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REAL CHALLENGE PLAGUING TNA

by / 06.05.2014

Everything in life is subjective. We are all different, unique beings who have our own thoughts. No two people think the same. God created us ALL as individuals.

I guess that’s why I take offense to overly critical critics. At the end of their rant, hatefully pointing out what sucks about you, or your writing, or your show, our your music, our your acting, it all comes down to one reality – that’s their “personal” opinion. It’s not right, it’s not wrong – it’s just their view. Many people who critique tend to believe that their written word is the truth. Well, it’s not – it may be “their truth, but it’s really not THE truth.

judgejudy-002And, with being critical about someone, or something, what comes along with that is “judgement” – they’re one in the same. And, truthfully, I despise judgemental people. How can you judge me when you haven’t walked in my shoes? How can you possibly know, and understand why I’m doing, or saying, the things I am. You can’t. You’re judgement goes right back to your opinion – your view.

That’s why I make it an effort to not really “judge”, or “critique” either the TNA, or the WWE product. Whatever my views are – they are my opinion. It is the way I see the product through my eyes. Subjective – it’s all subjective.

From a philosophical view, I think both TNA and the WWE my be a bit “off” when it comes to the way they present their product in 2014 – that’s MY opinion. To me, it’s not “really” about the characters, or the storylines, or the in-ring wrestling – all of those things can be changed by next week – no big deal. To me, it’s about vision and direction. The “Attitude Era” was a vision, and a direction. Can today’s vision, or direction, really be described by either wrestling company as I write this? WHAT is their product and where do they see it going. However, even that is subjective. Even though I believe the product  should go a certain way, who knows where the leaders of those companies feel the product should head? Because of who they are, and what they’ve experienced – they have different views and ideas. Nobody’s “right”, or “wrong”, it’s just their VIEW.

That’s why I like talking about FACTS. The FACTS are all that really matter. You hated me at WWE, WCW, and TNA – great, that’s your opinion – but – what do the FACTS say about my legacy? If we looked at all three companies and their numbers prior to me coming in – then leaving – what will they tell you? That’s really all that matters to me.

bobby-roode-395337221In my opinion, having worked there, what’s hindering TNA more than anything right now, are major factors that lay “outside” the ring. Again, the creative is all subjected, and can be adjusted — if need be – but the financials — the costs to operate — are FACTUAL, much like TV numbers.

For starters, and I don’t need to tell anybody this, including the brass at TNA -- trust me, they know — the environment inside the “Impact Zone” is not ideal for what TNA is attempting to put across your TV screen every week. Universal Studios is a “tourist” attraction, so primarily, TNA is drawing “tourists” to watch IMPACT, not die-hard “wrestling fans”. The truth is, many of those people attending might just be wanting to get out from under the scorching Florida sun. As you know, attendance to IMPACT is free, so there is no cost if you’re just looking to stay in the shade for a few hours. But, this isn’t anything that anybody doesn’t know. We all see it every Thursday night. But, no one knows first hand how much an audience can affect your show than me.

You see, when you write a wrestling show, you’re writing it knowing that the fans “cheer” here, the fans “boo” there — that’s how you write any wrestling show. Well, at Universal, you’re not always getting the response your writing for, simply because many of your customers are simple not die-hard wrestling fans. Also, add to that, the performers get FUELED by you — the fans. The less “true” wrestling fans rooting you on — less gas in the tank. That’s just human nature. Unfortunately, in getting back to the facts, at this point in their business plan – Universal Studios is the best route for TNA to take. Are they aware of all the problems? They certainly are, and there is no doubt in my mind that if they had the ability right now to change that – they would – simply because – why wouldn’t they?

James StormBut, aside from the lackluster, vacationing crowds, I think there is a much bigger problem that TNA is faced to deal with every week. And, this is the problem that very few fans watching from home either realize, or understand. THE SCHEDULING. Again, due to the FACTS - the FINANCIALS – TNA  works under a rigorous schedule that not many fans are aware of. In order to work within their current budget, TNA is forced to shoot MULTIPLE shows, or parts of shows, per night. Unlike the WWE, who has the luxury to just shoot one show – be it three hours – in one night, TNA is usually filming at least a show AND A HALF during that same time. Again, having been a part of it, this leads to numerous problems that have a diverse effect on the end product.

For starters - you have to write accordingly. In other words, many times the writers can’t write their “dream” show, because they have to look at how many times EY wrestled in one night, or, how many in-rings did MVP have. They have to adjust to not wear the performers out on a nightly basis, but also to protect the audience response — whatever there is — from sending a guy out through the curtain too many times. So from the beginning — the writing is being affected to compensate for the work schedule. Again -- it is what is it, and they are all working as hard as they can to make it “work” providing the circumstances.

Gail-KimThen, of course you have the performance of the boys. If they have to wrestle twice in one night -- that second match just may not be as good as the first — no matter how hard they try. Why do you think that when a team plays a double-header in baseball, very, very few players play BOTH GAMES. The same goes with their mic work. How much verbiage can you ask any human being to become familiar with in one night? The first promo is always going to be better than the second. Again, you’re dealing with wrestlers, not actors, and human beings, not machines. This problem lingers over to the backstage pre-tapes, where the talent and producers, and writers are getting content for not just ONE show, but maybe two, or three. I know that there were nights in the Impact show where I would shoot 30 -- yes,  THIRTY — pre-tapes from morning until we went back to the hotel at night.

And here’s something else that NOBODY has ever realized, or put into consideration. Being that you are already asking the audience to stay for a minimum of at least three hours a night, in an effort to move the show along as quickly as you can -- you don’t have the option of playing the pre-tapes to the crowd -- that were shot to build the match! Therefore, on many occasions, the audience is seeing what they view as a “cold match”, when on TV, that same match has been built up for two hours! In other words, the response is going to be far inferior than what it should have been had you had the luxury time you needed to correctly tell your story.

And lastly–I’m not going to even get into what happens when the star of your show gets hurt in show one, day one, and you have him booked in THE major angle of the next two shows that are going to be shot over the next three days. Looks like the writers aren’t going to get a good night’s sleep tonight.

All these issues are what TNA has to deal with on a weekly basis in order to make their company successful from a financial viewpoint which is all that really matters. Are there solutions to these problems? Of course there are . . . in time. Look, TNA has only been around for 10 years – many people forget that. Vince McMahon Sr. had the WWWF on TV in 1955, TWENTY-SEVEN years before he even handed it over to Vince. Under Vince, it’s been another THIRTY-TWO YEARS on the boob tube, that’s FIFTY-FIVE years of television experience – and time for the WWE. Does anyone think that “back in the day”, Vince Sr. wasn’t faced with the same challenges that TNA is today?

bully-rayThat’s why, every time I view the TNA product – I’m viewing it with all things in mind. I understand fully what it’s taking them to produce that wrestling show. And – most importantly – I GREATLY appreciate their efforts. I’ve said many times, if you spoke to any Hollywood writer, or Hollywood producer, and explained to them the QUANTITY of product that TNA was churning out, and the QUALITY they were achieving in a minimal amount of time – they would accuse you of LYING, saying that’s physically and mentally impossible. But guess what – it’s not — because they are doing it every week.

All the reasons listed above is WHY I have all the respect for every one involved in TNA. From the very top of the food chain, to the wrestlers, to the writers, producers, everybody involved in television production and all the way down to Angela the caterer. Do you know how hungry those guys get putting in so many hours a day?!!! It’s the work ethic, working as hard as you possibly can on that third, or fourth show, just like it was the first. It says a lot about everybody in that company and it’s leadership. They are all working as hard as they can to deliver the best product that they are capable of, under conditions that make their jobs extremely difficult.

DixieCarter4_1887413aSo, the next time you see a missed spot, or a flubbed line on IMPACT, maybe you’ll look at it a bit more differently now. I know I do. And, I know that I’m rooting for  TNA to continue to fight through!!! All things in life take time to become great — and it’s only those who possess the will of perseverance–that ever get to witness their labor of hard work come to fruition!

111 Comment

  1. You make good points about the live audience not seeing the backstage segments and TNA’s current taping schedule hurting them. I get TNA needing to tape 2 shows in a night, but I think going back to the bi-weekly shooting schedule they used several years back could help solve this problem.

    I don’t think that Universal Studios is the problem though, the crowd was relatively hot from 2004-2010 or so. It just doesn’t make economic sense to tour Impact full time and never did, I don’t claim to know TNA’s financials but the money they lost touring Impact seems to be why the budget is so tight now. The crowds a lot of the time were dead and sparse when they were touring, that Aces & 8′s angle just dragged out and went nowhere. TNA drew really well in 2009 during the Main Event Mafia’s peak (a long
    string of 1.2-1.3 ratings) and they were not on the road, the show was
    just good.

