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WRITTEN PODCAST RECAP: Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast w/Vince Russo on why TV writers are more successful than bookers, Goldberg nearly “killing” him (Episode 131)

PWPODCASTS REPORT

Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast

Episode: 131 – Vince Russo

Release Date: April 26, 2017

Duration: 108 mins.

Report By: Rock Manor

DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD

SHOW STOPPERS:

  • Russo says unless you’ve worked inside the industry, or unless you can sit down and talk with someone like Vince McMahon, or unless you’re about to be killed by Goldberg, you cannot be an expert of the industry and charge people money for your “expertise.”
  • Goldberg almost killed Russo in WCW.
  • Russo says the majority of the talent on the WWE roster thinks professional wrestling is real and are marks for themselves when they do crazy moves today.
  • Russo says a lot of the superstars on the WWE roster today are built like one of his next door neighbors.
  • Russo explains the difference between television writers and wrestling bookers and why television writers are more successful.
  • There was a time when it was only Russo and Vince McMahon who wrote the scripts. Nobody else. He says McMahon can see things that no one else can in the business.
  • Russo claims his WWE scripts were nearly perfect. Sam says he will go through all the Attitude Era to see if this is true and then have Russo back on the show to discuss what he finds.
  • Russo says the first time he stepped into a WCW locker room, he knew he was done.
  • The GTV angle was created for Tom Green, a popular comedian at the time, before it was changed to a Golddust angle. It aired before Vince McMahon approved it.
  • Sable was at odds with the WWE so Russo created a skit called The Blonde Bitch Project based on the film The Blair Witch Project. It was dropped before airing because McMahon thought nobody would go see the film it was parodying.

TIMEKEEPER

00:00 – Opening Plugs
01:00 – Introduction
08:28 – Vince Russo Interview
57:31 – Post Interview Comments
58:56 – Mid-Show Plugs
1:05:00 – State of Wrestling
1:38:09 – Q&A
1:46:30 – Closing Plug
1:47:32 – End

THE WHOLE F’N SHOW:

00:00 – Opening Plugs

01:00 – Introduction

Sam warns listeners that this week’s interview may be a bit controversial. His guest this week is Vince Russo. Sam says while Russo is combative and irritating, he also finds him entertaining.

Russo was recently involved in a major conflict with most of the pro wrestling journalism (and dirt sheets) community. His podcast’s latest episode was entitled “Castrating the Marks,” and Sam listened to the show to see what the entire blow up was about. Sam summarizes it as basically Russo playing other podcast clips and talking about pro wrestling newsletters and then blasting all of them for no apparent reason other than Russo was irritated with them. Sam says he knows some of those who Russo criticized and likes some of them personally. Still, Sam says he finds it entertaining when a guy like Russo just attacks people “seemingly out of the blue.” Sam says he understands why some people wouldn’t like Russo, but Sam still finds Russo entertaining nonetheless. Sam invited Russo on his show to discuss the blow up, plus wrestling in general and his career within the industry.

Sam credits Russo for being the first “widely known creative person” in professional wrestling. People never knew who was on the writing teams before Russo and Ed Ferrara. Now almost every wrestling fan knows about the creative process. Sam says when smart fans talk about the product today, they often refer to “creative.” Vince Russo helped bring “creative” to the forefront of the business.

Sam gives a brief bio: Starting in 1991, Russo began as a freelance writer for WWE Magazine [Rock Note: Writing under the pseudonym Vic Venom] followed a promotion to become its editor. Throughout the 1990’s – all the way through October 1999 – Russo eventually became writer of television, head of creative, and Vince McMahon’s right-hand man for television writing during the Attitude Era. It was during this era that Monday night television ratings became important for Raw as it competed against WCW Monday Nitro every week. Eventually, WWE won the war and Russo was an intricate part in the victory.

