Vince Russo no longer writing television for any wrestling promotion is something we should all be grateful for. Wrestling’s most controversial writer has achieved success in WWE as one of the biggest supporters of ushering in The Attitude Era. The issue is we have all grown up since 1999 but Russo is still in the exact same mindset. Russo tried to replicate his theories and concepts in WCW and TNA but failed horribly in both occasions. After getting removed from TNA as a consultant and causing Spike TV to finally quit on the company, Russo now works on a personal subscription website discussing the current wrestling product.
Through various podcasts, videos, tweets and blogs, Russo rants about how WWE’s ratings have dropped due to the company losing him and he is the one with the magic formula to fix things. Russo has ranted on many different aspects of today’s product like wrestlers not looking the part, the wrestling style being worse and overall just blaming today’s overall atmosphere along with Triple H’s influence. It has become a bit entertaining to watch the trainwreck take place as Russo serves as the old loon shouting about today’s youth and claiming he can fix all the issues by going back to his outdated ideas.
We just have to be thankful Russo is nowhere near the WWE product and has been gone since 1999. There have been many tremendous stars to come in that time frame that would have suffered under the writing of Russo. Between his desire to introduce silly gimmicks, weakly written storylines and pointless swerves, Russo sunk the careers of many talents by ending any chance of them getting over and moving up the card. The desire of shock television and car crash entertainment would have prevented WWE from growing into a global brand and many wrestlers would have suffered quite a bit. We’re going to look at the better stars from the post-Russo era that would have been ruined by Vince Russo’s writing.
15 Randy Orton
Randy Orton's character during his best days was very simple. Orton was a badass that you don’t want to mess with unless you’re in the mood to get punted in the skull. It took Orton a long time to get there with a couple of various character changes and experimenting before hitting his groove. Orton isn’t the most outwardly charismatic wrestler in the company and that likely would have been a red flag to Vince Russo. The writing style of Russo would see talented wrestlers with less natural mic skills get put into outlandish gimmicks and Orton would have suffered the same fate.
14 Kurt Angle
It may be hard to believe that Kurt Angle would have floundered under the Vince Russo regime considering they worked well together in TNA and Angle has a great personality that shines in any situation. The thing to remember about Angle’s time in TNA is he was already one of the biggest stars in the industry when he came to TNA, so Russo had to book for his established character rather than change it. Angle was quite bland in the first few months of his WWE career and didn’t look like someone that would evolve into one of the best performers in the industry. WWE didn’t saddle him with a weird gimmick and played into his Olympic achievements. Russo believes in gimmicks over legitimacy, so Angle would have never been allowed to be himself.
No one likes Sheamus. We know. He’s the last person you want to enter the main event picture and the idea of him winning championships just makes you want to fall asleep, but you can’t argue that he’s quite talented in the ring. The brawling Irishman was established as a noteworthy main eventer for a few years and had come classics against Daniel Bryan and John Morrison. While Sheamus is not someone you will celebrate, you should respect his efforts at a time when WWE desperately lacked depth. Vince Russo is notoriously known for believing American wrestling fans won’t care enough to financially invest in non-American performers. Sheamus is the perfect example of someone that would have been given a horribly offensive gimmick and made into a comedic act based off his pale skin.
12 Eddie Guerrero
The time Eddie Guerrero spent in WCW under the Vince Russo regime was very short before he made the jump to WWE but it was clear Russo didn’t view Guerrero as a future star. One of Russo’s interviews entering WCW involved a promise that you won’t see the Mexican wrestlers entering the upper card because American fans didn’t care about them. Yes, he somehow got away with saying that. 1999 was a weird time. Guerrero would blossom into a big star and future WWE Champion after leaving WCW. If Russo never left WWE, there’s no chance Guerrero would have been booked with the confidence to ever become a world champion due to his ethnicity and size.
11 Trish Stratus
One of the biggest lies Vince Russo spews is that he was one of the better bookers of female wrestlers. Russo supports the idea of female talent being on the show because he enjoys using physically attractive women in matches that exploits their looks in hopes of popping a rating, among other things. No female talent shined as a credible in-ring star during Russo’s WWE era and Trish Stratus would likely been limited to bra and panties matches for the rest of her career. Stratus was involved in romantic storylines and scandalous matches for a few years before getting the opportunity to showcase her wrestling skills and promo excellence to become the biggest female star in the industry.
Vince Russo allowed wrestlers ready for the big spot to get elevated in a role that showcased their personalities. Steve Austin, The Rock and Mick Foley are the best examples of guys ready to get the ball and run with it. Russo couldn’t use his typical poor booking tendencies to pigeonhole them into a lackluster result. The younger wrestlers and newcomers into the company were the ones suffering as Russo’s horrible ideas would get casted to the talents trying to make a name and ascend into a higher position on the card. Edge was one of the wrestlers that benefited by Russo leaving in 1999. With his tag team partner Christian, Edge showed a perfect mix of in-ring skills and personality by just using his sense of humor, rather than portraying an adult star or pimp to do so.