    What’s hurting the product right now (barring the non creative financial issues you mentioned) is nothing feels important. I love Eric Young and think he deserves to be champion, but he just randomly won the belt one week without any build. The only serious angle he’d been involved with was a feud with Abyss that had started a month or two earlier. If they’d built it up more I think people would buy in a lot easier. TNA have a lot of promising new characters though like EC3, Spud, Bro Mans, and Samuel Shaw, the show (while not perfect) has improved over last year’s snoozefest Impacts. The product just needs more of a unique vision that connects with the Millennial/Breaking Bad generation of TV viewers.

    • The creative are just going with the flow. It’s like working at a minimum wage job, in your mind you’re like “whatever where’s my check?”. I understand that the creative writers have a tough job but you can’t treat it as just a “job”, you have to write something good for people to care about your product.

      • I think in general the shooting schedule has to be a challenge, but I think something like EY’s title win could have been handled better with more build and made EY’s title run more successful.

        • Whereas I don’t necessarily disagree with your creative views—you also have to keep in mine, that the writers don’t have the luxury of only writing one show a week like I did with Raw. With the brutal taping schedule they are faced with–the are forced to write SEVERAL shows at a time. This effects the process—trust me—I had to do it that way as well. Working in that type of vacum—it’s easy for certain things to fall between the cracks.

          • Right, that’s why I really am giving TNA the benefit of the doubt right now overall, it’s got to be terrible writing that many shows literally to film in 3 days. I just worry about EY’s booking since he’s just fantastic and deserves to be taken seriously as a top guy. Overall though TNA have been building some strong new characters and the good thing about the show right now is it’s rarely boring, even if certain stuff lacks continuity. It’s definitely an improvement over the 2012/2013 product.

          • Brother, I’m not making excuses for anybody, but—when you have to write so many shows at one time—everything just starts running together. It really takes a great deal of discipline to not allow that to happen.

          • Thanks for the insight on the process. I think it’d really be fascinating to see WWE or TNA’s creative team featured on something behind the scenes like IFC’s ‘The Writers Room’ show.

  2. This is the MOST beautiful piece of article I have ever read pertaining to wrestling. I wish more wrestling journalist *cough* Meltzer *cough* have the same open minded viewpoint like you Vince Russo. As a TNA fan I know they problems, and I get that. I am willing to keep supporting the product through thick and nail. PRO WRESTLING NEEDS VINCE RUSSO. Fuck Jim Cornette, fuck Meltzer, Fuck Keller, and fuck all those retards who said’s Russo is stupid. Mainstream pro wrestling needs men like Russo to run this thing call “creative”. Thank you Russo for this article, well worth the read.

  3. This should be distributed around the ENTIRE internet and be required reading for all pro wrestling fans. Not just TNA fans, not just WWE fans, and not just ROH fans. All the fans! It was way, way overdue for someone to give the true perspective of what it takes to put a wrestling show together. Because if it was easy to do, we would all be doing it.

  4. I may not exactly be a fan of your work due to various reasons, but you definitely point out a lot of things I cannot dispute. Thanks for the enlightenment.

    P.S.

    Consider this article shared to my online social circle.

  5. Interesting to see the juggling that the writers are doing behind the scenes, it must be really hard work…

    Regarding the Impact zone, I do feel that it’s grown quieter and quieter over the years. I don’t know exactly when you left the company, Vince, but I wonder if you watched the show much when you were writing it?

    The reason I ask, is that I seem to remember the Impact Zone having a lot more energy 4 or 5 years ago. It was a small crowd, but they were into the wrestling, and the brand, and they seemed to make a fair amount of noise about it! But these days, it does just seem to be tourists sitting and staring blankly into the distance.

    Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I’m pretty sure it used to have more energy.

  6. I’m not very familiar with the TNA product but based on all that I’ve been reading they seem to have good talent and a lot of potential to improve so this analysis makes sense. As for WWE, they need a drastic overhaul of the television product. It’s difficult not to cut a scathing promo on them, but what’s the use? I’ll just say that in my opinion, it’s not the talent. It is by far the production and the creative.

  7. Thank you Vince for not being a biased dumbass like most wrestling journalists.

  8. Thank you Vince for not being a biased dumbass like most wrestling journalists.

    • ::::cough::::Bryan Alvarez::::cough

      • Bet Alvarez would never do a book called “death of ecw” with his hero Paul Heyman on the cover. Now I’m a Heyman fan but he had bad business practices that heavily contributed to the death of that company. Heyman fans admit he was a bad businessman. Just because he was the main catalyst of its success does not mean he didn’t contribute to its eventual failure. Note the 2 things that finally finished off ECW and WCW was the decision of a network executive. Heyman blames it on money being held back but there were badly managed aspects of ECW where the fault lies with him.

        You could at least argue Heyman was responsible for the death of ECW. Its ludicrous to even suggest Russo brought down WCW (single handedly in the minds of some fools) as far as I’m concerned he’s 0% responsible. Others blame Bischoff but he’s the one who came closest to keeping it going (nobody else tried) and would have had Kellner not shut it down.

        • Though obviously I note Bischoff had bad financial practices as well but thats an altogether different scenario.

          • Alvarez is now refusing to review Impact for a month and states “I don’t care if its my job.”

            Real professional.

  9. This article. Omg. I…I think I just fell in love with it. It has everything every would-be dirtsheet journalist, IWC Keyboard Warrior, and yes, even other promoters or workers themselves, need to read. Too many people get up there on their soap box and just blindly bash them because “They’re not WWE” and it just isn’t fair to them – the iMPACT! product is just too different to the WWE product to even compare the two like that.

    Anyway, thanks for the article Russo. And like someone else mentioned already, consider this shared on my “Twittah Machine” and Facebook.

    • TNA is hardly different than WWE. That is why they do so poorly. One difference I can think of is how they don’t follow through with their angles. If that makes you an alternative so be it, but it sucks. I’ll stick to the indies and Japan. :)

  10. What is concerning is that generally TNA feels more alive and more exiting to watch than WWE at the moment, although the problems you mention.

    But, the whole Seth Rollins betrayal, damn it’s good. Totally unexpected but still makes an impact on you, that’s why fell in love with Wrestling a year ago.

  11. Thank you Vince. For the last 9 years or so, I’ve been trying to explain the same thing to the anti-TNA people. Let’s look at TNA this way; its 12 years old right now. Not even a teenager yet, whereas WWE is a seasoned battle-hardened veteran.

    Of course TNA is going to have issues and problems? But then, what 12 year old doesn’t? Does that means we should say its dying every 30 seconds or it won’t last much longer etc? Would you say that to a 12 year old child? Nope. Instead, you would support it. Work with it. Enjoy your time with it. I know I am.

    • TNA is a cable TV show. After 10 years if you haven’t established an audience, you have a huge problem. Most people who have expressed interest in TNA have already sampled it more than once within the last decade and they never came back. You can’t make another first impression. Too much damage has been done, they have to somehow convince the masses they have gotten better… but they have to actually get better first.

      • WWE hasn’t even moved from a 3.0 in 12 years.

      • WWE hasn’t even moved from a 3.0 in 12 years.

        • But yet they’re at 3.0 and not scraping the bottom of the barrel.

          • They used to do 6.0. Not anymore…

  12. Great post, Vince. Thanks for taking the time to write that all out, you make some outstanding points. I have to disagree with you on something though. I don’t think that calling TNA creative “bad” is a subjective thing, it really is a fact. Look at it this way. I work in marketing for a small business here in Cincinnati. Part of my job is doing design work in Illustrator and Photoshop. If my boss comes to me and says “Dave, can you design this cut sheet for us?”, I do it, she’s happy. Now, let’s say she comes back the next month and the next month and the next month and I keep giving her the same thing, eventually she’s going to say “Ok. We need something different or I’ll find someone else to do it.” I say “Ok” and then turn around and still give her the same thing. That’s my ass, I’m then fired.

    How does this apply to TNA? I won’t comment on your work there (I really wasn’t watching much because, no offense, I knew you were writing). I’ll be nice and leave the Bischoff (and Hogan) regime alone too. Looking strictly at Bruce Pritchard and Big or BIg John’s (whatever his name is) work, it’s a mirror image of the situation I described with my job. They keep doing the same stuff over and over. That may be fine if it was something new, unique or different but it’s the same tired wrestling tropes that have been beaten to death for 20 years. There’s always some invading faction (ie Aces and Eights) or evil authority figure dominating the main storyline. People are tired of that shit and it shows.

