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OO INTERVIEW FLASHBACK  
Talking to Vince Russo 
June 21, 2002

by Downtown Dave Richard 
OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Note: This was a phone interview done Wednesday, May 3, 2000.  

DTD = DownTown Dave 
VR = Vince Russo

DTD: So you would say the David Arquette scenario was more for publicity than anything else?

VR: I would really say that it is half publicity and half storyline because it's a big part of the storyline. Right away, a lot of people think that this is a hotshot type of thing. It's not. Believe me, with the PPV this Sunday and Nitro the next night, it is a big piece of the WCW Storyline, so I would say 50/50 to be honest with you.

DTD: Bret Hart recently did an interview where he mentioned along the lines of it being a disgrace that Arquette won the World Title. How do you respond to that coming from one of your biggest stars?

VR: I know how Bret is, and Bret takes this business very seriously. Bret's roots are in this business. Bret is a traditionalist and I understand that, but Bret looks at the business one way, Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff look at the business another way. That doesn't say that Bret's is right or wrong or that we are right or wrong, it's just that we have different opinions of the business. I respect Bret's opinion but it doesn't mean I have to agree with it. But I don't have a problem at all with it because that's Bret's honest opinion.

DTD: After Arquette won the title, I heard you on wcw Live saying that the belt is nothing more than a prop, and like you said, part of the storyline. But on Thunder there was a 20 man battle royal where the winner gets a title shot. If the title means nothing, why the battle royal?

VR: Well because again, it's part of the storyline. "We" didn't make that match - Ric Flair did. It all makes sense and is all part of the storyline. So you've gotta look at the show and that situation in context and once you do, it will make perfect sense.

DTD: Ok, so the idea is for viewers to just stick it out and see where it's going?

VR: Yeah, and that's the thing. Eric and I have both put some time into this business. I think we know what we're doing and if we put the title on David Arquette, it's obviously going somewhere, it's part of a story that's going to make sense in the big picture. And I understand the negativity, but it's ok because they're talking about WCW and they also have no idea of where the story is going.

DTD: Do you think that some people may have lost a little faith in you because of the whole Arquette situation?

VR: I don't know if they've lost faith in me. From day one, I've said I am a storyteller. I write stories. I did it in the WWF and I'm doing it here. I've never put the WCW title on a pedestal like Bret Hart does. I've never done that. I'm an entertainment writer and I write stories. So I don't think it's anything out of character of what I have done in the past. Give me the benefit of the doubt and at least let's see where this is going because obviously it's going somewhere. I respect this business greatly, but what the die hard wrestling fans also need to understand is that the casual fans and fan base that we need to grow, they don't take this business as seriously as the die hards do. So if I'm a casual fan and I see a USA Today and right there is "What? David Arquette, star of Scream 3, won a wrestling title? He's gonna defend it tonight at 8pm? I might tune in to that." So our audience isn't just the hard core fans - we've gotta keep them happy, but we've also got to bring new fans into the fold, and that's what we did in the WWF. A lot of people disagreed with the T & A, but you know what? T & A is what brought all those people back into wrestling who just weren't watching the product.

DTD: I wanted to talk about a previous interview you did on WrestleLine. Here's a quote: "All that I am trying to do from a television-writing standpoint is give the masses what they want. Now, I'm not saying give the smart wrestling fan what they want, I'm saying give the masses, and that's my job." Is it possible that you've been concentrating too hard on fooling the internet smarts and media that you're totally confusing those who don't frequent the web? How many people do you think make up the internet fans and smarts?

VR: That's an interesting question because that's a very small percentage. Very small. 5 percent, maybe, and that's probably a high number but you can't underestimate that and let me give you an example, and this is what a lot of people don't understand. Take my son, for instance. He's a wrestling fan. He's on the computer, he's on the internet. He goes into wrestling websites and he finds out all the scoops. He finds out what happens on Thunder before Thunder even goes on television. He finds out that Vince Russo had a fight with so n'so in the back, but he gets all this info. Now this one kid, 13 year old Johnny, goes to school the next day, and there are 10 kids in his class that are wrestling fans. So now, in order to be the big kid on campus, this kid turns around, and smartens the other 10 kids up about what he read on the computer. The number is much bigger than just based on those people who have computers. Understand what I'm saying? I don't feel that I write anything towards the internet. I like to write wrestling angles that are based on reality. Real life. I think there's a confusion between the internet and reality. I'm not just focusing on the internet, I'm focusing on reality. And I'll go out on Nitro and I make comments about how much I hate Jim Ross. I'm not doing that for the internet, I'm dong that because I hate Jim Ross. So I think people are confused by that. I'm just trying to pull as much reality into the product as I can because the more real I can make it, the easier it is for people to buy into it.

DTD: Are you moreso part of the show now or still more part of the preparation, the writing, of the show? Where is Vince Russo more important - on the show or creating the show?

