Vince Russo. Much like “Nosferatu”, just the name alone is enough to strike terror into the hearts of men, and whip wrestling fans into a blind HULK SMASH rage (…not like Nosferatu). I’m sure most of you already know the story but I’ll give you the paraphrased annotated Triple Kelly version.
Eric Bischoff has a stress meltdown in 1999 and was paid a substantial amount of money by WCW to stay home and relax. (And you wonder why there were actually people who wanted to work for that company at the time of its implosion.) Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara are recruited from the WWF to get WCW’s ratings back up to a respectable and braggable number. The only thing Turner Network’s employees did not count on was that Russo and Ferrara’s ideas, without Vince McMahon to stand over them to edit and veto, were largely humbug (‘ello, guv’na!).
Russo was sent home the first time after the heads of the company got wind that Russo wanted to put the belt on shoot fighter Tank Abbott. Yes, he thought this was a good idea. Despite being sent home for having, shall we say, idiotic ideas such as this, the company decided that they would bring him back…with Bischoff in tow. Soon enough, Russo was back to the same old poppycock (tally ho, lads!) in no time at all, making the WCW World title change hands just about every week and booking himself and DAVID ARQUETTE THE ACTOR as WCW World Champions.
Again, he was being paid to come up with these ideas. Paid large sums of money, I should add.
Not only did we get absurdities like World Champ Dewey, we got the first influx of what would soon become a staple for Russo: POLE MATCH AFTER POLE MATCH!
Now please don’t ask why this man loves poles so much. I have no idea. But boy howdy does he love his items and people on poles in the name of “entertainment”. Especially boxes on poles (that sounds unbelievably inappropriate’.just as Russo intended, I’m sure). Which leads us to this week’s induction, an oft-requested one!
Welcome to WCW Monday Nitro. Here we have our stellar announce team of Tony Schiavone, Scott Hudson and Mark Madden.
I should note that I was incorrect a few weeks back when I said he was conceived in a Port-a-Potty. That was untrue.
He was actually born there.
I will try to be more diligent in my research in the future.
So anyhoo, we’re in San Francisco, and what better reason could there be to have the first ever “San Francisco 49ers match for gold”.
I’ll give you this, Russo – you can name a match.
The rules? Well, in 3 boxes are “weapons” to use against your opponent. while the 4th box holds the WCW world title belt.
Gee, I wonder how many boxes we’ll have to open to get to that belt? Any takers that it will be the second one?
Come on, Russo – that would be a swerve!
Let’s meet our participants, shall we?
Up first we have Jeff Jarrett, who looks like he’s about to do some digging for gold on his own.
Nothing says “Main Eventer” like walking down to the ring with your finger knuckle deep.
They show backstage footage of Jarrett getting into it with Beetlejuice, of Howard Stern’s “Whack Pack” fame. Madison, I’ve heard rumors of a potential return. If that’s the case, I humbly request that your first Weird World of Wrestling article back be on the Stern/Whack Pack N’ Wrestling Connection of the late 90s.
Because if there’s anything wrestling fans clamor for, it’s pinheads, guys with high voices and she-males that are ridiculed on Howard’s E! show.
Jarrett levels Beetlejuice with his guitar and why not?
He no-sold Gilbert Gottfried’s Bela Lugosi and Old Groucho on Dick Cavett’s show impressions (unforgivable, in my opinion).
(Note from RD: I can honestly state that I never thought I’d live to see the day we’d have a DICK CAVETT reference on the site.)
And here comes Booker T, the man who said Thanksgiving was in October.
A quick note to you, dear read: the next person that emails me saying “Thanksgiving is in October in Canada!” will be duct-taped to a chair and forced to watch Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie. I’m not kidding.
Let’s back up here for a moment. Here we have Jeff Jarrett and Booker T.
Two undeniably talented guys.
These guys can cut good promos and simply have a good match either on free tv or PPV.
But in Vincent Russo’s mind, they gotta have gimmicky matches because Russo cannot wrap his head around the concept that two men can simply have a match where two guys WRESTLE to a clean finish.
Booker hops down to give an elderly fan at ringside a t-shirt and a hug.
Awww, now that’s real sweet.
Jarrett interrupts this sweet moment by giving Booker a punch to his back and threatening the geriatric fan with a butt-whooping!
Just look at that old biddy, swinging her purse at him.
We need more elderly women in the front row at wrestling shows.!
(Note from RD: Agreed. They give you choice promos such as this one,)
For those that haven’t seen pole matches (and I have to ask…as a wrestling fan, how did you avoid Vince Russo for so long?), it’s where you attempt to have a real match but you gotta knock your opponent senseless and climb the turnbuckles to get at the pole. However, while trying to have a wrestling match, an Irish whip to the turnbuckle knocks the box off the pole.
Jarrett opens the first box and the “weapon” he finds is the next Diva Search winner.
And by that I mean a blow up doll.
Booker T gets the second box and it’s a picture he looks at with disbelief.
“Seriously, Dogs Playing Poker??
This is considered ART???”
Alas no, it’s just the recently released from WCW Scott Hall.
Hey, remember that time Scott Hall showed up in the insane asylum with Ric Flair for no good reason?
Yeah, well, this made even less sense.
After a few more minutes of tussling around, Booker locates the 3rd box which has a Coal Miner’s Glove inside.
We all remember that one, don’t we?
“Spin the Wheel! Make the Deal!
Spin the Wheel! Make the Deal!”
Ah, the good old days, when WCW only lost $4 million a year instead of $60 million a year.
But instead of using the Coal Miner’s Glove once on your opponent, knocking him cold for the next 10 minutes, the glove is used repeatedly.
I’d rant about suspension of disbelief, but seriously it’s a guy punching another guy with a MITTEN.
You can’t really expect me to get all racheted up about that, can you?
Jarrett is about to obtain the last box, the box containing the WCW gold belt (cause it’s a SF 49ers match after all), but he’s punched in the groin by Beetlejuice. And btw, what’s with the Superman outfit, Beet?
Is there yet another more frightening Bizzaro Universe out there wherein Howard Stern goofs are super heroes?
The same Bizarro Universe where Russo is lauded as a genius and WCW is still going strong while WWF is now defunct?
Wait a minute, the first one to get the belt wins. Does that make Dave Penzer: Ring Announcer, the NEW WCW World champion??? Good thing Russo was in the bathroom mirror watching his beard grow at the time and didn’t realize this at the time or else WCW would’ve ended just in time for Christmas 2000.
(Note from RD: vincerussowatcheshisbeardgrow.com, I bet that’s not taken!)
You know, the sight of Booker T, who busted his hump for years in WCW, getting the big gold belt would usually fill me with joy.
But seriously…we were robbed of Dave Penzer, WCW Champion.
That’s just wrong.
Still, I hold out hope. With Russo in charge of TNA, there’s always a chance Penzer will get his title run yet.
After all, did anyone ever expect to see Heel Tony Schiavone?
I didn’t think so.