Before the rant starts, I'll just say thanks for your reply, because you obviously know what you are talking about more than most of the Russo haters who run their mouths on here.. but here is my rebuttal to some points, and some further points..
I'll agree that the product was a little less chaotic after Russo left, but that's what I like about his style. It's blink and you'll miss it, which means you aren't flicking forward through shit, which has been the case for the majority of wrestling (especially these days)
If by "blink and you'll miss it" you mean often incoherent drivel aimed at the ADD-impaired audience, i'd be inclined to agree. What Vince Russo tried to do was capitalise on the 'Shock Television" trend in America at the time. It worked brilliantly, but that doesn't necessarily make it great writing.
I don't buy the filter argument either. It's just a line Cornette came out with in a shoot one time, and it seems to have built a momentum on its own since then and is often used as a reason to excuse Russo of any valuable credit for his success writing the Attitude Era. My logic is, if Vince is such a genius filter, then why hasn't he "filtered" some of the horribly shitty stuff we have seen in the past 10 years?
It's not just a line Cornette came up with, Vince Russo himself admitted to this in shoot interviews. He basically ran his stuff by McMahon and McMahon would make subtle changes Russo called "nuances" Russo himself called this McMahon's genius to basically take his ideas and make them better. As for Vince not successfully filtering his shitty television years later, i'd probably credit this to Vince hiring a bunch of Monkey writers that had conflicting ideas in the storyline's direction. I'm sure that gave even McMahon himself vertigo. This, and the fact that he wasn't pressured into fighting a Mammoth like WCW breathing down his neck every week
You've gotta remember, the entire concept of "attitude" was Russo's idea.. yeah, one that was strongly influenced by the direction of WCW at the time, but he was still the one who had the balls to make Vince completely shift WWF's direction and look where it got them.
Yeah it was Russo's idea to go in that direction, but he didn't make McMahon do anything, the ratings did. McMahon basically took a leap of faith and went the ECW route.
Then people give shit for Russo "Killing" WCW.. simply not true and I wouldn't even lay the blame on Bischoff either. WCW was on its last legs before Russo even got there, which was a result of multiple higher-up's over the years who didn't even have a clue about the culture of wrestling. The money men. Turner's suits and AOL Time Warner.
People that solely put the blame on Russo for killing WCW are idiots. Vince Russo wasn't in charge of management and the in & outs of the company, if the heads at Ted turner are stupid enough to allow two writers to come in and kill their company then they're to blame. No, Kevin Nash and Bill Busch did just as much to sour that ordeal, let alone the fact that Eric screwed up his only two genius creative ideas (Goldberg and the NWO) with shitty booking decisions. By the time AOL pulled the plug, there was nothing left of that shithole. Despite all this, Russo's writing at the time wasn't exactly what i'd call compelling television, more like stupid breaking the fourth wall trash that didn't make any sense. Everyone involved contributed to making that place a giant mess.
People say WCW under Russo had shitty writing, but to me the October 99-January 00 period of WCW was exciting as hell. I wish people would take the time to go and watch that whole period and just enjoy it. Yeah, it's vastly different to the wrasslin' we're presented these days and have been presented in the past, but the unique chaotic style is pretty much exactly how Raw 97-99 was written too and people don't give that shit. They say it was the best ever.
I don't think it was very exciting at all. It had potential to be, but the storylines turned to dog shit faster than a side kick to Bret Hart's head.
So what's different between those two periods? A couple of extra mid-card angles slipping out from the depths of Russo's brain that may have pushed the boundaries too much? Well that stuff was already on Raw.. like someone mentioned earlier: choppy choppy pee pee. Too many face and heel turns? Too many swerves? That's the same stuff that the people loved on Raw.
Difference between WCW and WWF was the management. Vince couldn't afford to let Russo's shitty ideas fly, and he didn't . Aside from the strong infrastructure, the Shock Television at the time was needed for WWF to differentiate themselves, and they had the talent to do it. By the time Russo got to WCW, that shit was wearing thin and he tried to beat WWF at their own game by outshocking them at a time when the WWF moved on from this and were on to bigger and better endeavors (excluding the XFL). Total overkill.
WCW 2000 is a whole different beast, but you can't blame Russo solely for that and there was still a lot of good stuff in there. They had lost a lot of top main eventers and were in a transitional phase, pushing younger guys like Booker T, Steiner and Double J up to the main event (yeah, Russo ALWAYS pushes young talent, another thing the IWC should love about him). All great talents, but didn't have the history and sell-out factor that guys like Hogan could bring. It was kind of like the position WWE is in right now, in where they are trying to establish a number of main eventers at once (Punk, Sheamus, Ryback etc.).. except we never really got to see it play out, because the suits kept pulling plugs, until finally, they shut it down.
Look, I have great respect for Booker T, but in no time did I ever buy him as a legit potential main event draw at that point. Seemed like Russo was backed into a corner and threw spaghetti at the wall until something stuck. It just so happened that Russo loved working with the young guys to his credit (not that he had much leverage with the veterans since most of them hated his guts and thought of him as a complete hack). As for him having a few decent storyline ideas. Sure, but would you drink out of the Punch Bowl if someone came in and took a massive dump in the middle of it?
Which is why I find it ridiculous when people give Russo shit for putting the belt on himself. Nobody complained when Mcmahon had the belt in WWF, or when he won the Rumble. And seriously, Russo as an on-screen talent was the BEST thing on Nitro around that period. All he had to do was walk out to the ring and the crowd would be giving him the kind of heat that CM Punk would be jealous of. And no, it wasn't "go away heat".. remember, this was just at the turn of the millenium, back before fans were truly smart to the business like the majority are now. He had legit heat, and that's why he was positioned as a main event talent.
That's because McMahon was a fully fleshed out character at that point, perhaps the greatest heel in history, it was a shocking twist and he relinquished it right after. Russo on the other hand was just a writer that didn't really turn any heads during his stint as a heel, and i'm sure most people in the audience struggled to figure out who this Roody Poo was and why the hell he was taking up tv time every week. I don't know if he had any go away heat, but i'm almost certain that he was getting alot of discombobulated heat. What DID get the "go away" heat from me was the Brawl 4 All concept that was basically rendered pointless once Dr Death injured himself
And what else did he do? He wrote worked shoots and tried to bring an element of realism to the product. The SAME EXACT THING that EVERYONE loves about CM Punk. But when Russo does it it's "exposing the business." He was trying new things, trying to revitalise a sinking ship.. what did you want him to do, keep booking old school style feuds and let the ship sink further?
Adding a bit of realism to your show is great, but you need to remember that this is the Pro Wrestling business. People watch it to be entertained, not to be constantly reminded that the product is fake and how cool the writers are to break kayfabe. Less is more, not words that Russo seems to live by
ALSO, Russo wasn't the only guy writing at the time of the 2000 run. He was on a committee with various other guy, including Bischoff who he often butted heads with. Russo is a perfectionist and definitely works better with one other co-writer, rather than being a part of a larger writing committee with clashing ideas (see the difference between TNA 2009 and 2010). This is the whole reason modern WWE sucks.. it is a mesh of different visions and ideologies, so one moment we can be witnessing something awesome like Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena, while moving on to Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler match #546, with no storyline or angle in the next segment
That I can agree with.
How's that for a wall of text?