I recently spoke with former WWE and WCW head writer Vince Russo. In the third and final part of the interview below, Russo discussed his short WWE return in 2002, why his idea to restart WCW was rejected, working with TNA, almost bringing Bret Hart into TNA, working with Hulk Hogan again, trying to bring Paul Heyman into TNA, GFW, not getting credit for the Attitude Era, if he's still pitching ideas to TNA, if he could make WWE popular again, his new website and much more.

Click here for the first part of the interview, where Russo discussed getting his start with WWE, moving from working with WWF Magazine to the creative team, if he followed ECW, the Attitude Era, his favorite angles during the Attitude Era, scripted promos and more.

The second part of the interview is at this link, where Russo discussed why he left WWE and Vince McMahon's reaction, working with WCW, which WCW talent he wanted to push, how top talent reacted to his WCW signing, backstage differences in WWE and WCW, the Bash at the Beach 2000 incident with Hulk Hogan, WWE buying WCW and more.

You can follow Russo on Twitter @PyroAndBallyhoo, and visit his website at PyroAndBallyhoo.com.

Wrestling INC: It seemed like you had a lot of bad luck during your time in WCW with injuries. You had a top storyline in motion with Bret Hart reforming the NWO and then there was Bill Goldberg. They both got injured and that was the end of it. You were really the first person to push Bret Hart as the top guy since he joined the company. Are you surprised he has hard feelings today considering the push you gave him?

Vince Russo: Deep down inside, I don't know if he does. When I went to WCW, I wanted Bret Hart in a position he longed to be in. I approached him my first day there and we sat down for an hour and discussed the Owen [Hart] incident. We talked about it man-to-man and I thought everything was behind us. Six months before I left TNA, I had a phone conversation with Bret about bringing him to TNA. He was very excited about that idea and I spoke to him personally on the phone for an hour. Face-to-face or on the phone, there has never been an issue between me and Bret.

I find it hard to believe Bret feels that way because he had the opportunity on more occasions than one to tell me — especially when I tried to bring him into TNA. There's the perfect opportunity for Bret to say 'Vince I'm not working for a scumbag.' That's not how the conversation went; it was a very positive one. I find it hard to believe at his core that he feels that way, but I also know bashing and burying Vince Russo to the internet wrestling community is the cool hip thing to do. Some people think that's what gets them over. Just throw a Vince Russo barb in the wrestling community and you're over. All these people that have these issues with me and do interviews, never have I been confronted to my face. That's unfortunate. I worked as hard as I could in the business, was very respectful, and am a family man. To consistently have to deal with all the negative comments, it gets old after a while.

Wrestling INC: You went back to the WWE in 2002 for a short period. In your book, there's a storyline idea you pitched where Vince McMahon hires Eric Bishoff to be general manager and abuses him. Bishoff would then restart WCW in retaliation. Why do you think the WWE didn't go ahead with the storyline?

Vince Russo: Probably because it was my idea. The last person I should have been pitching was Eric Bishoff, but he was a phenomenal on-air talent. Anything personal between us wouldn't have mattered. Bishoff deserved to be on TV. I literally laid out this plan and then obviously things didn't work out. I left WWE and Eric was hired. I watched it unravel at home on TV and I was like 'are you freaking kidding me?' They had a goldmine and week after week they were butchering it. They killed a million dollar idea.

Wrestling INC: Looking back since you've left, the WWE has been on a downtrend of popularity. Is there a way to get back to that popularity or has that shipped sailed?

Russo: It blows me away the minute Ed [Ferrara] and I left, Vince [McMahon] forgot what brought him to the dance. He forgot how the Attitude Era was created and maintained. He lost sight on what about the Attitude Era so successful. He went back to what he knew, which was wrestling. Wrestling only draws a crowd of a 3.0 [rating]. It was 3.0 before and after the Attitude Era because only wrestling fans are watch. Is there a way to get a mainstream person back to watch wrestling? Absolutely, but there's no effort going in that direction. That direction is not a three hour show with four matches going 15 minutes. That's only going to draw wrestling fans.

Wrestling INC: You were on and off with TNA for 10 years. What was your creative vision with that company?

Russo: That started on pay-per-view and the name was T-N-A. I came up with the name and gave it to Jeff [Jarrett] for pay-per-view because of the name. It was supposed to be more edgy, have characters taken to the next level, and it was on pay-per-view so anything could have happened. That was the origin of TNA. Taking nothing away from Jeff Jarrett—he's a wrestler at heart and slowly that concept turned into another wrestling show. It's completely different from the company's original concept.

Wrestling INC: Your first TNA stint lasted a couple of years. How much of your input was used in the product and what ultimately led to you leaving the company?