VR: I really think it's both. I think my value is in being on the show. If I can make people hate my guts, that's important because then I can help to get other guys over. If I'm the boss and I am cocky and I think New York rules and everyplace else sucks, and people hate me, that will enable me to get people over. I think that is extremely important not only for me, but for Eric as well. Eric has already pinpointed DDP and Hogan. I went on the other side and have a thing going on with Flair, a thing going on with Luger. We kind of got Kronic off and running because now they "want to kill me." So I think it's important for us to do what we can in front of the camera if that will help us create guys and get guys over. And of course, writing the stuff is no doubt my #1 priority.

DTD: Do you think you'll get a pop when you go to New York?

VR: I don't know. I'm looking forward to it, I'd be lying to you if I told you I wasn't. Whether they cheer or boo, I don't think it matters. What matters is if you're getting a reaction because you want the fans to react to you. Now that means that you're tapping into their emotions.

DTD: One topic that was brought up the first time you took over in wcw was "will Vince Russo show his face on TV" and you never did. Now you're back and you're on TV all the time. What made you change your mind?

VR: I'm going to be totally honest with you, I don't know if a lot of people think I am who I portray on television. There's a fine line between arrogance and confidence. I don't think I am arrogant. I don't treat anybody differently than anybody else, but I am extremely confident in what I can do and what I can bring to the table. Before Eric and I came in, WCW was dragged through the mud. There were a lot of people who I cared about in that company, I'm talking about the boys now. Boys who went to bat for me and followed me over from the WWF, a lot of people that I cared about that went through hell for 3 months. These guys went through hell because of three individuals, whose names I won't mention, who only cared about themselves. It was a power play, they wanted to get themselves over, even if it meant at the expense of the company - it was them first, the company second. Because of those three individuals, every single guy in that locker room paid the price, their careers were almost killed. When I came back, I wanted to do so much for these guys because they went to bat for Vince Russo. I wanted to do so much for them and Eric said 'Vince, you've got to go on TV." It dawned on me then - if Ric Flair can take Vince Russo and put Vince Russo through a table, and if that's going to help WCW's ratings or if that's going to help Ric Flair get over, or help the comapny in anyway, then I'm gonna do it. So I then decided that I am going to do whatever I have to do and whatever it takes to make this company successful again. And yeah, I've said on numerous occasions that I wouldn't go on the other side of the camera because I wanted to focus my time behind the scenes and make the boys the best they can be. But right now, I want the company to win so badly, that if it means putting my body on the line, I'm willing to do that.

DTD: Are we going to see you take bumps anytime soon?

VR: Absolutely. No question. I've never done anything like that before, and maybe I am out of my mind. I have three kids and a wife, but you know, that should show people just how committed I am to this product and this company.

DTD: How did the boys react you putting the belt on Arquette?

VR: It's funny. The guy that it was the most difficult to break the news to was Jeff (Jarrett) because we decided on Arquette that day at the arena. Jarrett was originally supposed to go over. Let me tell you how it went down. Originally, the night before on Nitro, we booked that cage match. So I said to Eric "We're going to the PPV, and no one thinks that DDP is going to win this match." With that kind of thinking, I said "that's every reason why we should put the belt on Page," and that's what we did. The following night, we were going to have that tag match, and basically Jarrett was going to get the title back. So I sat down with Eric again and I said "Well wait a minute, the whole idea about putting the belt back on Page was to be unpredictable. Now we're going to turn around tonight and do exactly what everybody thinks we're going to do, and that's put the title back on Jarrett. We can't do that!" So at the building, we came up with the Arquette scenario. So it was difficult for me because Jeff had already thought he was going over. So I had to go to Jeff and say "Jeff, sit down, I've got to lay something on you." He laughed because he knows me, and he trusts me because he knows I was successful before. So Jeff really didn't have a problem with it. So then we went and we told Page. But we also told them where this was going and said "look guys, we have thought this out." So once we laid out the whole story for them, they were cool.

DTD: OK, how did some of the younger guys take to it? Guys that had been working their butt off recently when Busch was in charge like Vampiro, Wall, Three Count?

VR: Well that's the whole thing. You said "push." I don't think it's about the belt. It's not about the push, it's the opportunity, and look at the guys who are getting an opportunity right now. So I really don't think any of those guys had a problem with it because they didn't think of it as "Arquette is getting the belt." I think they looked at it as part of the storyline. These guys are happy because they are getting the opportunity, and I don't think that getting an opportunity has anything to do with winning a belt. It all depends on opportunity - getting a storyline, some character, some direction, and somebody handing you the ball. It's happening with so many guys in WCW, so I don't think there are too many unhappy campers.

DTD: In your opinion, did Mike Awesome leave ECW the right way?

