During a recent appearance on the “Insight with Chris Van Vliet” podcast, Vince Russo discussed his booking career, how the wrestling industry has changed since the Attitude Era, the perception of him booking too many elements on pole matches, and more.
You can check out some highlights from the interview below:
On how the business has changed: “It’s all about the fake match and has nothing to do with the characters and the story. I mean, that’s it bro, you know, back in the day going all the way back to Bruno man. It was all about characters and story. That’s what draws the casual fan. Wrestling matches don’t draw a casual fan, that’s why I did crash TV. Five to eight minutes, the matches are over, boom, boom, what’s next, boom. You turn it on today then the main event of Raw starts at 10:30. Bro, if I’m not a wrestling fan [of] in-ring action, I’m not watching it, because the reality of the situation is whether we want to believe it or not, fans of the in-ring action, that’s a very niche audience. That is a very niche audience. That’s why I knew when I started writing it WWE, bro, I had to open that up. Because if you didn’t like wrestling, you weren’t watching the show. So, how was I going to get people to watch the show? Real simple, create characters that they fell in love with and they were emotionally tied to, and then give those characters story, because now you gotta you got them hooked now they gotta tune in every week. All that is gone, it is non-existent, and my thing is Chris, I don’t think I would have such a problem if they just changed the name, don’t call it wrestling, call it performance art, or call it something else.”
On the theory that Vince McMahon sent him to WCW to tank their ratings: “Here’s the insanity. Anybody, and obviously, I would not be saying this, if I were not telling the truth. Anybody can look at WCW ratings, and they can look at the first three months before Vince Russo got there. Then they can look at the first three months when Ed Ferrara and myself started tearing down the building and building a new foundation. When you look at those first three months, bro, the ratings are going up. The ratings were working, our plan was going according to exactly what Ed and I discussed. We gotta erase everything they’re doing. We’ve got to build new people, we got to build new stars. It was working perfectly. Then of course, bro, politics played its ugly head. I went home, you know, they brought in different people. In the three months that we had built, after three months, bro, they had brought it right back down to where it was before we got there. Thus, they called me back. Vince, we need you to get back here. Honest to God. At that point, when I went back, I knew we lost the audience. I knew there’s no way we’re gonna get the audience back. We had them, we were building for three months, then they went backwards three months to the same crap they were doing. It’s done, it’s over. Obviously, I had to go back because I was contractually obligated. But I knew at that point, bro, we’re not going to get these people back again.”
On the perception of him booking too many items on a pole matches: “That’s folklore bro. I was in the business, I started writing about I’ll roughly say 1996, I went to 2012, that’s 16 years. A lot of that 16 years bro were two shows a week, plus pay-per-views. Okay, I dare anybody in those 16 years with all those shows I wrote, I dare you to come up with 10 pole matches. I dare you bro. I dare you. You can come up with about three because that’s what I remember bro. I remember green slip on a pole match. I remember Viagra on a pole match. Mrs. Bagwell, Judy Bagwell technically was not on a pole, she was on a forklift, and what was what was after that, go ahead. Maybe it is more than three. I just said there are three to me that immediately come to mind, but come on bro. Again, they love creating the folklore. We’re going to create folklore, but here’s the problem, bro. When you go to anybody that really cares enough and goes back and does the history, it’s all there, bro. You will find out what is truth and what is false. Bro, if I booked all these pole matches, I have no problem saying that. Why would I [care], I don’t give a crap, bro. I’d have no problem saying it. But what I’m saying is, bro, it’s not what you’ve created over the years.”
On his worst booking idea ever: “I’d rather try something new than repeat a match we’ve seen a billion times before, that’s how I am. I’d rather try something new then just go back to the well a million times. The Dog Kennel from Hell is probably number one, and I’ll tell you why. Chris, I swear this is the God honest truth. I think of the concept because The Boss Man, our story revolved around the little dog Pepper. Okay, so I thought of the concept but in my head, in my head they are attack dogs, you know, they’re police dogs, the teeth are out and saliva is coming out and they’re circling the ring, that’s the picture in my head. So now bro, I’m at the building and they bring the dogs in and [someone says] Vince here are the dogs for the match. I walk over to look at the dogs and bro, the first dog licked my hand. And I’m like, bro, I never thought of what if they’re not attack dogs? What if they are pets? you know what I’m saying? Like that’s exactly what happened bro these were the lamest, laziest [dogs]. I swear to God, and like I said I 1,000% blame myself for that because I never took that into consideration. I’m literally convinced these are going to be attack dogs. So, since they weren’t, that actually sucked.”