So I finally read the Death of WCW about two weeks ago. Afterwards, I started thinking about all the idiots that ruined WCW, one of them being Russo. Over the years, I've heard and read many people in the business bury him, but I realized that I couldn't remember all the criticisms, critics, and sources. So, I decided to do some searching on the many critics of Vince Russo and put them in this thread.
Also, if anyone wants to post something positive that someone in the business has said, go ahead.
From Eddie Guerrero’s autobiography; pg. 195, beginning of Chapter 26:
Russo and Ferrara were under the misconception that gimmicks and bad comedy vignettes were the answer to WCW’s problems. Nitro became even more of a mess than it had been in Bischoff’s final days, as Russo and Ferrara tried to pop the ratings with endless series of stupid angles, swerves, and what they thought wrestling fans wanted to see most—gimmick matches.
For whatever reason, those guys were total marks for pole matches. They’d put anything on top of a pole—piñatas, knuckles, a crowbar, a lethal jacket, Buff Bagwell’s mother. My personal pole match fiasco had the Revolution locking Billy Kidman’s girlfriend, Torrie Wilson, in a shark cage. Then Perry Saturn challenged me to a match, with the key to the cage on top of the pole.
I was supposed to save Torrie by grabbing the key and winning the match. But the finish was a total mess. I had put on too much baby oil before the match, and the combination of baby oil and sweat all over my arms and chest made it impossible to climb up the damn pole! Every time I tried to get up there, whoosh, I’d slide right down. Oh shit, I thought, what am I going to do now?
The other Filthy Animals started panicking and tried to help me. I pushed Konnan off. “Don’t worry, I’ve got it” I unintentionally piefaced Bully Kidman. “Fuck off! I can do it!”
Finally I leapt for the key, and thank God, I didn’t miss. I would’ve been so screwed! That was one of those do-or-die moments when you do whatever it takes to make the match work.
By this point, I had figured out what was becoming obvious to everybody—Russo and Ferrara had no idea how to save WWE. The back-stage politics might have improves under their reign, but the product continued to suck.
From Chris Jericho’s 2nd autobiography in which he describes "writing" his own promos:
I spent weeks writing my debut promo, and afterwards I kept writing my promos unassisted, only going over them briefly with head writer Vince Russo before each show. I decoded it would be a good idea to go into full-on creep mode and insult the other superstars in the WWE, accusing them of being boring and only half as talented as me. I was never really given a specific directive to insult people, but knew that my character thought the company was boring and stagnant, and I was there to shake things up. Russo, listened to my ideas and told me, “Great, go with it.”
After each promo I didn’t get any feedback from Russo (or anybody else), so I figured that meant everything was good. I was intimidated by the aura of Vince McMahon and I never asked him what he thought I should do, even though in retrospect that would have been a good ideas. Wrestling is like a giant high school clique, and if you’re the new guy who comes in looking different and acting different, you’re going to get blasted for it—mostly behind your back. With zero allies in my new company, I had nobody to stand up for me when my back was turn. Even worse, because I didn’t really ask Vince or any of the boys for advice, I came across as an arrogant prick who thought he knew it all. Unbeknownst to me, I was stockpiling massive amounts of nuclear heat in the process.
Jericho on Russo’s problem with writing his character:
Looking back now, I think one of the biggest problems I faced at the beginning of my WWE career stemmed from that fact that Vince Russo loved the character I played in WWE. He loved my cowardly heel comedy schtick and wanted me to continue in that vein. I played that character in WCW because I wasn’t getting any attention from the office anyway and had nothing to lose. In the WWE main event world, money players couldn’t be comedian or cowardly all the time, and I had been brought in to be a major player. Major players have to be believable, and in Vince’s mind while there can be elements of comedy to them, people have to believe they can kick somebody’s ass. Russo didn’t see things that way and kept booking me in all these preposterous WCW-esque situations.
Jericho on Russo leaving WWE for WCW:
A few weeks later on a chilly fall afternoon, I arrived at the Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey and found out that Vince Russo had quit the WWE and jumped to WCW. It seemed like a huge blow to the company at first because he took a lot of credit for being the main architect of the Attitude Era. But Vinny Mac and the rest of the front office weren’t so worried because they knew that wasn’t the case.
I asked Pat, “What do you think is going to happen?”
