The Russo Effect

Mark Madden

Mark Madden

The WARPING of wrestling booking by Vince Russo’s influence was never more evident than this past Raw. Raw was actually a decent WRESTLING show. Not GREAT, but DECENT.

But the wrap-up was convoluted soap-opera bull***t. Stuff so silly and smarmy you couldn’t suspend disbelief, not for a second. From a major corporate decision being announced cold on live TV to Vince McMahon’s crocodile tears, it just SUCKED. How come we’ve never heard about this WWE board? Vince never had to answer to anybody. Then, out of the clear blue sky, Vince is fired FROM HIS OWN COMPANY.

“It’s only wrestling.” I could almost hear Russo say it. He’s certainly said it enough. “It’s only wrestling.” Russo has ZERO RESPECT for the intelligence of fans. Raw’s booking had ZERO RESPECT for the intelligence of fans. They’re DUMB. But not THAT DUMB.

Vince may have shed REAL TEARS when Raw’s rating came in: 3.2. Barely up. C.M. Punk will get the blame because, well…that’s what he’s there for (or not there for). McMahon thought there was a groundswell for Punk, and there is…but only within the current WWE universe. Only among the marks that ALWAYS watch the product.

Those who watch WWE do so by rote. It’s what they do no matter how bad it sucks. Some of the Nitros I co-hosted contained steaming piles of the worst drivel in TV history, but we drew 2’s and even some 3’s. (I was on six Nitros that did better than 3.2, as a matter of fact.)

Those watching Nitro weren’t reacting to the product. They were going to watch Nitro NO MATTER WHAT, NO MATTER HOW BAD IT SUCKED…and it did. That’s what Vince has left: Fans that are going to watch WWE NO MATTER HOW BAD IT SUCKS…and it does. Numbers only rise when A BIG STAR comes back…and that does damage for the long run because it's made obvious that the regulars are NOT BIG STARS.

Jesus, none of you can think this is any good, can you? Even the good stuff (like Punk) comes off like a diamond buried in a pile of manure. Who cares about the brilliance? You CAN’T STAND THE STINK. Russo-style booking is dead, but WWE and Impact are either too stubborn to admit it or too stupid to notice. (At least Impact has an excuse: Russo works there. Why does WWE book LIKE Russo WITHOUT Russo?)

What’s old always becomes new again: Wrestling needs to go back to simulated competition with entertainment as the side dish. Steak over sizzle. Wins mean something. Championships mean something. Don’t tell me that won’t work…because THIS SURE ISN’T.

There are two weird obstacles keeping THAT OPINION from becoming the groundswell wrestling needs it to be.

*Wrestling “media,” specifically the IWC. The wrestling “media” too often props up a crap product, no matter how bad it may be, because the wrestling “media” thinks it behooves their survival. If I say this sucks all the time, it might disappear…and then what do I have to cover? There hasn’t been one legitimately positive thing about Impact in YEARS. But the wrestling “media” pumps up the volume for Impact because, good gosh, it’s SOMETHING TO WRITE ABOUT.

*Young fans. Young fans never saw wrestling when it was any good, so they think this CRAP is how wrestling is supposed to be. IT’S NOT. Wrestling these days is a ****ing ABORTION. But young fans don’t realize that, so they support and defend their generation’s wrestling.


Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA (105.9). Check out his web page at Contact Mark by emailing

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