08:28 – Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast Interview

Sam: When he worked for Opie and Anthony, he created a segment called “Jocktober” where every day for that entire month, Sam would find a radio show for everyone to mock and make fun of. The audience loved it. Sam says listening to Russo’s podcast episode “Castrating the Marks” reminded him of it.

Russo: Russo says wrestling is fake fighting. It’s a television show. It’s entertainment. But the funny thing to him is how seriously this group of people [Rock Note: Wrestling journalists, podcasters, newsletter writers, etc.] take fake fighting. He says they have literally forgotten that wrestling is not real, there are no belts on the line, and that it’s a television show for entertainment. He says it’s okay for 12-13-14-year-old kids to believe it’s real but not grown adults. He says grown adult fans end up looking like parodies of themselves when they do. Russo thought he needed to expose them on his podcast to show how ridiculous they looked to everyone.

Sam: He mentions how this could upset wrestling fans. He also mentions how Russo gets his own fair share of criticism for some of the things he did creatively that wasn’t best for long term value. Sam says Russo was in the business at a time when it was all about right now and not looking long into the future. He says many of the grown adult wrestling fans today have been watching wrestling for decades.

Russo: He says wrestling is nothing more than a television show. Russo points out that Sam has a relationship with the WWE [Rock Note: Russo drops his first “bro” of the night at the 12:31 mark.] and sees Sam’s social media feeds filled with photos featuring Sam and WWE Superstars. He says Sam has a Sirius Radio show, a legitimate relationship with the WWE where he’s allowed backstage, he’s on the panels, he’s in the locker room…Russo says all of this proves that Sam has the professional credentials which the dirt sheets and some of the other wrestling journalists do not have. He says those people only talk to talent behind Vince McMahon’s back and a lot of time that talent has an axe to grind. He said these people have no credentials but they label themselves “experts” and charge people to listen to them. Russo asks: how can they be an expert if they never legitimately spent one second working in the wrestling industry?

Sam: He says they follow the product and pick up on audience trends. Sam asks Russo if a play-by-play announcer for baseball, who has never played the game, is qualified to give an analysis of the game during broadcasts.

Russo: He says they are qualified because they have access to the locker room, the players and to management. Russo explains that if someone has the credentials to actually sit down and talk with Vince McMahon or Triple H or John Cena, then that someone is going to get an actual education on wrestling. Russo says he started a baseball podcast but he knew he was only a baseball fan and not an “expert” in the field so his podcast was free and he made it clear that he was a fan like everyone else. That’s the difference, Russo explains.

Sam: He agrees and says there is a difference once you walk behind the scenes at an event versus just watching as a fan. Sam says what you may have thought as a fan for 20 years is most likely not what’s really going on behind the scenes.

Russo: He says having Goldberg standing in front of his face and about three seconds away from killing him is completely different than just talking about the business like many of the dirt sheets do. He says if these “yahoos” didn’t charge people, then he wouldn’t have a problem with them, but to charge people and call themselves “experts” – he says that’s a sham and he felt compelled to expose those people.

Sam: Why did Goldberg want to kill Russo?

Russo: Because Russo needed him to do a job to Scott Steiner. He asked Goldberg why he had an issue with it and Goldberg said “because if this were real, Scott Steiner would not beat me.” Russo told Goldberg to go tell Scott what he just said. Russo says he knows Scott Steiner and he’s not sure if Goldberg would win that fight in real life. On the night of the match where Goldberg was to do the job for Steiner, Goldberg caught up to Russo in a room backstage. It was just those two. Golberg pulled up a chair and was about a foot from Russo’s face, huffing and puffing, rocking back and forth. Russo then said to Goldberg: “Bill, if you’re gonna hit me, just hit me and get it over with because you’re not going to intimidate me.” Russo said after that moment they were able to do business together. Russo says unless someone is in a similar situation, or unless they’re spending a lot of time around the talent, they are not an expert of the wrestling industry.