“I’ve seen them come and I’ve seen them go, it doesn’t make a difference. As long as Vince McMahon is here, it’s going to be okay. No big deal.”
But it was a big deal to me, as Russo was the one who had brought me into the WWE and was my biggest supporter in the company. He was the middleman between Vince and me. The guy who constantly backed me up when Vince thought I wasn’t good enough to cut it. Russo believed in me and treated me with the respect of a top guy.
Now he was gone.
Sure, he dug me into a bit of a hole with all of his preposterous cartoon ideas. But at least I had a story, a presence on the show and a raison d’être. Things in the WWE were already bad for me as it was, but now I was really up shit creek—and my paddle had just floated away to WCW.
Bruce Prichard on Vince Russo from around 2010 (http://www.wrestleview.com/viewnews.php?id=1282843530):
Tensions amongst the WWE Creative Team while Bruce was with the company & why he feels Steve Austin deserves the credit for the success of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin" (and not Vince Russo):
"There were times when you just had to buckle up & go; there was always tension. Once it got past that initial creative discussions, then you had to go sell it to talent, and then you had to get talent to go out & deliver your vision. I listen to guys all the time, and one of the things I always get amazed by is when different people & guys who have written or booked in this business take credit for something the talent does. There's a guy over in TNA (Vince Russo) who has taken credit over the years for the creation of 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, The Rock, & people like that. At the end of the day, the guy who deserves credit for 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin is Steve Austin. He went out & delivered. Steve went out, and he was 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin 24/7. When Russo used to write up all these scripts, Steve would look at it, crumple it up, & throw it in the trash. Steve would go out, and he had a rapport with Vince McMahon, and he used to come to me and say 'I wanna say this.' I said 'Hey man, that's life, so if you wanna take the ass-chewing when you get back, do what you think is right.' After a while, Steve gambled, and went out, and he did what he thought was right. He had an ear, and he knew what was working, and what they buying & weren't buying, and at the end of the day, it may not have been the ideal creative situation that was created, but Steve made it his own, and made it bigger than anything that's ever been done in the business. Without talent, you can have the greatest creative in the world...if they can't deliver, it doesn't matter."
Rise and Fall of WCW featuring Goldberg, Mysterio, Dusty Rhodes, Malenko, and Anderson (start at 3:19):
Dave Meltzer on Russo booking Arquette as champion:
Schiavone said if half joking and half serious. Russo thought it was brilliant. It was 100% Russo's call to do it.
Meltzer on Russo and Ferrara leaving WWF:
I just remember when Russo & Ferrara left WWF, there were people who considered the loss of Russo as, well, not significant, but not insignificant either. Ferrara was considered a joke, like "look who they overpaid to get who never had a clue."
Meltzer on Russo's booking against Gabe Sapolsky's booking:
"Which concept is closer to what makes money in 2006?
Russo's or Sapolsky's.
Sapolsky books a company with no television exposure that is profitable, which isn't easy in the modern wrestling business.
Russo's lone success came 1997-99, with a Hall of Fame talent crew that ended up being more successful in 2000, and peaked in the spring of 2001, long after he left.
Times change. Hanging onto crash TV would be like saying Pat O'Connor should be exhumed and worshipped because he booked St. Louis successfully, not recognizing he had a Hall of Fame talent crew and one of the best promoters ever who was truly steering the ship. Sound familiar, by the way.
I have no doubt Russo made very positive contributions by shaking things up. But they didn't stand the test of time. You can go through history and see hundreds of bookers who had great two year runs and burned out and never had success again. Plus, while Russo was a big part of WWF's success, he was far from the only part. Jim Cornette was a major part of the booking team through the early part of 1998, and 1997 was the year that set the stage for the comeback. The Hart Foundation-Austin feud that set the stage for the comeback was largely the brainchild of Bret Hart, with Vince and everyone thinking the idea of a Canadian heel being a babyface in Canada and the Americans being heels week-to-week was insane. The Rock was going to be a superstar no matter what, and Rock gives far more credit to Brian Gerwitz and Chris Kreski as writers than he does Russo. Austin was already running before Russo got there, and Austin has no respect for Russo. HHH and Undertaker were strongly negative when Vince McMahon considered bringing Russo back, and basically got him nixed. If the guys who he supposedly made stars don't have a high opinion of his work, what does that tell you? All of those guys will praise Vince McMahon, and will praise the other wrestlers on top in the mix when it got hot.
