Imagine you’re watching a company suffer from the outside. The rival company is winning while the company you’re more invested in suffers from not being able to adapt and grow. So the company you’ve leaned towards hires you to rebuild their image and bring new ideas to the company and revitalize their product. You give it your best effort and succeed in bringing originality to a company that had followed the same pattern since it first open its doors in 1952. You, along with certain other members of your creative team, brought a struggling company back to the top, and helped it bring in more money than it ever has before.
Now imagine leaving that company for a chance to basically run the competition you were originally against. But instead of walking in to a struggling company like you thought it was, you walk in to a failing company full of large contracts allowing your highly paid employees to do whatever they want, hidden politics, and massive amounts of money already lost. You’re brought in and told to fix everything by not only doing what you did with the previous company you worked for, but doing something entirely different as well. Also, you have restrictions on a lot of the things you can and can’t do with the company. And if that is not enough to turn your hair gray fast upon arrival, the higher ups expect you to turn the company around immediately. If you can imagine how stressful this scenario would be, then you can clearly understand how it was like to be Vince Russo during his first three months in WCW before he was let go for not bringing immediate results despite raising the ratings from a 2.9 to a 3.5 within his first run.
The reason I felt the need to discuss this is because after finally finding the time to watch the most recent episode of the Monday Night Wars, I’m very disappointed with how certain people shared their blame of the end of WCW. Once again Russo was made out to have been the death of the company due to not having Vince McMahon around to filter his ideas. It all arrogantly comes down to Russo needing Vince. And despite all of the flaws and issues that WCW had way before Russo even entered the company, he will always be remembered for killing off the company regardless of only having one year to turn things around. So I think it’s time to tell the absolute blunt truth about the end of WCW. Because regardless of how comfortable people inside and outside of the wrestling business have become with throwing the blame on one man, WCW was doomed regardless of who was in charge.
When Time Warner and AOL began negotiations for a merge in very early 2000, it was already decided that WCW would be dropped once the merger was complete due to one side not wanting anything to do with professional wrestling. The negotiations and legal parts of the merger wasn’t finalized until 2001. Two months later, WCW closed their doors. From that standpoint, it sounds like there wasn’t much anyone could have done to convince a company who wanted nothing to do with wrestling to keep a company that was already losing money. Sure, you could blame Russo’s booking, his hit or miss ideas, and even the decision to drop the heavyweight strap to a celebrity to market a film as the death of the company. But the truth is that the curtains were going to fall on the company regardless once the merger was complete.
As for the arrogant, kiss ass belief by many that Vince Russo had decent ideas, but needed Vince McMahon to filter them, I believe that Russo simply needed someone on his side in general. WCW didn’t have any structure. The company was built upon everyone only doing what benefit them personally. With no one to collaborate with in an chaotic environment filled with overpaid old divas who were more concerned with holding their spot than pushing new talent, not even input from Vince McMahon could have turned things around. Vince Russo was handed a broken company and told to fix it all on his own. And with the WWE basically continuing the type of story lines and angles he’d written before, Russo had to try to be as different as possible to make things work. The attitude era was kind of goofy and over the top when you look back at it. So of course some of Russo’s angles and ideas were even bigger and goofier at times. He needed some sort of filter to help him with his ideas. Did it need to necessary be McMahon? No. But some sort of collaboration might have helped.
So I think it’s time we stop blaming one person for the death of an already doomed company. In order for WCW to have remained successful, it would have had to go off air for a while and rebuild from the inside out. That means the corrupt foundation of the company would have to be sorted out before it could even function again. The money hungry leeches would have to be removed, and the roster would have to be rebuilt with the idea of teamwork to achieve success as a company instead of individuals looking out for themselves. But even with that amount of dedication to rebuilding the company, none of it would matter if the parent company no longer wanted any part of the wrestling business and a TV deal is no longer on the table. As the WWE currently makes the same mistakes WCW has like relying on older and higher paid talent while not building younger talent, I believe that Russo can actually help the WWE utilize their midcard. With a new religious faith and the same mind for the business, Vince Russo could help turn the stale product that WWE has become in to something incredible while keeping itl under the PG standard. Because given actual support and actual winning odds, Russo can still turn a company around and deliver some great feedback to help the business.