Sam: He mentions Russo said earlier that the business was fake fighting. He asks why then would Goldberg go to Russo and say what he did.

Russo: He says even some of the talent can become marks for themselves. Russo says he knows there are a lot of guys on the current WWE roster today who are marks for themselves. They think professional wrestling is real and perform very dangerous moves to convince people that their fake fight is real. Then Russo says these types are far and few between.

Sam: Sam seems confused by Russo’s statement [Rock Note: And for good reason.]

Russo: He takes us back to 1991 when Russo started in the business. He says AOL was just beginning around that time and because of the new internet, it got around quickly that professional wrestling was a work. [Rock Note: For history buffs, America Online was one of the internet’s first portals that provided email, online chatting, and web browsing all powered through dial-up connections.] Russo doesn’t know what happened in the past five years, but he says now there is a lot of young talent who somehow convinced themselves that professional wrestling is all about the match and they have to go out and do crazy stuff so they can get the crowd to chant “this is awesome.” He says it’s the most preposterous thing he’s ever heard in his life. Russo says wrestlers have a limited shelf life and they can only make money for so long, so they need to extend both as long as possible instead of putting themselves at risk. Russo guarantees someone will be paralyzed soon from doing these moves and that’s when those moves will stop.

Sam: He asks for an example.

Russo: Russo says it’s the majority of the WWE roster [Rock Note: One of many contradictions found throughout this interview]. He brings up Charlotte Flair. He says he knew Charlotte when she was a young girl with her Dad and family in WCW. He believes she will be the greatest women’s champion of all time. But Russo cringes every single time she does that moonsault to the outside of the ring. The problem, Russo says, is she’s doing it with workers who are still green. He mentions Charlotte’s final match on Raw with Nia Jax before the Superstar Shakeup moves. Russo says there is no reason for her to break her neck when she’s already a star.

Sam: Agrees.

Russo: He says he direct-messaged Charlotte about his concern. He says he can tell Charlotte’s a star just by looking at her while a lot of guys on the roster look so out of shape they could be his next door neighbor.

Sam: Brings up the fact that before he was ever in the business, Russo once hosted a wrestling radio show and was paid for it.

Russo: He says it’s not the same because his wrestling show was called “Vicious Vincent’s World of Wrestling” and that made him a part of the act. It was entertainment. He didn’t talk about the politics, the backstabbing and the gossip, etc. Russo says they were doing what the WWE was doing and not what the dirt sheets and pro wrestling journalists do today. He says today they try to ruin people’s lives. They have “rats” in the locker room who give these dirt sheets their information. These “rats,” Russo says, probably have an agenda and an axe to grind. The trade-off is the dirt sheets will then put over the “rats” in their shows or publications. Russo gives the example of Sam Gotch [Rock Note: Russo means Simon Gotch.] who was on his show recently. Gotch said the WWE let him go because his character had run its course. The next day, Russo heard Dave Meltzer say Simon Gotch asked for his release. Russo says this is an example of why they are not “experts” because they are wrong so many times and there is never a retraction [Rock Note: There was a time when PWInsider reported that Russo was working in secrecy for TNA during 2013-2014. Russo denied this report only to admit a few months later, after he had left TNA, that he had in fact worked secretly for TNA during the reported time. Even if Russo had a NDA, the dirt sheets were correct in their reporting. Just a fact.]

Sam: Asks if Russo had this issue with the dirt sheets when he worked for WWE in the past?

Russo: Says he got into the business with a guy who had a dirt sheet called the Pro Wrestling Spotlight. It was during Vince McMahon’s indictment for the steroid scandal. Russo mentions Dave Meltzer and Superstar Billy Graham, among others, got together to do one thing: take Vince McMahon down. Russo says that’s why exploitive stories such as Pat Patterson and toe fetishes and other salacious stories had all of sudden started popping up everywhere. Russo says it was a witch hunt. He ponders why they would want to take him down because without McMahon, there was no wrestling business. He says it all came down to ego. They all wanted to make a name for themselves. They all wanted to get the scoop. The scoop is what sells subscriptions. And if there isn’t really a scoop, Russo says they just make them up because that’s their business. Russo says he didn’t get into the business to ruin lives or careers like these guys did. He got into the business because he was a fan and loved the business.

