That Time Vince Russo’s Ideas Were TOO GOOD For WWE

Who’s swervin’ who?

stone cold steve austin stephanie mcmahon

“I was always raised to tell the truth, that’s just the way my parents brought me up.”

- Vince Russo, complete with run-on sentence, writing on his website ‘Pyro and Ballyhoo’.

2002 marked the end of WWE’s mainstream boom.

Steve Austin was close to retirement, and had at this point “taken his ball and gone home”. The Rock was bound for Hollywood. The company had f*cked the Invasion angle with robotic, half-hearted thrusts, pushing the rope with which it hung itself. Ratings were tumbling. A combination of the industry’s cyclical nature—and WWE’s dimwitted acceleration of it—meant that the magic, simply, had gone. In a premonition of the desperation to come, to reverse the trend, Vince sent for the man:

Vince Russo.

And this was desperation, for Russo’s one-hit-wonder booking style had accelerated the demise of WCW. The hire—if it qualifies as that—was a real indictment of the existing creative team. Vince believed the man who killed WCW’s creative was a better fit that than the team that had, in spite of everything, maintained a profitable enterprise. The news sent shockwaves through the entire company, and came as a surprise to even his own daughter, Stephanie, who was in charge at the time. That is wild.

Russo had allegedly met with Vince McMahon in June of that year to discuss his grand plan to arrest the slide. “Satisfied”, McMahon had Russo outline it to the creative team, the most influential members of which were Michael Hayes, Paul Heyman, Brian Gewirtz, and (an absent) Bruce Prichard.

There are two sides to this infamous meeting.

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Michael Sidgwick is an editor, writer and podcaster for WhatCulture Wrestling. With over seven years of experience in wrestling analysis, Michael was published in the influential institution that was Power Slam magazine, and specialises in providing insights into All Elite Wrestling - so much so that he wrote a book about the subject. You can order Becoming All Elite: The Rise Of AEW on Amazon. Possessing a deep knowledge also of WWE, WCW, ECW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Michael’s work has been publicly praised by former AEW World Champions Kenny Omega and MJF, and current Undisputed WWE Champion Cody Rhodes. When he isn’t putting your finger on why things are the way they are in the endlessly fascinating world of professional wrestling, Michael wraps his own around a hand grinder to explore the world of specialty coffee. Follow Michael on X (formerly known as Twitter) @MSidgwick for more!