VR: In my opinion? No. For the record, we did not go after Mike Awesome because never in my wildest dreams would have thought that this guy wasn't under contract. I've seen his work and I've always liked Mike. We got word that Mike was interested in coming here. When we found out he didn't have a contract, we were all over it because I wanted Mike here when I found all of that stuff out. The one thing I would have done differently that Mike did, but I understand why he did it, I wouldn't have no-showed those shows. I would have went, but again, it was a very difficult situation for Mike because he's got a family as well, he had no idea what he was walking into. If I'm a guy and I've got a wife and I might be walking into a hostile enviroment, I might think twice about doing it myself. So I can't really say whether I would have done it or not. As far as him coming here and wanting to work for WCW, I don't have a problem with that at all because the bottom line is that business is business. Paul E. should have had this guy under contract, and it's not my problem that he didn't.

DTD: What's your take on how Awesome lost the title to Tazz and how the WWF used it to help push Tazz?

VR: Well basically, I was happy about it. I'm starting to see signs of Vince McMahon sit up and take notice that we're running WCW and things are starting to happen. He's done a few things that have shown not that he's panicking because he's kicking our ass right now, but clearly he has showed us that he is going to try to nip things in the bud as quickly as he could. So when I heard that the deal was made with ECW and Tazz, that showed me that Vince is now paying attention to WCW. And one thing I can tell you about Vince firsthand, when you rattle Vince's cage, when you get under his skin, sometimes he has the tendency to not act rationally. Sometimes he has the tendency to do things that he normally wouldn't do. He's got a temper. Sometimes he has that tendency to not think things out but rather go with a certain direction because he's pissed off. I want to get Vince McMahon in that mode because when he's in that mode, he's not at his best. I've seen him in that mode, and I've seen him make a million mistakes. That's the exact mode we want to get him in right now.

DTD: Do you think that's why Steve Austin got brought back at Backlash?

VR: No, not only that but that's why Mick Foley came out of retirement. When he retired, he was done. I know Mick very well and when he said that his last match on PPV, that was his last match. The last thing Mick wants to do is... he really cares about the fans probably more than anybody else I have ever met in my life. However, when we came back, Vince McMahon made Mick a one night offer that he couldn't refuse to make him a part of WrestleMania, and it was because of Bischoff and Russo. He brought back Austin because of us. He did the Tazz thing with Mike Awesome because of us. That's what people don't understand - we did a 2.5 this week, and maybe it was doing a 2.5 during the Kevin Sullivan regime, but the bottom line is, right now, Vince is throwing the kitchen sink at us. He's trying to put us out of the game as quickly as he possibly can. All me and Eric are interested in doing right now is two things: number one, putting on the best show we possibly can, and number two, staying in the game. So even if the rating was a 2.5, the difference is that it's a 2.5 with Vince McMahon throwing the kitchen sink at Bischoff, Russo, and WCW. So right now our goal is to stay the course, and stay in the game, and that's exactly what we're going to do. 

DTD: It's been stated that wcw will allow this new era a substantial amount of time to succeed in the ratings. If the ratings continue to be way below Raw, at what point do you think wcw will consider this "new era" a failure?

VR: I'll tell you, if it was me running the network. I'm going to go back to when I got called into Raw when the rating was a 1.9, and I left when the rating hit 7 at times. That did not happen overnight, it happened over a 2 and a half year period. Realistically, WCW won't get into the game, won't even be close, and when I say close - I mean 2 ratings points. We won't get there within the next year. I can tell you that right now. It's going to take one year to get into the game. It's that simple. If WCW management can't wait that one year, that's fine. They run the company, they call the shots. But I've been through this when we were the underdogs and getting our butts kicked, and I know that fact is that we're not going to get into the game for another year, and that's the fact. I don't have a problem with that. If there are people that are impatient, then hell, they can pull the plug in another three months if that's what they choose to do.

DTD: Why were you let go before after three months? Any chance it was because of the reformation of the nWo?

VR: No. Not at all. It was totally political. The first day I stepped into WCW and I started working, it was totally political, and I'm not talking about the boys at all. My relationship with the boys from day one was terrific. Great repoire. I'm talking about management. Unfortunately, I was reporting to a guy who was being influenced by all this and whitewashed, and was literally being worked. He got worked to the point of making a real bad decision. I was never let go - you've gotta understand that the last rating before I came in, the Kansas City Bret/Benoit show, the rating was a 2.6. I started the following week. Three months later, my last rating on the show was a 3.4. The rating in that time span was only under a 3 twice. So I had gone from a 2.6 to a 3.4 in a 3 month span. One day because of the "politicking" I was called into Bill Busch's office and I'm told "I've decided to take a change in direction. I want you to be part of a committee. We're not going to do sports entertainment anymore, we're going to do wrestling. We're not going to be concerned about the ratings anymore, we're going to be concerned in wholesome family entertainment. So I turned around to Bill Busch and I basically said that as far as being a part of a committee, I will never as long as I live, be an equal to Kevin Sullivan because creatively, Kevin Sullivan cannot shine my shoes, and that's a fact. Bob Mould, who was a personal friend of Bill Busch's, and had never been in the wrestling business, I was now being asked to be his equal. Well Bob and I aren't even in the same galaxy, plus the fact that I was brought in because Bill Busch knew my style of writing, he knew it was entertainment. I was brought in for the ratings and my contract was based on ratings. So when Busch laid this out for me, I looked at him calmly and said "If you were to have described this job to me when you hired me, I would have turned it down, because I'm not interested in this. You just laid out a pain that is going to fail, and I did not come here to fail, so I'm not interested in that." And that was it. People had worked Bill Busch into this position, even though the ratings had gone from a 2.6 to a 3.4 in less than three months, he had to make a change in direction. Well they made that change over the next three months, and that is currently the hole that we are trying to dig ourselves out of.