Sam: Talks about going to a recent wrestling show with a Hollywood screenwriter who had no knowledge of the wrestling business but wanted to educate himself because of a project he was doing. Sam tried explaining the Roman Reigns crowd reactions to the screenwriter. He explained the crowd wasn’t booing the wrestler but was booing the creative writing for the character. Sam credits this phenomenon to Russo and Ed Ferrara, particularly when they jumped ship from WWE to WCW in October 1999. Sam says it was newsworthy. He asks if this had a positive or a negative effect on the business?

Russo: He says WWE brought all of this upon themselves. When Russo wrote for each individual character in whatever promotion he was working in, he had to put himself in the boots of those talents. He says he would ask himself: “What would Austin do if this happened? What would The Rock do if somebody said this to him?” He had to become the talent and take on their personalities. Russo says this is where the WWE dropped the ball with Roman Reigns. Russo says he would have done it differently if he had been writing at the time. Russo brings up the ending to Royal Rumble 2015. He says the writing was sloppy, and it was blatantly obvious who the winner was going to be before the end. They even gave the crowd another 5 minutes to let it all sink in which was a big mistake. That’s why the crowd booed Reigns out of the building. Russo says he would have buzzed the referee from the Gorilla Position to tell Roman to “flip the double bird” to the crowd because that’s what the Roman Reigns character would have done in that particular situation. Russo says that’s the difference between television writers and wrestling bookers. Television writers would have had the character do the right thing with the double bird. Bookers want to keep the good guys good and keep the bad guys bad. That’s why they failed miserably. Russo says he’s a huge Reigns fan and wishes he was writing for the character. You have to listen to the people and give them what they want. He says that’s why ratings went through the roof during the Attitude Era.

Sam: He asks if it can be done again like Russo did during that era.

Russo: He says no. He says he had balls, he didn’t know any better (he was shocked he was never fired by Vince McMahon for some of the things he said during that time), and there are too many writers on the creative team today. Russo says there was a time when it was just Russo and McMahon writing the shows. That was it. He says now, when you have twenty writers, a writing staff, and you have to go through Stephanie and Triple H and other authorities, it will never be the way it used to be. Writing by committee will never ever work in the wrestling business.

Sam: He wonders how Bruce Prichard or Pat Patterson (both who were the head writers/bookers at the time) felt when Russo was getting that type of one-on-one time with Vince McMahon for creative?

Russo: He says Pat didn’t care because Pat would retire every month. With Bruce, there may have been a little jealousy because some politics did come into play but once it did, McMahon squashed it immediately.

Sam: Mentions that Russo didn’t have the level of success in WCW or TNA like he did in WWE.

Russo: He disagrees with Sam about TNA. Russo says he’s a numbers guy. He says TNA was actually a success because they had over 2 million viewers per week while he was there and nowadays they are only at 300k viewers per week. He admits WCW was not a success and blames it on politics. He said he wrote for the first three months there and saw the numbers going up before the politics killed him. Russo says TNA will probably never get anywhere near that again. [Rock Note: TNA is under new majority ownership and is now Impact Wrestling.]

Sam: Why wouldn’t they want him back if he made them a success at the time?

Russo: He says it’s all about egos again. He mentions Jeff Jarrett’s name. When he was at WWE, he says McMahon knew he was the boss and he never saw Russo as a threat. But other people don’t look at it that way. Russo says he is seen as a threat to many people. Those people prefer minions who fall in line and do exactly what they tell them and he says he’s not the type of person to do that.

Sam: Asks if Russo thought about doing a podcast format similar to Bruce Prichard’s where he tells stories about what happened during his career?

