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Discussion Starter #1
From December 97 and at the moment I'm in March 98, just before Wrestlemania. I've just watched the March 2nd episode with Tyson joining DX and Undertaker returning, that might be the best episode of wrestling I've ever seen.

Anyone who says that Vince Russo is a bad wrestling TV writer must be insane. I'm sorry but come on now, this is such a better TV show than it is today it isn't even comparable.

Every single character has a story.

Everyone is getting a reaction from the stories.

Every single commercial break has a hook.

Each show ends with a cliffhanger or a reason to watch next week.

You never know whats going to happen next.

Characters are developing and everyone has a direction.

The flow of the show is brilliant.

The matches have fun finishes that extend the storyline and don't go on to long.

And the funny thing is that it hasn't even reached its peak yet. It's already better than anything I've seen in the last 10 years in WWE and it's not even 1999 yet. Why do people forget or ignore how good Russo was at his job in WWF? Forget WCW for a moment, forget David Arquette, 4 pole matches etc. Just look at the 150ish TV shows he wrote for WWF and tell me it isn't great TV.

I don't think there is another entertainment industry on the planet that would treat it's most successful writer so polarising. It's great TV guys.
 

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Russo was good at the time because he had a lot of entertaining ideas, but there were people who kept him in check. He never was a good booker. Once he was given unlimited creative freedom in WCW we saw him living up to his potential. Judy Bagwell on a Forklift match was his magnum opus.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I can’t argue with you
It's hard too! I don't understand why people think he's a bad writer. McMahon wouldn't have paid him to be head writer for 3 years and they wouldn't have succeeded so well if he wasn't.

And before people come back with The Rock, Stone cold etc being the reason it was great. Yes that's true, they were amazing performer's. But the reason Game of Thrones is so great isnt just because the actors were excellent, the writing had to be compelling enough for the actors to hook you. Same with a wrestling TV show.

WWE really needs someone from outside the bubble like Russo was to reinvent them. As much as I enjoy his work, it's not like Russo is a writing genius or anything, so Im not sure why none of their 40 writers cant do things like hooks and characters. There must be someone out there that will write this TV show like a TV show and not a wrestling show.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Russo was good at the time because he had a lot of entertaining ideas, but there were people who kept him in check. He never was a good booker. Once he was given unlimited creative freedom in WCW we saw him living up to his potential. Judy Bagwell on a Forklift match was his magnum opus.
The thing is I love those kind of stupid matches. I love the forklift , I love the green card on a pole match and I even love the Al Snow and Bossman dog murder angle. To me the more silly it is, the better. I can see why people don't like that sort of thing though. People still talk about those matches decades later though , so he did something right!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Russo was good at the time because he had a lot of entertaining ideas, but there were people who kept him in check. He never was a good booker. Once he was given unlimited creative freedom in WCW we saw him living up to his potential. Judy Bagwell on a Forklift match was his magnum opus.
Producers and higher ups keeping writers in check is nothing new though. Like I said, ignore WCW, judge him on his WWF work. If you have 10 ideas a week and 4 are good enough for primetime TV I'd say that's a good success rate. He must've had more good ideas than bad ideas for McMahon to have paid him a salary for 3 years as head writer.
 

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Don't forget it was the talent that made it work as well, Al Snow to me is still such underrated hidden gem of the Attitude Era
 

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It’s insane.

The 150 episodes he wrote should speak for themselves, but the dirtsheets speak louder.

The guys he replaced despised him for his success, so they buried him mercilessly via working the dirtsheets. The myths have been enshrined in wrestling fandom narrative.

He’s factually the greatest writer in wrestling history.

IMO only uncritical dirtsheet consumers could possibly arrive at such a negative conclusion regarding Russo.

It’s a shame, really.
 

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Don't forget it was the talent that made it work as well, Al Snow to me is still such underrated hidden gem of the Attitude Era
Talent vs Creative?

McMahon’s writing framework today would be unlikely to accentuate Al Snow’s best traits, rather he would shoehorn him into a basic character box.

It seems to me that Russo was the guy who really knew how to collaborate with the workers, understand them as people, and write within a framework that allowed them to “turn it up to 11”.

My theory is extracting talent from D-grade actors requires exceptional EQ, something McMahon has always dismissed in favour of oversimplified, unidimensional character traits.

Wrestlers work and learn an exceptional trade, but by large they’re not overly exceptionally gifted people like in far more competitive industries like acting. I mean that in the best way possible. The process of developing their character is a lost art that has been replaced by simplified formulas designed to be suitable for any high school kid to memorise and act out.