DTD: Ok, so it also wouldn't have to do with Starrcade on you first stint with WCW, where you wanted to have that battle royal and name Tank Abbott the new WCW Champion. Where were you planning to go with that? Do you think that even contributed to them saying "well, the ratings aren't doing that much better, it's time for a change in direction?"

VR: Well, would you consider 2.6 in 3.4 in three months not that much better?

DTD: That's better...

VR: Well I'm just giving you fact now, you can go back and check. I think that's amazing.

DTD: Yeah, I know that, but I don't know what the people in wcw were expecting in three months.

VR: That stuff had nothing to do with it - it really didn't. I don't come up with anything that's like real simple. There's a method behind the madness and there's a real story that made sense. We had a Tank Abbott story and it made sense for all the right reasons in the world. Worst case scenario, if it didn't work, we'd have someone beat Tank Abbott in a week or two. Having worked in the WWF and having worked with a lot of the guys there, I had a background of who would get over as champion and who wouldn't get over as champion. One thing I can tell you, being in the WWF, and I love the guy to death, but when Sid was the WWF Champion, people never ever bought into it. PPVs were down. House shows were down. For whatever reason, people never bought Sid as a champion. I knew that from history. I don't know why they never bought him as a champion but they never did. That's why when I went through these different scenarios in my head, Sid wasn't an option because of his history in the WWF. If it couldn't be Sid, and Bret was hurt, there weren't too many guys you could put it on. I put on a scenario where Tank worked and it worked for a number of reasons and if it didn't work, just take it off him. No big deal. I suggested that storyline, along with some others. The reality is that it had absolutely nothing to do with what went down with me in the first place.

DTD: Getting a little more personal here, I'm going to read a quote from Sonny Onoo in a recent WrestleLine interview he did: "Tell me if it's just me? Russo came back two weeks ago right? Prior to that when he was gone... they did something with El Dandy and Silver King, Jung Dragons. They haven't been on TV since Russo's been back. Konnan's gone. Rey 's off TV. Psicosis? Where's all the Luchadores. They've been totally off TV. It's amazing to me - he practiced his racist view which he stated in [the WrestleLine interview] and they continue to let him do it." Any response?

VR: I've got plenty of response. As far as El Dandy and Silver King, I see absolutely nothing in them from a talent point of view. As far as the Jung Dragons, I can sit here and honestly tell you that the 3 months I was off, I didn't watch one Nitro show. I've never seen these guys. I don't even know who they are. Psychosis, who is a hell of a worker, he's also got a lot of problems with legal issues... there are issues with WCW legal and reasons why I can't use Psychosis. Now let's be realistic about this. Onoo's comments are so untrue, it's not even funny. Has anybody ever done anything more for Norman Smiley than me? The Cat, Ernest Miller, this guy, he's got to be in the top 3 of the best entertainers in the WCW. This guy kills me, he's a natural. I love him. It's a matter of coming up with the right storylines for him, which we're addressing right now. Booker T, I mean, my God, the guy has every tool in the world and we were getting into a program with him but unfortunately he got hurt by Mike Awesome, so we were trying to build him up. Who brought Ahmed Johnson (Tony Norris) back to the WCW? I did. I met with him in Houston, sat down with me, him, and Stevie Ray, and in 2 weeks the guy was back. Sonny Onoo making that statement, I know he's trying to build his case, but it's so ridiculous. My job is to make WCW successful and in doing so, I need to use talent that is over and talent that has the potential to be over so the fans will watch our product. Whether they are blue, green, black, silver, yellow, I could care less. If they are talented and people are going to care about them, they are going to have a role here, no doubt. One of the problems with Sonny Onoo with me personally is that he managed The Cat when I first came around. So one day, I'm at television, the first time I was there with The Cat. And he came up to me and he goes, "Vince, do you think Sonny Onoo is still going to be my manager?" I turned around to him and said "No. The reason being, you are probably the most talented talker and personality and entertainer in WCW. Why on earth would you needa mouthpiece? I don't want to hear Sonny Onoo talk, I want to hear you talk." And that was the truth. I've never met Sonny Onoo. Out of that, Onoo is trying to build up this racist case. The 3 months I wasn't at WCW, they didn't even use Norman Smiley. I used the guy because he's talented, he plays his character well, and people like him. Who do you think created Paisley? I put her in that role. I could care less what your race or religion is. If you've got talent, and you're gonna help this product, then you're going to be in the game. It's that simple.

