Professional wrestling booker/writer/performer.

An avid wrestling fan who grew up recognizing wrestling more for its entertainment than its sport, Vince Russo began his affilitation with the grap game with his own syndicated radio show "Vicious Vincent's World of Wrestling" on New York radio.

Russo's radio show caught the attention of Vince McMahon who hired him as a freelance writer for their official magazine. From his office at Titan Towers, Russo wrote two monthly columns called "The Bite" and "The Bite Uncensored" for the WWF Magazine and WWF Raw Magazine respectively. He became the magazine's editor and editor in chief - in fact, by the time the call came for Russo to try his hand at booking the Federation for real, he was more or less writing the entire publication.

Russo's rise coincided with a conscious move by Vince McMahon and the WWF to distance themselves from the cartoon characters and clichéed storylines of old, and present an edgier product to counter the devastating effect the WCW's red-hot nWo angle was having on the WWF's ratings. Russo's seat-of-the-pants booking style and R-rated storylines meshed perfectly with the Attitudinal superstars that were coming to the forefront of the WWF's roster - the beer-drinking, foul-mouthed Stone Cold Steve Austin, the crotch-chopping, innuendo-laden D-Generation X and a supporting cast of porn stars, pimps, sex addicts, lesbians and Satanists.

The WWF was red-hot between April 1998 and April 2000, and Russo's name was mentioned more and more amongst the Internet smarts as the driving force behind the WWF's creative process.

Meanwhile, down in Atlanta, the new millennium (and poorer ratings) approached. WCW's creative team began to look for someone to carry them in a bold new direction. Their programming was stale. They needed SOMEONE to put a fresh spin on things. They set their sights on the man that was the self-proclaimed saviour of WWF programming...Vince Russo.

In October of 1999 Vince came to work for WCW. He walked into a complete hornets' nest. Dubbing himself and co-ship-jumper Ed Ferrera 'The Powers That Be', Russo embarked on a six-month campaign of playing to the internet fans, swerves, double-crosses, insider jokes and kayfabe breaking.

Rapidly running out of both ideas and friends, on the Monday Nitro after the Starcade PPV, Russo heralded the reformation of the nWo. Amid the clusterfuck that followed, Russo put his number one draw Goldberg out of commission by having him punch through a car window, put the WCW title on 'his boy' Jeff Jarrett approximately 15 times, and finally tried to put the biggest title in his organisation on super-not-over beard-sporter Tank Abbott.

Vince Russo was removed from his duties as head of the creative department in January of 2000, replaced on the booking committee by Kevin Sullivan and Terry Taylor. Amazingly, their 'return to old-fashioned wrasslin' bombed even worse than Russo had, and by March he had returned, as one half of the 'dream team' that would put WCW back on the map - alongside the man he had been brought in to replace - Eric Bischoff.

April 10th 2000 marked the new beginning for WCW. Russo came out into the Nitro ring and told the old guard - Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Sting, Kevin Nash et al - to move aside. He had also brought several of WCW's "younger" superstars to the ring with him. He christened them the New Blood.

In the months that followed, Russo again brought his brand of high-octane, booking-on-the-fly sports entertainment to the fans of WCW. He made T&A a central component of the product, pushing Miss Hancock, Torrie Wilson, Kimberley Page and others at the expense of the cruiserweights and the luchadores. He put the belt around his own waist, and even more horribly, in one of the single worst angles in wrestling history, around the waist of Ready To Rumble star David Arquette.

But the most shocking moment of the second Russo regime was what what went down at Bash at the Beach 2000.

As Vince Russo stood at ringside the bell sounded to signal the start of the Hollywood Hogan/Jeff Jarrett WCW title match. Immediately, Jarrett laid down in the middle of the ring. Russo then threw the world strap into the ring and left. With confusion etched on his face, Hogan grabbed the mic and said "Is this your deal Russo? That's why this company is in the position that it's in because of bullshit like this." He then proceeded to place a boot on Jarrett's chest and the ref counted the champ down and Hogan became the new champion of the world. After the decision, Jarrett left, closely followed by Hogan who, it is believed, stormed out of the building.

Later Russo returned to the ring and explained the whole situation and blasted Hogan in a shoot-style profanity-laden interview. He claimed that Hogan had refused to lose to Jarrett: "All day long, I've been playing politics with Hogan because tonight, Hulk Hogan wants to play his creative control card" he explained (Hogan had a clause in his contract allowing him to veto any booking decision he disagreed with). "And to Hulk Hogan, that meant tonight, when he knew it was bullshit, he beats Jeff Jarrett. Well guess what? Hogan got his wish, Hogan got his belt and he went home".

Russo then claimed that Hogan would never work for WCW again and that he could have the title belt he had just 'won' and call it 'The Hulk Hogan Memorial Belt' as a new one was going to be made. He closed the segment with the announcement that Jeff Jarrett was still the champion and would defend the belt against Booker T in the main event. Booker went over Jarrett and the torch had been passed. Hogan later filed a lawsuit against WCW over the incident and has not been seen since.

Citing exhaustion, Russo again left his WCW booking duties in late 2000 and did not return. Once WWFE bought out the company, it seemed obvious that Vince Russo had burnt his bridges. He was last seen aiding the booking of the female T&A WOW promotion.

Some of my (least) favourite Vince Russo moments
1. Mae Young giving birth to a hand
2. The Harris Boys being named 'Patrick' and 'Gerald' in a clear swipe at the WWF
3. 'Oklahoma' - perhaps the least tasteful character in wrestling history
4. Oh, yeah, booking himself into every single top angle for twelve months :)

Thanks to WOW Magazine for the Bash At The Beach quotes

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