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One Count Kickout – Why Fire Russo?

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Few names in the wrestling business stir up as much anger, foul language, dissension and demands for blood as Vince Russo. This is a man who has been steeped in controversy behind the scenes as early as his WWE Magazine writing days and publicly from the time he exited WWE to seek brighter prospects (or perhaps just higher bank account numbers) and came into WCW as the prophesied savior and self-professed architect of the WWE attitude. It was he who was saddled with the responsibility of saving the failing promotion but was quickly swept aside whether due to his own failures or the limitations of an organization which could hardly tell its ass from its elbow. Following the implosion of WCW and the void it left within the wrestling industry, Russo admitted to being glad to be rid of the job and his general dislike at the idea of working for a wrestling company again. Sure enough, however, Vince can be found working now for TNA where it is not uncommon to hear angry fans screaming with venomous tones to “Fire Russo.” However the question which lingers that no one ever seems to seek an honest answer so is why?

Wrestling fans throughout the world have managed to pin their every frustration with Impact Wrestling on what they perceive to be the creative direction, flawed execution and poor writing of Vince Russo. When their favorite star fails to rise, an interesting angle gets an unnecessary twist (a “Russo swerve” to speak) or the general standing of the company itself seems to be in direct contradiction to their own personal view of where it should be then they band together, vent their rage and direct the anger that is boiling inside them on Vince Russo. To say he is one of the most hated men in wrestling would be an understatement. Many feel that his so-called “crash TV” and “worked shoot” style of wrestling writing has lead to a place where what was once a shocking moment has become an expected turn of events and no matter what angle is playing out there is always time to wait for the other shoe to drop and a new twist to be introduced.

Often times it has been said that if Vince Russo came up with fifty good ideas that Vince McMahon used one of them and put his own twist on it. Whether or not this is the case is irrelevant. What does matter is that Vince McMahon at the time was fighting to keep his business alive and being someone who knows the wrestling business as well as he did it is hard to conceive of the fact that he would allow someone to run his writing team whom he believed did not have what it took to be up to the task. Regardless of whether you love him or hate him it is hard to argue that many people hooked into the industry do believe that Vince Russo has something to give. This isn’t necessarily an endorsement of his style or creative direction but simply an indicator that in a business which has shown no problem firing people without cause in the past, this is a man who has managed not only to keep his jobs but to acquire new ones.

So you hate Russo and no matter what anyone says you firmly believe that it is he who is responsible for the dreadful state of affairs of TNA wrestling. There is only one flaw in that theory. He’s not the one responsible. Vince Russo neither owns nor has command of TNA wrestling. He is not in a position to decide whether or not what he writes makes it onto television let alone whether or not he remains employed. The ownership of TNA wrestling, the support from names like Jeff Jarrett and Dixie Carter have provided him with his position and sustain it to this day. Being a writer myself I can honestly say that we do not always have the best ideas. Authors have to go through publishers and agents, your novels go through a series of levels of approval and changes are almost always suggested and typically required. Russo is writing what he believes to be an interesting wrestling show and those with the power to require changes or make adjustments are either too blind to see this necessity or are choosing not to do it. Or possibly are too unintelligent to recognize what does and does not make a wrestling show worthwhile.

Would firing Vince Russo lead to TNA suddenly changing direction and becoming everything you think it could be? That seems to be a highly unlikely turn of events because the same names which have fostered an environment for poor writing to make it through would still be there and whatever name next stepped into the creative department would face the same lack of involvement, limitations and intelligence which is allowing Russo to spit all of his words directly onto your television screen. Russo has become the figurehead for a regime which has failed time and again to deliver and a company whose memory for mistakes seems too short to remember not to duplicate them. The creative line of TNA has followed a similar path as that of WCW but without the majority of the success that WCW had and lacking the historical background upon which WCW was based.

It is easy enough to point a finger at someone that you dislike to begin with, that has a grating personality and is typically at odds with the fans of wrestling. It can be difficult to select people you want to believe in and put the necessary responsibility on their shoulders. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff came into TNA with a head of steam and broadcasting this new regime which they would set into place that would completely revolutionize the company. Hogan alone clearly has the political ability and power to make the changes he would find necessary and yet Russo is still sitting there writing. Bischoff is by no means a stupid man and yet he continues to work side by side with Russo. Dixie Carter has said time and again that not only does she like Vince Russo but she has absolutely no plans of removing him from his position.

It is easy to pin the blame on Vince Russo, and it is entirely possible that he is in part responsible for all that which makes your stomach turn on Thursday nights at 9pm. However, he does not carry this alone and although it is a wonderful fantasy to imagine that his termination would result in some kind of golden age, creative revolution that would bring TNA to the forefront of the wrestling world it is, at the end of the day, a fantasy. The problems do not run one person deep and the correction of the issues would require a systematic reconstruction of the upper levels of TNA management in general. Perhaps take the focus off Hogan, Bischoff and Dixie and put it, I don’t know, on the wrestlers? What a novel idea.

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  • jay are

    i agree 100%. tna needs to get their heads out their a^^ and try something new. like let the guys really wrestle like the good old days. now its more talking bull than wrestling. we get tired of hearing the same old bull each week. tna has very good wrestlers that can give a great show without all the talk. its time for change and if tna doesn’t change we will see it sink faster than the titanic. russo needs to stop copying wwe story lines they become stale like jeff jarrett. jeff needs to retire or reinvent himself like sting. then he will be successful. hogan needs to get it together brother before he is unemployed again like matt hardy.

  • Valo487

    I’m pretty much going to have to completely disagree with this. Look, even if you believe Vince Russo has some talent for writing wrestling (I personally don’t) look at TNA’s ratings. Look at their live event turn out. They have some of the best talent in the world, they have all the big names that aren’t in WWE, they have a TV deal with a major channel, they have solid production values, so why in the world are they still pulling in the 1’s for ratings and cancelling house shows? Because people can’t get into the product. The storylines aren’t engaging, and if you aren’t interested in the outcome of a match you’re not going to pay to see it, and Vince Russo has never been a wrestler and wasn’t brought up in the business, so he has no clue what sells. The only time he’s ever had any success was when he was writing for a company where he was surrounded by people who have great minds for wrestling and could spin his ideas into a wrestling storyline. Case in point, he’s never been able to deliver anything like the Attitude era since in terms of quality. And let’s not discount the fact that during his strongest period he had Austin and the Rock at the height of their game to work with.

    Even if you think Russo gets more blame than he deserves, he still should be gone by now. Any other job where you fail to produce for this long you’d be out the door, why does TNA continue to settle for 1’s when they have the talent to do so much more? Bring in someone who can book compelling angles and let the talent do what they’re supposed to do. Wrestlers aren’t actors, tell the story in the ring and cut the pretaped segments.

  • Omar

    Good article Steven.

  • breezy

    I would like to see vince russo in wwe not as a writer but a character. kind of like the invasion and he is there to destroy wwe type of storyline. I think that will draw