DTD: What about nationality?

VR: What about nationality?

DTD: Well, everybody you mentioned as an example is black. Nowhere in there did I hear anything about Juventud Guerrera or Kaz Hayashi. I'm not an advocate of them...

VR: I understand that, I'll explain that to you. Who was the guy who made Juventud Guerrera a color commentator on Thunder?

DTD: You were.

VR: I was. You know why? Because Juvy entertains the hell out of me. I'm a mark for him, I go hysterical. Unfortunately, Juvy too has some legal issues that he's trying to deal with. Rey and Konnan, they just came back. Konnan was suspended, I threw that out the window. Rey can't come back because he's still hurt. I don't want to be misquoted now, I want to be careful about the way I say this. In America, it is extremely difficult to get anybody over. Right now, in this business, you've got to be 50% wrestler and 50% entertainer. You've got to have both or else you can only go so far. You've got to make the people care about you. When someone can't speak english, it's very difficult to make the American public care about them because they can't relate to them, especially when they wear a mask and can't see them. So, to me, that is the problem with getting the luchadores over. If they can't communicate with the American fans, it's very difficult to make the American fans care for them. It has nothing to do with racism or with me not liking these guys or having a hard-on for these guys. That's why a guy like Juvy works - at times, it's hard to understand but he can speak english and can talk to the public and make the public care about them. If you can't speak English, you're losing half the formula of what you need to get over.

DTD: Back to some creative questions here... who created the term "Millionaire Club?" Couldn't you guys have gone for something a little more interesting than that? Is Sid really a millionaire? Is Shane Douglas a "new blood?"

VR: You can't just take the words for what they are. The real meaning of Millionaire's Club is that's the group of guys that Eric Bischoff "made." The guys that Eric basically "lined their pockets with money." Is Sid a millionaire? I don't know what Sid is making, but Sid is one of those guys, and this is a fact, Vince would never take him in the WWF. Never again. Eric gave him a job. So the MC is the guys that Eric paid a lot of money to or gave a job to or guys that Eric did a favor for. The meaning of the New Blood is that these are guys that wanted the opportunity but never got the opportunity because they feel that those members of the MC were very protective of their spots and one way or another, found ways to bury these guys so they never got their opportunity or chance.

DTD: It's been kicked around that better names might be like "The Established Club," or "the Establishment," or "The Champions" or whatever.

VR: Yeah, I'm sure. You could debate that all day. I even think at one point, "Established" did get brought up. But it's how Bischoff threw out that first promo and talked about the Millionaires Club and all the money he paid those guys, so from there came the name.

DTD: It is my understanding that WCW is looking to bring in some shoot fighters.

VR: Yes

DTD: Why?

VR: It's part of an angle that's really going to be separated from everything else going on in WCW. Kind of outside of WCW.

DTD: Take me through a Monday, from morning to night, in the shoes of Vince Russo.

VR: I could tell you this week was kind of interesting. On Sunday night at 8pm, I met Vampiro and Sting in a graveyard, and we were in that graveyard til 3 in the morning. I had to get up at around 5:30 to leave for Nitro. It was the first time I rode with Eric Bischoff with Eric Bischoff driving the plane, which was an experience, I was scared to death, but I wanted to show Eric how much I trusted him, so I went up. Eric actually flew us to Nitro. Basically, you're up at the crack of dawn, you're traveling. At Noon, you have your production meeting. That's where you have everybody in the production crew, the producers, the directors, the agents to the matches, the referees, the announcers, everybody is there that needs to know what's going on in the show. At that point, we go through Nitro from A to Z - we explain everything in detail and that usually takes an hour. We break at one and that's when we get together with the individual talents and we let them know the story, the verbiage that they're going to need, the angles and storylines and see if they want to tweak or do better. That whole time from one up until showtime is just preparation for the show and going over the details again and again and the interviews too. It's just really fine tuning the show. We go all night - what I usually do when the show is over and sit in the WCW Live internet room to get immediate feedback to really have an idea of how they liked the show. Then I'll get up early the next morning because usually after Nitro happens, even though Thunder is written, something sold differently or something bombed, so you always need to rework Thunder the following day, go to the building, and have the production meeting again, and then again just a full day of preparation. The hardest part of the job is not TV, it's probably when you come home because every Wednesday, Eric and I get together, throw out ideas of what the following week's TV is going to be, and then literally on Thursday and Friday I put the shows on TV, I add the bells and whistles. It's the longest and most tedious part of the job of all. There's real little time to get up and breathe. The boys are constantly calling you at home and they've got their ideas. It's non-stop.

