"The reason they hate me is because I told them things they didn't want to hear." -Vince Russo
Vince Russo goes by many names. Vince Russo, Vicious Vincent, Vic Venom, Mr. Wrestling III. You know what else goes by a lot of names? Shit does. Poop. Crap. Alley apple. Hobo Meatball. Doo Doo Butter. Before October 8th, 2011, I would say Shit and Vince Russo were very much alike, if not the same exact thing. Vince Russo likes to say that every place he has gone to (WWE, WCW and TNA) has increased in ratings from his first day on the job until the day he left. Even if that is true, what I'll never understand is how someone with nearly 2 decades in this business can be so damn terrible at his job. And yes, I don't know who's responsible for every single angle on every single show but all I know is when Vince Russo goes to a company, the lingering smell of crap seems to come along with it.
On October 8th at about 12:30 AM, while visiting my hometown of Orlando, Florida, I decided to go out with a couple of friends to a nice little Irish Pub downtown named Lizzy McCormack's. As I walked in, I sat at the bar next to a very sad man (in more than one way) wearing a 'KISS is Still Cool" shirt and smelling of alcohol and failure. After double taking, I looked back over and I couldn't believe who was sitting next to me. All I could say to myself was "OH SHIT, IT'S VINCE RUSSO!"
I couldn't believe it was THE Vince Russo sitting next to me with a dozen empty shot glasses in front of him. I had just learned the day before that Russo was stripped of his title of head writer of TNA and demoted to Senior Writer. Seeing what life had done to Vince Russo's face and body up-close and personal made my day even better.
As a wrestling fan who has only met 3 wrestlers in my life (MVP, Virgil and Ricky Steamboat), my meeting that night with Vince Russo was without a doubt in my Top 10.
I remember staring at him for 2 minutes, thinking of what clever insult I could come up with, before a guy in a CM Punk 'Best in the World' shirt walked up behind me and asked:
"Hey, You're Vince Russo, right?"
Vince Russo slowly turned around with a small, cocky smirk on his face and said to the guy,
"Yeah. Yeah, I..."
Before Russo finished, the CM Punk fan punched him square in the face. The Big Show would of been jealous of the punch this guy threw.
"Thanks for ruining wrestling, dickwipe!" the CM Punk fan yelled before walking out.
It was a sad sight to see a 50-year-old man get knocked to the floor by one punch. It was even more sad that he got punched out by a 80-pound, 13-year old boy. I wondered what a 13-year-old was doing in a bar at 12:30 in the morning but when it comes to Vince Russo expect the unexpected.
I helped Russo up from the ground and asked if he was okay. He seemed fine and said to me that "It happens all the time". After telling him I was a huge wrestling fan, he corrected me and said I was a huge 'sports entertainment' fan. I punched him in the face. I felt bad so I helped him up and bought him a drink before we started talking wrestling. This is when I learned who the real Vince Russo really was. I cut down some highlights and quotables Russo had during our talk which included:
Russo telling me the story of what made him leave WWF:
"Bro, It was a week during Royal Rumble '99 and I'm sitting in a meeting with Vince and Pat Patterson and a light bulb goes off in my head. I go 'Hey, why don't we book the winner of the Royal Rumble to be the NWO Wolfpack?' Fuckin' brilliant, right? They're the hottest thing in Sports Entertainment. But all Pat Patterson does is look at me like I'm a moron and goes 'Russo, They're in WCW. Even if they weren't, The Wolfpack is 7 fucking people.'
I was like 'Bro, where's your creativity? Picture a 7 way tie in the ROYAL RUMBLE and the ENTIRE Wolfpack goes to Wrestlemania. Who the hell would see that coming, bro!?!' Good ideas outweigh legally binding contracts. The second they turned that idea down, I knew I wanted out."
Russo telling me the story of finding out wrestling was staged.
"It was probably the most bittersweet day of my entire life. I was walking backstage in 1998 and I saw Kane without his mask on but he had no burns or scars. I was like 'Bro, how the hell did your face heal?'. He looked at me and laughed. I asked him again and he finally told me. He taught me everything I know. Stuff like his name is really Glenn, Goldust wasn't really gold, Chyna was a woman….. 8 hours later, it finally clicked. The good news was I realized I could have the wrestlers do literally WHATEVER great idea I had in my mind. I credited that day to the birth of the Creative Vince Russo sports entertainment fans see today."
I even asked him about his feud with one of my favorite managers, Jim Cornette
"To this day I will never know why Cornette doesn't like me. I remember at a Raw taping in Kentucky I overheard Cornette and Jim Ross talking about Cornette's old NWA days so I leaned over and asked him, 'Hey Corny, what was it like managing guys like Ice Cube and Dr. Dre back in the day?' He looked me square in the eye and called me a fucking abortion and went back to talking to JR. Since then, he's always treated me like crap. His loss."
After listening to him ramble on and on about nonsense, it hit me. Vince Russo isn't a mastermind who was the head writer during the Attitude Era. Vince Russo isn't even an idiot who thinks he's smarter than he really is. Vince Russo is a little boy trapped in a greasy, fat, New Yorker's 50-year-old body. Ever see a little kid doing storylines with his toy John Cena and toy Justin Bieber doll? That's Vince Russo! We give Vince Russo too much credit as Internet wrestling fans. The fact that he can get two wrestlers to a ring to wrestle is a win for him. Plain and simple, He's not the 'Anti-Christ' of Professional Wrestling as he likes to say, Vince Russo is the Eugene of Professional Wrestling.
As I said bye to a passed-out Vince at around 1:50 AM, I looked over at an open notebook that had on the top "Russo's REALLY GOOD SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT IDAS [sic]". On the top of the page was 'Bring John Cena into TNA. Have him feud with Everyone at once. Have him win TNA World Title. Have Dixie Carter pin Kim Kardashian Impersonator to win TNA World Championship.' Say what you want about Vince Russo but the man makes being shitty look easy.
I hope this article gives you a new found respect for Vince Russo. Well not respect but you know what I mean. Vince Russo is just a fan of wrestling like you and me. He's just a wrestling fan who has no clue what wrestling is about. On the bright side, Vince Russo has one thing in common with Vince McMahon (first name aside) and that is Russo knows how to inject poison into professional wrestling. For better or worse, Vince Russo is a footnote in the history of pro wrestling. Even though it's always for worse.