Truth With Consequences – Russo Filters McMahon and Fixes WWE
Release Date: 12/09/18
Running time: 1:40
- Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo
- On this podcast, Russo acts as McMahon’s filter and breaking current product down to rebuild
Issue 1: Heels vs. Babyfaces
- Starting in 2001 ratings decline began.
- Ed Ferrara was a TV show writer before Raw and also wrote a movie. When Ed and Vince took over the show, all they saw were babyfaces and heels. To Vince the bad guy/good guy thing is outdated and the WWE is still doing it in 2018.
- Vince says who cares if they cheer or boo. He wants people to be invested. Will you pay money to see them?
- Roddy Piper was someone who was a badass that people loved or hated.
- Reality TV changed everything. The MTV show Real World influenced Russo.
- When you tuned in you would have preconceived notions and someone you thought was the girl next door wasn’t. We were seeing shades of grey which is what he wanted to do with the WWE.
- Vince McMahon has even said the WWE is beyond good guys and bad guys. Russo told this to Vince 20 years ago
- Babyfaces and heels are BS. Good people do bad thing and vice versa
Issue 2: Logic with Sasha and Bayley
- 2nd issue is logic and how these people would act in certain situations logically
- For example, Ronda Rousey. You would never see Ronda come to a fight smiling. No human being would go into a fight smiling and Ronda never did that in UFC.
- When talking about Austin or Rock, it came back to logic. How would they act in certain situations.
- If writer doesn’t know characters on that level because they haven’t developed them successfully. Everyone is acting the same because writer doesn’t know the character.
- For example, Sasha Banks. Why is she the boss? Or why is Bayley the hugger?
- Why is Sasha best buds with someone who is her total opposite? If you didn’t watch NXT it doesn’t make sense.
- Vince wants background on why Sasha is boss and why does Bayley hug everyone.
- Sasha’s background is nowhere near the boss. She had a rough childhood.
- Vince would try to find out about Sasha and Bayley. Once he finds something about them, he would anp that up 100 times.
- These people are not actors they’re wrestlers. You have to find something that is real in them because now they’re not acting it’s real. Now they feel passionate. You don’t have to force people to believe it. If the wrestlers believe it the audience will too.
- He would take this approach with every character.
- Next he would do vignettes in real settings outside of wrestling and the arena. Develop the character to make people understand who they are. People will draw their own conclusions.
- Get characters over, make people care then let it happen organically.
- People will dictate the show if they understand the show and the characters
- McMahon isn’t the filter, the fans are. They’ll let you know what is and isn’t working.
- Vince thinks they killed him by dressing him up in an elf suit.
- Anyone who is that big talks like Braun does and cites Andre didn’t talk like that.
- If you’re that big do you really need to talk like he does? The less you say is more.
- They did too much too soon with the feats of strengths. After they ran out of things to do he became ‘normal.’
- Drew got beat by Ziggler and Vince thinks this is because they don’t want people to get over.
- Drew would be Vince’s guy. He thinks Drew is unique and guys like him don’t come along often. He puts him in the Austin/Rock level of potential.
- If WWE doesn’t think they need stars why should people tune in?
- People want to see stars whether it’s TV or movies.
- People like Drew need to be protected.
- Vince (and Matt) want to believe what they are watching is real. During the Drew/Ziggler match, Finn came out, which ruined the believability of the match as Vince feels Drew would use Finn as a toothpick. Finn should not be in Drew’s league.
- Vince doesn’t think Finn belongs and it’s not believable when he’s up against Drew. Vince likes the demon and would buy that but not Finn.
- Vince has nothing against Finn and says he’s a world class athlete but he doesn’t believe physically Finn could be a threat to Drew with the way they’ve portrayed him.
- Vince likes the Demon but he tends to wrestle like Finn. They demon could be money but they need to work on that character.
- You also need to show consistency with characters. We just watched Drew dismantle Angle and not two weeks later he’s losing to Dolph because he was screwed.
Seth and Dean
- Vince can not believe that the main motivation of Dean’s character is that the people smell. It’s embarrassing.
- Vince says Dean will never be another Brian Pillman.
- Vince could buy the lunatic fringe character but why is he that?
- When Vince saw Dean in the gas mask he thought of the movie Saw. He comes up with the idea that Dean would ‘torture’ Seth. For example draw him to another building and waterboard him.
- When you give someone a moniker like The Lunatic Fringe, they have to live up to the monicker.