    TNA has maintained a pretty steady rating for the past several years. That means they have a core group of die-hard fans which is great, but the needle never moves up. Who can you blame that on? I have a difficult time blaming the performers as the vast majority of them are very good. I actually prefer TNA’s in-ring stuff to WWE’s as it is generally more exciting and TNA seems to give performers a longer leash in terms of what they can do in the ring. So if it’s not the performers, who is left? Creative and production, right?

    TNA has 2 hours a week to showcase *everything they have* and when Dixie Carter and MVP (or something directly related to them) take up 60 or 75% of the show, that makes things rather difficult for other talent, doesn’t it? If you don’t care for Dixie and/or MVP (which a lot of wrestling fans don’t), there’s virtually no point in watching Impact. TNA HAS to know or at least be aware of this. You talk about direction and it is a fact that TNA doesn’t have one and hasn’t for a long time. The booking is and has been based of knee-jerk reactions for years. Sure, they let story arc ride for a long time but they always end up screwing them either through how the matches are booked/produced or through changes/swerves in the story that either don’t make any sense or are extremely predictable.

    They do so many things that make absolutely no sense, are misogynistic/offensive or insulting to people’s intelligence that it is no wonder why a large portion of the wrestling community refers to them as LOLTNA. Read this – http://taimapedia.org/index.php?title=LOLTNA_History It goes year by year from the very beginning detailing most of the ridiclious, illogical and downright stupid booking decisions TNA has made. THAT is why more people don’t watch TNA. It’s too much effort to always be giving them the benefit of the doubt or being patient and hoping they do something that will please viewers outside of their core audience. They have a long track record of NOT doing that and as long as that continues, TNA isn’t going to improve their TV ratings or PPV buys (which have always been abysmal) and will continue to be the laughing stock of “major” pro wrestling organizations.

  13. Pointed out previously that the problem as far as direction is which way do you go? In the late mid to late 90′s it was clear what direction to go in with less childish themes. I quote Vince McMahon…”where do you go after a chainsaw?. Appeal directly to kids? Been there done that. Appeal directly to adults? Been there done that. Right now we are seeing the inbetween because quite possibly there is nowhere else to go. Does anyone really know what direction to go and I’m talking storyline direction not the in ring product? Fortunately for WWE they still have enough stars people want to see. But should we be satisfied with an “enough is enough” mentality in the sense that the company makes decent profits, etc. The network is a bold idea but the core product is still Raw and to an extent Smackdown.

    Being even more outrageous than the Attitude Era would be a direction but obviously wouldn’t work for a variety of reasons. One thing that I want to see is to see “Raw” become “Raw” again. Its so slick now its sickening at times. Yes I’m stuck in the 90′s to an extent with my desires for what the product should be but who wants to see a watered down Hell In A Cell? Its all about spectacle over substance now. Don’t think anybody ever wants to see a watered down inferno match again. If you can’t present those matches in an unwatered down format don’t do them at all. Less is NOT more in that case.

    There’s part of me that would like WWE to somehow fall into financial difficulties. Not to go bankrupt by any means but that’s what it took to bring in the Attitude. As you said yourself Vince you were not afraid to put forward ideas largely because of the pressure the company was under. Right now that simply isn’t the case and probably won’t be anytime soon.

    I know the article is about TNA but I haven’t a clue which direction they should go. Neither have most on the internet complaining. Obviously there’s several areas for improvement but even then as far as overall direction who knows?

    • Could not agree more about WWE. The sensory overload production style makes it unwatchable. Camerwork is horrendous. Not to mention the announcers. I know it sounds armchair producer or whatever but it’s so obviously off-putting that it has to be mentioned.

      • No less nauseating than TNA’s spiraling camera angles and 1993 laser lights in every entrance. At least WWE is at the forefront of TV production, even if it is extremely slick; TNA has and still feels like a country music concert at the state fair.

        Seriously – lasers?

        • Not putting TNA over. It’s just that the WWE nosedive is more noteworthy. Production is something they used to master with a sophisticated but unobtrusive approach. Completely off the rails now.

          • Well the production is fantastic and as good as anything in television but I felt the same way in 97-01. It can still be a brilliant production yet not be so damn slick. Raw was a top class production in the “Attitude Era” but it still felt “Raw”. Not just because of the themes but the lighting, ring, backstage, screen, everything. Even the fans looked more raw though granted there’s been changes in the arena audiences since. Now everything is just so clean and glossy especially the logos. Raw wasn’t that “raw” in the beginning (despite the smaller venues) but it sure as hell was from 97-01.

            Stone Cold in his autobiography noted that at his peak “raw was raw” and this was back in 03. He’s also made similar comments on his podcast. It was getting slicker then but the “disney on ice” and “american idol” slickness it is now.

          • Well the production is fantastic and as good as anything in television but I felt the same way in 97-01. It can still be a brilliant production yet not be so damn slick. Raw was a top class production in the “Attitude Era” but it still felt “Raw”. Not just because of the themes but the lighting, ring, backstage, screen, everything. Even the fans looked more raw though granted there’s been changes in the arena audiences since. Now everything is just so clean and glossy especially the logos. Raw wasn’t that “raw” in the beginning (despite the smaller venues) but it sure as hell was from 97-01.

            Stone Cold in his autobiography noted that at his peak “raw was raw” and this was back in 03. He’s also made similar comments on his podcast. It was getting slicker then but the “disney on ice” and “american idol” slickness it is now.

        • Yeah, lasers are soo 1993. Come on Dixie, this isn’t the bloody stone age y’know!

          • TNA needs to set itself apart from WWE entirely. That is the only way you can grow. If a casual WWE fan tuned into TNA..they might say: Why should I watch this? When I can just watch WWE?

            That is what’s plaguing TNA. You need to set yourself apart and build up a loyal fanbase that would die for you. I was watching a review of a TNA house show from a youtuber I watched and the way they treated their fans was disgusting. ODB was blocking her face for pictures and everything. This is after the fact that he paid for the meet and greet. You can’t do that today. Especially as a distant number 2..if they are even that. You need to treat your fans right. They don’t. And they aren’t even different enough.

            Remember when I said loyalty? Well there’s a company that treats me right. It’s called CHIKARA. And I would do almost anything for them. Because the product is different..they treat me right. They may be a distant company in terms of competing…but they do right by their fans and produce a product unlike anything else in the world. That is why they are growing. They drew 1,500 on May 25th without a national TV deal or even the funds TNA has.

          • LOL.

    • Vince himself once said “…you can’t be half pregnant.” Spot on with the hell in a cell and inferno matches. I’m definitely not a writer for pro-wrestling, but how could those matches get better under WWE’s current rating? Bigger spots maybe? IDK, Maybe TNA would do a better job at pulling off similar matches.

    • Vince himself once said “…you can’t be half pregnant.” Spot on with the hell in a cell and inferno matches. I’m definitely not a writer for pro-wrestling, but how could those matches get better under WWE’s current rating? Bigger spots maybe? IDK, Maybe TNA would do a better job at pulling off similar matches.

  14. I can’t get over how little Russo knows about this business to this day. There is no excuse for how terrible this product has become. It is a terrible television show period! As soon as he started talking about the impact zone being a “hindrance” I knew this was all bullshit. From day one this company has been to making excuses out of things like the impact zone, TV not being live, we need a 4 sided ring, we need to be on Mondays. It’s all bullshit, and yet they refuse to fix the real problems.

    History has shown us that you can be successful in one location if you have a product people care about. Look at NXT, they are in that same arena with the same fans and the fans love it and go crazy for it every week. Memphis sold out the coliseum every Monday night for years. The problem is that iMpact is putting on a show that the fans don’t give a shit about. They have to sit there through 8 long ass talking segments in a row. They are expecting to get into a lame story line between Dixie and MVP. The show sucks, plain and simple. Put all the clever excuses you want on it and nothing will EVER change.

    • Do you really understand just how ridiculous your first sentence in your comment is. Honestly—I didn’t even read past that—I stopped right there. I have TWENTY-THREE years in the wrestling business on a PROFESSIONAL level. How many do you have? Your first sentence in addressing me is like me telling Dustin Hoffman, “Dusty—you know so little about acting.”

      That’s what I mean about “presentation”. If you want to make a point, make it without trying to personally offend anybody—this way you might have a chance of them “actually” listening to you. You didn’t insult me, you insulted yourself by making such a thoughtless comment.

