It's not rare for a director churn out a good or even a great movie with average actors, so that's a bad analogy. Even in sports, we've seen Larry Brown's No-Star Pistons win a championship and make 2 trip to the finals. They didn't do it without him tho. Unlike Russo, he proved his value.
Just like Austin needs freedom do be Stone Cold, Russo needs freedom to be a writer. We can play that game all day. But what remains the same is that Austin and The Rock were very successful without Russo, while Russo became a joke in the wrestling community without them.
And lets get something straight... Russo was not even the head writer until the END of 1996. MONTHS after Austin 3:16 and the whole Stone Cold craze got started. Russo didn't start anything.
WWF started to win in the ratings war in the second quarter of 98, ironically within a week or 2 after Austin, the man who started the era, became the champ. So much for Russo being the key to anything. He couldn't get the job done with anyone else as the champ.
And I believe that they won the ratings war bcuz WCW shot themselves in the foot. I believe that WCW 96/97 is easily superior to any 2 year period of the Attitude era, so don't group me with the crowd that thinks WWF's attitude really beat WCW. IMO, 1998 was the weakest year for WWF between 96-2001 in terms of overall quality/entertainment and especially talent. WCW just beat themselves.
And the build for this years Wrestlemania is weak bcuz pg limits the talent quite a bit and The Rock, Brock, Jericho and Triple H are part time wrestlers... They ain't full time wrestlers so their drawing power will not come close to its peak.
And yeah, the pg thing really does matter. Raw's ratings didn't sky rocket as a pg show.
The example with the movies is more about your comment "his work in WWE was shitty but he had stars like Austin, Rock and Triple H to cover it up". You can have a good movie with average actors and a great script but you can't have a great movie with great actors and a horrible script.
And I disagree that it was more about WCW beating themselves than WWE delivering great TV, especially in 1998. Yes, WCW had many mistakes with the stale nWo, ruining Goldberg and not pushing younger talents but saying that is a little bit unfair. A worker against his boss was something never seen on this level (they were numerous authority storylines but nothing was so big like Austin vs McMahon), the appearance of Tyson brought the cool factor, new fresh faces on the top of the wrestling world like The Rock, Stone Cold and Triple H, crazy over the top stunts like Mick Foley at KOTR98 or Funk & Foley in the dumpster, Sable, Sunny and Marlena brought sex on TV like no female wrestler has ever did, especially in WWE and most Raw episodes had the TV14 rating. WWE looked exactly like the popular ECW, only bigger and better produced.
WCW was stale and made mistakes but WWE did a lot of work to win the ratings war.
The PG in this case (this year's RTWM) has nothing to do with it that we have 2 rematches and that 2 weeks before the biggest event of the year only 3(!) matches were official. The thing Punk and Undertaker did with the urn and Paul Bearer show that you can at least try to make a feud intense and personal even in the PG era
Look at the rest Rock/Cena and Lesnar/Triple H had each one interesting segment and the rest was meh, the rest of the card is utter crap. Punk/Taker proved that this RTWM could be better despite the PG rating and that big names means nothing when the WWE creative is terrible and that brings me back to that Russo played a big part in the AE despite big names who were not nearly as big in 1997