Russo: It was a struggle in the beginning working with Jeff and Jerry Jarrett. Jerry never liked me and still doesn't to this day. I don't know what it was. It was tough trying to work through those kinks. I know Jeff was having some issues with his dad as well, so finally Jerry was no longer involved. I started working on the TV with Jeff, but I was there to pitch ideas to Jeff. At the end of the day it was up to Jeff what got produced and I was fine with that. It was his company. I then became a Christian and a lot changed for me in my life. One of those was that I didn't want to be around the wrestling business anymore. Wrestling was almost everything I was against so that's a primary reason.

Wrestling INC: Had you been a Christian before or had you converted earlier in life?

Russo: It was definitely my first time and it was nothing I was looking or thinking about. My life wasn't in a black hole. It happened, slapped me upside the head, and changed everything from the inside out. I haven't been the same person since.

Wrestling INC: Did that change your presence on wrestling storylines from older ones compared to more recent ones?

Russo: It changed the way I wrote and how I would pitch ideas. They are less edgy, but this is about entertaining people who might be in a bad place in their lives. Part of me cleaned my act and smoothed out the rough Edges, but I knew this was still about entertaining the people.

Wrestling INC: What made you decide to rejoin TNA in 2006?

Russo: Jeff's wife Jill was dying and I was close to them. She was battling cancer and he had three small kids. The core of it was to help a friend. Taking anything off of Jeff's plate was what I wanted to do.

Wrestling INC: How was that first meeting when Hulk Hogan signed with TNA? Had you seen each other since WCW?

Russo: Not at all. Eric pulled it together and handled the situation. We met in a hotel room and said everything we needed to say. I think their perception that night is different than mine. When Eric laid out a story, I kind of understood it so at the end of the day it was lack of communication and both parties seeing it differently. I think that's because of a lack of time to put something together, so it's understandable. Hulk's attitude was let's put that behind us and move forward and my attitude was the same. It was successful not having to carry that baggage.

Wrestling INC: It seemed like Paul Heyman was close to signing with TNA while you were there. What's your take?

Russo: I don't know if he was close. I called Paul to bring him into TNA and we had a couple of conversations that were hours long. I was under the impression Paul wanted to come in and have things 100% his way, but that's not how TNA works. I turned it over to Dixie [Carter] and was out of the loop. I didn't care how I was going to be working with Paul or who had what title. I thought Paul Heyman could make TNA a better product and that's why I made the original contact.

Wrestling INC: How was Dixie Carter as a boss? How does she compare to a Vince McMahon?

Russo: You'll never be able to compare the two. Nobody has the knowledge and experience Vince has. Dixie has less experience, but is more of a people person. She has a big heart and cares about the people who work for her. She wants to do well, but that can be dangerous because she's working with wrestlers and wrestlers put themselves first. To this day, she is still learning the process. They're two totally different animals.

Wrestling INC: What led to your TNA departure last time?

Russo: Simply, there were too many chefs in my opinion. I felt too much input hurt the product. It was going through too many levels of creative with people who have different philosophies and backgrounds. I thought it would be best for the product if I eliminated myself.

Wrestling INC: To put the rumors to rest, have you been pitching ideas to TNA recently?

Russo: There are certain things I can't talk about. I will say I don't have a contract with TNA. I'm not under contract with anybody at the time, but there are some things I'm not at liberty to talk about.

Wrestling INC: You mentioned your relationship with Jeff Jarrett. What are your thoughts on his new promotion Global Force Wrestling and what would you like to see from it?

Russo: I don't know. I know TNA's been struggling to keep their head above water. To throw a third wrestling promotion out there, I don't know. When I look at the wrestling landscape today, strictly number wise, I don't see a third promotion being successful. What hasn't TNA done? What can a new promotion bring that's different? I wish Jeff all the luck in the world and want him to be successful, but the landscape doesn't seem fit for a third promotion.

Wrestling INC: Do you see the landscape of the business staying where it is or a continued trend downward?

Russo: I think the odds are in favor of it trending down because I don't see the necessary changes being made. Maybe they'll come. I haven't seen a change in theory or philosophy that would bring the ratings back.

Wrestling INC: Do you have any interest in getting back that head writer position?

Russo: On a full-time basis, the more I talk and read about wrestling, the less appealing it becomes. At the height of my success, it was Ed and I. We were good friends and we were writing the show with Vince. That's how I was most successful. In the last 15 years, creative has become level on top of level and I don't think that's a formula to success. So many people trying to get all their ideas on paper will never work. It needs to go back to being simplistic. One vision with everyone moving in the same direction hasn't happened in the last 15 years and it won't anytime soon. I couldn't work in a creative design destined for failure.

