Originally posted by cfgbBy any chance do you still have that Samuda article from which you nabbed those Russo quotes that you interjected throughout Nitro? I don't think I've seen the full deal since about 99.
Ben Miller and I had a chat with Vince Russo last Friday. My contribution to the conversation was very limited because I was on a cell phone, and as is common with those things, I got disconnected. The transcript:
BEN MILLER: You have a well-deserved reputation for responding to what the internet says, with all the negative press about the powers that be angle, are you guys going still continue on with it as the course is right now, or are you thinking of changing it.
VINCE RUSSO: I'm not thinking of changing it all, because one thing about me, that I've said a million times is, all storylines always start with logic. The logical thing was, you had the two writers from the WWF coming over and going to WCW. That was the logic, and that was the reality of the story. The whole thing behind the powers that be, that in my opinion is working tremendously, is the powers that be is a tool to get other talent over. I think we've used it, and we've done a good job. If you just look at Curt Hennig and Creative Control, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Chavo and Jarrett - if Vince Russo wanted to get himself over, then Vince Russo would be on TV every week - it's that simple. I write on the TV format, I go out in the ring and I'm on TV. The whole idea behind the powers that be is to get other talents over that had no storyline going on. You can see with Hacksaw and Chavo and Hennig, all these guys are going someplace. Again, that was the reason to use the powers [that be]. There's been a lot of criticism on the internet, but quite frankly on this one, I think the negative feedback is ridiculous, because if somebody wanted to put themselves over, they wouldn't put themselves over by just hearing a voice. I listen to the internet a lot, but this angle has really helped us get other people over and that's what it's all about.
MIKE SAMUDA: Don't you think that if the powers that be angle is more successful, you will eventually have to put a face on that person?
VINCE: No, because if you continue to do the powers that be angle, the idea is to have one of the talents represent me. Then any heat that the powers that be have will go to this talent that's representing us. That's the whole idea.
BEN: One of the guys, it seems like you're trying to get over is Jeff Jarrett. That's a guy with a history of both WWF and WCW being kind of like a ratings killer, where if you look at the quarter hour breakdowns, the ratings seem to go down within that quarter hour. What was the reason for choosing a guy like that?
VINCE: I don't know what quarter hours you're looking at, because in the WWF, every time Jarrett was out there ---
BEN: Even before Debra?
VINCE: Well not before Debra, but I mean after Debra, Jeff's hottest angle in the WWF was that Chyna deal. That was towards the end of his run. Jeff didn't have Debra at the time.
BEN: It's true that Jarrett's ratings were good in the female storylines, but pretty much all women on wrestling draw ratings. I was talking about like when he wasn't involved in any angles with women, the ratings weren't so good. My friends who are casual fans think that guys who should be elevated are like Booker T --
VINCE: I got to tell you guys right now, I think everybody is being elevated. I don't know if you guys are watching the same show I'm watching, but every single one of these guys are in an angle right now. There's no such thing as a push. All we're basically doing is giving each person a storyline. You've got to understand that there are 16 segments to fill on Nitro. Jeff Jarrett isn't in 16 segments. He's in one out of 16, and so is everybody else. So I don't think we're pushing Jarrett, or we're behind Jeff more strongly than everybody else. I really don't believe that. Do you disagree with that?
BEN: It just seems like the overriding angle in the promotion is the powers that be, and Jeff Jarrett comes out as the chosen one of the powers that be. It just seems like -
VINCE: But you have to understand something, that is a logical storyline.
BEN: It is.
VINCE: That's logical. We jumped, and he came with us. All I'm trying to do is to write a logical storyline, and again, Jeff, in my opinion, is not getting pushed more than a Buff Bagwell, or a Curt Hennig, or a Booker T that has his deal going on right now. I said when I first started that every one of these guys is going to get their opportunity, and I think we've done that.
BEN: I'm sure you've read it, there's a lot of criticism of the Jim Ross angle. I heard your angle was that it's not like it's ripping on his Bells Palsy by having someone come out looking like that. Would you like to respond to any of that?
VINCE: First of all, let me remind everybody, we did the same exact angle when we were at the WWF. Ed Ferrara came out on the WWF Television, I believe it was Heat, and he did his JR imitations. Everybody at the WWF raved about it, and felt it was the greatest thing they ever saw. Understand that first of all, we did the same exact thing at the WWF. Now again, just to go once step further, Ed Ferrara is not out there mocking Jim Ross or making a parody out of Jim Ross, just to do a parody of Jim Ross. We have Dr. Death, and that is an entire story that is going someplace. The bottom line is, my god, it just blows me away, when we did the same exact thing when we were in the WWF, everybody was entertained as hell, including JR himself and nobody thought anything of it. Now all of a sudden, we're the competition, we do the same exact thing, and now it's in bad taste and everything else. The thing about that as well is, we can tell that story and not even shoot Ed Ferrara as Oklahoma, because it's not about what the guy looks like, it's about what the guy is saying. That's the angle.