      • I’m guessing that you read more than the first sentence, To answer your question, I have 13 years under my belt on a “professional level” in this business. On a much smaller scale than you obviously. However at the end of the day I always drew money, always turned a profit … more than we can say for you. Glad you masturbated to your USA today cover of David Arquette, glad you marked out to the “extra attention” the company got. But you forgot to draw money or benefit from it in anyway. Bad press that makes your company look like a joke vs. Good press that grows business is just one basic element you don’t understand to this day.

        • 8 million f%#ckin people watched RAW when Vince Russo wrote their TV. Please dude, for the sake of our sanity—MOVE THE F*^K on. Grow up and find something legit to do with your life instead of harping on something that happened 14 years ago. You are NOTHING without your keyboard. If Vince were at one of your “indy shows” you claim to “work” I would bet my next 10 months pay that you would be this disrespectful to his face. Waste of life, please exit

      • “the writing is being affected to compensate for the work schedule”

        I definitely agree on that part, on that its pretty much Dixies fault for spending so much money on the Monday Night Wars and Hogan/Bischoffs contracts.

        TNA never needed them to begin with….

      • “the writing is being affected to compensate for the work schedule”

        I definitely agree on that part, on that its pretty much Dixies fault for spending so much money on the Monday Night Wars and Hogan/Bischoffs contracts.

        TNA never needed them to begin with….

    • Great point about NXT & older territories being successful; they draw and drew WRESTLING fans to their arena because the PRODUCT WAS GOOD. If TNA was killing it and the product was hot, they’d be filling that damn studio with diehard fans who paid to get into Universal just to get to that show. The problem is, again, the quality of the content.

    • Oh great, another guy that listens to Cornette and thinks he knows a lot more than he actually does…

  15. I’m much smaller than the aformentioned companies, but I can relate to a lot of what is being said here. Nice to see your viewpoints Russo. I would love to see an article sometime on your experience with working with LADIES as that’s all I do. Sounds like a dream job, and it is, but they are a different animal. For instance, men don’t have to leave suddenly for 9 months due to pregnancy, as one example of a few.

  16. Nice article Vince, I think you nailed a few items that many of us fans rarely pick up on, or stubbornly refuse to understand (TNA haters). I can say it is somewhat noticeable some weeks when watching the “new” Thursday night show that you are watching something that was taped previously(i.e. multiple tapings in same show)…….something that goes back to even your WCW days.
    I’m from Philly, and know(knew) the ECW Arena and it’s insane crowds from the 1997-2000 heyday very well, so it also pains me to see guys laying it out, taking huge bumps, hitting their spots and getting a stale/muted response from the “fans” in attendance. As an impact fan, it’s frustrating, and I feel bad for the talent who deserve better from the crowd. Sometimes it really pisses me off, specifically the monsters ball match a few weeks back between EY and Abyss that sounded like a funeral was going on in the crowd. I had no idea about it being taped in Universal Studios, I knew they were in Orlando, but this now makes perfect sense to me. No wonder really. What a catch 22 they are in.
    But you know what, I like TNA as does my 8 year old son whom I watch it with each week. My 5 year old is a little young, but he shows interest in what I let him see. I keep the tradition of wrestling entertainment (and amateur/youth mat wrestling) alive with my family. We don’t watch WWE, but we watch Impact every Thursday and enjoy it. My kid loves it. We respect the talent(roster). Next time it’s in the Philly/NY area we plan on getting tickets.
    Great article. I’ve added your blog to my favorites. Keep it up Vince!

  17. “TNA is drawing “tourists” to watch IMPACT, not die-hard “wrestling fans”. ” – Vince Russo

    So, those were tourists that were chanting “Fire Russo” that time at a TNA ppv held at the Impact Zone from a few years ago?

    Sounds more like Russo passing the buck for the current product.

    • He is right on that point, EY was over with the IZ tourists, TNA thought he was “over” and put the belt on him.

      • indeed.

    • No he was pretty much right about that. Having been to the Impact Zone many times (I live in Orlando) Its all tourists. He mentioned another thing too that I also agree with and that is that these matches are shot cold. The fans have no idea who is going to wrestle but even worse, there is no video on the tron. All you see are the matches. You don’t see what happens backstage, because they don’t show it on the tron. It’s because of this, that I no longer go there anymore. It’s actually better to watch the finished product after its been edited and produced….so you understand whats going on. It shouldn’t BE like that. The fans should have an equally enjoyable time live as they would in front of the television.

    • No he was pretty much right about that. Having been to the Impact Zone many times (I live in Orlando) Its all tourists. He mentioned another thing too that I also agree with and that is that these matches are shot cold. The fans have no idea who is going to wrestle but even worse, there is no video on the tron. All you see are the matches. You don’t see what happens backstage, because they don’t show it on the tron. It’s because of this, that I no longer go there anymore. It’s actually better to watch the finished product after its been edited and produced….so you understand whats going on. It shouldn’t BE like that. The fans should have an equally enjoyable time live as they would in front of the television.

    • Different crowd when bigger PPVs where held at IMPACT Zone, compared to weekly IMPACT. Of course you would get more die-hard wrestling fans at FREE PPVs—but, I wasn’t talking about PPVs in my column—I was talking about IMPACT. I kind of thought I made that point clear. And, why would I pass the buck for TNA’s current product? I don’t say anything I don’t believe. The problem is that people want to believe what they want to believe NO MATTER what you say. So—believe on–my brother.

  18. Great commentary on entertainment in general Vince. I do a radio show and I cant tell you how the words you’ve written resonate with me in my experiences. In fact people should take considerations when judging any entertainment product and the entertainers should be more aware of what their fans perception is of their brand. Great Stuff!!

  19. Look, Vince…I’ve always been a huge fan of your work and a defender of you here on the interwebs, but – in my opinion – the problem with TNA doesn’t lie within the fans in the seats or as much the schedule in which they produce content as much as it is the CONTENT OF THE CONTENT.

    Last night’s show is a perfect example. From start to finish, there was no original plot point, no enhancing character development aside from Sam Shaw, the same rehashed “evil owner/commissioner” storyline & scenarios, and overall just bad decision-making, iced with the same horrible entrance themes and commentary that has plagued the company since Day 1 (and I know…I’ve watched since Day 1).

    Here is just a general list of issues, none of which are due to scheduling or crowd reactions:

    1. Eric Young isn’t over as a top star, yet he’s the TNA World Heavyweight Champion. Nice how his 3 teammates walked in front of him down the ramp in the main also…another example of a lack of detail)
    2. Bully Ray is the promotion’s best heel…yet he’s a face.
    3. MVP is not only absolutely terrible on the mic, but the aforementioned evil boss gimmick is as played-out and as stale as any storyline in wrestling can be. It’s why The Authority in WWE would have X-Pac Heat if Hunter & Steph weren’t so good on the stick. MVP never was over, will never be over, and can’t be expected to get over just what, 2 months after getting rid of the last evil boss? (Oh, and Master P called…he wants his suits back. Someone tell MVP it’s not 2002. Pretty soon Borash will be wearing his collar outside of his suit jacket again.)
    4. They waste Edwards vs. Richards (what should be one day a flat out money-making and spectacular match) with zero promotion and build up.
    5. Then, they throw Kenny King, who is about as annoying as X-Pac was in his worst days, into the mix to ruin it.
    6. Samoa Joe returns, as stale as he was when he left, still can’t talk, and someone still isn’t figured out that they need to write better lines for him. And cue the age-old “wrestle for a contract” schtick, because that hasn’t been done 2598273948 times before.
    7. The announcers remove any mystique at all that Willow could potentially have as a supernatural oddity by repeatedly telling everyone at home that he is really Jeff Hardy. Not that we didn’t know, because Jeff – after the mask, facepaint, jacket, umbrella, and quasi-creepy videos – is basically wearing a Jeff Hardy t-shirt. Can you imagine The Undertaker wearing one of his WWE-branded t-shirts to the ring during a match? It doesn’t work for Sting, and while it may work for Jeff Hardy, for Willow, it continues to kill the coolness of the character.
    8. Name for me 1 entrance theme that Vince McMahon would approve for use in WWE. The only decent themes that Dale Oliver has ever composed were AJ Styles’ and Jeff Jarrett’s, but they’re both gone and they weren’t WWE-quality anyway. Jimmy Hart’s WCW themes in the mid-late 90′s were better than all of TNA’s in the past 10 years put together. And if anyone thinks it’s not important, I challenge you to imagine The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ric Flair, The Rock, The Ultimate Warrior, and Triple H with entrances themes of TNA wrestlers. Right.
    9. Cue the lesbian angle. Are you sure you aren’t writing for the company, Vince?
    10. Can anyone really believe that TNA thought it smart to make MVP the pivotal character in the company? Really?!
    11. But let’s book a PPV-style First Blood match tonight. Unpromoted, of course. I mean, we’re hot shotting everything else, why not?
    12. Wait…did the faces just take out Baby Hebner? WTF kind of ending to that match made any sense? What about Joe & Aries’ contracts? “Hey you stupid wrestling fans, don’t mind that.”
    13. So the 2011-guido fad character is afraid of clowns. Because being afraid of clowns is original. Got to give it to Robbie E for his acting though. As good as it was, the opposite is Shiima Ion. He’s just God-awful.
    14. Hey, there’s James Storm, one of the most over faces we’ve ever had. Nah, let’s keep him as a heel. And stick him in a fued with Ken Anderson. Who no one has ever liked.
    15. Let’s let EC3′s winning streak end in a meaningless TV match where we put no one over and start no new fueds. Then lets kind of have him turn face when his ex-heel evil boss aunt, who supposedly has no power yet is still on the show, confronts the new evil boss and promises war.