- WWE is not producing Renee well. If Bruce Prichard was producing her, Renee would be 100 times better.
- Vince says WWE is responsible for killing characters. If they are truly this inept, the WWE is going to have issues. Bray Wyatt and Rusev were killed by management which is why he thinks this is being done purposely.
- They had Seth in the perfect spot. People loved when Seth cashed in the MITB and people may have wanted him to be more face. This could have been done through the story. Something had to happen to show that side of Seth.
- Vince wishes some of the talent would push back. Austin, HBK, Rock and Bret would have.
Laziness, Brock and Lashley
- Vince’s issue with WWE is laziness. For example Brock. Even if he’s on once a month, why not have him to vignettes and backstage stuff for the other three weeks?
- He could be on every show of you are creative and aren’t lazy. Vince says Prichard could do that.
- People complain about David Arquette but at least he was on the show.
- Bobby Lashley is a cartoon character and a joke. He’s being wasted.
- Bobby should kill everyone until someone comes along.
- Vince feels they are going to fail Elias and feels if they took the handcuffs off he could be Randy Savage huge.
- They made Elias babyface which is a good start but missed an opportunity to make him. They beat him down in seg 1 but he should have spent the rest of the show knocking the heels off one by one. Use his intelligence. That would have made him. Stay true to character.
- Bryan Alvarez says RAW is all heat but Vince counters that the babyfaces in that RAW were up and says there isn’t enough heat. There should be heat on the faces then they get their comeuppance at the PPV.
- Nia Jax should have four weeks of heat on Ronda so fans might believe she can win leading into TLC. And you just can’t do only beatdowns in the ring. It has to be done in creative ways.
- For example establish that Ronda has a set training regiment at a gym. Have Nia go to the gym looking for Ronda but Ronda is not there and Nia beats everyone else up and blames Ronda.
Reality Based Booking
- In order to fix the WWE, they have to change their mindset. The backdrop of wrestling should be based in reality such as contracts, failing drug tests, who’s being punished, egos. Real life situations and what’s really going on.
- There have been a few attempts such as Nia Jax, Roman Reigns and the dismember statement Stephanie made.
- Why are we not following up on Roman Reigns and not in an exploitive way?
- However, if you book using reality, you have to organically let write that itself and roll with it. Vince feels the WWE doesn’t know where it’s going so there’s fear. You have to have people who know how to do it. Vince says the WWE is at an elementary point in writing that high school students could do this better.
- When Vince started writing in 1996 they were fighting like it was 1976. Today’s WWE needs to bring the product up to speed.
- Vince grew up a wrestling fan and wanted more people to see and experience what he enjoyed. He didn’t want people to laugh or look down their nose at wrestling. His goal was to get as many people to watch wrestling as possible. When done right it can be really really good. There’s no other form like it. He hates when people laugh at wrestling, but shame on the WWE for creating situations for people to laugh at wrestling. This is not about hating Vince or the WWE. He wants this to be as good as it can possibly be.
Rating – 7.5/10
I really enjoyed this podcast. Vince offered up a lot of different ideas, some good and some not so good ideas but given the current state of the WWE product (especially the last few weeks of RAW), they weren’t any worse than what is currently on TV. I do agree that they need to get the product more reality based or at the very least try to find something real to incorporate into current characters (which a lot of people like Austin and J.R. have suggested in their podcasts) but would push back against getting too reality based.
Also, at times I think Vince may go overboard with the whole reality based thing and I think there is a happy medium using reality based material in a scripted environment (which all other forms of entertainment seem to be able to do). Lastly, I’m not sure if I entirely agree with Vince’s face/heel assessment. I don’t disagree that you want people to be invested and I don’t disagree that the world is shades of grey these days but at the end of the day, you still need a protagonist/antagonist for people to follow along. I do completely agree with the fact that today’s product is lacking in some logic though (it’s one of my pet peeves about the shows). If nothing else, this podcast does at least bring up some good discussion around the creative process. Definite recommend from me.
Joe is a long time wrestling fan from Toronto. He is a co-host on the Pull Apart Podcast with Jeff Rush and Caitlin Lavelle as well as a contributor to www.pwpodcasts.com. One of his life goals is to be a guest host on one of Wade Keller’s post-show podcasts. He doesn’t consider himself any sort of expert, he just likes wrestling. Check him out on Twitter and Instagram @ja113.