Russo: He says every now and then he reviews old Nitro shows and old Attitude Era shows on his podcast, but Bruce Prichard is the greatest storyteller and that’s not Russo’s thing. Russo prefers giving the writer’s perspective: here’s what we did and here’s why it worked and this is why these things don’t work today, etc.

Sam: Does Russo oppose the theory that he needed a McMahon to be successful?

Russo: He says he was lucky to have a Vince McMahon, but those who try to discredit him by claiming McMahon was his filter are ridiculous. Russo says Vince McMahon cannot write a wrestling show on a blank piece of paper. Ninety-nine percent of the time, McMahon went with everything Russo wrote. Russo says he put everything into his writing because he knew McMahon would scrutinize and pick everything. Russo would work until he knew McMahon would not find one flaw or one hole in the show. So when he would finally approach McMahon with his work, McMahon would approve almost everything. Russo does point out that there were times when Russo would bring a “9” level work to McMahon and McMahon would tweak just enough to bring the work to a “10” level. He says McMahon could see things that no one else could see in the business and that made Russo a better writer.

Sam: How long does it take Russo to get the talent comfortable with him to have a good working relationship and how does he start that dialogue?

Russo: In the WWE, he says he had to think about 50 different wrestling characters while each superstar only had to focus on their own characters. He says it was always a conversation between Russo and each talent. It was always a team/group effort. Today, the talent are handed a script with little to no input and are afraid to go beyond the script or out of the guidelines for fear of losing their jobs. It wasn’t like that during the Attitude Era, Russo says. Everybody wanted the best possible product and there were no egos involved.

Sam: Was WCW the same?

Russo: WCW was a nightmare. The first time he set foot inside a WCW locker room, Russo says he knew he was done. He went from a great company in WWE and then to WCW where the superstars sat on one side of the building and mid-carders and jobbers sat on the other side.

Sam: Did you regret it immediately?

Russo: He says he didn’t at first because he had left WWE for personal reasons and because of something McMahon had said to him. He left for all the right reasons and never regretted leaving the WWE. He did not want to be at the WWE at that time.

Sam: What’s Russo’s favorite segment or angle in professional wrestling that he created?

Russo: The Rock joining The Corporation. Russo says he and Ed Ferrara wrote the beautiful story as it all played out over a three month period and nobody saw the ending coming. Russo was in the building when The Rock joined The Corporation and he says the entire place went silent when it happened. It took about 10 seconds for people to register what had just happened. He says we’ll never see wrestling television like that again because it’s impossible when you have so many chefs in the kitchen.

Sam: Were there angles where Russo didn’t know where it was going and was more or less spontaneous?

Russo: He says they never knew where anything was going. That’s was the secret. They wrote week to week by putting themselves in the characters’ boots, by asking hypothetical questions, by looking at motivations, etc. The only constant was that every episode had to be better than the last.

Sam: Does Russo want to see more of these long term angles played out over months?

Russo: He says all angles were played out in the long term. It was the week to week shows where they made everything fit together. The first thing Russo and Ferrara did when starting on a new week was ask “what happened last week?” The purpose was to remain consistent and have logical storylines. But now he sees something happen one week and by the following week it’s completely forgotten and doesn’t make sense.

Sam: He says he likes some of the people that Russo had criticized but at the same time finds Russo entertaining. Sam wants to go through Attitude Era shows and see if there were any loose ends and then have Russo back on to discuss them.

