Show: The Pain Clinic

Air Date: 02/20/2010

Guest: Vince Russo

Host(s): Rich “Cashman” Jones
The Artiste

Vince Russo on “The Pain Clinic” – 2/20/2010

Host introduces Russo and notes that Russo was part of the creative team in the WWF when the highest rated segment in wrestling history: an 8.4 rating starring “The Rock” and “Mankind” (The Rock and Sock Connection).

Russo said he feels the Hogan/Bischoff meeting in late 2009 was a great time to end his new book as the events that happen afterwards will be the good start of a third book that he is planning on writing. He talks about the “Fire Russo!” chants and says when they were happening (and he isn’t pointing fingers), he wasn’t head of creative of the time. He said when the chants happened, there were segments in the ring that he had nothing to do with.

He talks about the TNA LockDown pay-per-view a few years ago with the electified cage when the “Fire Russo!” chants were louder than he ever heard. He said he was actually leading those chants louder than anyone. He said when the concept of an electrified cage was first presented to him, he said there was no way to do that in a believable manner or fashion. But at the time, he wasn’t head of creative. He didn’t become head of creative for TNA until this past July.

The host says Russo went to WCW in October 1999 and people were calling Russo the savior and when WCW wasn’t saved, they put the blame on Russo. He said when he was interviewed for the job at WCW and it was WWF killing WCW in the ratings (not the other way around), Russo would always say over and over again that ratings wouldn’t turn around overnight. It wouldn’t be “instant gratification”. To build ratings, it takes years of good consistent weekly TV and he knew that based on what he did with the WWE. All the money/resources/talent that WWE had, it took 2-3 years to climb over WCW. When he interviewed for the WCW job, he knew it wouldn’t turn around in 3 months and he made it clear.

When he started working in WCW, they wanted results immediately. He said he told them before he took the job that it doesn’t happen that way. Russo was one month into the job and everyone wanted WCW to overtake WWE in the ratings; Russo said that wasn’t going to happen. There were unrealistic expectations and he wasn’t the one that gave them the expectations.

The host mentions TNA as opposed to WCW and whether Dixie Carter/Spike Executives have the knowledge that ratings will grow slowly instead of instant success. Russo says everyone wants the ratings to change overnight. It’s not just the wrestling world. He says in the television world and that doesn’t happen. It takes years of constant programming. He says there are people in his own company that has that same mentality that wants things to happen right away. Russo says he understands that but it’s not a reality. He says going into the Monday Night War, he doesn’t expect TNA to take a chunk of the WWE audience in the next 3 months, or 6 months – he says if anyone expects that to happen, it’s not going to happen – it’s not realistic.

Host asks about the ratings spike on January 4 and the curiosity factor that the television executives may have had. Russo says that if they get people to click to their show during commercials week-in and week-out put a better show than WWE on a consistent basis, over a period of time, they’ll win some of those fans over.

Host brings up Bash At The Beach 2000. Thoughts on working with Hogan and after hearing Hogan was coming to TNA. Russo says there was no contact between them outside of depositions for 10 years. Russo watched Hogan on TV, “Hogan Knows Best”, caught a lot of interviews, but there was no contact – so he was going into a situation with a lot of unknown. Russo says over those 10 years, he has changed a lot, his perspective and goals on life has changed. He says knowing what Hulk had gone through in his personal life, Hogan would have changed as well. Russo was open-hearted, not expecting bad things to happen, and wanted to start things over new.

In his first meeting with Hogan at TNA, they talked about Bash At The Beach and Russo heard Hogan’s perspective and vice versa. Hogan said it was a misunderstanding and miscommunication. Russo says it means a lot to him to put Hogan at this stage in his life on this pedastal and to be able to work with Hulk/Eric in a positive situation. He said there was nothing positive about his WCW experience. Thus far, he says things have been great for him.

Host mentions “Rope Opera” was fantastic and notes details on Jeremy Borash, Disco Inferno, and Standards & Practices in WCW. Host asks if TNA is more looser: giving Russo more room to work with. Russo says that when Ed Ferrara and him went to WCW, they knew about Standards & Practices. It was when they got there, the things that Standards & Practices were raising red flags for – he thought they were ridiculous. He said he never thought in a million years that those issues would be brought up. He said they did some of that stuff on Spike TV and nobody thought twice about. He says he doesn’t know of one incident that Spike said “No” to, but Russo/Ferrara were responsible. They were responsible in WCW as well but the stuff Standards & Practices were coming back with was ridiculous. He mentions Roseanne at 3pm would be cussing at John Goodman. Russo said he wanted Hall/Nash to show up at a taping drunk; Standards & Practices said they couldn’t get drunk but Hall could drink Nyquil and get a buzz off of that.

