First off let me apologise for my absence from TNA Stars for the past couple of months. I have been concentrating on my new job as a chef and have been unable to catch up much with the Impact Wrestling product to the degree able to construct a fair column. Right let’s get started.
News broke last week that Vince Russo had been released from his TNA contract where he had been a major part of the creative team, on and off, since the company’s inception in 2002. Russo is a hugely polarizing figure within the wrestling world thanks to his undoubted success as WWE’s (then WWF) head writer during the massively successful “Attitude” era and his risible failure at WCW during that company’s embarrassingly sad implosion. However, I would note that the “Attitude” era was largely a rip off of what Paul Heyman had created over at ECW where scanitly clad women, hardcore matches and a roster of smashmouth wrestlers were the order of the day since Shane Douglas’ infamous “shoot” in 1995. Sure Russo honed and polished ECW’s material but the similarities were clear for all to see.
When Russo jumped to WCW for big money in late 1999, the true extent of his “genius” became horribly visible with utterly ridiculous concept matches such as the three tiered cage match that headlined Slamboree 2000 , completely nonsensical/tasteless feuds such as Madusa vs Oklahoma ( a sick parody of WWE’s Jim Ross) and a narcissitic attitude that saw himself win the WCW world title. Without a filter like Vince McMahon, Russo was a disaster waiting to happen.
However when NWA:TNA was born, Jeff Jarrett sought Russo out again to provide the creative direction of his fledgling company seemingly believing that with a fresh product and lack of history weighing on his shoulders, Vinny Ru would be less likely to screw things up and may even rediscover some of the flair that had spawned the “Attitude” over at WWE. To give Russo credit he did push younger stars (possibly through necessity at first) with the likes of AJ Styles, America’s Most Wanted and Abyss gaining a lot of exposure in TNA’s early years. Though the old Russorific tendencies still came to the fore with the prevalence of ‘…on a pole’ matches, Jarrett being consistently top dog and Russo’s face being plastered over the TV screen such as during his SEX group’s run within the organisation.
TNA has undoubtably grown in popularity and in terms of it’s global exposure in its ten year existence but perhaps the growth hasn’t been as vast or as quick as it could have been with a better, more coherent man at the helm of the creative team. This is a fact that Dixie Carter (possibly thanks to Eric Bischoff) has finally come to realise, and if Bischoff’s recent tweet is an indicator then TNA is set to produce more consistent booking and storytelling without Russo holding the creative reigns. Surely we should all be grateful, as fans, for the chance of TNA finally going forward as a viable alternative to WWE without the threat of a “Fire Russo” chant erupting during a disasterous Electrified Cage Match.