He didn't learn new tricks and to this day doesn't even realize that nothing works forever, and is just trying to recreate basically a short hotshot period. Every booker does this. Watts had so much success with JYD that in every booking run, he tried to find a new one. But in the end, today, he'll admit with the benefit of hindight it was JYD that was what worked, and not the concept of JYD. Just as The Rock worked, but not Buff Bagwell, Sonny Siaki or Booker T playing The Rock, all of which Russo tried and failed with.
Russo failed in 1999 with WCW
He failed worse in 2000 with WCW
TNA was a money pit in his multiple booking runs before this one
Not all of this was his fault. However, Sapolsky was put in a position, starting out an ambitious indie group, where 99.9% of people, including Russo, in the same position with the same money to work with, would have failed within three months.
Russo then tried Ring of Glory, which is a direct comparison with ROH. Different style, but an indie group with a specific theme. He lasted a handful of shows and went nowhere and created zero new stars. Sapolsky during the same time period with the same or less access to name talent lasted almost five years and basically handed TNA every star it has that wasn't created in the major leagues.
For booking in 2007, do I want someone whose booking was successful in 2006, or in 1999 and flopped five times, some of them among the worst flops in recorded history (WCW in 2000 was the worst flop year I can ever recall and he wasn't the only reason for it, but he was in power for several months with business falling consistently)?
Besides, if you know guys who work for both TNA & ROH, and I talk to a few pretty regularly, not one isn't begging for Sapolsky to get the TNA job.
There is a reason Joe showed up at a house show with his knee injury a few weeks back and said, "Sorry for not being able to wrestle. On the way here I tripped over some bad booking."
This isn't about match quality or what you prefer. This is about proven results in this decade."
Bret Hart on Vince Russo’s “writing” in WCW from his autobiography:
At WCW, we were hanging on for dear life trying to put over Vince Russo’s weird story-lines. Russo thought his storylines had a lot to do with the WWF’s rise in the ratings war, but he didn’t get, and never would, that the best wrestling needed at least to pretend to be real. He had grand plans for me—as a heel. I told him the sympathy factor for me was too strong to pull off a heel turn, not to mention that I’d been turned so many times already. He still wanted to do this big angle on Nitro where I turned heel on Goldberg the day after Starrcade ’99 in Toronto. I hated it all, but I was so angry at McMahon that I hoped Russo could bring the company back to life with his radical soap opera booking.
Bret Hart on that time that Russo’s writing nearly killed a 2nd Hart:
The next day in Salisbury, Maryland, for Thunder, I told Russo that I was badly hurt from Goldberg’s kick and that I thought I might have a concussion. He still wanted me to work a match with Benoit, with Jeff Jarrett coming out to double-team him. Goldberg would charge out and spear Jarrett while I fled the scene with cameras following and Goldberg coming after me in hot pursuit. I’d race to my rented Cadillac, which would be parked on the back ramp with the keys in the ignition, and just as Goldberg reached my car I’d zoom out of the building. We’d go off the air with a seething Goldberg punching out the windows of a limo, a sharp steel gimmick hidden in his fist.
While Russo went over everything, I reasoned (in the foggy way a concussed person reasons) that I could do all that easy enough. All I could think about was getting home for Christmas. That night I had a good solid match with Benoit, who did his best to take it easy. Jarrett came out and then the one-man tank, Goldberg. When Goldberg speared Jeff, I ran down the aisle, jumped in my car and floored it out the back ramp just as Goldberg caught up and pounded furiously on my car windows. What nobody noticed was that as I pulled out, my car hit the icy pavement and I skidded out of control, having had no time to put on a seatbelt, so there I was with a concussion, barreling head-on towards a huge TV production truck! I thought of Owen in that instant. What would the world think if I got killed plowing my car into a TV truck for some stupid stunt? People would say, “You’d think Owen’s stupid brother would know better than that!”
Luckily the tires hit a patch of dry pavement and I burned rubber past the truck to safety. Even with my head full of fuzz I was plenty pissed off and came steaming back to blast Russo, but I completely forgot about it when I saw a worried Goldberg holding his arm in the air with blood pouring everywhere.
