Vince Russo Talks Time In TNA, Working With Bischoff & Hogan, More
How he got his start in WWF: I was doing a wrestling radio show in Long Island, New York which I was Funding with my own money. I started running out of money. I wrote a letter to Linda McMahon, knowing if I wrote to Vince he probably wouldn't answer it. I wrote a letter to Linda McMahon introducing myself, telling her what I was doing and saying I'd love an opportunity in the World Wrestling Federation at that time.
WWF being stuck in same rut as 1995: Here we are, twenty years later almost and in my opinion the wrestling business is at the same exact spot. In my opinion at that time WWE was about ten years behind with what was going on in society at that time. I feel here we are in 2012, and I feel that the wrestling industry is at the same exact place, I think time has passed them by. They've become irrelevant. There's nobody willing to make the changes that need to be made to bring the product up to speed.
What led to Vince going with the Attitude idea and pushing the envelope: I remember it was a RAW where it was being simulcasted they were shooting in the States and overseas. The rating came in the next day and it was rock bottom, it was maybe a 2.1, I mean it was really really bad. I went into work the next day and literally as soon as I sat down at my desk, Vince's assistant called me that he wanted to see me. I went up to Vince's office, he had all his key people in the room. He had the RAW magazine in his hand. I was worried, I was ready to be fired. He took that RAW magazine and slammed it down on the desk and said "this is what the show need to be" I was absolutely shocked. I thought it was going the other way. I had no dream that it was going to go that way.
Was the original plan for WrestleMania XV to be triple threat Austin/Rock/Foley: Absolutely. That's the way it was booked but someone who wasn't involved had a very different opinion about it and they kinda got in Vince's ear and Austin's ear and next thing I know Mick was out the picture, I wasn't happy about it, I thought Mick deserved it, but you do what the boss tells you so we made the change.
Just to clarify, was it Shawn Michaels that was in Austin and Vince's ear: Could have beenů..
Did Ferrara's Oklahoma gimmick go too far? Absolutely. There's no question about it. But that's where it was at the time. I look at that now and I think 'how could you do that?' Thankfully I've had probably 3 or 4 conversations with JR since, I was able to apologise and get it all off my chest. Being 51, looking back at that now, yeah it was wrong.
Seeing title belts as props: The first time I saw wrestling, it was clear to me it was entertainment. I knew it wasn't real. The characters were great, over the top. The storylines were straight out of soap opera digest. To me, it was entertainment and that's why it always was. You have this title belt, it's not real, these matches aren't real, nobody is winning this belt. We're writing it that way. So you use that belt as part of the entertainment. I feel that way to this day. When I saw Capt Lou Albano and the Valiants, I got it, I understood what it was. That was always my philosophy.
Why have TNA struggles to create their own brand name stars? Because I think there's a lack of patience. Ratings don't happen overnight. Ratings happen when you commit to something and you stay the course. That's why the attitude era worked. Vince stuck with it, we didn't let the rating affect us on a weekly basis, we rode it out. Unfortunately, that was never the mindset at TNA. There was a lot of emphasis on the rating week to week, then creative is being directed to jump all over the place. It might take a year, but if you stay with it and believe in it, it's going to work. It's not going to work if every 6 weeks or 2 months you're changing course and going in a different direction. I feel TNA have been guilty of that for a very long time.