There are a great many people out in this big ol’ world of ours who have the misguided conception that I hate Vince Russo. This contingent points to the countless articles I’ve penned about his ridiculous characters, nonsensical angles, and his seeming inability to ever bring a story to a satisfactory end…if an end at all.
To those out there with this viewpoint, I say this: I do not, in fact, hate Vince Russo. In fact, when we had him on WrestleCrap Radio back in February of 2006, I found him to be a fairly interesting guy. No, I didn’t agree with a lot of his takes on certain situations, but he was man enough to come into “enemy territory”, so to speak, and for that, I commend him.
Having said all that, I think that even Russo’s biggest supporters would tell you, in a moment of honesty, that the man has made his fair share of mistakes in this business. And not to throw fuel on that fire, but few were ever as big a blunder as the happenings at WCW’s Bash at the Beach 2000.
Namely, he had the audacity to call Hulk Hogan, and I quote, “bald.”
You see, that’s a big deal in the wrestling business. You may not know that, but trust us, it is. Don’t believe me? Go back and count the number of times a Hogan foe has ever once said something about the Hulkster’s hairline. Did you come up with one? No, of course not. Now consider that Hogan has been a wrestling main eventer for the better part of the past 20 years…wouldn’t you think SOMEONE would take a shot at his chrome dome?
One guy did. And one guy wound up with a lawsuit on his hands because of it.
That guy, as you might deduce, was Vince Russo.
It was the summer of 2000, and is well documented in my second book, The Death of WCW, the company was collapsing at a record pace. The highs of 1997-1998 were long gone, and the company was hemorraghing money. Everyone, it seemed, had their reason as to what was wrong, and those two camps usually camed out in the exact same places. Those being:
A) The old guys wouldn’t give up their spot.
B) Russo was an idiot.
Seeing that most of the so-called insiders knew of this backstage controversy, Russo decided that maybe the two sides could work together and use this real-life animosity to fuel an on-air clash that would hopefully get folks once again talking about WCW.
The plan was simple enough. So simple it should have worked.
But hey…you don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind.
And you damn sure don’t call Hogan “bald.”
The scene, as previously mentioned, as the 2000 Bash at the Beach PPV, eminating from Orlando, the same venue that saw Hogan turn wrestling on its ear by joining up with the nWo and becoming a heel for the first time in over a decade.
On this night, Hogan would be coming into the ring as a challenger for Jeff Jarrett’s WCW title.
Wake up, wake up – this was supposed to be a huge deal! If you don’t believe me, then perhaps you will listen to Tony Schiavone, who claimed this match was, perhaps, the biggest match in Hogan’s career.
Coming from a guy who once claimed a Nitro featuring Meng vs. Hugh Morrus main event was “the greatest night in the history of our sport”, it was far from the biggest whopper he ever told.
So Jarrett’s music hits and out comes…
…your hero and mine, Vince Russo, in a shirt that Mark Madden claims Russo stole from Barry Bonds.
Why didn’t they book THAT match?
Oh yeah, because they were paying Swoll (remember him? Of course you don’t.) $500,000 to sit around and do next to nothing. And paying Lanny Poffo to literally do nothing.
Damn, I really needed to work for WCW back in the day.
Anyway, out comes Jarrett, as the announcers let us know that Hogan got this title shot by defeating Billy Kidman.
Oh man, I remember that Kidman-Hogan feud. Now THERE’s an induction that needs to be done. Basically, Kidman was put in a feud with Hogan over the fact that Hogan legit said that Kidman couldn’t headline at a flea market. This lead to Kidman attacking Hogan (because, again, it’s a SHOOT) and Hogan then obliterating Kidman in every single match ever.
These days, I bet Kidman couldn’t headline at a flea market, and a lot of that has to do with his feud with the biggest name in the history of the business.
Back to match…Hogan shows up and promptly grabs the mic, saying he’s going to “powerbomb Jarrett’s ass”, which, when you really think about it, sounds quite, well, gay.
Seriously, say that outloud to your buddy next time you’re at the bar. I bet he either a) high tails it the hell out of there or b) gazes longingly into your eyes.
Either way, don’t bother emailing us the details.
Jarrett responds to Hogan’s quasi-homoerotic threat by…
…laying down in the middle of the ring.
Not how I personally would react to a 300-pound orange skinned man telling me he wanted to “powerbomb my ass”, but to each his own.
Oh wait, sorry. See, this was Russo’s way of letting Hogan “get his way.” Just in case no one got the hint, Russo then threw the belt into the ring, and yells at Hogan, “Go ahead, pin him!”
The crowd reaction?
First there was apathy.
Then there was confusion.
And then came the big chant, the one that would show Hogan what a low down despicable pile of crap he really was: “Russo Sucks!”
Hogan then grabbed the mic and said that the reason WCW was in the shape it was in was due to “bullshit like this.”
The crowd, upon seeing this no-good, self-centered SOB get his way once again, responded with deafening cheers.
Well, it was a good theory.
So Hogan leaves, and out once more comes Vinny Ru, looking haggard and forelorn.
Russo goes onto explain that since day one in the company, he had been victim to the countless backstage bullshit, and that had made his life a living hell.
Yep, you guessed it – extreme apathy.
Russo then went on one of his infamous shoots, promising that Hogan would never be seen in WCW again.
Now before you say that this was, in fact, a shoot, let me assure you: it wasn’t. Hogan, Russo, and others have all confirmed that going into this event, Hogan and Russo were both on the same page, with the idea being that Hogan would vanish for a few weeks then return and exact his revenge on Jarrett.
But there was one slight problem: Russo called Hogan “bald.”
And Hogan was NOT down with that. Not down with that to the point that he actually filed a lawsuit against both Russo and WCW over defamation of character.
An interesting side note to this whole story. Remember when Russo said Hogan was gone from WCW forever? He was. He never came back to the company again.
So while this whole angle never made a dime for anyone, we do have to give Russo credit.
After all, when he said Hogan was gone, we’d have never have believed it.
Congrats, Vinny – that may have been the single greatest swerve you ever booked.
Russo: “Hogan got his wish. Hogan got his belt and he went the hell home and I promise everybody or I will go in the God damn grave, you will never see that piece of shit again!”
Russo: “And Hogan, you big bald son of a bitch, kiss my ass!”