In Houston for Nitro on December 27, I went looking for Bill Bush and Vince Russo. I could barely remember Christmas, despite how crappy it was. I still wasn’t sleeping well, and my head was pounding with the constant pain in the back of my neck. I told Bush: “I’m not a stuntman, I’m a pro wrestler, and from now on everything I do needs to be done in the ring.”
They both apologized profusely for the circumstances that put me in the state I was in; yet not ten minutes later, Russo told me that he needed me to drive a giant monster truck over the top of Sycho Sid’s rental car, with Sid in it! As out of it as I was, I looked at Russo and said, “Are you guys for real? I just told you that I don’t do stunts. I’m a goddamn wrestler.”
On top of everything else, Russo was putting me with Jerry Flynn, an ex-kickboxer with limited pro wrestling ability. That night, while brawling out on the floor, Flynn leaped up with a spin kick and hit me so hard in the guts that I crumpled to the mat. I struggled to recover because either I had to or take more of the same.
I finished the match, but I wondered why WCW thought the best way for me to get through my concussion was to work with a stiff rookie. Then I watched a fully loaded Cadillac with eleven miles on the odometer get crushed by the monster truck—all for a thirty-second ending to Nitro. Stu would’ve cried if he’d been there.
He says some more stuff about Russo, but they’re mostly a sentence or two surrounded by him talking about wrestling with concussion problems. I could extract them, but I think everyone gets the picture.
Roddy Piper on Vince Russo:
To all wrestling fans world wide:
As time has gone by I have sat on the sidelines watching Vince Russo destroy, not only the sport you fans love, but the lives of many wrestlers by putting them out of a job with no where to go and no way to feed there families. I have heard, and watched how Russo turned on Hogan, leaving one of the greatest of all time humiliated and treated with no respect for a man like Hogan who we all, including myself, know has given tremendous contributions to our sport. I know I have said negative remarks about Hogan, however, I have wrestled him so many times I can get away with it. But Russo has not earned that right. I understand that I have offended the wrestling fans with an interview I did on NWA-TNA on December 4th. Please let me explain exactly what I was trying to do.
As I have gone through the United States over the last thirty days, I have seen the most wonderful fans coming up to me and begging for somebody to do something about the state of wrestling as they missed the days that they had spent with their father watching it and how they long for the day they could watch it with their child to see the magic in their eyes while they enjoy the sport that their father and their grandfather watched, creating a bond from father to son, second to none. The last two days of my tour I had to drop the bus off in Nashville, TN. Being in Nashville, a person brought me a tape of the NWA-TNA. I sat down and watched this tape only to see Vince Russo using language that would embarrass a sailor and daring anyone to try to stop him from changing professional wrestling/ sports entertainment “Vince Russo style”. I spoke with an NWA-TNA official who explained to me that their format was a total “shoot” format, with nothing written, and they also expressed a yearning for traditional professional wrestling that we all used to love. So I say to you fans, I will tell you my thought process and hope as you read it whether you agree or not you will understand at least that my intentions were pure.
After watching the tape by myself, I sat on a couch and started to recall all of the people Vince Russo has destroyed. Why was this man after killing one of our greatest wrestling institutions, WCW, still being used in any kind of way in our sport? So, I thought that by all of your feelings that you had told me that somebody had to take the first step. As the sport of professional wrestling gave me not only a life but my family, I am eternally loyal to the business of my profession. So I decided to see how good Vince Russo was and where he was coming from. I asked permission to have a forum to express my feelings and the feelings of every wrestling fan I have run into about Vince Russo.
