Wow, i'm not sure how long this will last, hopefully not all night since I have work tomorrow and Russo talk would have to take a backseat. I will say this right off the bat, I admire your passion about this guy. Not being a smartass about it ether, you've been presenting sound and fair arguments so far and i'm always up for this type of stimulating chit chat.
Shock TV meant just that, shocking, pushing the envelope. Tits, blood etc. That's neglecting to mention the fact the way Russo structures his TV shows, which is what I find most compelling about his style. You could find tits and blood and shock TV in WCW and ECW too, but I think what Russo brought that was unique to wrestling was the very fast paced, television style that defined the "Attitude Era" as it was. Not just the generic promo, skit, match, promo, skit, match formula - like wrestling was in the past and is today.
Structuring a television show was a given, writers are supposed to create compelling intermingling storyarcs. Vince did this well, but in my opinion Chris fleshed it out better. Russo built upon the foundation of his main characters, the core of what made Austin and DX work was their exuberant personalities, Russo had a knack for writing promos for certain wrestlers but for the main guys it was mostly off the cuff. he brought crash tv to the WWE, he did it well but lets not confuse Apples and Oranges.
He structured the show so it was, like I said, blink and you miss it, and that is where his genius is. He made every single angle on the show compelling, so you had to watch every minute of Raw. Promos blended into matches, which blended into backstage skits. Main eventers interacted with mid-carders and vice versa, giving a sense of realism - creating a universe. Rather than the cartoonish style stuff we found pre-Russo, and today in the PG era.
Well, that's a matter of opinion. Personally, I was bored half to death with half of what was going on in the midcard, with only the McMahon/Austin Rock, Mankind developements I really enjoyed, with 2/3rd of those truly becoming compelling in the second half of 1998. Hell, even Russo's vision for Undertaker's Dark Overlord shtick didn't do all that much for me. Main Eventers mingling with Mid Carders? Saw much more of this circa 2000-2001, most of what I remember from Russo's stint is midcarters being thrown into stables WITH a main event talent with little rhyme or reason, or he'd concoct storylines like Val Venis gets his dick chopped off or Marc Mero becoming Sable's bitch. That's not to say that it was all bad, if I remember correctly, the Hollies storyline started during the end of Russo's run and that's an example of something I enjoyed.
That's not what Cornette meant by "filtering", which is where the term goes back to. He meant that Russo would throw out a bunch of ideas, which Mcmahon always rejected. Perhaps that was true around the 1996 period, when the writing team consisted of both Cornette and Russo together, but from all accounts, when it was just Russo and Ferrara, they wrote the entire show themselves., Then, yes, Mcmahon added his "nuances" as Russo put it, but that didn't mean Vince is the genius creative filter that is needed to stop Russo's supposedly shitty ideas. It means he added the finishing touches, just like he does now and just like he has always done. Does that mean Russo needs Mcmahon? No, definitely not. The major difference between Raw and Nitro, outside of backstage politics and such, was the production standards, which is what gave WWE the edge towards the end of the MNW's, even when Russo was writing some good stuff in WCW 99. Also, the fact Russo had got the ball rolling in WWE, where they were unstoppable.
That's Cornette's word against Russo's, I see you're taking Russo at his word on shoot interviews which if fine, but McMahon rejecting a bunch of Russo's ideas isn't entirely a myth unless proven otherwise. McMahon had his own ship to run, he was wearing many hats, so he had to let some shit slide. lol If he rewrote everything Russo did then he might as well have fired him and took his spot.
I disagree with the production standards being the reason why WWF edged out WCW. Compelling characters, an extremely compelling storyline , brand recognition and WCW's stupidity gave WWF the edge in the end. The were more or less on equal foot in terms of production, but more care was put into WWF's due to Vince being hands on and basically eating/sleeping/shitting wrestling. WWF's promo packages smoked WCW's especially.
Yeah, the ratings did, because Russo wrote the cool and edgy shows that got those ratings. ECW didn't influence Russo in any way either, as he has stated many times before. WCW was a much bigger influence on him.
I wasn't talking about the ratings once they increased, i'm talking about when they were at an all time low. That's what prompted the change. I didn't say that ECW influenced Russo, but they took that route in the products becoming increasingly similar.
I think WCW was fucked up from a business standpoint, more so than a ratings/TV standpoint. A year before the company shut, and for the 3-4 months Russo and Ferrara were the sole writers of the show, they had the ratings up around the 3.0 mark, which is even better than WWE averages today.
Well, that's Russo kinda spinning it there. 3.0 during the Wrestling Boom period is nothing to sneeze at. What he failed to mention is that there were times during his stint that the ratings stagnated and dipped. 3.0 to me makes up Wrestling's core audience that usually remain faithful even when the product sucks. WCW was in horrible shape right before Russo got there. Jumping from the fire back into the frying pan is hardly an accomplishement. He had the talent to make a significant turnaround but he fucked the dog on this one. Yes, i'm aware of Russo's claim that the inmates were running the Asylum, but he still could've worked around that. A matter of opinion, but I found WCW unwatchable at that point, and I don't entire blame Russo for this.
Online wrestling journalists have always been biased and pointed to moments like hiring Russo, or Bischoff booking Goldberg/Hogan without any serious build, as moments that brought down the company.. but that simply isn't true. You don't pop a big rating and just ride it out from there, or get a low rating and never recover. These things take time - years. Austin was still doing 2.0's at the start, even when he was hot. It took a long time to build him.
