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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Vince Russo: The Man, The Myth, The Legend
July 25, 2005 by Matthew Edwards


When I first started watching wrestling when I was around five years old I was drawn in by the larger than life characters. Characters like the Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan and the ever-charismatic Randy Savage made me watch with intent. As I became older and realised wrestling was "fake," more and more characters started to appear and the more colourful they became.

In 1998 when I was eleven years old, wrestling to me became my life and couldn't wait for Friday nights to watch RAW IS WAR. Viewing for this programme was essential and for the seven days following each episode all I could think about was would happen the next week. In school all I would talk about was RAW IS WAR and was proud of being a wrestling fan. I know I'm going away from the title of my piece but all this (in my opinion) was down to Vince Russo.

Vince Russo was the (then) WWF's head creative writer and responsible for some of the greatest angles and characters in the history of wrestling. Characters like the Undertaker, Mankind and Shawn Michaels are just a few Russo has worked with and penned angles for. After taking WWF to the summit of the wrestling business, Russo then jumped ship to rival promotion WCW. At first I was excited about this, and thought could Russo do the same for a different company. When Russo joined WCW in October 1999 I watched that more than WWF. I had done the unthinkable, I had jumped ship, I felt a part of it all.

In my opinion from October 1999-November 2000 WCW was really good, exciting programming with things that had never been seen before. You know that's what gets me at the time; people said they were sick of all the same angles and matches yet were the first to criticise Russo and his doings. Plus all of the supposed bad things WCW did during this period weren't entirely his fault, or not his fault at all. Between October and January 1999-2000 the powers-that-be angle was good stuff. Then when Russo left in January WCW became the old boy's brigade again until he returned in April. When he took sole charge of WCW in July 2000, in my opinion, WCW was really good, with some exciting talent. A mixture of veterans and newcomers made it all the more entertaining. Russo left with concussion syndrome in November 2000 and never returned and we all know what happens next.

Now here's where the piece really begins. Vince Russo without question is the most successful and best wrestling booker in the history of professional wrestling. I'm sick of all these so called "real wrestling fans" who just want 30-45 minute matches when they were the ones hooked to WWF in 1998 and 1999 when it was just basically a soap opera. Vince McMahon needs to pull his finger out and give Russo one more chance to change WWE around. People need to start pointing out all of Russo's positives instead of reeling off his negatives all the time.

by Matthew Edwards..


Troy Tollison wrote:
Wow, this article makes no sense at all. First you put Russo over as basically being the whole reason WWF was successful. Yes you are correct that he worked with names like Undertaker and Shawn Michaels but he was by far NOT responsible for their success. I don't ever recall anyone saying that Vince Russo played a big part in making them a star. Second you say that all of the bad things that happened in WCW weren't his fault. Yet you don't even remotely back it up with any specific situations at all, you just assume that the statement alone makes it true. I on the other hand can give you one huge mistake that was completely his fault and shows what a bad promoter he is: making David Arquette the World Heavyweight Champion. Their is not a single person on the planet that can say with a straight face that this was a great idea. The really sad part is that it was done to promote a movie that had pretty much the entire roster in it. Almost needless to say, the movie flopped and the World title lost almost all its meaning in the process. Just from that incident alone I can't believe anyone can say "Vince Russo is without question is the most successful and best wrestling booker in the history of professional wrestling." You want people to point out all of positives that Russo has done for wrestling, well maybe you should think about why no one does. It's because their practically aren't any. And the fact that you yourself couldn't even come up with any actual examples either shows it.
Garrett wrote:
Vince Russo best booker ever" ya cause i mean giving the world title to David Arquette on Thunder was great. I mean here is a guy who is not a wrestler and his tag parter, who has been trying to get the title his whole life, DDP, just lets him win the title. That is the dumbest thing that has ever happened on wrestling. Add that to screwing over Hogan, Viagra on a poll match, G.I. Bro, pushing Jarrett, bringing back the NWO for the 8th time, Making fun of JR, stripping everyone off the titles so that there could be a bunch of tournaments at the next PPV, making Flair look like an idiot, and giving himself the world title. Those don't sound like good booking decisions to me. He got another chance to and all he did was make TNA worse by putting him and Dusty Rhodes on TV all the time. But I suppose that you think Dusty is a good booker to" If killing companies makes you the best booker in wrestling then ya im casting my vote for Russo.
Chris Petta wrote:
As a wrestling fan for more than 14 years I completely agree with this article. Vince Russo, is one of the best if not the best writer wrestling has ever had. WCW could have been turned around when Russo was involved but thanks to the "the real powers that be" we never saw it happen. Russo made me actually want to watch WCW, The New Blood angle could have worked on so many differant levels. There where so many stars in that company that we never saw. Personally I dont know why Vince didnt give Russo more of chance in his second run with the company because after they removed Paul Heyman from the creative team, Smackdown! really took a dive. I believe that if Vince Russo was put in charge of the Smackdown storyline we would have a show that is ten times better than RAW. When Vince then ventured into TNA I followed. Ok yes ill admit the storylines where not that great, and im still trying to block"THE JOHNSONS" out of my mind, but it was solid wrestling and we saw creation of new stars like AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels. Russo knows whats good for the business, and TRIPLE H isnt it. Vince McMahon need to realise this and bring Russo back in, and stop letting Trips and Stef run the show, because they will be the death of that company. The WWE creative team is so tapped out for story lines that they are just repackaging old ones with new characters. Honestly if i see one more pregnancy angle end in a fall down some steps im going to loose it, if i see one more pregnancy angle im going to loose it period. What it comes down to is that wrestling needs Vince Russo, Vince McMahon needs him, and the WWE needs him.
C. M. Latsha wrote:
I believe that The Death of WCW is the best discussion of Vince Russo's WCW years, and anyone who read that has a pretty good idea of the character and bookings of Vince Russo.