This is exactly how it came down:
I was told that I would have approximately five minutes to air my feelings and I must first take responsibility for what I said as the NWA-TNA was completely innocent of any wrongdoing. I was supposed to be by myself at which time I was going to do a five minute interview trying to bring attention to the plague that follows the real-deal professional wrestler who is still working under contract and not allowed to speak freely. As the interview progressed, I turned around and there was Vince Russo, standing in the corner, legs crossed, as cocky as he could be. At this time, I didn’t know if I was being set up or not. It was explained to me that it was a shoot forum, so I got literally nose to nose with him and gave him a chance to my face to tell the world not only his side of where he is coming from for the betterment of our business, and giving him a chance as he was the writer in the WWF when Owen Hart tragically died to give not only me, but everyone watching, a chance to get to the bottom of what really happened. I asked him if he was responsible for Owen’s death. What I meant by this was, since he was writing at the time, was it his idea, and if it was his idea, was he aware that Owen was afraid of heights and was he aware that Owen was thinking of quitting as he did not want to do this stunt. If Russo had answered the question, which I gave him time to do, he could have cleared it up. However, he said nothing. Then I asked him and I quote, “I need to be a gentleman about this, what is it you are trying to accomplish?” No answer again, except Russo saying to me, “You’re a moron,” at which time, nose to nose, I slapped him upside his head and the man did not move. Then came the Harris twins. At this time, I had no idea what was going to come down. But interestingly enough, when the Harris twins got to the ring, Russo was pretending to be held back as he wanted to get to me. Wait a second folks! I was just nose to nose with him, slapped him upside the head, if he wanted to get to me I think that would have been the opportune time. That in itself speaks for what kind of man Vince Russo is. I understand that the wrestling internet is admonishing me thinking that I would use Owen as a tool to draw money and/or sell a book. This media had such a small audience that it would not be the forum that I would use to draw money nor after doing the Associated Press and 102 other interviews this month. I ask you a simple question: Why hasn’t somebody else stood up like a man and confronted this fellow, who is killing wrestling and will in turn kill all the internet wrestling websites as if he is allowed to go on, you people will have nothing else to write about. I refused any money in any way and I have no intentions of ever coming back as my life is going on past the wrestling world. I understand that the internet wrestling site run by Dave Meltzer and the site run by Wade Keller have been bashing me as hard as they can. However, Dave Meltzer when he allowed me to be on his show, called back to my tour manager Dave Penzer as it was the highest rating he had ever had. So that didn’t seem to bother Dave Meltzer, however, I must point out to the public, that now Dave Meltzer and Wade Keller have written in their newsletters, the same newsletters that they tease on the front of their website for you to buy, the account of last night’s interview. So, these fellows instead of just telling you fans straight up what’s going on, they make you buy it on their newsletter. Now, my point is, the ones that are bashing me are the only ones that are asking money to tell about the accounts of death and destruction in my business. What’s wrong with this picture? I know what I said may have offended you, but I needed to get everyone’s attention as there are a lot of people who talk about doing things, but very few people actually do. Knowing Owen, I did take some time to think of what he might have thought of what I was about to do, and I sincerely believe that he would have said not to let his life go in vain. My intention was to save the wrestling business, not to harm it. If you have any questions or opinions, address them to www.rowdyroddypiper.com
ASAP and I will be more than happy to answer them or have a web chat, whatever it is you want. I do realize this also, that if it wasn’t for the very fans that are mad at me now, I would not have a life. So I care a lot more about you than you think I do, I guess I just go about things a little different, as you will see in the PiperView shoot interview. To sum it up, whether it was an angle or a shoot, “For those who believe no explanation is needed, and for those who don’t, no explanation will do.”
Here's a video of Piper's shoot on Russo:
Buff Bagwell on Russo:
"Buff Bagwell did an interview before the PPV with Alex Marvez. Regarding his attempt over the summer to go to the WWF, he said that on the New Blood Rising PPV, Kanyon was supposed to beat him and take Judy Bagwell as his valet. He said it was Russo's idea, (and) that nobody but Russo liked the idea. He said he asked Kanyon 'Are you sure you want my mother as your f---in valet?'."
- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 06, 2000
Jim Duggan on Russo:
“Egomaniac. I think he took a lot of credit for turning WWE around,” said Duggan. “That’s how he got into WCW. Like he had saved the WWE from WCW. You know WWE is a lot like Mid-South was. You know Bill Watts would Ernie Ladd, Bill Dundee and 3 or 4 other guys give him ideas. But, Bill Watts would make the final decision. Same with Vince McMahon, he makes the decisions up there. Russo was just one of the guys that gave him ideas to turn that company around. Of course him coming down to WCW and that’s what I don’t understand. If a guy takes WCW with unimaginable resources and flushes that down the toilet, why would someone at TNA give him the reigns down there? That doesn’t make any sense.”
Dutch Mantell on Russo:
I would post stuff from 'Death of WCW', but I would have to post whole pages. Also, I didn't post anything from Cornette or Lance Storm because I assume a lot of people already heard/read their criticisms of Russo.