I don't put much stock into wrestling Journalists, and i've mentioned from the start that the company was in dire straits before Russo got there. I don't think he's the sole culprit for the demise of WCW, but I don't think he helped them much ether.
And I've said it before on here, but the only way Russo helped destroy WCW was by being the main guy who got WWE dominating the MNW's. Not to say Mcmahon, Austin, Rock and even JR in talent relations didn't all play a part. But if it wasn't for his ballsy move, WWE would have still been presenting shit like The Goon and "Who" and cartoony characters like the shades wearing superhero Bret Hart, which would have of course sent them plummeting.
That's assumption really. Yes, Russo played a pivotal role in WWE's success, I never argued that. My main argument was that I thought the writing wasn't all that from a creative standpoint, but I know that it was successful in aiding the company. I don't think McMahon would've been stupid enough to remain in his archaic mindset regardless of Russo's influence. His life was at stake, it's in these moments that you put your own artistic integrity aside for the sake of the company. McMahon surrounded himself with smart people, but they weren't assigned to their strengths, instead they didn't want to take chances. This I agree with you wholeheartedly, Russo was probably the hippest guy under Vince, he brought that Gen-X flamboyance that the corporate suits were sorely lacking. Props on that
That's your POV, and that's fine, because everyone likes what they like, but I think the ratings WWE gained under Russo proved that wrestling is at its most succesful when it has the Russo/Attitude style. He just didn't have enough time or belief from those higher up to implement his philosophies in WCW.
WWE's ratings peaked under Russo, but they were better sustained under Chris. Again, not arguing Russo's success story at all. As for the time given in WCW, please, they had ample amounts of time to make it watchable or give hints that they were going in the right direction. Maybe the fourth wall stuff did it for you, so I guess that's a subjective success. heh
I dealt with the filter thing above already, so I won't mention that again, and I'll just re-iterate that Russo never had anywhere near enough time to try and make WCW a success.. What I will say: He managed to pull the ratings up a couple of points in the short period that he and Ferrara were the sole writers of Nitro, which you could say is a small measure of success. He never actually "failed" as a writer in WCW.. that is just a perception the IWC has because of biased books like The Death of WCW and bitter bastards like Jim Cornette who have a grudge with the guy (he got fired twice in favour of Russo). Yeah, the run as part of the writing committee/new blood era with Bischoff and everyone else did flop in the ratings, but like I mentioned before, that was because WCW was in a transitional phase, having to replace main event talent with young up and comers like I mentioned - all the while, WWE was riding off all the young talent hitting their peak that Russo had built into main eventers during his run.
I can't say for sure what could've been, but the product being presented at the time told the entire story for me. Did Russo focus on the young talent? Sure, but i've explained that already. He was forward thinking on that, but he failed to capitalise on the talent he had at that point.
My point about Booker T and guys like Jarrett and Steiner being pushed as main eventers, was because WCW had to do that out of necessity, but I still think they did a decent job of making them main event stars. They just didn't have the time that WWE were afforded to build stars out of Rock, Austin etc. The talent was there, just not the time.
I'll agree with that. Though I still didn't feel a natural progression toward something big. Infact, I remember the Millionaires Club storyline being incredibly ass backwards. Tha't's just one example since it was a major storyline at that point.
I wouldn't say people were confused about who he was at all, I disagree 100 percent. He had been built up as the Powers That Be for months, which gave him enough backstory, and when he arrived he was cutting some of the best promos in pro wrestling. The casual people weren't confused about John Laurinaitis in WWE a year ago, and he had even less build up/background and 10 x less promo skills than Russo had. And he got some pretty good heat in his run.. but yeah, nowhere near the mega heat that Russo was getting. Even people who hate his writing style can't deny he was a good heel personality.
How do you know that people weren't confused over who Johnny Ace was? As for Russo, he was billed as the power that be, but my point is that most people didn't have a fucking clue why he was in that position. I wouldn't say he was a horrible on air character, but he was no McMahon in terms of, well everything really. This argument was within the context of why people didnt complain about McMahon winning the belt but did with Russo. That's why.
I agree to some extent, as it is a hard line to tread and definitely experimental. But when it is done right, it can be awesome, and I find it much more satisfying than the current WWE schtick ("I'm better/ No, I'm better" style crap). If it's done shittily - see CM Punk/Triple H worked shoot wars in 2011 - then it's nauseatingly bad. To be fair, I'll also admit that Russo getting Buff Bagwell to do his worked shoots was pretty crap, but I would blame that on Buff not knowing how to pull that kind of promo off correctly. Also Russo for entrusting him with that kind of material. But I think some of the worked shoot stuff with Tank Abbott was great and they made him look like a dangerous motherfucker with it. I liked the stuff with Goldberg and Russo too, and the promo on Hogan at bash at the beach was off the chain.
I won't say that Russo was incapable of good to great concept nuggets and ideas. I think he's both underrated and overrated depending on who you talk to. He was a good writer, a successful writer, but this argument came when called Chris better. It's my opinion and I stand by it. Russo hasn't really wow'ed me since 1997 and his involvement in the McMahon/Austin saga.