On the seventh episode of Vince Russo's Nuclear Heat, right here on Wrestling Inc., the controversial professional wrestling personality said that Seth Rollins' recent injury may be a "blessing in disguise". Russo claimed that WWE has not built up enough performers to step in for Rollins, as characters do not get over with the fans on wrestling great matches alone. Also, Russo talked about wanting to make MMA star 'Tank' Abbott WCW World Heavyweight Champion when Bret 'Hitman' Hart vacated the title due to injury in 2000.
According to Russo, throughout his career as a professional wrestling writer, all three of the promotions for which he worked, WWE, WCW, and TNA, all booked the product the same way: he would know the pay-per-view cards well in advance and then television shows in between the special events would be written afterward.
"Basically, during that 15-year stretch, this was the way television was written: we literally knew what we were going to be doing from pay-per-view to pay-per-view. We knew the pay-per-view cards in advance, but what we did was, we booked the individual weeks, week to week to week to week, until we got to the pay-per-view. We did this for a couple of reasons. I think the most important reason was back then, we listened to the fans."
Russo suspects that WWE is still being booked with a long-term view, as the company appears to avoid making adjustments between its preplanned major story arcs.
"From what I could tell from WWE, they're booking out and they're booking in advance because everything I see just looks very bland, just looks very vanilla, very boring. They're looking to get to the next step, so I think they're long-term booking right now in the WWE. I don't think they're doing it week by week by week by week, as far as the big angles are concerned."
In this way, Russo said that Rollins' injury could be a "blessing in disguise" as it forces WWE to change course.
"The Seth Rollins experiment was not working regardless of how great [of] a worker the guy is. People were not tuning in. They were tuning out. So knowing how the WWE works, Rollins was a pick due to somebody's opinion. They thought Rollins had the potential. They thought Rollins could go far. The WWE had a plan that they were going to stick to whether it was going to work or not." Russo continued, "now Rollins gets hurt. Now you have a perfect opportunity because all of the plans you had go directly in the garbage. Now, this could be a curse, absolutely, if not handled the right way. On the other side of the coin, this could be an absolute blessing because you can throw away all those stale plans. You can start with a brand new slate. And now with that brand new slate, you can go anywhere you want to go. It's a new, fresh beginning."
In Russo's view, WWE has not built up enough wrestlers to step in for Rollins now that he is on the shelf, as characters cannot be built from putting on great wrestling matches absent character development.
"[WWE] put so much emphasis on the main story and all the other stories on the card, they were just wrestling matches week after week after week. Characters weren't getting built. Storylines weren't getting built." Russo added, "on a personal level, [being a good worker] doesn't tell me anything about the guy! It doesn't tell me anything about his character. I don't know whether to cheer him. I don't know whether to boo him. All I know is he's a great wrestler. And right now, you [have] got a lot of great wrestlers on the WWE roster, but nobody is standing out because [WWE] haven't built them enough for the audience to either cheer him, boo him, love him, hate him. That's the problem."
Russo pointed out that this is a departure from how the product was booked during the Attitude Era, as every wrestler had a character and the goal of the writers was to get every performer over.
"We had a new DX group step up in the absence of Shawn Michaels. We had a Rock to step up when ['Stone Cold' Steve] Austin got hurt. We had a Mick Foley to step up when Austin got hurt. When somebody got hurt, we rolled another superstar into that spot. That's planning. That's why you've got to get everybody on your roster over!"
In regards to Hart's concussion throwing a wrench into WCW's booking plans, Russo stated that he wanted to make Abbott WCW World Heavyweight Champion when the title was vacated in 2000, but the idea was vetoed. Apparently, Russo pitched the idea of having Sid be the first entrant in a battle royal for the vacated championship and to make it to the end of the match, only to have a fresh Abbott come in as the final entrant and oust the exhausted Sid for the victory.
"The story would have made total sense. 'Tank' Abbott was legit at the time. And who would have thunk 'Tank' Abbott would be the new WCW [World Heavyweight] Champion." Russo added, "maybe 'Tank' holds the belt for [only] two weeks if it doesn't work. You look at the ratings and you listen [to] the people. If it does work, you go with it! But now at least you've done something outside of the box. You've got the people talking about it. And like I said, you'll know in a week or two whether it's working or not! If it's not working, you just make the adjustment, but at least now it was logical. It was believable. It made sense. And you basically see where you go from there."
In addition to these topics, Russo talked about how Triple H was groomed to take Shawn Michaels' spot prior to WrestleMania 14 and much more. You can check out the episode in the video above, and you can also download it directly by clicking here. If you want to subscribe to the Wrestling Inc. audio channel, you can do so through iTunes and Stitcher as well as our RSS feed, which you can use this to subscribe through any podcast app. If you're enjoying the show, please subscribe and rate us on iTunes!