The decades-long ill-feeling between Vince Russo and Jim Cornette shows no sign of abating following a recent public spat on their podcasts and social media.
On the latest edition of his podcast The Jim Cornette Experience, the opinionated industry veteran dismissed Russo’s talk on other podcasts of the two getting together for the sake of charity to put their differences aside, grumbling:
“You know that ain’t gonna happen ’cause we got nothing to talk about.”
Cornette instead challenged Russo to a legitimate fight, telling him:
“If you give me a date, time and an address, I will meet you there and I will bring five grand in cash. As long as the rules are no cops, no guns, and no knives. And what happens, happens.”
Cornette continued the tirade, ripping into Russo for, among other things, stabbing everybody in the back who he has ever worked with, killing careers with goofy gimmicks, and making the wrestling business into a joke.
Russo was unable to resist the bait and responded in turn by posting a video on his social media accounts. During the 12-minute rant he refused Cornette’s offer of a fight, mocking his “barn door wide ass”, “Kamala belly”, “Gumby-like arms” and “ripped chiseled stomach”, then arrogantly dismissed $5000 as “not a lot of money”.
Russo then sarcastically apologised to Cornette, stating:
“First and foremost, I want to apologize for you blowing out your knees when you fell off that scaffold because you are a mark who didn’t know how to take a bump.
I want to apologize Jim for you putting Smoky Mountain Wrestling out of business.
I want to apologize Jim for you being fired from Ring of Honor for a public emotional outburst.
I want to apologize Jim for being fired from WWE for assaulting another employee.
I want to apologize Jim because I’m from New York.
I want to apologize Jim because in my entire life I was never fixin’ to do anything.
I want to apologize Jim that I don’t believe the Dukes of Hazard is a reality show.
I’d like to apologize that I never went on national television and dressed like the village idiot.
I want to apologize that I never asked a wrestler to chew on an Alka-Seltzer so it would appear like he’s foaming at the mouth.
I want to apologize that even the great Terry Funk didn’t get over when you had him come out of a box.
I want to apologize for setting ratings records at both the WWE and TNA and also raising the ratings at WCW the whole nine months that I was there. I sincerely apologize for that.
And last but not least, Jim, from the bottom of my heart, I apologize for both Dixie Carter and Vincent Kennedy McMahon for choosing me over you. Because at the end of the day, 18 years later, that is what this is all about. It sticks in your craw because no matter what you do, no matter what you say, no matter what asinine promo you cut, it does not go away. From a creative standpoint, the numbers clearly dictate I was better than you, and I know that is hard for you to accept and I know that is hard for you to deal with so that is why from the bottom of my heart, I apologize, I am sorry, and I hope from this point on we can move forward.”
We will not get into the personal spat part of things, which amounts to little more than handbags at dawn he-said-she-said playground level silliness, but some of Russo’s claims require some dissection.
Firstly, those living in glass houses should not throw stones. Having the gall to criticise Cornette’s famous scaffold bump when he doesn’t have a lick of wrestling experience himself (and no, booking yourself to play wrestler does not count) is one thing, but more importantly, let’s not forget who it was that penned Owen Hart’s Blue Blazer storyline in 1999. Unable to fathom how to get a real wrestler over, Russo made one of the finest technical grapplers on the planet descend from the rafters dressed as a superhero buffoon, resulting in him plummeting to his death when the stunt went wrong. I wonder if Russo considers him a “mark who didn’t know how to take a bump” too?
Russo’s claim that he set ratings records in WWE are fanciful. While he was head writer for Raw’s highest rated show (8.1 on May 10, 1999) it was far from the highest rated WWE TV show ever. That accolade belongs to The Main Event I in 1988 headlined by Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant. The broadcast pulled a phenomenal 15.2 rating, which equated to an unheard of 33 million views.
Russo’s constant claims of having improved the Nitro rating during his WCW tenure are propped up by strawman logic too. Russo is always quick to point out that the ratings were 3.0 when he took over and 3.4 when he left. Well, that’s true, but little over one month earlier WCW was hitting 3.4’s and above regularly – the 3.0 was a dead rubber show in a holding pattern awaiting the new regime. And the 3.4 he drew was also the highest number he managed in his three months at the helm.
The key is, those ratings were on three hour shows, which average out to smaller numbers than the two hour broadcasts Russo was penning by the end. To put that into perspective, had Nitro been two hours the week before Russo took over, it would have pulled a 3.3 rating. So the difference is negligible.
Not only that, but in cutting the show to two hours, WCW lost out on a fortune of ad revenue. Ratings points are far less important than people – Russo in particular – think they are compared to concrete figures of actual revenue being generated (live attendance, merchandise, pay-per-view buy rates, ad revenue). Russo also fails to acknowledge that pay-per-view buy rates tanked when he was in charge. People might have been willing to watch his car crash booking for free, but they sure as hell weren’t paying for it. WCW’s biggest show of the year, Starrcade only managed a meagre 0.23 buy rate under Russo, down from a 1.15 the previous year.
Russo also defends his decision to put the WCW Title on actor David Arquette, justifying it based on the media they got off the back of the decision. But media coverage is only any use if it results in more eyes on the product. When Arquette won the belt, the next episode of Nitro fell from a 3.0 to a 2.5. Similarly, the pay-per-view where Arquette defended the title pulled a 0.14, down from a 0.25 the previous month. People turned off the show when Russo made that ridiculous call. And that’s before we even get into the small matter of the millions of dollars WCW hemorrhaged during his time at the top.
As far as we are concerned, this round goes to Cornette.
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