    There’s 15 things wrong with TNA that has nothing to do with crowds or schedules. You did nail one thing right, though: it has everything to do with vision and the lack thereof in this company.

    As WWE continues to widen the gap, TNA just keeps moving backwards, and it’s because there is no one at the top with the vision to mold this company and craft a unique wrestling product that causes people to tune in and spend their hard-earned money (or Obama bucks) on tickets, merchandise, and PPV’s so that TNA can survive on the road and keep good talent with fair contracts.

    To say anything less is to just give too much credit to the people who are busting their butts, but still producing less than mediocre wrestling shows.

    Of course, this is just my subjective opinion, and not fact…but the last time I checked, the fact is that I spend my time & money on wrestling shows that, in my opinion, are entertaining and well-written.

    • Additionally, while I understand the loss of crowd spectacle and its effect on the performers and how the shooting structure and timeline affects the crowds’ reaction levels, there wasn’t a marked difference while on the road; yes, fans were there because they were wrestling fans and bought tickets, but when you can’t sell out a 4,000 seat Division II college arena with Hulk Hogan, Sting, Kurt Angle, and Jeff Hardy on the card…you’ve got bigger problems.

      • Oh – and besides the women’s match and Bram vs. Willow, were there any matches even scheduled for the show? How do you promote a wrestling show with 2 scheduled matches and no main event? EVERYTHING else was “booked on the fly” during the show: Aries/Joe, Edwards/Richards, and the 8-man main.

        It’s just unbelievable how little common sense is being employed in the day-to-day runnings of this company. And this is why the casual wrestling fan who left when WCW was sold and the smart wrestling fan who loves it but hates it doesn’t support the product like they used to – they’re just tired of watching a show that insults their intelligence and wastes everyone’s time…and that doesn’t listen to what the fans want and expect.

        It’s like working for a boss who doesn’t take a damn thing you say into consideration and does what he wants, even when it’s bad for the company. So many of us do that now as it is…we don’t want to feel the same way about the wrestling product that we’re fed too.

    • For number 9, IIRC Lagana was in WWE during the Mickie/Trish lesbian angle, I would say the Britanny/Madison angle is Laganas idea.

      Hell ever since Lagana came to TNA, there has been lots of WWE angles in TNA, coincidence isnt it?

      Number 10: I agree, why couldnt TNA book MVP like they booked Booker in 2007-2008? You know.. paying his dues?

      Number 11: It shouldve been promoted like that Empty Arena match from 2009, and it drew a 1.45.

      14. Storm is a natural heel.

      • I respectfully disagree about Storm being a natural heel, at least with his gimmick.

        Who hates a beer-drinking cowboy? Nancy Pelosi?

        • Lot of people hate people who drink a lot tbh…

          • Hey, how sensitive are the people at tnasylum? They removed comments talking about world cup. All I asked was what was WC and then it gets deleted.

            Geez, that’s uber sensitive bunch of mods.

          • The Mods and even the likes of Garrett are Anti-Russo people, here Vince gives us freedom of speech.

          • The Mods and even the likes of Garrett are Anti-Russo people, here Vince gives us freedom of speech.

          • Yeah, that angered me a little bit. From the Talon guy asking me who I was and if I changed my name and crap? Yeah I changed my name but I have not been at tnasylum for a long time. Damn, if that’s how it’s going to be, I will easily be somewhere else like tnainsider.

          • Yeah, that angered me a little bit. From the Talon guy asking me who I was and if I changed my name and crap? Yeah I changed my name but I have not been at tnasylum for a long time. Damn, if that’s how it’s going to be, I will easily be somewhere else like tnainsider.

        • “sorry about your damn luck” could be the moto of an ultimate opportunist. storm gets an unfair advantage-cheats- and says his catch phrase

  20. Heil Hitler!

  21. This was a great article Vince. Kudos to you for expressing your beliefs on this website and contributing in this manner, allowing wrestling fans an avenue to communicate with you also. Plus as a journalism major with a degree in broadcasting I also respect your writing credentials and work as a writer for Monday Night Raw, Nitro and TNA.

    Now, as a wrestling fan, what I can’t understand is why don’t TNA just downsize and start working at a level where they be a little bit more free? For example, take Ring of Honor. I like ROH, this year has been a great year for them and I truly feel in-terms of quality – as you said, which is MY VIEW only – ROH is beating TNA for what ROH’s products is. They are a company with a direction, their product is very simple to see and understand. They don’t work outside their limits, their schedule is relaxed but is good enough to keep enough content going so that their fans can get a weekly fix of ROH, sometimes they have two shows available if your lucky. Their format is based off NJPW’s old-school format and their attendance this year is good, in-fact according to Dave Meltzer as of May it is 8% higher than TNA’s – that’s not good for TNA, mind you. Its opened up the door in conversations on who is the real #2 promotion and the truth is without Spike TV, TNA wouldn’t have much of an argument anymore.

    TNA needs to shrink themselves, start working smaller arenas, stop thinking they’re bigger then they are. Are the brass there obsessed with trying to look like WWE? Nobody wants them to look or be like WWE. People wanted them to be different, which is what they were, but now everyone sees it as WWE-lite while ROH is viewed as the perfect, weekly alternative to WWE. And when you have the popular guys from TNA leaving for it like AJ Styles, Chris Daniels, Kazarian and a rumor that Chris Sabin could be joining soon, then all you’re doing is adding fuel to the fire.

    When TNA did that rebranding a few years ago as Impact Wrestling it was a good little idea, but sadly they didn’t put enough effort into rebranding the company as a whole. Maybe that’s what they need IMO, but instead of just getting a new name for their show and a color design they’ll also restructure the schedule and the size of which the company wants to work at.

  22. This was a great article Vince. Kudos to you for expressing your beliefs on this website and contributing in this manner, allowing wrestling fans an avenue to communicate with you also. Plus as a journalism major with a degree in broadcasting I also respect your writing credentials and work as a writer for Monday Night Raw, Nitro and TNA.

    Now, as a wrestling fan, what I can’t understand is why don’t TNA just downsize and start working at a level where they be a little bit more free? For example, take Ring of Honor. I like ROH, this year has been a great year for them and I truly feel in-terms of quality – as you said, which is MY VIEW only – ROH is beating TNA for what ROH’s products is. They are a company with a direction, their product is very simple to see and understand. They don’t work outside their limits, their schedule is relaxed but is good enough to keep enough content going so that their fans can get a weekly fix of ROH, sometimes they have two shows available if your lucky. Their format is based off NJPW’s old-school format and their attendance this year is good, in-fact according to Dave Meltzer as of May it is 8% higher than TNA’s – that’s not good for TNA, mind you. Its opened up the door in conversations on who is the real #2 promotion and the truth is without Spike TV, TNA wouldn’t have much of an argument anymore.

    TNA needs to shrink themselves, start working smaller arenas, stop thinking they’re bigger then they are. Are the brass there obsessed with trying to look like WWE? Nobody wants them to look or be like WWE. People wanted them to be different, which is what they were, but now everyone sees it as WWE-lite while ROH is viewed as the perfect, weekly alternative to WWE. And when you have the popular guys from TNA leaving for it like AJ Styles, Chris Daniels, Kazarian and a rumor that Chris Sabin could be joining soon, then all you’re doing is adding fuel to the fire.

    When TNA did that rebranding a few years ago as Impact Wrestling it was a good little idea, but sadly they didn’t put enough effort into rebranding the company as a whole. Maybe that’s what they need IMO, but instead of just getting a new name for their show and a color design they’ll also restructure the schedule and the size of which the company wants to work at.