R. D. Reynolds and Bryan Alverez (authors of Death) contend that Russo worked well as a booker in the then-WWF because he had another Vince controlling him. Say what you will about McMahon, when he focuses on wrestling (which hasn't been bad since the draft), he is pretty much the best. Thus, with Russo's creativity, and McMahon keeping his feet on the ground, the pair was awesome.

However, when Russo went over the WCW, he had no one checking him and his ideas. He therefore went hogwild, doing stupid things like screwing over Hogan, Viagra on a poll match, G.I. Bro, pushing Jarrett, and bringing back the NWO for the 8th time.

To be fair, Russo and Bischoff might have had a good thing going with the new blood and the millionaire's club, but it was just too little, too late. The fan base was lost (which was fault of more than just Russo [Bischoff, Hogan, Kevin Nash, et al.]), and WCW was bleeding money.

Had Russo been reigned in early in WCW, good might have come of it, but since that was impossible, disaster was at the door. No one knew that at the time (least of all Russo), but it was simply another nail in the coffin.

Russo doubtlessly had very little controlling him in TNA, and since Hogan would not come over, that hurt TNA's reputation.

Simply put Russo was a man who did much good for wrestling, but also much harm. To pretend that he's the sole reason that all went wrong in WCW is a sham (I myself put most of the blame on Nash and Hogan), but to imagine that he's one of the great bookers of all time is just as ludicrous.
Mattmosesg1 wrote:
I don't really have anything to say but in response to Garrett......I loved when he screwed over the Hulkster it was one of the best shoot moments in wrestling history! it was so great to see someone put that no talent Hogan in his place! I will agree that Vince Russo is an idiot though and I am sorry to say that he works for TNA now because I am hoping for good things from that CO.
LanceCrucifix wrote:
Ok, I'm gonna have to agree with alotta people, Vince Russo, has killed alot of careers, and promotions, but lets put it this way, Russo did the things that no one wanted him to do, and everyone tuned in to watch him fail, but at the same time, he succeeded. He drew the fans in, even TNA, TNA has become boring, and stale.(Last time I watched, I ain't downloading the webcasts.) But when Russo was in charge, Russo made everyone hate everything he did, except one thing, giving AJ Styles title shots up the ass, let's face it, you take away Styles' flips and he is nothing, simmilar to Rey Mysterio. Vince pushed The Naturals and he pushed AMW, Vince had the right mind to make Abyss what he is, Vince also made entertaining storylines in TNA, until he was informed that he would be losing his job to Dusty, when you hear that, you really don't have much Morale left, now do ya" But all in all, Vince Russo, isn't the most succesfull booker, but he made you watch WCW. And the David Arquette thing, while very dumb in many many ways, didn't you watch it to see him lose it, and he took a guy that had nothing to do with the Wrestling bussiness and istantly got him over as a heel...
Navinder Panesar wrote:
erm wow we are not talking about the same vince russo i am thinking of are we. because vince russo had very limited powers in the WWE when he worked there and he didnt really do much contributing to the success of WWE but when he was fired i think it was from the WWE he went to WCW and told them that he was responsible for all of the success that the WWE had so they t5hought that they had to hire him. But What did he do.......he ran the company into the ground and eric bishchoff has said a million times that he wished he never hired vince russo. this article was not reaserched very well.. and you say to focus on vince russos positive features...well i and the rest of the world can say that the list is too damn short to read. he almost killed TNA by putting himself and 'The Fat Man Himself' Dusty Rodes on the screen all the time which seemed so pointless untill Tna Fired Him... So I Must Ask You If Hes Getting Fired For Making Such Stupid Decisions ........How Is He A Legend..the only myth about him is that he knows how to run a wrestling promotion through the ground
