardcore and Cruiserweight titles all at once. Vince is stunned that Storm buries him today after giving him this big push.

The Insane Clown Posse is given a WCW tag title shot. “They were entertaining!” ICP would hang around all day with the wrestlers and then disappear when they were scheduled to wrestle.

David Flair and Stacy Keibler had a wedding on Nitro, which featured Ric Flair returning. Why have 5* matches when this brings in eyeballs our subject asks.

Wrestling bookers drop angles because they aren’t writers like Russo. (We all remember his cohesive storylines…)

Ric Flair was booked to be the father of Stacy’s baby originally (the angle was blown off by Stacy revealing a baby carriage full of pictures I believe, having faked the whole thing.) Additionally, it was discussed that Ric Flair would be revealed to also be Stacy’s father so David and her would have been banging as half brother/sister and Ric would have impregnated his own daughter. Vince Russo everybody.

Anyone can be turned heel, but they have to want to be a heel or the angle wouldn’t work.

Russo booked himself to become WCW World Champion. “No one would see it coming”. Vince says it popped a rating. Russo complains that Goldberg stiffed him while spearing him during the finish and it scrambled his brain again. “My win was a story, I laugh at all these marks who bitched about me winning the title.” Russo wrote himself out of the storylines almost right after.

Russo skipped the WCW tour of Australia for a MLB game and that was the end for him in WCW.

Terry Taylor and Johnny Ace took over as head bookers. Russo went to some brain injury specialists and didn’t watch the product.

Russo kept getting paychecks for many months after WCW went out of business.

“How I did all that damage I supposedly did to WCW in only 9 months is impressive.” I’ll let that quote speak for itself.

Vince Russo was a playable character in the last WCW game.

Russo never wanted to book wrestling again, and only did so because Jeff Jarrett had his own company.

Disco Inferno’s comedy booking ideas are discussed. Vince says the workers are too wrapped up in their fake sport to understand entertainment.

Scott Hall would get messed up at TV tapings.

Bobby Heenan being drunk on TV is discussed. Russo defended Heenan because he remembered Bobby in his prime. As soon as Vince left, WCW benched Heenan.

Vince closes by saying he felt the WWF had peaked when he left and so he went to WCW for the challenge.

Russo denies McMahon kept his angles in line and he was fine-tuned not edited by Mr. McMahon.

McMahon wanted Russo to put the WWF in front of his family time on his priorities list and that made Russo know it was time to quit.

WCW was killed by the WCW executives, not the talent and not the writers.

He has no fond memories of his time with WCW.

The marks try and ruin Russo’s legacy because we are mad that he changed the business that they loved.

Final thoughts:

A LONG interview and if you’re able to hold in your bile, perhaps one worth watching….if only to witness a man in denial contradict himself over and over again. Perhaps I should suggest keeping a punching bag nearby to allow a safe expression of your angst over Russo’s stupidity and gall. In closing…Fuck Vince Russo.

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

3 Comments

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  1. Seems you’re pretty biased but I gotta defend Russo. Did he have dumb ideas? Absolutely. Did he hot shot the titles? Damn right. The goal of wrestling is TO GET RATINGS AND PPV BUYS. That is IT. Nobody cares about the number of **** matches a guy has if he doesn’t draw a crowd. Same reason for other pro sports but smarks tend to ignore that basic concept. Wrestling is a business first and foremost. An entertainment business beyond that.

    Think of any mainstream star wrestler and they were always an entertainer first in the minds of the AVERAGE fan. Now could some of those entertainers go out and entertain in the ring and put out memorable matches? Absolutely but too many smarks equate workrate with character and personality. Benoit and Malenko were two of the best wrestlers technique wise in America but both got overshadowed by Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle, and Rey Mysterio (in WWE at least).

  2. I gotta defend Brody defaming Russo. I agree with the jist of your statement and I think Russo does get a little bit of a bad rap on some things but if wrestling is about ratings and PPV buys then Russo’s an unequivocal failure because of his runs in WCW and TNA. I just got done reading his second book on his WCW run (stay tuned for a review at some point on here…) and while I think he was hamstrung a little bit by standards & practices, a lot of his ideas on “saving” WCW were bad before the powers that be got their paws on them.

  3. Actually I like Russo and especially his WWF stuff, but I think he has a misconception. He thinks only because pro wrestling is fake (and it is, no doubt), he can do anything. For example Star Trek is also fake, but Picard would never say: “Well, we will fly now with warp 100 because this series is fake anyway.” Every tv show, as fake as it is, has to stay in it’s rules and pro wrestling is pretending to be a real fight sport and in a real fight sport like UFC or Boxing, there would be no way in hell that a non athlete will get a title. On the other side I’d rather watch ten times Undertaker vs Mankind HIAC than Alberto Del Rio vs Sheamus. 😉

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