Wrestling INC: Are you bothered for not receiving credit during the hottest period in the business? People always talk about Vince McMahon editing your ideas, instead of giving credit.

Russo: Being a Christian it shouldn't bother me, but on the same token I am a human being. It does bother me because I don't stop for a second to give everybody else credit. Ed Ferrara and every piece of talent deserve credit. They were atop their game and unbelievable. I don't stop to put them over or Vince. Ed and I wrote this wrestling show and then we would bring it to Vince. He would put his bifocals on and not change or filter anything. He would add a little something to each segment that would make it that much better. He could take a good idea and make it greater.

That was the genius of Vince McMahon. A few weeks after I left the WWE, Vince had a companywide meeting, where a newbie throughout the question 'who is this Vince Russo I keep hearing about.' For McMahon to answer that Vince Russo was an appliance salesman he gave an opportunity, shame on him because before the Attitude Era the company was in the red. Now you're a billionaire and you don't want to give credit where it's due, shame on you. I'm a firm believer in giving credit when due, putting others over, and bringing people up with you and not down. Everybody in the WWE is responsible for that success. Nobody could have created a talent roster like Jim Ross. Yes, I take it personally because there's no reason for it. If you can't give credit or put someone else over, you need to look in the mirror because deep down there's a problem of ego.

Wrestling INC: When you were with the WWE, much of the talent got over. Today, there's only a handful and many have been around for awhile. If Vince McMahon rehired you and Ed Ferrara, got rid of the rest of the creative team, cut down the number of TV hours per week, and gave you guys free reign, do you think wrestling could get back to where it once was?

Russo: Yes, there's no question. Basically I told Vince we're doing wrestling in 1980s and we need to take out product and mirror society. The product needed to be brought up to speed. The same thing would happen today by bringing the product into the year 2014. The problem is they're going backwards and only drawing wrestling fans. Somehow, they bring the product up to speed then go back 20 years. Only the wrestling fans are watching. It won't happen with a creative team of 45 people. There needs to be one vision, coming from a couple of people that are seeing it every week. The more creative hands in it, the less that will watch it. All successful shows have one or two brains behind it. People run out of time trying to getting approvals from Stephanie [McMahon], Triple H, and Vince. That's why we get six-man matches that last 15 minutes.

When I got stuck in a wrestling angle, I always stopped and went back to logic. What would happen if this happened? You can come up with all the excuses, but the difference is clear. It's never going to improve with all these chefs. If you want, let Triple H write everything.

Wrestling INC: When did you come up with the idea for your site PyroandBallyhoo.com?

Russo: I wanted to do this for so long, but knew nothing about starting a website. It was important to be able to upload content on a daily basis. I hooked up with the right people who could walk me through the process. I write everything, chose the pictures, layout the stories, and upload everything online. As far as content, I'm not waiting on anybody else and that's what was important. Now I can build this website the way I want it.

Wrestling INC: What's the response been so far to the website?

Russo: It's been great because it's not about wrestling. I'm doing entertainment because I'm a fan of TV, movies, gossip, and pop culture. I love that stuff and to be able to put my own spin on it is rewarding compared to writing wrestling 52 weeks out of the year. There is some wrestling content, but it's not limited to that. I wake up every morning, see what's going on in the world of entertainment, and then make a decision on what to write. That's how I run the site.

Wrestling INC: What are your plans about the site's future?

Russo: I don't know. I'm just growing it. I use Facebook now and Twitter @pyroballyhoo. I want this to be fun by talking about topics and getting people involved. It's very light hearted and not about global problems—that's not me. I try to make people laugh and if it's a source people use to be entertained, that's all I ever wanted to do in the first place.

Wrestling INC: The website looks great and I appreciate all the time you devoted to us. Do you have any final words for the readers of our site?

Russo: The website PyroandBallyhoo.com is important to me. It's my love. There are a lot of things I always wanted to talk about and never had the forum, so I'm happy to have it now. I'm supportive of people who checkout the site and not take anything more away from it than what it simply is. The site is to entertain, laugh, take things lightly, and to put a smile on your face—even if it's only for 10 minutes.

Click here for the first part of the interview, where Russo discussed getting his start with WWE, moving from working with WWF Magazine to the creative team, if he followed ECW, the Attitude Era, his favorite angles during the Attitude Era, scripted promos and more.

The second part of the interview is at this link, where Russo discussed why he left WWE and Vince McMahon's reaction, working with WCW, which WCW talent he wanted to push, how top talent reacted to his WCW signing, backstage differences in WWE and WCW, the Bash at the Beach 2000 incident with Hulk Hogan, WWE buying WCW and more.

You can follow Russo on Twitter @PyroAndBallyhoo, and visit his website at PyroAndBallyhoo.com.

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