Do you remember Vic Venom?
I didn’t either, until recently. A 1997 WWF Monday Night Raw rebroadcast on the WWE Network still had that glorious, late 90s, attitude-cutaway style WWF Magazine advertisement intact. Vic Venom showed up in his leather jacket and biker sunglasses, with promises of exclusive rumors, insider knowledge, and more, if I’d only call the (now defunct) 1-800 number at the bottom of the screen. And, of course, pay $19.99 a month. It was pretty rad.
Not that I would know firsthand. My family wasn’t fancy enough to order an honest-to-goodness pro wrestling magazine each month (instead, I was provided hand-me-downs from my dad’s co-workers, which was still a major “get” in my book). Plus, as my jeans shorts wearing, rattail sporting, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, little tyke self can attest to, 90s kid’s didn’t have much disposable income to spend on magazines each month. Whatever you saved up – if you were lucky enough to have grandparents that loved you, or a rich Uncle Hubbard – went straight to video games and Surge.
Vic Venom was, of course, the magazine pseudonym for Vince Russo. And pretty much everybody remembers Vince Russo, or has a story about Vince Russo, or knows a family member who was offended by Vince Russo at a wrestling convention.
Unlike Vic Venom, Vince Russo has a reputation. He’s either professional wrestling’s savior (as he was for WWF Creative throughout ‘97, ‘98, and ‘99), or he’s the guy who burnt WCW to the ground. You might associate him with The Powers That Be angle, the failed World Championship Wrestling reboot, or as that guy who worked in TNA for a few years and we’re still not sure yet how much of that bad booking was his fault, or Dixie Carter’s fault, or Eric Bischoff’s fault, or even Hulkamania’s fault.
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I did not have a story about Vince Russo. I’ve been a wrestling fan all my life, so of course I knew who the man was, and I understood that despite all the good and bad things said about him for the last 20 years, he must’ve done something right to hang around the wrasslin’ biz this long. Maybe you’re not a fan of “Crash TV” booking? It still made money. Maybe you don’t like frequent Heel/Face turns? Some people do (surprisingly enough). I certainly have personal feelings about most of the major wrestling angles Russo has been involved with, and his particular style of writing, but I’ve never had any personal feelings about the man. How could I? I’ve never met him. And he’s held numerous positions in MAJOR wrestling organizations that most of us “fans” would kill for.
I’d love some answers from the man, too. For instance, what exactly happened when he returned to WWE in the 2000s (and did he REALLY call for the N.W.O. to return)? And what were the deets on Rope Opera, his failed television series idea? In fact, let’s revisit that one. A serialized TV show about pro wrestling personalities sounds like something right up my alley.
I’ve never read his book, either. My knowledge has been through the various filters from which most wrestling “tales” come. Friends-of-friends, internet dirt sheets, etc.
But that all changed Monday. Taz announced his new podcast on Twitter, with advertised guest Vince Russo… because if you’re in the wrestling business these days, you apparently need your own podcast or you’re not doing it right (I can’t wait until we get “Earl Hebner’s Three-Count” with special guest “sketchy guy who helped him make knockoff WWE Merchandise”).
Of course my reaction was, “You had me until Vince Russo.” Because, it’s the internet.
— Michael A. Wiseman (@therealwiseman) May 19, 2014
And wouldn’t you know it, Vince Russo actually responded. Now, I had no idea Vince Russo was on Twitter, or probably would have tweeted my reply to him (if you’re going to be hateful, you might as well be honest about it). But I didn’t. So I have to assume that the only way Russo found out about my tweet is because he sits around with his name in the Twitter search box endlessly hitting “refresh.” I mean, if I were any more famous, that’s what I would do.
His tweet? “BOOOOO!” With that exact many “O’s.”
Listen, I can handle criticism. People disagree with me all the time, or argue that my writing style is worse than a 18-year-old seventh grader, or make vaguely crude comments about southerners. It comes with the territory. But to give me the verbal equivalent of a thumbs-down on Twitter? Here’s one amateur blogger who simply won’t take such public displays of incivility.
I texted Brian Fritz immediately and said, “Vince Russo booed me. But it might not be him. It doesn’t have the ‘verified’ thingy.” To which Fritz responded, “He booed you?” I like to read that response as, “he booed YOU?” As though the idea that anybody would conceive of booing Michael A. Wiseman is such an anomaly, it can’t be possible. It wouldn’t be possible. Ever. Probably, though, Brian meant, “He booed you?” like you would ask someone a question you don’t understand. Like, “Huh?” Like, “what the frak are you talking about?”
Without the support of Brian Fritz, and without the blue verified Twitter check icon to know exactly who I was up against, my choices were limited. Vince Russo gets booed, cheered, and everything else. I couldn’t just “boo” him back – it wouldn’t mean anything. Should I cheer him? Maybe that would seem insincere? (it would be.) Do I block him? Retweet? Favorite? Scurry away to Facebook or Tout?
So, I pulled out my ace-in-the-hole.
Knowing Vince Russo is a fan of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, logic-be-damned, good-guy/bad-guy/who-knows/who-cares/they’ll-be-different-next-week-anyway show ‘The Following,’ I fired back. I told him straight to his profile pic-sized face that he couldn’t boo me because we liked the same TV show. I even called him Vince. I drew a hard line in the sand, and dared him to cross it.
He didn’t. Instead, he apologized. Told me I was right the whole time, about wrestling, about entertainment, about everything. Even encouraged more people to listen to ‘Cheap Pops!’ Maybe not in so many words… but the jist of it was still there.
And that’s when I knew that this
Vic Venom Vince Russo fellow is probably alright. He might be a little defensive sometimes, or have just a few too many excuses (of course all the bad decisions throughout your WCW tenure were influenced by Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, and Jim Crockett, and there’s no WAY that you booking yourself as champion was your own idea). But he’s a relatable fellow. An average joe, even. A little too obsessed with man-on-woman violence, sometimes – but then again, aren’t well all?
Just kidding, Vince.
But I’m glad we had that talk. Really. It helped me see you in a whole new light.
Do you have any Vince Russo stories? Share them in the comments below. Or tell me – and Vince Russo himself – on Twitter. While you’re there, be sure to follow Between the Ropes, and like us on Facebook!