Vince Russo was recently a guest on The Steve Austin Show Unleashed. During his conversation with Stone Cold Russo discussed what he doesn't like about today's pro-wrestling product, namely lengthening matches at the expense of developing characters.
"Back in the Attitude Era when we had our matches, it was 'Crash TV.' We were in and out of everything because we knew back then people had short attention spans, so we had to bring them along to the next thing, don't lose it, move it," Russo said. "When I hear 'short attention span' the matches now are going longer than they ever had before so that's where I'm like, well, the short attention span gets shorter daily but the matches keep going on longer and longer. I am not a fan of the long matches."
As a former writer for WWE, Russo was known for creating some of the most memorable storylines from the Attitude Era. He is a firm believer that the stories and characters are what drive pro-wrestling, as opposed to the in-ring product. To explain his dislike for the current trend of sacrificing character development, Russo used the classic movie Rocky as an example.
"How I look at it is that I love Rocky. Let's compare Rocky to Professional Wrestling," he said. "If you take all the Rocky movies or concentrate just one, and all of a sudden we take away the characters of Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed. We take away the storyline, this bum from Philadelphia getting a shot, we take that away and all of a sudden all we are seeing is the end of the movie and the Boxing match. Are we going to give a rats about the Boxing match? Of course we're not! The only reason why we care about the match is because of the character in the story. If you take away the character and you take away the story you have a choreographed fight and that is what it is on a weekly basis."
The WWE is still very successful and currently boasts what might be its most talented roster ever. However, Russo pointed out that there are die-hard wrestling fans who will always watch the product, but it's the casual fans who are no longer tuning in.
"The casual fans are bye bye; they're gone. They are the ones with the short attention span. They know they are watching a fake fight, and if they're not wrestling fans they're not going to watch," he said. "I can't understand why they have little down that audience to a tiny little niche market to the wrestling marks. I don't know how we went from the world to 2.5 million people."
Russo said the lack of storylines is what upsets him the most. He believes the Attitude Era was driven by stories that helped the characters become legendary. He recalled one of Austin's iconic moments that helped make him one of the most beloved superstars of all time.
"It's bad enough that there isn't any characters, but add to that no stories. Like I said, at the end of the day you have long, choreographed fights because everyone is mad at each other," Russo said. "You go back and see you [Steve Austin], Undertaker, Kane, The Rock. Steve, I will never forget for as long as I live how you remember when it was cold and after a long day at TV when we were out on that bridge with the belt and you threw the belt in the lake; it had to be like 50 degrees below zero, I was freezing my nuts off, but if we didn't do things like that, Steve Austin wouldn't be who he was, The Rock wouldn't be who he was, and it was doing that constantly week after week after week that made you guys so iconic.
"Now, it's the six man, the eight man, I get so much heat now; I take nothing away from the boys or ladies," he continued. "The work ethic is the same; they've worked their a**es off since the Attitude Era, I don't blame them, but when you don't give them the meat on the bone why am I watching this? If I want to see a real fight I would watch UFC."
If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit The Steve Austin Show Unleashed with an H/T to WrestlingINC for the transcription.
Source: The Steve Austin Show Unleashed
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.