9 The Hardy Boyz
Very similar to Edge, Matt and Jeff Hardy were young wrestlers new to the WWE and hoping to show the world how talented they were. Neither man had a strong promo presence in their early WWE days, due to their young age at the time, but they were exciting in the ring and fans of all genres connected to them. If Vince Russo never left WWE, the brothers likely would have been jobbers for quite some time with minimal chances at getting over on their own merit unless they adopted a cheesy gimmick. The Hardy Brothers both joined TNA while Russo was there and despite being established stars, Russo still didn’t know how to book them properly.
8 Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio’s most irrelevant time in WCW came during the Vince Russo regime as part of Russo’s plan to eliminate the smaller Cruiserweights from having competitive matches but rather be relegated to poor comedic segments. The 2002 signing of Mysterio was one of the best acquisitions in WWE history and he achieved great success right away. Wrestling’s biggest little man became a huge merchandise seller and one of the most entertaining performers in the world with a push he never received in WCW. Russo would have fought against the idea of someone that small, who wears a mask and doesn’t speak much, should be pushed on WWE television. Mysterio should thank his lucky stars he didn’t have to deal with Russo’s BS for too long.
7 Rob Van Dam
Another wrestling star that didn’t have a larger than life personality but still connected with the majority of WWE fans was Rob Van Dam. The ECW legend signed with WWE shortly after the company folded and become a huge sensation as fans fell in love with his tremendous ability. Despite being against tradition in terms of storytelling in wrestling, Russo has admitted to having an older mindset of wanting wrestlers to look and act a certain way that Van Dam doesn’t live up to. The cool moves and zany personality represented everything that Russo was not fond of and there’s no doubt he would have pitched various gimmicks to change RVD into a completely different person.
6 Chris Jericho
Vince Russo was actually one of the supporters who wanted to get Chris Jericho to WWE in hopes of pushing him hard but that doesn’t mean it would have been good for Jericho’s career. Russo bolted the WWE for WCW unceremoniously and it left Jericho’s plans up in the air with a new writing team in play. Jericho still had a superb debut and obviously got over in great fashion. The thing that would have harmed Jericho was Russo’s short-sided mentality of treating wrestlers as temporary pieces. Russo has revealed souring on young wrestlers in TNA after they fail to get over instantly and didn’t seem apt to giving them more opportunities. Jericho floundered for a bit in WWE early on due to the learning curve of the new promotion and Russo likely would have lost his love for him after an early struggle.
The women Vince Russo pushed in WWE were Sable, Terri Runnels, Debra and all other blondes with large chests and traditionally physically attractive looks. Lita was gorgeous but she was anything but traditional with her tattoos, red hair and unique personality. Russo has shown signs of sexism when discussing the women that he would want to push as characters on televised wrestling and Lita didn’t appear to be one of those with her different look. We may have never seen the daredevil risky style of Lita in her matches or the character with Team Xtreme if Russo stuck around in WWE and continued the cycle of the interchangeable female talents.
4 Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens has become one of WWE’s biggest new stars with his merchandise selling well and his heel persona getting over with the live crowds. Vince Russo has gone on the record to bury Owens on his various internet shows, saying he doesn’t look the way a wrestler should. Owens obviously doesn’t have the body of a John Cena or Randy Orton but he looks like a brawler that you would fear getting into a fight with. Russo has disparaged Owens professionally and personally, so you just know how foolishly he’d want to use Owens if he were still booking today. The overweight gimmick would likely be a part of Owens character and destroy his entire wrestling career.
3 John Cena
The star power of John Cena has meant so much to WWE over the past decade, as they’ve struggled to establish other stars on that level. Cena has the wrestling magic that would have made him relevant in any era but the booking of Vince Russo would have limited what Cena has done today. Russo has always hated the concept of a traditional good guy such as a Hulk Hogan character that plays to the kids. For whatever reason, Russo is obsessed with producing content involving adult language and sexual content. Cena’s PG persona would have been thrown out of the window a long time ago and despite many adult fans thinking that’s a good idea, it would have burned a great amount of money made from children wearing his merchandise.
2 CM Punk
Can you imagine the backstage arguments that would have taken place if CM Punk worked as a talent in a promotion that employed Vince Russo as an influential booker? Russo’s booking style should lean towards helping an edgy character with great character skills but Punk doesn’t look or act like the kind of performer Russo would get along with. Samoa Joe was another personality like Punk’s that clashed with Russo in TNA and Russo was never a supporter of Joe being a face of the company. Russo likely would have taken one look at Punk, critiqued his flaws and tried to privately bury him, which is similar to many other backstage minds during Punk’s early WWE days.
1 Daniel Bryan
The success story of Daniel Bryan in WWE would have never happened in any promotion Vince Russo was a part of. Russo discredits talents like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for not looking the way wrestlers of yesteryear were expected to. Bryan is another talent that fell under the unconventional category and would have failed under Russo’s writing. Almost all of the talented young stars in TNA were given comedic characters like Jay Lethal portraying Randy Savage and Sonjay Dutt playing a guru. Bryan would have been another example of that if he were ever caught in the crosshairs of a Russo creative show, but it may have been even worse since he represented everything Russo was against in pro wrestling.