DVD Review-Guest Booker Vince Russo

Kayfabe Commentaries has this dream scenario they call Guest Booker, where they take a personality from the wrestling business who was not involved with a certain company at a time, and ask them how they would book a certain time or angle for that company. This time, Sean Oliver decides to have guest Vince Russo book the WCW invasion angle that happened when WWE bought WCW in March of 2001.

For those who may or may not be familiar with Vince Russo, he got his start freelancing in the mid 90’s for the WWE magazine, and if you are really old school you may remember that he used to come on briefly on WWE programming in bits and pieces. It was not until he quit WWE to go to WCW when Bischoff was let go, that people really started to know not only the name but the person. Vince Russo has this style of compelling television that you really are not sure what a “work” is truly and what is real. He was one of the first people that lived for the swerve. Personalities like Vince Russo come once in a lifetime to wrestling, and whether you love them or hate them, you have to admit they made wrestling fans more passionate about the product. I mean, how many bookers have you ever seen in your life that have fire chants at any wrestling card?

If a character like Vince Russo did not exist, wrestling would eventually have created him. Let’s be honest, wrestling in the last twenty years if you are talking about the ten people who changed this sport, love it or hate it, you have to have Russo on that list. Where ECW did introduce the internet to the sport, it was Russo who really took this intro and really did something with it. Russo is definitely the internet target even though he has not scripted or wrote for the product in quite a while; they still blame him and are very vocal about him. Where the Mr. McMahon character on television created heat for ratings, the Vince Russo real life character, could crash the internet with a segment on television and how much the fans would want to tear into him.

So, knowing all this he would be the perfect person who could script the WCW invasion angle better than it played out. You have to think at that time, wrestling was at a high. WCW was drawing 1.9-3.2’s for their shows, and WWE were in the 8.2-9.1. Today, WWE is lucky to draw a 3.2, and TNA are lucky to have a 1.0, what could have caused this downfall of the product? In a lot of people’s opinions and mine as well, it was when Vince bought WCW and did not know what to do with it. The angles he was setting up after buying it was more for stroking his own ego, and making his soon to be son in law HHH as a dominant shoved in our faces superstar. Where gradually talent debuted as part of an invasion angle, and out of the 20 or so names that debuted at that time, only 3 names took off and kept on taking off, but ratings were falling. So, Sean Oliver wants to know what Vince Russo could do different, and to tell you the truth, the man came up with some compelling television. Where during this interview Oliver comes across like a Vince McMahon or a fan would, and want so much up front and to get these people to earn their money, Russo wants the slow build and to make it all mean something.

While this shoot was probably one of Vince Russo’s best shoot since finding religion, it was also very puzzling. You have all these great ideas, and you could not get TNA off to the races? This man was the booker for TNA for a lot of years, and let’s be very honest, Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle is a dream match that was thrown at us fast as it could be, and the Joe vs. AJ vs. Daniel feud was another thing that was thrown at us in a hurry. That being said both were great for the short run, but they had no long term bankability. So now, he is saying he wants to slow down and make it mean something and build it, but your style has always been crash television in your face as fast as humanly possible, and more swerves and ref bumps than one can handle. I like the dream scenario with Russo, and I respect what he has brought to the product but I do not see him following this dream, he is one of those people that answers to so many bosses and those bosses want results fast but also want it all thrown out there just as fast. I think for a personality and visionary to shine like a Vince Russo, he has to really have someone else with him as a filter and an equally as smart mind for the business and try to build a relationship and common ground. Of course with any shoot involving a Vince Russo he is always about the dream matches and how to build a show, and of course his favorite words “the characters”.

For Russo, it is always all about the characters, even more so than the match quality or how silly he books them. Again, while some people damn him to the end of the world and blame him for the death of WCW, and why TNA has never become major, when you listen to him, the man can talk and really has a good mind for the business. I mean Cornette is the internet darling, but look what he has done to Ring of Honor. Do you watch that hour long television show that comes on in the middle of the night on Saturday? Heyman another internet darling, he is so groundbreaking and this and that, he put ECW out of business and then went running to WWE programming. So, if we can forgive them, why not Russo? All in all, this is a great shoot into who I think is one of the best minds in our sport, and it is often funny and really insightful that wrestling fans will enjoy.

8 out of 10