In what may well be the longest and most entertaining episode of The Bolin Alley, Vince Russo talks with Kenny, The Prince, and Harry about everything from WCW, being an on-screen character, The Sports Entertainment Xtreme, Magnus, Wrestlemania, baseball, “smart” crowds and more!
The heat with Jim Cornette is also discussed in great detail!
During the interview, Vince Russo discussed a number of different topics with Kenny, his son “The Prince” and Harry Barnett, some had been talked about before and others were rarely spoken about, if at all.
On screen character origin and if he would have wanted to have debut the character earlier while working for WWF
“Everybody on the roster during the attitude era was a movie star, every single one of them! There would have been no place for Vince Russo whatsoever. What happened when we went to WCW, I had no intention of being an on screen character, what happened was they put me in a position where; when they hired me, I made it clear to WCW that you have to understand one thing, you are not going to get ratings over night, it doesn’t happen that way. We have to rip down what you have, we have to build our own foundation and we have to start building on that foundation and it’s going to be a year before you see the numbers you want. Well of course, 6 weeks in; they were all over me for ratings and numbers and why aren’t we doing 4’s? And I got so sick and tired of hearing them that I said “do you know what, if you want ratings so bad and you’re putting all of this pressure on me, i’ll go out there and do it myself!” That’s how it came about, that was my attitude and they basically told me my job was on the line if I didn’t go out there and deliver ratings tomorrow when I already told them before I signed the contract that I needed a year! So now while they’re putting the pressure on me, when you have to deliver, you can’t depend on anyone else. We’ve all been in that position, when your lively hood is on the line, i’m not passing the buck. So they put me in a position where I said “Screw it, bro. If you want ratings, i’ll do it myself!” because I knew people would hate me as a brash and arrogant new yorker, I knew they would buy it hook line and sinker, I knew they would buy it; especially in the south! And that was the reason I became the TV character, I had no intention whatsoever of ever being on television once I went to WCW.”
On never having 100% control in TNA
“I was at TNA for the good part of 10 years and there was about 2 months where as Mr Bolin would say I had the book. Other than that I will not claim 100% responsibility, simply because I did not have 100% responsibility. If I had it, I would claim it and have no issue with it. When I first started, Jeff [Jarrett] was in charge of creative and my job was to bring Jeff as many ideas and as many storylines as I could, that was my job but at the end of the day Jeff decided what was on TV and what wasn’t on TV. Jeff was the boss, it was me, Jeff and Dutch Mantell. Then Jeff was sent home because of the Kurt Angle incident and there was about a 2 month there where I was literally in charge of writing the TV, Matt Conway was helping me but shortly after that, Dixie brought in Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan and of course, she lied to me from the offset because Dixie lies very much, that’s part of her persona and she told me the only creative input that Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan were going to have was as it pertained to Hulk’s character and literally within a week, there was Eric Bischoff sitting in on creative meetings acting like he was the boss, Hulk Hogan acting like he was the boss by the time we got to TV, so that was a period where I was definitely not in control of either.”
TNA’s first year
“I think that first year might well have been my most enjoyable year in the wrestling business because my whole intention in what I was trying to convince Jeff of was that there was the attitude era and we need to evolve this to the next level and that is what we were really trying to do in the first year of TNA at the Asylum when it was the 9.99 pay per view but when you work with guys like Jeff and when you work with guys like Dutch and guys like Jeff, who I truly love and respect, at the end of the day they just tend to go back to their comfort zone and what they know and what they know is wrestling, so I think by the time we got the Fox Sports deal and we were going to be on TV, I don’t think Jeff really wanted to take the same chances that we took at the Asylum thus at that point we more or less turned into a full fledged wrestling company and the idea of evolving the business was kind of null and void at that time.”
On talent elevation failures specifically, Chris Harris.
” Here is a perfect case and point, we were getting Chris Harris red hot at one point and we had all agreed creatively; Me, Dutch and Jeff [Jeff was the champion at the time], we had agreed that at the next show Chris Harris was going to beat Jeff and become the new champion. What happened was, I went back to Atlanta, where I lived, Jeff and Dutch continued to have their discussions. I arrived at the building on the day of that show and I was told by Jeff and Dutch that there was a change in plans and Chris Harris was not going to go over and he was not going to be the new champion and the belt was going to remain on Jeff and I said, ‘Ok, if that is what you want to do, and that’s what you guys decided upon,’ after I left, I have no problem with that but i’m using that as an example of if I would have had things my way and I actually was in charge, I would have went along with those Chris Harris plans but I didn’t have a choice, it wasn’t my company.”
Finishing moves killing the wrestling business
“They still call them finishers and finishing moves yet everybody kicks out of everyone! You can’t call it a finishing move if you’re not finishing anyone with it so call it something else. You’ll watch these matches on Monday night, there will be 10-15 false finishes then the match will end with a roll up.”
Also discussed: Hogan and Bischoff’s entrance into TNA, the origin of the six sided ring, the roster of the early days in TNA, week to week vs long term booking, Sports Entertainment Xtreme, the heat with Jim Cornette, baseball, living in the south, Mike Sanders being the biggest missed boat in wrestling, working with The Hart’s, Wrestlemania, catering to the NXT fans, fans dictating the direction of the show, risks in wrestling and much more!
The Bolin Alley can be heard live on the first Wednesday of every month at 5pm EST at thebolinalley.com.