  23. The problem with TNA is they don’t put wrestling at the forefront anymore. When they did, the crowd’s were hot even when they did multiple shows. For some reason Dixie isn’t smart enough to understand we want to see wrestling over storylines and that guys like Ethan Carter, Bram and Sam Shaw will never capture our interest. Bring back wrestlers like AJ, Shelley, Sabin, Kong, Sarita, etc. and let them put on the awesome wrestling matches they used to and I bet you that solves TNA’s problem.

    • Sarita will never go back to TNA thanks to Paco Alonso being an A-hole…

    • “The problem with TNA is they don’t put wrestling at the forefront anymore.”

      Yeah. Look at how popular RoH is. Oh wait. No one gives a shit about RoH.

      • “Yeah. Look at how popular RoH is. Oh wait. No one gives a shit about RoH.”

        Look how popular TNA was before they took the focus away from wrestling. They got better ratings and much, much better crowd reactions before Hogan came in and they started putting storylines first. ROH might be all about wrestling but they have some lame guys on there. I saw an episode a few weeks back and they had this one skinny guy wearing pink and some lame team called redragon or something. Honestly I thought I was watching a backyard wrestling show.

  24. The biggest challenge facing TNA is recovering from the stink of Vince Russo they have on them.

  25. First of all, for a writer, I can’t believe all the basic spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes Russo made. It’s pathetic. Second, shall I pull out the tiniest violin in the world and play it for TNA, Mr. Russo? TNA is a failure no matter how many excuses you want to make for them.

  26. First of all, for a writer, I can’t believe all the basic spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes Russo made. It’s pathetic. Second, shall I pull out the tiniest violin in the world and play it for TNA, Mr. Russo? TNA is a failure no matter how many excuses you want to make for them.

    • Punctuation is overrated and has nothing to do with writing ability. Can’t say I even noticed any punctuation errors reading article the content and message is whats important. Meltzer does not have the best punctuation in the world either it hasn’t stopped his newsletter being a success.

    • 12 years of existence…
      9 years on Spike TV…
      120 international television markets…

      If you consider that a failure,then you have no clue what success.

  27. Good article and explanation of what is going on behind the scenes at TNA when it comes to putting the show on the air.

    However as a viewer I don’t care what it takes TNA to get an episode on air, I don’t care that they film 1, 2 or 99 shows in advance, I just want to be entertained by it. I don’t care if it takes 500 animators to put out a single episode of the Simpson, I just want a few laughs. I know that it take a lot of work for SNL to put on weekly episodes of TV, but do I care about all the work it is taking them? Nope.

    Is it now the job of the viewer to understand and not be critical of the product because well, they have to film so much in advance? NO it shouldn’t be our concern. Our job is to view, their job is to produce a entertaining product. If they fail at their job that is their responsibility not ours.

  28. Good article and explanation of what is going on behind the scenes at TNA when it comes to putting the show on the air.

    However as a viewer I don’t care what it takes TNA to get an episode on air, I don’t care that they film 1, 2 or 99 shows in advance, I just want to be entertained by it. I don’t care if it takes 500 animators to put out a single episode of the Simpson, I just want a few laughs. I know that it take a lot of work for SNL to put on weekly episodes of TV, but do I care about all the work it is taking them? Nope.

    Is it now the job of the viewer to understand and not be critical of the product because well, they have to film so much in advance? NO it shouldn’t be our concern. Our job is to view, their job is to produce a entertaining product. If they fail at their job that is their responsibility not ours.

  29. I really, really loved this article and I live in the Orlando area and have attended TNA and NXT. I haven’t gone in years, there were tapings where I have started chants and gotten crazy looks from “tourists”. We did try for you Vince it was just hard. Also, went to the MCW pilot failure and they messed up there finish and of course any long term wrestling fan knows what me and a row mates started chanting and well….. again “tourists” got at us. So frustrating.

  30. Great points Vince. What I can’t understand about TNA is why they have chosen to book their weekend live events in places with populations so small that it’s impossible to attract even 1,000 fans. As you were involved in TNA, how is it that five years ago, we attended a TNA event in what was a new city for them and they attracted almost 2,000, but failed to market themselves locally before the event. The next year, the attendance was half and they stopped. Two years later, WWE enters the area and has a wrestler (Ziggler) promoting the event in paper, local television and local sports talk radio. They drew 4,500 and are returning this year. Forget the television situation, as you know perception is reality and a lack of promotion is death. Why has TNA chosen to ignore this fact?

  31. Great points Vince. What I can’t understand about TNA is why they have chosen to book their weekend live events in places with populations so small that it’s impossible to attract even 1,000 fans. As you were involved in TNA, how is it that five years ago, we attended a TNA event in what was a new city for them and they attracted almost 2,000, but failed to market themselves locally before the event. The next year, the attendance was half and they stopped. Two years later, WWE enters the area and has a wrestler (Ziggler) promoting the event in paper, local television and local sports talk radio. They drew 4,500 and are returning this year. Forget the television situation, as you know perception is reality and a lack of promotion is death. Why has TNA chosen to ignore this fact?

    • WWE has been around for over 4 decades more than TNA, and it probably costs a lot of money for TNA to book & promote themselves like WWE each time they go on the road. I do agree with their locations they choose to have shows though. If you watch WWE when they go to some places like Arkansas, West Virginia, or similar, those crowds are usually nowhere near as vocal as ones you’d find in a place like Chicago. But TNA takes their shows to places like that. The crowd’s attendance, and reactions really impact a show. But again it probably costs a lot to book a bigger venue in a bigger city.

    • WWE has been around for over 4 decades more than TNA, and it probably costs a lot of money for TNA to book & promote themselves like WWE each time they go on the road. I do agree with their locations they choose to have shows though. If you watch WWE when they go to some places like Arkansas, West Virginia, or similar, those crowds are usually nowhere near as vocal as ones you’d find in a place like Chicago. But TNA takes their shows to places like that. The crowd’s attendance, and reactions really impact a show. But again it probably costs a lot to book a bigger venue in a bigger city.

  32. One thing I really want to see in TNA is them fixing their tron! I think it’s really annoying that the two smaller screens on either side of the ramp entrance is playing the same images as the big screen but it’s really blurry & looks awful. Especially when everyone’s entrance video is basically just a giant .gif with 3 images to make up a video with their name on it. Also, most of the wrestler’s themes sound awful to me, too. After 10 years and TNA’s TV presentation has changed, but definitely not for the better. (IMO)

    • All the TNA music is pretty low rent, tbh.

  33. Russo said: “That’s why I like talking about FACTS. The FACTS are all that really matter. You hated me at WWE, WCW, and TNA – great, that’s your opinion – but – what do the FACTS say about my legacy? If we looked at all three companies and their numbers prior to me coming in – then leaving – what will they tell you? That’s really all that matters to me.”

    Okay. Regarding Russo’s switch from WWF/E to WCW, here are the ratings numbers:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monday_Night_Wars

    And here are the house show attendance and PPV buyrate numbers:

    http://indeedwrestling.blogspot.com/2014/02/deciphering-wcw-buyrates.html

    If you look at WCW’s numbers prior to Russo coming in compared to his numbers when he left, I don’t see anything to be very proud of.

    RATINGS: Russo’s first WCW stint started with Nitro on 10/18/99 and ended on 1/10/00. If you average the ratings for those 13 shows, you get a 3.21. If you average the 13 weeks prior to Russo starting (7/19/99 to 10/11/99) you get a 3.24. So the numbers went down under Russo. (and that’s including the lame duck show on 10/11/00 which had no new action and simply hyped up the next week’s show)

    They continued to go down under Sullivan. Russo and Bischoff took over again on 4/10/00 and the interest got the number back up to a 3.1. Unfortunately, from then until Russo left in October, they never topped that number again. Well, except the weeks when Raw was pre-empted by US Open tennis (8/28 and 9/4), but those viewers quickly fled once Raw was back in its regular timeslot. 9/11/00 was the last time Nitro ever cracked the 3.0 mark.

    I don’t see any ratings numbers for Russo to hang his hat on.

    HOUSE SHOW ATTENDANCE: In August of 99, WCW was drawing over 5,000 fans on average. No month under Russo cracked 5,000. In October of 2000 when Russo finally quit, they were under 2,000.

    Not good.