DTD: How many people do you think try to pitch you their ideas and throw their 2 cents in on a daily basis?

VR: 10

DTD: Okay. Can I pitch an idea?

VR: Sure

DTD: Just to see how you react, it's a resolution to the David Arquette situation (covered in a previous column - solution #5).

VR: I think that's cool. I also think what we have and what's going to go down is creative, and it works. I really hope on the other side of this that people see it differently. Like I said, it's all part of a story. Everyone will know come Monday Night what happens.

DTD: People around the Net think that the WWF is trying to 're-teach' their fans about wrestling. Why have you chosen to have a lack of finishes in your matches so far?

VR: I disagree with that, I don't think there are a lack of finishes at all. One of the things we did a couple of weeks ago was said we're going to be a little more lenient with the rules. Let shit go. Let these guys fight, and the people want to see them fight. I think there's been a ton of finishes. You go back the last 2 or 3 weeks and see how many finishes and non-finishes there were.

DTD: When I say finishes, I mean clean finishes without Mike Awesome powerslamming Hogan through a table.

VR: I think that comment about the WWF re-educating their fans, that's totally B.S. You're seeing wrestling matches now in the WWF because there's zero creativity. There is nothing creatively going on whatsoever in the World Wrestling Federation. Not to toot my own horn, but the reason for that being is, a lot of that creativity came from Vince Russo, and Vince Russo is no longer there. Since I've been gone, aside from Stephanie and Hunter getting married, which I thought was great, I thought it was tremendous and did a good job in playing that storyline out. I cannot think of one other creative thing that they've done. I'm talking as a wrestling fan. So I don't think they're trying to re-educate anybody. I just think there's a lack of creativity right now.

DTD: Are there any WWF angles now that you can lay claim to? Like maybe you had an idea that was put into the vault or something.

VR: No, not really. But the characters you see now, every character and every guy that's over, I think I had a hand in helping make them who they are. As far as the angles, I wouldn't want to lay claim to any of the angles they have now.

DTD: Where's Ed Ferrara?

VR: He's working. He comes to TV and producing and writing interviews for television. He's not involved in the creative process before we get to television because right now I am doing that with Eric. I don't believe in a committee, you waste a lot of time in a committee because you've got to listen to a lot of ideas. I like working with one guy, and right now that one guy was Bischoff.

DTD: Did you always want to be a writer? Not necessarily for wrestling but let's say for television?

VR: No, I watched wrestling my whole life like everybody else and at an early age, I got it. I knew when I was 8 years old it was entertainment and it wasn't real. I always loved it for the entertainment aspect and the characters were bigger than life. The flash, the color, the excitement. That's never changed with me, it's what I've always been a big fan of. I've never necessarily had a goal of wanting to be a writer and wanting to do this - it kind of just happened.

DTD: Here's something that I want to know the real scoop on, and I figure I can get it from you. I want you to take me back to November, 1997, and the Survivor Series in Canada where really the face of pro wrestling changed in my opinion. We all know the history, we all know the story. You were there, so let's settle the score: what was planned and what wasn't planned, who knew what was going to happen, who didn't know, and what role did you have?

VR: To be perfectly honest with you, I was writing TV at the time. Actually, at that time it was me, Jim Cornette, and Vince McMahon. Vince had spent days on the phone with Bret trying to agree on a finish, ok? What the real story is, and this is even hard for Bret to understand, but this is the truth: at no time did we never trust Bret Hart. We trusted Bret. Vince trusted Bret. What we were afraid was going to happen is, if we didn't get the title off Bret, there was the chance of him showing up on Nitro with the WWF title the following day. It's not that we didn't trust Bret, we didn't trust Eric Bischoff because Eric is a shrewd businessman. At that time, as it is now, it was absolute war. Bret had already made the deal with Eric, he was already going, and we wanted to get the WWF belt back because if our champion was to show up on Nitro with the belt, that would have hurt the company and made the WWF and everybody in it look bad. That is the truth. For days, Bret and Vince tried to agree on a scenario and they couldn't agree with anything. So at Vince's house, we came up with the finish. I knew what the finish was, but I gotta be honest with you. We went to the Survivor Series that day. The entire day, I did not have contact with Vince McMahon. I did not speak with him the entire day. So honestly, I literally did not know whether he was going to go through with it or not. And he did it. The rest is history.

DTD: So Bret had no idea?

VR: Bret had no idea.

DTD: Do you think that was the right thing to do?