Host asks if TNA needs to push the boundaries a bit to compete with WWE. Russo said he doesn’t; he says he thinks WWE’s show is “terrible”. He said when WCW was beating them back in the day, WWF had to push the boundaries because the nWo was on fire. Bischoff/Hogan/Hall/Nash were doing stuff that hadn’t been done before in wrestling which put them and the WWF in a position that had to push things as far as they could to get noticed.

Russo says as a wrestling fan, he can’t watch the WWE because it’d be a huge waste of 2 hours to him on a busy week. Segments he does catch when he’s in a hotel room on a Monday night – he says WWE is so boring. He says as a writer, WWE’s writers aren’t doing it, they’re going through the motions, and they did it on January 4 when they were going head-to-head with them. Russo said he kept looking at their show and thinking, “What is Vince McMahon thinking?” He said there was no effort being put into the WWE’s show.

Russo said he’d rather throw a hundred things at the wall and have 90 things not work than go through the motions week after week putting on the same show because they are doing a 3.4 and are happy with that, and as long as they are doing 3.4 they’re okay. Russo says that’s why they don’t have to go nuts, push the envelope, or challenge Standards & Practices. They just have to put on a better show on a consistent basis. Russo says he thinks TNA is a better show right now.

Host says he doesn’t think Bret Hart came across that well. Russo says after working with Bret (and he’s working with Hogan right now), if he had the privilege of working with Bret again because Bret was one of the true heroes of wrestling, he’d treat Bret as if he was the ultimate star. He’d treat Bret as if Babe Ruth came back tomorrow.

He says he can say that because he’s helping to write for Hogan – he’s writing in a respectful manner, put Hogan on a pedestal and treated with honour, dignity and class. He said from what he saw with Bret/McMahon, all that is coming across to him is how egotistical McMahon is – and it’s a travesty for Bret to come back and be treated the way he’s treated. Russo says there’s a way to do an angle and do it with class and a respectful manner to not do some of things to Bret. Russo says that just reeks the ego of Vince McMahon and that’s one of the reasons he left the company.

Host says there are young fans that won’t know who Bret is as the Montreal Screwjob happened over 12 years ago; so they try and re-educate the fans by playing the clips over and over. Host says he doesn’t believe that it’s coming off of the crowd. Host says Russo in Rope Opera wrote that a lot of wrestlers think they can write TV but many can’t do it. Host asks if Foley can do it; Russo says yes.

Russo says he tried to wrestle; when WCW asked him for ratings, he said due to all the pressure, he went out, became an on-screen character and wrestled. He said he was badly injured because he’s not a wrestler. He’s glad he did it because it gave him the perspective what wrestlers do. Russo said wrestlers are wrestlers; not writers. Do they contribute ideas and are they creative? Yes. But to sit down, write a show, spending all week to tweak the show, hearing from the boys and getting feedback – a wrestler cannot do that. Russo said writing a wrestling show is a full time job, there’s a science to it, and you really need to know how to do it. You also need years and years of experience. Kevin Nash, Kurt Angle, etc – they are always a part of creative – but to do it A to Z, that’s not what wrestlers do.

Host says the writer has everyone’s interests in mind while the wrestler says they have their own interests in mind and Russo agreed with that. Russo says he get blamed for every single thing that people don’t like. He says many of the wrestling websites who supposedly knows how all of this works – because of the fact that Russo gets blamed for every little thing, he says there’s no understanding on their part. He doesn’t respect any of the wrestling websites for that reason. It’s a collaborative process and wrestlers are included every step of the way: not just what they do in the ring and the finish, but they get involved on a creative level. Then, you have the agents laying out of the match – they’ll throw their two cents on a creative level. He says at the end of the day, there are so many people involved in every segment of that show because he as a writer would be an absolute moron not to listen to a Mick Foley, Kevin Nash, Kurt Angle or a Jeff Jarrett. He includes their expertise.

What you see at the end of the day is an effort that everyone is involved in. He says as head writer, Russo is ultimately responsible for everything you see. But when Russo gets criticized for spots in matches, he says that these people have no idea how this process works. Russo says when the criticism comes, those writing about it just don’t have a clue how it really works behind the scenes.

Host says when they get the book, “Rope Opera: How WCW Killed Vince Russo”, people will really know the process of how a wrestling show is produced. Host promotes March 8: TNA’s first of their Monday night show.

The interview can be seen on

Thanks to Vince Russo’s Facebook for the Recap!

Rich “Cashman” Jones
The Pain Clinic
1280 WHTK and FM 107.3 Rochester Sports Talk
Clear Channel Rochester (live online)