REES' PIECE OF MIND
Vince Russo Doesn't "Get It" Piece
Being the WCW mark that I am, it pains me to say it. But it's true. Russo doesn't "Get It".
For someone who was considered to be so integral in the development of the WWF "Attitude", that statement is unfathomable to me. But it's dead on. Vince Russo just doesn't understand pro wrestling.
And the sad thing is, he's so damn close to having a great product, it's sickening.
Russo has been able to pull out magical moments on Nitro since his April reinstatement. When Shane Douglas jumped "Dick" Flair from behind, I literally jumped off my couch in shock, yelling at the TV. I calmed down once Bo threatened me, but man was I buzzed. So buzzed, I drove down to the United Center by myself and spent $50 for a decent seat at Spring Stampede.
Later on, Flair and Russo had a fantastic cage match on Nitro that had the crowd (and me) absolutely rocking. Yes, I would have liked to have seen Russo book a finish of Flair getting a submission with the figure four, yet refusing to release it until the blood bath drilled him. I wish Russo would have broken script when the blood was painfully delayed, but hey, he had suffered a concussion. But that match was still blowout good, as Flair just peeled Russo's skin off with chops.
And last, the Goldberg situation. I had read about how bad Vince screwed up everything leading up to New Blood Rising with the "shoot" comments from him, Goldberg, and Nash. I read about how horrible the "shoot" went down at NBR. And I also read how Russo, with Tank Abbott at his side, fucked everything up again at Nitro the next night, with his grandstanding challenge to Goldberg.
So when I watched Nitro on tape, about five days later, I was pleasantly surprised with the Russo/Goldberg throwdown. With a little tweaking, it could have been damn near perfect. And if Russo understood the damn business, it would have been.
Anyone with knowledge of Tank Abbott knows he's a legitimate tough guy. When Russo decides to call out the baddest cat in the land, he damn sure better bring heavy-duty back-up with him. Hey, it worked for Vince when he used a totally un-over Steve Blackman as a temporary replacement for Shane at the 1999 KOTR. Sure, Tank's been goofing off with 3 Count the last couple of months, but that just added some depth to his character, one the fans enjoyed and I found damn funny. Watching Tank dance on his square after bullying the boys into performing for him was hilarious.
Still, any "smart" knows that Russo is big on Tank; hell, booking Tank to win the belt at Souled Out got him fired. That's something Russo should have admitted to at Nitro, but only partly. If it were up to him, Russo would go out and admit that he "booked" Tank to win. You just can't do that in pro wrestling because we, the fans, don't want to hear it. Say that you "booked" Tank a title shot and that you "wanted" Tank to win. Say that when word got out to WCW headquarters that you were going to do whatever it took to make Tank the champ, Brad Siegel fired you. Say, "But when Brad Siegel flew his sorry ass to New York City, begging and pleading for me to come back and save this company, old Vinnie Ru had a plan. A plan that included a clause in my contract that I can't be fired for any booking decisions or match outcomes." (Sure, it's a bald-faced lie, but it gives Vince the all-important all-powerful appearance. And besides, this is wrestling; bald-faced lies are expected.) "So if somebody that I hate, like that punk-ass Goldberg, just happens to get hit in the head from behind with a chair and loses a match, there's nothing you stupid fans, Brad Siegel, or God himself can do about it!"
Russo's speech itself on Nitro was extremely hit and miss. When he stuck to insulting the fans and Goldberg, he got MONSTER heat. But when he had to throw in the damn shoot references, that "Goldberg thinks this is real" garbage, he lost the crowd. But he got 'em right back as soon as he stuck with the "traditional wrestling" insults of them or Goldberg. And his "shoot" comments of "Brad Siegel won't let me fire Goldberg, because the fans like Goldberg. Well, I say SCREW the fans, screw Brad Siegel, and screw Bill Goldberg!" would have been so much better if he had thrown this little tidbit in "And oh yeah, Bill, I forgot to tell you one other thing about my contract. It says if anybody physically harms me, without me first physically attacking them, will be fired instantly. Since you and these damn fans are such asswipes, let me spell it out for you. You touch me, you're fired!"
Let's face it: this is a blatant rip-off of Austin/McMahon, no doubt about it. Of course, that feud just happened to make the WWF the juggernaut it is today. Today's fan eats up the "loner underdog beating up the boss" storyline, or what do you think the Rock versus the Fac-geme has been the last few months? And one thing Russo definitely did was turn that crowd against him. Goldberg became instant monster face, if only for the segment, simply because he came out to accept Russo's challenge. The crowd was popping huge for Goldberg beating Tank, and they desperately wanted him to beat the living shit out of Russo. And Russo should run every time Goldberg comes near him; his natural reaction, regardless of his contract, should be to run like hell every time Goldberg comes near him. At the same time, his taunting and fingering of Goldberg (when he's not scared shitless) is totally in character, too.
Vince Russo is a heat-seeking machine, a guy that people love to hate, not just hate. He'll never be able to pull off the "good Vince" that McMahon can do, but he doesn't have to worry about that. The important thing for WCW is to make fans give a rat's ass again.
But Vince just has to keep pushing the envelope every time, determined to shock us. Damn it Vince, you don't need to do that. You can entertain without shocking. You don't always have to tinker, you don't have to get cute with the booking, and you damn sure better quit calling it sports entertainment. IT'S FUCKING PRO WRESTLING!
Vince just doesn't realize that the slow tease works the best. Yes, you need the "violent" plot-shakers every now and then, but not every damn night. You need to introduce new characters and change old ones, but not at every Nitro. YOU CAN'T TELL THE AUDIENCE WHAT IT WANTS, YOU HAVE TO GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT
Pro wrestling is a male soap opera, pure and simple, and you're kidding yourself if you don't believe me. By the way, you know what two soaps are always ranked number one and two in the ratings? The Young and the Restless, along with Days of Our Lives. You know what people say about those shows? You can quit watching for a month, and catch back up in a day. Why? Because they do a slow burn on the storylines, driving you absolutely crazy waiting for the big pay-off, yet somehow satisfying you when they do. And they always have another storyline, one that's been quietly been building in the background, ready to take over as the next big plot. Sound like the WWF to anybody besides me?
Vince has helped make Nitro at least watchable again. Almost all of the old bitchers are gone, and the only guys left bust their ass. WCW has great wrestling talents in Booker T, Jeff Jarrett, Mike Awesome, and Lance Storm on top now, with a few big names to ease the transition. But to take the next step, Vince needs to take one step back and give the fans what we want. We don't want worked shoots, Vince. We want good stories and great workers. We don't care if it's cutting edge. We just want something to make two hours of guys in tights pretending to pummel each other fun.
Get it yet, Vince?