Russo came from a totally different perspective to those in the bubble, and it shows in the end product.
 

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Producers and higher ups keeping writers in check is nothing new though. Like I said, ignore WCW, judge him on his WWF work. If you have 10 ideas a week and 4 are good enough for primetime TV I'd say that's a good success rate. He must've had more good ideas than bad ideas for McMahon to have paid him a salary for 3 years as head writer.
Even in his last several months to a year in WWF, there was still a TON of crap, mainly in the undercard:

Beaver Cleavage/Chaz
PMS
Meat
Chaz breakup storyline with Marianna, which had him continuously getting arrested for domestic violence and being distanced by the roster, at the exact same time Jarrett was putting the figure four on women (consistency!)
Meat simultaneously breaking up with Terri at the exact same time as the above storyline and becoming "Shawn The Man Stasiak", which was a VERY unsuccessful way to get him over by associating him with his dad, and the name didn't even rhyme
Mideon as the European Champion, as a result of Shane giving him the title
Mark Henry turning heel for a month at Summerslam before turning face again by declaring himself a sex addict
Vince winning the WWF title from HHH three weeks after HHH won it, only for Vince to vacate the belt and HHH winning it back at Unforgiven
Rock feuding with Billy Gunn at the 2nd biggest PPV of the year
Pepper On A Pole match
Kennel From Hell
Taker/Bossman in the cell
Chyna turning face and heel again in less than 24 hours... at WRESTLEMANIA
Big Show's debut where he inadvertently cost Vince the match against Austin, making him look REALLY stupid
Vince as the higher power, which was really convoluted, since he helped Austin retain at Backlash, yet formed the Corporate Ministry to hold down Austin at the same time

And that's not counting stuff that didn't go through like an Austin/Jarrett feud (Jarrett is not main event material on a bigger stage, and his WCW run shortly after this period proved it). I rewatched a LOT of those 1999 Raws and the first few Smackdowns this past summer, and noticed the signs of burnout as there wasn't as much Russo crap before WM, and noticed that the shows flowed much better and had stronger continuity when Kreski became head writer in October (the change was very noticeable around the time DX reformed), and when Angle and the Radicalz came, the wrestling also became much better (before Russo went to WCW, Nitro still probably had the better in-ring action, and that changed as soon as he showed up). Raw was still easily beating Nitro at this time because the storylines and main event scene were way more interesting (WCW had only guys from the 80s and early 90s in the main event scene and did a LOT of storylines involving celebrities, music, and boxing at this time, which is similar to how WWE has been having storylines involving MMA in recent years, like Rousey's push, Baszler's push, and Brock/Cain) and they ran with Austin as their top guy rather than Hogan, who they sacrificed Sting and Goldberg for at consecutive Starrcades. Russo did have his strengths, such as never making a show feel boring and using everyone in a storyline in some way, which is why he always had a ton of stables, but was showing signs of his WCW self the last several months of his WWF tenure, and his WCW runs, where he basically WAS the final say, were both a disaster because of the absurdity of the storylines and gimmicks, lack of wrestling, and the hotshot booking, especially in regards to title changes (in his second WCW run, the world title changed hands around 12 times or something... IN A MONTH! David Arquette, an actor, was one of those reigns in that month!). Russo doesn't have such a bad reputation for no reason.
 

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From December 97 and at the moment I'm in March 98, just before Wrestlemania. I've just watched the March 2nd episode with Tyson joining DX and Undertaker returning, that might be the best episode of wrestling I've ever seen.

Anyone who says that Vince Russo is a bad wrestling TV writer must be insane. I'm sorry but come on now, this is such a better TV show than it is today it isn't even comparable.

Every single character has a story.

Everyone is getting a reaction from the stories.

Every single commercial break has a hook.

Each show ends with a cliffhanger or a reason to watch next week.

You never know whats going to happen next.

Characters are developing and everyone has a direction.

The flow of the show is brilliant.

The matches have fun finishes that extend the storyline and don't go on to long.

And the funny thing is that it hasn't even reached its peak yet. It's already better than anything I've seen in the last 10 years in WWE and it's not even 1999 yet. Why do people forget or ignore how good Russo was at his job in WWF? Forget WCW for a moment, forget David Arquette, 4 pole matches etc. Just look at the 150ish TV shows he wrote for WWF and tell me it isn't great TV.