VR: Yes. That's another thing you've got to understand - I totally respect Bret Hart, and I respect the way Bret Hart feels. Vince McMahon at that time, he did what he had to do to protect his company. It wasn't to bury Bret or to hurt Bret. To this day, I agree with that decision, and a lot of people don't know this, but 2 or 3 days after I had a phone conversation with Bret. Bret and I talked, there was really no talking to him, but I told him that I respected him. I explained to him why it went down that way, and he could never see the other side of it. As the owner of the company, Vince did what he had to do to protect his company, and everybody in it. To this day, I still back up that decision. It's not a slap in Bret's face, we just both look at that situation completely differently. When I came into WCW, Bret and I sat down and that was the first thing that I did. Bret and I got everything out on the table, and even that day I said "Bret, I want to work with you, I respect you so much and we can do so much together, but we are always going to disagree on this." It's never really created any heat between and myself because I've always been honest with him about it.

DTD: Do you think Bret would have brought the belt if you had not have done what you did, even with the respect he has for the business?

VR: I don't know, but it was also at the time where Bischoff was doing everything to kill us. From an aggressive standpoint, he was eating us for lunch. He was running circles around us. At that time, we honestly felt that Bischoff was capable of doing anything, and that's what it was all about. It had nothing to do with Bret. The things Eric was doing at that time to make his side win. It wasn't wrong, he was playing the game and being aggressive and eating us for lunch, and we didn't want to give him that opportunity.

DTD: No hard feelings against Eric for that?

VR: Oh, absolutely. He's a businessman, he was doing the right things. I was admiring him for what he was doing. There was a time before I was writing television, I was so turned off to the WWF product, I couldn't even watch it. I was embarrassed by the product we were putting out. I was watching Nitro, I was a huge fan of Eric and the nWo. He was the one who really changed the business in a lot of ways. I would watch Nitro and we were 20 years behind. Eric did what he had to do in order to kick our ass.

DTD: Do you miss Vince McMahon?

VR: Yeah, I do. I miss him a lot. I don't want to say that he was a father to me because I don't want to make him sound like he's an old man, but I miss him and his family greatly. I cared about him a lot, I care about him to this day, I care about his family. I can tell you that I love the guy. That's the truth. But the kind of guy I am, I came to the WCW because I am a goal orientated person, I need to have goals in front of myself and I need to reach those goals. I love competition. I left the WWF, and I explained this to Vince, it had nothing to do with money. The main reason why I left was because I felt the WWF had peaked. I felt there was nothing else I could do. I felt that I had helped bring Vince McMahon and the WWF to a point where they were going to be set for a while and they could ride the wave and they were on top. In my last conversation with Vince, I even said to him, and I quote, "Vince, you have everything in place, you don't need me anymore." And the reason why I wanted to come to WCW was because, I knew where the WWF was, and I saw where the WCW was. As soon as Eric was let go, I had my eye on WCW, and I had my eye on them because of the challenge. Maybe part of me wanted to see if I could do this and be successful without Vince McMahon. Right now, the only thing between me and Vince is that he is on the other side. He's the enemy from a challenge point of view and my wanting to reach my goal point of view. It does not make me care about him any less, and I really miss the guy and I could pick up the phone tomorrow and call Vince, but I know that he feels the exact same way that I do. No matter how close we are or were, I'm on the other side now, and it's competition now. Unfortunately, that's just life, but I would never sit here and say I don't miss him and I don't care about him or his family.

DTD: Do you think he's a perfectionist?

VR: Absolutely. No doubt about it.

DTD: What I'm going to do now is give you some names, and you do word association, ok?

VR: Sure

DTD: Hulk Hogan

VR: Dedicated

DTD: Bill Busch

VR: He was way in over his head.

DTD: Linda McMahon

VR: It's hard to put a title on Linda, one of the nicest people I've ever worked with. In a business that is dirty, she is probably the most sincere person in this business.

DTD: Triple H

VR: Triple H is a guy that deserves every single thing that he has. He has worked for every single thing he has accomplished in this business. Nobody got Triple H over but Triple H. He is the one guy, you talk about work ethic, I've never seen anybody work harder than Triple H in order to get himself over to the spot he did. Triple H probably didn't have "it" if you know what "it" is, but he got to where he got because he worked harder than anybody else in this business.

DTD: Rob Van Dam

VR: I don't know Rob that well, but when I see Rob and I look at Rob, I think charisma.

DTD: Jim Ross

VR: He's a selfish, grouchy, son of a bitch, and I can't stand him.

DTD: Any specific reason? I mean he did things against you and was working against you, right?

VR: I've got a problem with people where it's all about them. I have a problem where it's all about them and the company is second. I have a problem when someone has their own personal agenda and the company gets hurt by that. He was one of those people, in my opinion, it was always about Jim Ross. I have a problem with anybody who's like that.

DTD: What about The Wall?

VR: Green. He's green, but he's full of potential and he's got a very long way to go, but he's got the potential to get there. He's also a guy that the reason why he's going to get over is because he listens and he wants to learn.