Russo: He accepts. He says that’s why it was episodic television. It was must-see TV. People had to watch it every single week because they had to see where the story was going. That’s why the ratings kept growing. He says there are going to be loose ends but Russo has explanations for those loose ends. He gives examples. Russo explains what the GTV angle was never explained and completely dropped from television. GTV was for Tom Green, a comedian who was riding a wave of popularity at the time with his MTV show. GTV was Green Television. When Russo tried selling it to McMahon, McMahon had no idea who Tom Green was so Russo had to drop it and turned it into a future angle for Goldust [Rock Note: Goldust left the promotion for WCW before they had a chance to use it]. Another example, The Blair Witch Project had just come out in theaters, and Sable was at odds with the company at the time so Russo and Ferrara decided to shoot The Blonde Bitch Project parody with Stevie Richards and the Blue Meanie out in the woods. McMahon saw the skit and didn’t know what it was. Russo and Ferrara explained the parody to him. McMahon said no and had them drop it because he believed nobody would see the film The Blair Witch Project. The film went on to become one of the most successful independent features in motion picture history. The Blonde Bitch Project parody was even featured in the media after it was scrapped. Russo admits he came up with some stinkers in his career and has no problem talking about them, but he knows he and Ferrara were very careful in writing episodic television.

57:31 – Sam Roberts Post Interview

Sam says he’s definitely going to make a list of every loose end and every storyline that went nowhere from the Attitude Era and then have Russo back on the show since Russo claimed his writing was pretty much perfect during that time. He asks listeners to help him out.

Sam knows this interview will annoy some people but Sam says Russo will always be entertaining and will always have a place in the history of the WWE.

58:56 Mid-Show Plugs

1:05:00 Sam Roberts State of Wrestling

Braun Strowman. Sam received some criticism for saying Strowman is a babyface. Sam points out that even though Strowman called the crowd “trash” on this week’s Raw, he still received cheers. The build for Strowman was strong until Fastlane 2017 when he lost clean to Roman Reigns. Then he didn’t do much leading up to WrestleMania 33 except for one quick encounter with The Undertaker which was used to set up for the Taker-Reigns match. Strowman basically took a break between Fastlane and WrestleMania (not counting the Andre battle royal which he didn’t need to win anyways). Once WrestleMania 33 was over, Strowman’s build started again. Except this time it was better than the first one. Sam says perhaps the idea of an unstoppable heel version of Strowman is not working out as planned by WWE’s creative team. Sam believes that people are tuning in and buying tickets to see Strowman beat people up. Sam notes Strowman’s kiddin’ and killin’ as a highlight of his attacks. Strowman beats down Roman Reigns and appears to be finished, only to return and inflict even more pain on Reigns. Same thing with Kalisto. He beats Kalisto, throws him in the dumpster and acts like he’s finished, only to return and push the dumpster off of the stage. This is what the WWE Universe wants to see. Strowman isn’t getting cheered just because people hate Reigns. If Strowman had done what he did to Finn Balor, he’d still be getting cheered. People want to see someone indestructible and Strowman is it. If WWE wants Roman Reigns to be the babyface of the company, they are doing him no favors by having him face Strowman. Add this in with the last time Reigns was in the ring on the post-WrestleMania Raw where he drew massive heat without saying nothing more than 5 words – and after he retired The Undertaker – none of that will help either. Sam says it’s time for a double turn between Strowman and Reigns, similar to Bret Hart and Steve Austin, and most likely it could happen at Payback. Sam’s dog Lyla begins barking. Sam says she’s a Strowman fan as well because she and Stroman look alike. Lyla may even get a mowhawk to match. [Rock Note: hahahaha]

Big Cass. Sam says Big Cass is the future. He looks like everything they wanted Diesel to be. His promos will get better and once that happens, he’ll be unstoppable. He makes you watch. Next to Finn Balor, Big Cass looked like a huge monster. He’s quick, he’s young, has a great attitude. As long as these things maintain, he’s going to do really well. When Big Cass had his brief singles preview, Sam could see the future.