    PPV BUYRATES: The numbers for Russo’s first four PPV buyrates (Oct, Nov, Dec 99 and Jan 00) went down consistently: 0.52, 0.45, 0.32, 0.26. That’s right, in four months he managed to cut PPV business in half — and that includes WCW’s premiere event, Starrcade. His April-October 2000 run started with buyrates at 0.25 and ended at 0.15. Russo didn’t do well in the other categories, but here is where it’s clearest that he did quite badly.

    Again, this is all fact, not opinion. I linked to all the numbers. Regardless of whether you liked Russo’s creative, the fact is that business numbers in WCW dropped consistently under his booking.

    • WCW’s PPV business was dead by May of 1999. Their core audience had either stopped buying them or switched to WWF. Prior to Vince joining the previous 5 PPVs did 0.45, 0.43, 0.4, 0.54, 0.29.

      To use a sports analogy, you can’t expect a coach to join a losing team and turn them around in 4 months. WCW was moving in the right direction but after they bought back Sullivan that permanently killed their ratings.

    • WCW’s PPV business was dead by May of 1999. Their core audience had either stopped buying them or switched to WWF. Prior to Vince joining the previous 5 PPVs did 0.45, 0.43, 0.4, 0.54, 0.29.

      To use a sports analogy, you can’t expect a coach to join a losing team and turn them around in 4 months. WCW was moving in the right direction but after they bought back Sullivan that permanently killed their ratings.

      • I’m sympathetic to most of this argument. I’d say the bloom started to come off WCW’s rose at Starrcade 97 when they screwed with Sting’s win, then subsequently booked Sting poorly and introduced Bret Hart lamely. Then the bloom was totally off when they killed Goldberg at Starrcade 98. By mid 99 things were indeed in tough shape, and I agree that a quick turnaround was highly implausible. Russo absolutely had a very steep hill to climb, and anybody who expected a return to a 5.0 rating or a 0.75 buyrate in just 4 months was nuts.

        But in the article above, Russo says to judge him by the numbers when he got there and when he left. By his own criterion, he did not do well. Again, buyrates went from 0.52 to 0.26. Prior to Russo’s first run, WCW had gone below 0.40 only one time since 1995. But for the flagship event of the year, Starrcade, Russo only got a 0.32 — a 20% drop below the previous floor. For their “Wrestlemania”! That’s after being there a few months with consistently dropping buyrates.

        You say WCW was moving in the right direction, but I don’t see any numbers that back that up.

        The one thing you can credit Russo with in WCW (numbers-wise) is that both times when he came in, he managed to hype it up and get enough interest in a new direction that people were intrigued and they gave it a chance. That’s a good thing. However, both times people checked it out, decided they didn’t like what they saw, and quickly left again… and folks who had previously been consistent WCW viewers and PPV buyers left with them. New viewers gave it a chance, but gave up while a bunch of old viewers gave up, too. That’s bad.

        You can probably make the case that Russo did better numbers than Sullivan. And you could maybe make a speculative case that Russo was doomed from the start — that WCW was sinking too fast and nobody could have possibly righted the ship. I’m open to those arguments. But you really can’t say that Russo made anything better (again, numbers-wise) during either of his WCW stints. Under his booking, things got much worse.

        • I agree that it was an accumulation of terrible decisions. Hogan was in a position of such power that he didn’t need to be a political mastermind to undermine anyone who challenged his status much to the detriment of the product.

          The numbers not lying in WCW refers to Vince increasing the rating however marginally (it’s also unfair to completely downplay the 2.6 the week before he arrived) and also the immediate decline once he left the first time.

          I feel like the buyrates would have picked up once all the pieces were put in place plus the talent and audience got accustomed to the new style of product. Of course, we will never really know either way.

          • For starters, I will indeed dial back what I said about the last 10/99 Nitro before Russo started. I was thinking of the 4/00 Nitro for which they actually cancelled the live event and did a clip show with lots of promotion for the following week. I believe the 10/99 Nitro was a bit lacking in drama, since IIRC it was already known that Russo was coming in, so they didn’t bother doing much for the storylines. But it wasn’t as bad as the 4/00 show, which was what I was thinking of.

            Again, I point out that the average of Russo’s 13 Nitros was worse than the average of the 13 Nitros before he started (and again, that’s including the 2.6 outlier). I just don’t see that as heading in the right direction. Especially combined with declining live event attendance and PPV buyrates that were dropping like a rock.

  34. Hey, Vince. I loved your Guest Booker interview when you re-booked the Invasion. Could you do a “what I would do” series of articles about prominent (or even mid-card) WWE story lines every once in awhile?

    I think they would be great reads while still not being overly critical of the current product. It would just be you giving your perspective and input as a writer.

    P.S. Have you ever seen the video where Max Landis fantasy books a Shield baby face turn? (He did this back when they were heels.) It was a pretty great idea.

  35. Hi Vince, you hit the nail on the head and I appreciate your insight on this issue that most people don’t take into consideration. I have felt some areas have been lacking in tna. As much as I like Mike Tenay I have often felt that it’s hard to suspend disbelief when I hear anything he has to say, like he’s trying to sell something nobody wants to buy and he’s just trying way to hard to get everything in and it doesn’t seem sincere. Of course it’s just a personal observation and I don’t think I could do any better myself. Also, it never seems as if tna gets and serious promotion like bellator does and tna practically force feeds it to us. I’ve also noticed that tna often abandons a good serious story line, even when all participants are still in good health and in need of TV time. An example of that would be anything with Bobby roode. He’s got the look and attitude to pull out some amazing story lines but it seems like tna ends things too quickly with him. I hope I’m wrong about that as I’d like to see more of him in a top role.
    Lastly one of the few things I felt were on the right track when hogan was in tna was when they “threw out the script” and had all potential champs in the room and it started off serious and professional, like what you’d see backstage if they were setting up a match. The way they spoke to each other and interacted was the kind of worked reality that I think tna needs to bring back as it had so much potential like the worked shoot promo aj styles did on Dixie carter. That’s where I think tna should go.

  36. A big problem I have with the wrestling business is marred all over this piece, Vince.
    Yes, it’s all subjective. And the fact that it is subjective means that what someone may find enjoyable, others will not. You said that yourself.
    But the wrestling business is the only entertainment industry that continues to make an effort to guilt its audience into simply “playing along”.
    In the mid 2000s, the wrestling fanbase at large were behind TNA because they were putting out an enjoyable product. Crowds in Orlando WERE interested. And I don’t think people were working more or less harder than they are now.

    But all too often people that are in the circles of the wrestling business make sure to tell fans not to do anything except cheer the good guys and boo the bad guys, no matter what. And that’s why it takes so long for Vince McMahon to figure things about Daniel Bryan. That’s why fans that were devoted TNA fans are tuning out. That’s why everyone that had been screaming for the last who knows how long that Samoa Joe is “THE GUY” has basically gone quiet.

    Because everyone in the wrestling business knows what they’re doing, and if the viewing and paying audience has something else to say…we just don’t understand the business.

  37. I guess I can pretty much agree with everything Mr. Russo has pointed out. However, one question comes to mind. Why haven’t they taken lessons and learned from what WWE went through and was like ?? It would seem that with all the former WWE employees, they’d have a better grasp on scheduling, production,etc.. Just my .02$

  38. Maybe I’m just an optimist, but I fail to see all of the doom and gloom about TNA reported by many on the Internet. TNA Impact on most weeks gets over a million viewers, and I’m sure many cable shows would love to have that large of a prime-time viewing audience. I’m sure if Impact was doing poorly, Spike would move them back to Saturday nights at 11pm in a heartbeat. I agree that it is also amazing the amount of original content that TNA produces on a weekly basis. Impact has already been on the air longer than WCW Monday Nitro. They have also produced more episodes than Friends and Seinfeld combined, which were half hour shows compared to Impact being roughly two hours since late 2007. I definitely think that TNA is on the right track now, and it will just take a little time for them to establish this new group of talent. Many of the performers that are currently carrying the load in TNA now were complete unknowns just a year or two ago.

    • I just think it’s mostly WWE fans who hate competition.