The angle is you've got a 50-year-old man, who walks around in real life wearing a cowboy hat, and takes himself more seriously than any individual I've ever met in my life! That's the parody. And again, we don't even have to shoot him on camera, what's entertaining about what he does is the calling of the matches, the constant putting over of Dr. Death - that's the entertaining part of it. I think during Ed's whole thing, there were only two times he was shown on camera for the whole time. Jim Ross has had a lot of bad things to say about a lot of people in this business, and quite frankly, most of the time he's doing the knocking behind people's back. So if you want to dish it out, then you need to be ready to take it. And if he's not ready to take it, and he wants to play the role of poor pitiful me, I don't want to be this way - the fact that he has Bells Palsy has nothing to do with this character.
BEN: I didn't really have problem with Ed coming out acting like he had Bells Palsy or saying anything spoofing JR, I just didn't find it funny. That was the only thing with me.
VINCE: You don't think the calling of that match, and "Piñata, Piñata, Piñata!" - "Candy, Candy!" - you don't think that was funny?
BEN: Coming out of your mouth, it sounds pretty funny.
VINCE: I just got to tell you, I think that's hysterical, because THAT'S JR! If I didn't think it was funny, we would not be doing it. The funny part about it is, this is a guy that just takes himself so seriously, and to me, that's the funny part about it.
BEN: I can see that point of view. For me at least, you see so many parodies, not just in pro wrestling, but it seems like every fake newscast, Saturday Night Live - it's like sensory overload for me. I've seen so many of them.
VINCE: I just got to tell you, not for anything, people can say whatever they want, and I've heard positive and negative --- the reality of it is, that was the highest rated segment on Monday Nitro.
BEN: Do you have a timeframe for when you think WCW will be competitive [in the ratings]?
VINCE: All I know is this - I read the dirt sheets, and I read all this stuff, and Wade Keller made as statement that I don't know what he's looking at, but the fact of the matter is - Ed Ferrara and Vince Russo - our last 5 weeks in the WWF - OUR LAST 5 WEEKS - the difference between the two companies head-to-head rating point wise was 3.7. WCW was doing a 2.5. WWF was doing a 6.2.
BEN: That was only in the head-to-head hours, right?
VINCE: Only head-to-head I'm talking about now. Those were OUR LAST 5 WEEKS following the US Open. Also, keep in mind, during our last 5 weeks, Monday Night Football was already into the season, and so was Smackdown. So now, our first 5 weeks at WCW, Nitro did a 3.0 average after 5 weeks. WWF is at a 5.7 after 5 weeks. So now, in a matter of 5 weeks, the difference has gone from a 3.7 to a 2.7 - 5 weeks - Wade Keller attributes that to - well that's got nothing to do with Russo and Ferrara, that's got to do with Monday Night Football and Smackdown. Well, Monday Night Football and Smackdown were on our last 5 weeks with the WWF.
BEN: That is true, but if you look closely at it, Smackdown I don't know about that, but for Monday Night Football, there have been a lot of games in the last 5 weeks that have been in markets that are big WWF markets, like the Giants played ---
VINCE: I've got to point out one thing though, the Atlanta Falcons also played. You got to call a spade a spade.
BEN: That's true, but the WWF sells just as many tickets in Atlanta that the WCW does.
VINCE: No they don't.
BEN: They don't?
VINCE: Absolutely not.
BEN: Didn't they get like 30,000 for the Georgia Dome?
VINCE: Well yeah, because they're never there. But the stranglehold that WCW has in Atlanta especially television viewers, I mean, that's huge. The fact of the matter why WWF had such a big show is because they were never in Atlanta before. Atlanta is probably our biggest audience in the country. You know again, OK, there are football games on, but all I'm looking at - in a 5-week span, the difference has gone from 2.7 to 3.7.
BEN: So you don't have a timetable, let's say WCW should be neck and neck, it should be 6 months or a year -
VINCE: I have to believe that in 6 months WCW will be very competitive. And the only reason why I say the 6 months is because I went through the same thing at the WWF. People seem to forget, and that's what makes me laugh, when everybody says that it was Vince McMahon and Vince Russo had nothing to do with it. What people seem to forget, when Vince called me to start writing television, the rating was 1.7. That's where I started, and you know what, guess who was writing the television at the time? Vince McMahon.
BEN: It wasn't Prichard and -
VINCE: Oh yeah, Vince McMahon was writing, and there was Prichard and Patterson. It was the three of them. I remember, we went from the 1.7, then we got in the 2s. then we into the mid-twos, then we were stuck in 3s for the longest time, then it went to the 4s, but I got to tell you, it was a 6-month process.