SAMEER KAUSHAL wrote:
Vince Russo was at his best in WWE and his worst ever in WCW .but we can not over look his accomplishments He had a lot to do with the rise of WWE in the late 90 s and he created characters like Austin,Triple H,Mankind and gave some great storylines along with Vince McMahon.so we should give him credit where he deserves.As far as WCW is concerned it was a sinking ship and being Russo on it or not does not matter and it had sink any way because of guys like Bischoff, Hogan, Kevin Nash and Creative control over characters .By the way WCW programming was dumb and just shit from October 1999 to November 2000 .Russo had nothing to do with The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels as they were way before Russo s time.So Matthew baby do some research next time before writing an article .
John Asplund wrote:
Garrett, let me ask you something. What was wrong with Russo pushing Jarrett" At THAT time Jarrett had skills, he wasn't just talking sh*t in the ring like he is now on TNA, because he wasn't owning WCW. I remember him having good matches, like the ladder match in Starcade 1999 and the match with Booker T after the "screwing" of Hulk Hogan in Bash at the beach 2000. And now I get to that. In my oppinion Russo did the right thing. Hogan had obviously become so full of himself because of the Creative control clause that he refused to let new guys rise and shine. So there was a need for someone, in this case Russo, to put him in order. Hogan isn't the "great all-american, good hearted" man anymore. He's just another money hungry jackass with a lust of big money. Too bad he couldn't realize it by himself so Russo had to step in. I don't say that Russo was the best booker of all time, but he had some concepts that could've worked out, if they had been made with more concentration and thinking. But so it goes, WCW is dead, Russo is on his own.
Michael Scott Stone wrote:
There's no questioning that Vince Russo had some success as a booker. But let's not forget that shortly after Russo took over WCW, the WWE took a stranglehold on the Monday night wars--not only defeating the then-hapless WCW, but completely engulfing it. You can call the Russo-era WCW exciting all you want, but let's not kid ourselves...of all the men he recruited as members of "the New Blood," name one that made a significant name for himself. Billy Kidman, maybe, but he's pulling pud in independent shows now. Russo was also the man that was supposed to put an end to Ric Flair. At the time I'm writing this, the Nature Boy is the WWE Intercontinental champion. If Russo was half as wonderful as you claim he is: A) WCW would still be in business, and B) I wouldn't have to ask where Vince Russo is now. I, personally, had never heard of Vince Russo before he came to WCW and probably won't hear his name associated with anything signifcant now that WCW is a thing of the past. Calling Russo "the most successful and best booker in the history of professional wrestling" is like calling Vince McMahon the most successful and best investor in the history of professional football. Here's some ideas for your next article: Tommy Rich--longest NWA world title reign ever, Dusty Rhodes--best looking abs in wrestling history, Hillbilly Jim and the science of mat-wrestling. If you can find facts to support Russo being "the best booker" ever, these topics should be no problem at all.
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