T.J. Perkins. Sam makes a quick note about the Cruiserweight Division: remove the purple. He’s so sick of it already. [Rock Note: Probably not happening unless 205 Live goes under. WWE is color coding their shows for branding purposes. Raw=Red, Smackdown=Blue, NXT=Yellow, 205 Live=Purple. I wonder if the upcoming United Kingdom series will be green or maybe gray.] He would like Perkins to change his entrance. Keep the video, keep the music, keep the stage…even keep the dab (people hate it so it works for a heel). But now have him walk to the stage slowly and menacing before dabbing the crowd with disdain, as if the dab is the middle finger. “I’m better than you” attitude.

Apollo Crews/Titus O’Neill. Crews needs a shift in attitude. The Titus O’Neill brand angle with Crews should be where Crews fully embraces the idea of O’Neill managing him as a heel. Apollo Crews can blame the fans for not cheering him or saying he smiles too much. Maybe brag about the money he’s making with the O’Neill brand managing him. Titus can be a great mouthpiece for Crews. He’s an underrated worker who can advance the new talent of Crews.

Bray Wyatt. Sam’s a little frustrated with this development. He hopes it will clear up after Payback. It appeared at first that Wyatt was going to work an angle with Finn Balor after he was finished with Randy Orton in their House of Horrors Match at Payback. Sam says there better be answers at this PPV because there is a lot of confusion right now. Wyatt has started beefs with The Miz and Dean Ambrose as well. Everything is up in the air between all of these superstars. So after Payback is wrapped up, then we should be moving on after effects of the Superstar Shakeup.

Jindar Mahal. Sam says Mahal is the MVP of this week’s Smackdown Live episode. His segment was great, stealing the title was perfect – it sets up the title itself not being at Payback. Whether you like Mahal or not, Sam says he had the best segment on Smackdown Live this week. The ladies segment was great, but Mahal’s was better. Muhammad Hassan (remember that name?) was a terrific character until it took a turn for the worse according to Sam. The initial character was a marginalized Middle Eastern man who had disdain for the fans because they treated him like a terrorist due to his ethnicity even though he was an American himself. Then he turned into a cartoon character that was just a terrorist and that’s when it all fell apart. Jindar Mahal is now in the position of what Hassan had but ended up ruined. Now the WWE gets a second chance to get it right this time. If things keep going the way they are, we are going to believe Mahal is a main eventer.

Breezango. They are now the number one contenders for the Tag Team Championships. Another total surprise. Smackdown Live really is the “land of opportunity.” Smackdown Live is making new superstars, creating new main events, and creating new stories. The same thing that’s happening with Mahal could be the outcome for Breezango maybe. Sam says it’s great to see.

Smackdown Live PPVs. They promoted three pay-per-views on one episode this past week. Sunday is Payback. Then we have Backlash next month. Now Rusev wants a championship match at Money In The Bank. Sam thought it sounded weird though: Who threatens to walk out with a two-month notice? So now we have the main events for the next three Smackdown Live pay per views. Sam says they could have been more creative in getting there than just having Rusev making a threat on a cell phone video. Sam doesn’t understand why all three pay per views had to be mentioned or advertised together on one episode of Smackdown Live. Seems like overkill.

1:38:08: Interactive

Sam gets emails from his website at notsam.com and now reads them on the podcast.

From Rich: He mentions Roman Reigns and Sam’s concept of “yeah-boos.” For instance, when Roman Reigns walks out and everyone cheers at first and then the cheers quickly turn into boos, this is a “yeah-boo” whether it’s through social proof of the audience around them or just to be different from everyone else. Sam says these are not real boos if you start with a cheer. Rich also talks about the fourth wall breaking where we cheer for the person rather than the character and vice versa. So cheering for the person first because they are a famous superstar can then be diminished once the character settles into the role of the show (or in the ring).

From JJ Campbell: He liked the Gallows and Anderson interview. He also agrees with Sam’s Strowman assessment and hopes they give him a monstrous push. He says he hopes they do the same with Baron Corbin. Sam says Corbin’s beat down of Sami Zayn this week was masterful.