BEN: I'm sorry to keep you on the phone for so long -
VINCE: That's alright. I just like the facts to be out there. It just bothers me - I look at my situation - my situation is no different than like a Larry Brown or a Bill Parcels. I was with the WWF -- together with the WWF -- we were very successful. Not just Vince Russo, the whole organization, Vince Russo, Vince McMahon, the talent - we were very successful. It just got to a point where I felt I had done everything I could do, and I wanted to move on to a different challenge. It had nothing to do about money, because if it did, then I would have gotten an offer from WCW, and went back to Vince. I DIDN'T do that because it wasn't about the money, it was for a different challenge. Bill Parcels brings the Patriots to the Superbowl, two seasons later, he's coaching the New York Jets. I can't understand why people have such a problem with that, and what they don't understand about that. It's really that simple.
BEN: It's a funny analogy to me, because you have 31 football teams and two wrestling companies. I just wonder what you're going to do in another two or three years.
VINCE: I'll tell you exactly what I'm going to do in another two years. I'm either going to continue my relationship with WCW or I'll be out of business. I mean, it's that simple. I'm not going back. I'll never go back to the WWF.
BEN: WOW! It's amazing how things changed since our last interview.
VINCE: What did I say in my last interview?
BEN: The first one we did where you said you had been a WWF fan your whole life blah blah blah, I wanted to do this for Vince - it just strikes me that's all.
VINCE: Yeah, I was a WWF fan my whole life, what else did I say that I'm contradicting now?
BEN: I'm not saying you're contradicting anything, it's understandable when you go to a different company, I don't know, not be as big of a fan of the other company. It just strikes me as odd that's all - not even odd -
VINCE: The statement I just made to you was - I never said anything about not being a fan of the other company was - I have a two year contract with WCW - when my two years are up, I'm either staying with them, or I'm going to be out of the business. Now the reason why I say that, you got to understand that this weekend, I'm taking a wife and THREE CHILDREN, and I'm moving them to Atlanta. Two years from now, I can't do that again. I'm not saying that I hate the WWF, I would never go work there again.
BEN: Oh, I see.
VINCE: No, it's unrealistic to - tomorrow I'm picking up my family and moving to Georgia, it's really unrealistic to think that in two years, I can do the same thing again. I got a family to think about, that's what I'm saying, not that I would never go work for them again.
BEN: I just misunderstood that's all. The last thing I was going to ask you, one of the things I've noticed, my friends who are casual fans notice this too, is that the production, as far as the video packages, the entrance music, and even the announcing seem to be a step above in the WWF. Like when a lot of my friends watch it, they just feel like Nitro looks and feels like a minor league show regardless of storylines or wrestlers or anything like that. Do you think you guys are going to make any steps to change it? Are you happy with the way it is?
VINCE: I'm not happy with the way it is at all. I don't want to point fingers at anybody in production, but the reality of the situation is that these guys at WCW in production, they've never had to put on a show like this before. So this is a totally new and different animal to these guys. We've only done 5 shows, and they really need to learn our system and get comfortable working with us - because we came in, and they were so comfortable doing something for the same way for so long, and all of a sudden, here we were turning the place upside down. I think if you've watched the show for the last couple of weeks, I think from week to week to week, the production is getting a little better as we go along. But again, that's why I just say with a 6-month timeframe - now I'm not saying, in 6 months we'll be beating the WWF in the ratings. That's not what I said. What I said was, I think in 6-months we will be very competitive when the writing team, the production team, and also the talent - when everybody is on the same page, everybody is familiar with each other and everybody is working together.
Interesting stuff. Surprisingly, in his online news update on WWF.com, Ross did not respond to last Monday's parody, he only made a comment on the ratings result. Ross also said that The Rock will be doing a "Got Milk?" campaign, and he thought Survivor Series was a 5 out of 10 show.
The WWF and WCW were in Canada this weekend. WCW had their inaugural Mayhem PPV. I watched up to the Luger v. Meng match, and it was only an OK PPV at that point. Screaming Normal Smiley had me laughing out loud though. The show had about 12,000 paid fans. The WWF house show at the Skydome will beat that mark by a couple thousand. Also, with both groups in the same town, there was a non-physical altercation involving D'Lo Brown, Scott Hall and Mike Graham on Saturday.
Barry Windham, Kendall Windham, Glacier, and Ron Reese have all been released from WCW.
Wrestlemania 2000 for the N64 is a notch above WCW Revenge, and way ahead of the other wrestling games, making it the best wrestling game on the market. The game is not perfect, I mean the sound is almost awful, and I've been spoiled by Dreamcast's graphics, so WM 2K's visuals didn't wow me, but the gameplay, which is key, is top notch. Definite thumbs up. A BIG thanks to everyone who tried to help me with my e-mail trouble. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, it looks like the messages all gone. My inbox file is less than 1 MB. If you sent me an e-mail within the last two weeks, which requires a response, please send it again. Later.
1999: I Get Letters (slashwrestling.com) 2000: WOW in Los Angeles by Clint Wolf 2000: Rollerjam by The Cubs Fan 2001: Jakked by The Cubs Fan 2001: OVW by DrewDeuce 2002: Survivor Series: The Lines (PDF) by Robert Ortega