  39. Good Article! I still tend to be a bit critical but thats always been my nature, at the same time I root for TNAs success! This is a bit of a critical point but I think TNA should focus on locating an affordable solution by settling in an area thats wrestling prone & film their shows there? Not on by the name of a place or location but whats financially feasible PLUS get the kind of audience they need? They should film in areas they could draw a reasonable amount of pro wrestling fans to give their show the pop it needs? I also feel they should build more on trying to build their audience rather than just trying to sell a PPV or product or whatever? Don’t know how well my theory would work? because other than a sometimes sloppy done for hobby internet CAW Wrestling show on Youtube, I’ve never actually created a real TV show but I’ve always believed that if you work to build a successful story & get fans to back it, eventually everything else would fall into place?in my own shows I’m phasing out actual TNA or WWE wrestling characters or reducing them in my productions & trying to build my own CAWs, record the screen captures & write story cards around them! Its hard work! and I HATE the un-noticed typos, get the video saved which takes a good 40 + mins so then I usually just leave the error after I notice it! I still love doing it eventhough its hard! It was much easier back in the day when I filmed these same wrestling shows with action figures & a cam corder! eh, To be honest I’m as critical about my own stuff as I am anyone elses! in closing: Not really sure what TNA needs & at the end of the day its just my opinion but I wish them all the success in the world!

  40. The things plaguing TNA are not ONLY whose it’s in front of, but also the creative in general. TNA is poorly written. Things that happened last week are all but forgotten next week. The continuity sucks. And the modern watcher is starving for better continuity. That is why, CHIKARA Pro is growing. Even without TV. They have been trucking along the same continuity since 2007 and building and building nice and easy as time goes on and making a story arc you can really sink your teeth in and FEEL. As Mike Quackenbush has said, there’s a divergence in Pro Wrestling right now. Whether the companies producing it, or the fans of Pro Wrestling in general. On one hand, you have fans who crave their wrestling to be as real as possible. Maybe they should just watch MMA. However, on the other hand, you have wrestling fans who crave the art to be pushed as far as possible and outside of the box. They want stories that encapsulate the fictional space that wrestling resides in. That means, you could have elements of Sci-Fi…elements of Comic Books. We already know it’s not a real sport. Why keep pretending it is? Wrestling is a forum unlike any other. It is one of the few performing arts that you can touch. Why keep it so basic? I believe people crave a forward thinking wrestling promotion. What worked in 1998..doesn’t work now. It’s time to move on. And CHIKARA is doing that. Pay attention to them. As they are the spiritual successor to ECW in terms of pushing the art forward, fan interaction, fan loyalty, and much more. I see them growing more in the years to come. TNA is just WWE-Lite. We don’t need more WWE. We need more alternative wrestling.

  41. I’m old enough to recall the days of the big three.WWWF-Mid-South(N.W.A-WcW) and the A.W.A.I wish there was way to bring back those days.I really want to see T.N.A make it.Just so we as fans of Wrestling not just the entertainment can enjoy good times again.It would also keep the pool of talent out there from growing stale.So many guys have no where to go.Both orgs have good talent going to waste.

  42. As someone that has worked with TNA, do you know if the cost of admission to Universal Studios is prohibitive to TNA fans that just want to go and watch wrestling at the Impact Zone?

    I understand it is free to watch for tourists that have chosen to visit Universal Studios, but for a TNA fan that wants to go there on a regular basis solely to watch wrestling do they have to pay the full admission costs and if so does this put people going off regularly?

  43. <<< Vince Russo mark

  44. Doing my own little hobby and making my own Wrestling show I’ve learned just how hard it is for the Writers in Pro Wrestling. Having people involved on my show as Wrestlers too sucks because everyone wants to be on top but not everyone can. And this is just a VIDEO GAME! No ones gettin’ paid! lol So I think the BEST way for people to understand what writers go through is try to just make a 1 hour or 2 hour show. Figure out the fantasy commercials and try writing storyllines and matches and write a 2 hour show each week for maybe 8 weeks with 2 fantasy PPV’s. Look back at what goals you set for 2 months time and what change and was forgotten and all that stuff.

    THEN you have matches and angles that went too long and ended too soon and this guy is injured and this guy was fired for smacking a fan or this girl is complaining about not being booked and we just hired this person and this isn’t over and that’s catching fire and we gotta give HIM the world title now because he’s bringing in ratings and the internet wants this and they hate everything but some actually help the show but most don’t BOOM!!

    It’s not as easy as it looks. So much can change not even in a week but in a day. And that’s just the writers I’m talking about. Wrestlers could screw up your plans and Referee’s could miss their cue **COUGH** BRIAN STIFLER and contracts may expire and all of a sudden you have one of your guys showing up on NITRO for more money!!

    The problem with wrestling in my opinion? The Wrestling Fans on the Internet. They want something, They get it, They hate it. I don’t even think most of them are even wrestling Fans because I’m not READING about what happen on RAW or IMPACT I’m at my TV WATCHING IT!

    The attendance is low? BUY A TICKET! The ratings are low? WATCH IT! They’re not making money? Stop watching ILLEGAL STREAMS and PAY MONEY for the PAY PER VIEW!

    Even with TNA people complain about not having enough Live Pay Per Views! I was angry that WWE was doing Pay Per Views every 2 WEEKS it felt like at one point! I’ve been buying EVERY TNA Pay Per View now that it’s 4 a year! They care! They’re helping ME out! Now I can spend this extra money on DVD’s! WOO HOO!!

  45. Vince, I could not agree with you more. I read “Rope Opera” a few months ago and thought it was outstanding. As a true “mark”, I understand we can get carried away with our criticism of a show, product or company. Fans want to be entertained and do not care how it is done or have respect for the process of running a show. I was a big supporter when you were hired at WCW and thought it was a breath of fresh air. Those first few months were incredible! Despite being a die-hard Hogan fan, I was initially disappointed when he laid down for Sting at Halloween Havoc 99. But reading in your book how you were trying to protect the Hulkster and put him on a pedestal, it made total sense. I remember when you returned in the spring of 2000, I thought your work with Hogan was great. You developed an adult character and put him in a feud with Kidman. That was huge because Kidman could bounce around, sell for Hogan, making him look like King Kong. Hulk did not have the devastating offense and Kidman “protected” him. When you talk about entertaining the people, I think you hit the nail on the head. It is not about who wins or loses the “match” or the offense, high spots, its about the people going home feeling like they had a great time. Most of the shows you wrote from WWE, WCW, and TNA, I can honestly say I was entertained. I am thrilled for you to be writing more often again and wish you the best for this site. I will do all I can to contribute and thank you for all the contributions you have made to the industry.

  46. Vince, I respect you as a man and as a Christian. I’m not here to troll or give you a hard time. However, at the end of the day, can you at least admit that – when you went to WCW – you were giving the wrong audience the wrong product? For all the criticisms I see of you out there, this is something I very rarely ever see touched upon. WCW had a vastly different fanbase with very different expectations from that of the WWF. A more Southern/Midwestern, rural-leaning mindset. It is my humble opinion that the last thing the industry needed in the fall of 1999 was for the second major company to completely ape what the first major company had been doing for a good year-plus, even if you yourself were the architect of what that first company had been doing. As you very well realize, Vince McMahon continued on with almost exactly your blueprint for many years to follow, as did most of the rest of the industry in America. What WCW needed to be in 1999, 2000 was exactly what the millions of viewers who continued to stay loyal to it expected it to be but didn’t get: A middle-of-the-road, more traditional alternative to the over-the-top nature of the WWF at the time. Booking all those stunts may have been fun, but it doesn’t take any sort of insider to realize it was all very expensive, and even deadly in one tragic case. WCW needed to be as different as reasonably possible from the WWF in the wake of Eric Bischoff’s firing. It needed to find a new direction, away from the worn-out NWO and one that emphasized technical wrestling, because the WWF wasn’t doing that then. So, I’m just asking if this line of thought has ever entered your mind as to why your tenure in WCW went as it did? That maybe you just weren’t the right person to fix that mess, and may have been better off staying where you were, perhaps begging McMahon for some added help on creative? He was eventually talked into having all these ‘writers,’ so who’s to say he wouldn’t have listened to your pleas? Oh well, we can’t change the past, but it is interesting food for thought. God Bless …

  47. Like i ve always said tourists are involved in nothing. and i really appreciated TNA when the focus was the X division just look at the reaction during their first match yesterday .People gets crazy with the x division and you got to bring the action in different arenas for 6 months and changing again.More enthuasiasm with new areanas every 6 months ;and surrounding the action you gotta have storylines like when Angle was smiling everything in the backstage interacting with Beautiful people with Sunjay Dutt ;i like even the Kevin Nash or Team 3d against the x division,nothing was over the great action in the ring of the x division.

  48. TNA has stayed in Orlando for 10 years and that’s really not good for their product. It was long overdue to have them take their product out there nationwide to see the reactions of crowds from other places. I remember back then in seeing WCW held their tapings in Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney-Hollywood Studios) in the 90′s and it may be similar to what TNA has done. I wonder if WCW had that same problem.

    PS – Watching the first WrestleMania on the 1998 edition VHS tape.

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