From Sam: He asks when we’ll see Brock again because there’s a void for the Universal Championship on Raw every week. This was a question brought up during Brock’s previous title run. Sam says by keeping Brock off TV over a long period of time, it makes the title match that much more important when the title is defended. That said, Sam says they can’t wait until SummerSlam for Brock to defend the title. He can skip a one or two consecutive PPVs at most. So now it’s about figuring out who deserves the shot against Brock.  [Rock Note: At one point, I wonder if Sam is privy to info since this is exactly what WWE has done –  they skipped two consecutive PPVs and Brock will now be defending the Universal Championship at Raw’s July PPV. But then I think of what name the WWE just gave that new PPV and I think there is no way Sam would not mention it if he already knew. Great Balls of Fire? He wouldn’t be able to not talk about it!]

1:46:30: Closing Plugs

1:47:32: End

ROCK SAYS…

9/10.

Sam did a great job with the interview. He wasn’t a pushover nor was he antagonistic. He did a professional job here. This rating is based on the interview and the large amount of “Show Stoppers” that were included within it. There’s a reason Vince Russo generates headlines.

People either love or hate Vince Russo. He’s a polarizing figure. I agree with Sam to a certain degree that Vince Russo is entertaining in a bombastic and controversial way, much like his Attitude Era penmanship. Vince Russo IS Crash TV. But no matter how you view the guy, he is partially responsible for saving WWE from being owned by Ted Turner after the professional wrestling downturn of 1993-1996, particularly with the formation of the NWO.

Russo mentions how superstars today do crazy things to get over and prove that wrestling is real. As he’s saying this, I think of Mankind falling off the Hell in a Cell during the Attitude Era. I think of the bodies that went through multiple tables. The Hardcore championship. The numerous chair shots to the heads of many superstars that had their careers cut short.

Also while I’m listening to Russo discuss what’s wrong with the business today, I can’t help but remember when the Attitude Era was in full swing and Bruno Sammartino and a lot of the pro wrestlers from the previous era(s) condemned it. They disapproved of what they saw including the hardcore wrestling styles, the profanity, and its Crash TV/Jerry Springer style. They wanted nothing to do with it and distanced themselves from the WWE at the time.  Vince Russo, with all due respect and understanding, has now taken their stance in viewing today’s professional wrestling world. The roles have been reversed as they say. How many times when you’ve seen an old school pro wrestling video on YouTube or Daily Motion or social media and read comments like “this was when wrestling was great!” or “this is better than that crap they do today!”

Whether we like it or not, professional wrestling evolves just like everything else: music, films, technology, etc. That’s why professional wrestling has “eras.”

In Sam’s State of Wrestling report, I really like his assessment and suggestions of both T.J. Perkins and Brock Lesnar. I agree that Perkins needs to go down a darker road. The idea of using his dab as flipping the bird to the crowd is perfect. He will own it. I would go one further. Have Perkins’ music start out normal and then turn into a slowed down sinister version of the same track. Have all the video game graphics turn with his face on them in a total show of egomania.

I know a lot of people don’t agree, but the idea of keeping the Universal Championship off television does add an old school value to the championship. It will make the PPVs where it’s defended seem that much bigger than usual. It will finally be defended at July’s Raw exclusive pay per view. Now if only we can figure out how that would work using that PPV’s new title – Great Balls of Fire! Anyone else anticipating the superstar promos for this PPV?

ABOUT ROCK MANOR

Rock Manor has been a professional wrestling fan since 1987 and has a special interest in its rich history. He is the producer of Manor House, a collection of dark stories presented with a full audio drama production. Bestselling horror author Brian Keene says “It’s like Tales From The Crypt. It’s really fu@king cool.” You can listen to the podcast on iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio and other podcast platforms. Rock Manor has also been a featured performer on podcasts such as The NoSleep Podcast, Pseudopod, Tales To Terrify, and StarshipSofa.  Visit https://www.manorhouseshow.com/ for more details.

 

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