I don't think there is another entertainment industry on the planet that would treat it's most successful writer so polarising. It's great TV guys.
That was a big reason I kept the Network for so long to watch these old AE Raws (and early nWo Nitros). Sure I would watch the PPV's nowadays just because I have been programmed to do such after 30-ish years. I let my Network Susbscription go in September but then I really wanted to see what they would do with the Fiend so I signed up for a free month after HIAC I cancelled shortly after because I am tired of WWE killing everything I love to watch.

Back to this I not that long ago watched that Raw I believe Feb 2 1998 where HBK (and DX) open with that Bill Clinton-esque parody and later we get the Outlaws shoving Foley/Funk off the stage in the dumpster. Great TV. You are right that March 2nd episode was pretty damn good. I remember Taker rising at the end after a featured Stone Cold vs Kane ME which HBK blindsided Austin. I remember it because that Raw was in Cleveland not too far from my house.

WCW was getting beat for a bit by the time he took over creative. Some like to blame him for stuff when dumb shit like the fingerpoke of doom was not done on his watch.
 

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Even in his last several months to a year in WWF, there was still a TON of crap, mainly in the undercard:

Beaver Cleavage/Chaz
PMS
Meat
Chaz breakup storyline with Marianna, which had him continuously getting arrested for domestic violence and being distanced by the roster, at the exact same time Jarrett was putting the figure four on women (consistency!)
Meat simultaneously breaking up with Terri at the exact same time as the above storyline and becoming "Shawn The Man Stasiak", which was a VERY unsuccessful way to get him over by associating him with his dad, and the name didn't even rhyme
Mideon as the European Champion, as a result of Shane giving him the title
Mark Henry turning heel for a month at Summerslam before turning face again by declaring himself a sex addict
Vince winning the WWF title from HHH three weeks after HHH won it, only for Vince to vacate the belt and HHH winning it back at Unforgiven
Rock feuding with Billy Gunn at the 2nd biggest PPV of the year
Pepper On A Pole match
Kennel From Hell
Taker/Bossman in the cell
Chyna turning face and heel again in less than 24 hours... at WRESTLEMANIA
Big Show's debut where he inadvertently cost Vince the match against Austin, making him look REALLY stupid
Vince as the higher power, which was really convoluted, since he helped Austin retain at Backlash, yet formed the Corporate Ministry to hold down Austin at the same time

And that's not counting stuff that didn't go through like an Austin/Jarrett feud (Jarrett is not main event material on a bigger stage, and his WCW run shortly after this period proved it). I rewatched a LOT of those 1999 Raws and the first few Smackdowns this past summer, and noticed the signs of burnout as there wasn't as much Russo crap before WM, and noticed that the shows flowed much better and had stronger continuity when Kreski became head writer in October (the change was very noticeable around the time DX reformed), and when Angle and the Radicalz came, the wrestling also became much better (before Russo went to WCW, Nitro still probably had the better in-ring action, and that changed as soon as he showed up). Raw was still easily beating Nitro at this time because the storylines and main event scene were way more interesting (WCW had only guys from the 80s and early 90s in the main event scene and did a LOT of storylines involving celebrities, music, and boxing at this time, which is similar to how WWE has been having storylines involving MMA in recent years, like Rousey's push, Baszler's push, and Brock/Cain) and they ran with Austin as their top guy rather than Hogan, who they sacrificed Sting and Goldberg for at consecutive Starrcades. Russo did have his strengths, such as never making a show feel boring and using everyone in a storyline in some way, which is why he always had a ton of stables, but was showing signs of his WCW self the last several months of his WWF tenure, and his WCW runs, where he basically WAS the final say, were both a disaster because of the absurdity of the storylines and gimmicks, lack of wrestling, and the hotshot booking, especially in regards to title changes (in his second WCW run, the world title changed hands around 12 times or something... IN A MONTH! David Arquette, an actor, was one of those reigns in that month!). Russo doesn't have such a bad reputation for no reason.
the thing I find amusing is that ppl say he had a filter with Vince when working in the wwe but then still saying Russo still wrote a ton of shit like above. Which one is it?
 

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Tbh, even Russos bad stuff is entertainingly bad for the most part. I would gladly take Russo era Nitro over modern day Raw. Entertaining train wreck > uninspired mediocrity.
 

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i hate to put stock in hivemeind opinions but i think there is no questition people love to bash russo because its the cool thing to do. russo was hugely responsible for the success of the attitude era and why it was so great. anyone that truly believes the shit of "vince as the filter" for russo crap i say just look at the current product.

going back and rewatching the ae on the network makes me sad. the midcarders back then got bigger pops then the "main eventers" do nowadays and that is a huge prop to russo. he was great at making every person on the card have a character and feel like a important part of the show.
 
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