DTD: You don't think people are sick and tired of seeing him? He's gone through some costume changes and characters.

VR: Maybe they are, but that's not his fault. That's our fault, and we need to fix that.

DTD: If a wrestler, and I'm not saying The Wall, isn't getting anywhere, you're not getting the reaction you want out of him, how do you break it to him that you have to scale him back a little bit or take him off the air? Or is it even you that tells someone that?

VR: This is probably my shortcoming, I've never told anybody that, because when I see a guy who is really dedicated and really working hard, I'm going to do whatever I can possibly do to get that guy over. Maybe I go with a guy maybe more that I should, but I feel I should owe it to somebody when I see them working that hard. That was a difference between me and Vince. Vince did not have the patience I had and he wanted to pull the trigger a lot sooner than I did. If I see a guy busting his ass and hungry and wanting it, I don't want to pull the trigger until we absolutely, positively will never be able to get this guy over. That should be determined before any guy get on TV. Once a guy gets to TV, you should know that he has "it" to get over. A lot of the guys that you talked about, they would get eliminated before they would ever see television.

DTD: Last name on my list is Vince Russo

VR: I am a man on a mission. I love a challenge, and I want to win. When I am on your team, I'm gonna give you everything I possibly can in order to win and be successful. I'm not going to take any shortcuts or screw anybody. I'm going to do it by hard work, by being dedicated, and by being extremely confident. I've never screwed anybody or lied to anybody. I've got to where I am because I have busted my ass and I have literally given up my life, relationship with my wife and my kids for this business. I've done that because when I get into something, especially something I love, I get into it all the way. I also know that I can't do this forever. I owe a lot to my family and my window of being in this business is a short one, because it's going to get to the point where I've got to turn around and do the same thing with my family. Some people may view me as arrogant or hard headed, but it's confidence. I believe in myself and I can back up everything I say because I work my ass off and I don't quit until I accomplish my goal, and that's basically who I am.

DTD: When the time comes to step down, like you just said, what kind of person is going to replace you?

VR: Somebody who doesn't care as much as I do. No doubt about that. You can say whatever you want about me, but no one will care as much about the business and the boys in the locker room more than I do. That's hurt me a lot because I always put the boys first. I relate to them much more than I relate to the office. Much more. Whoever replaces me, I don't care who it is, they will never care as much as I do.

DTD: When you lay in bed at night, do you thank God for being who you are?

VR: No. Sometimes I think I'm nuts, doing this all wrong. Sometimes I ask myself "why am I so caught up in this?" the way I am. Is this a sickness? Am I making a mistake? Am I giving up things that really should matter to me? I ask myself a lot of questions like that. The reality is that it's in my blood, and that's what I do. Sometimes it's really hard to take the negativity when the fans get down on you, like when you read a Dave Meltzer or a Wade Keller and they pick you apart like a piece of garbage. I've dedicated my life to this business because I love it and all I am trying to do is put a product out there to make the wrestling fans love it as much as I do. That's all I'm trying to do. I go through a lot of punishment and I get beat up in trying to do that and a lot of times when I'm in bed at night, I ask myself "why?" I don't thank God because of who I am, because I am probably making a lot of mistakes.

DTD: What can we expect to see coming up on wcw television?

VR: You're going to see unpredictability and we're going to stay one step ahead of you and stay the course. There's no panic based on ratings, nothing is going to change based on ratings. We have a plan, Eric and I. We know this plan will work, and we know the most important thing is to stay the course and that's exactly what we plan on doing. In the months ahead, there's a lot of swerves and curves. There's a lot of good, creative stuff that is going to happen that people won't see coming from miles and miles away. Stuff we've already set up, it's stuff being set up right now that might not pay off for the next three to six months. The thing with the way I write television is, you can't look at a single show. This is a soap opera, storytelling. Something we do now will make sense three months down the road and if you watch the show every single week, you'll say "Oh, that's why they did that three months ago." I really think it's more of a thinking man's product, not just wrestling. Every thing, every detail, everything we do means something. If you're not putting the pieces together now, like I said, in 3 months or 4 months, all those pieces will come together, and I think that's something that the WWF lacks right now. For my taste, they're just putting wrestling matches out there. If I miss 3 weeks, and tune in again, I'm not going to miss anything. With us, if you miss something from week to week to week to week, you're going to miss something, and miss a big part of the big picture. I think if people watched our show, and gave it a shot, they would understand that there's a concept behind this. I think once they got hooked to it, they would get hooked to it like women who watch soap operas get hooked to soap operas. That's the way we write the show. We're not looking for that one time shot, we're looking to hook you. The only thing I could ask is: watch Raw, watch our show, then decide what you want to watch.

DTD: I have one last question, and I want a one word answer - do you know who's going to win the main event at Starrcade?

VR: Yes

Note from Dave: Russo never made it to Starrcade with WCW


  
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