Russo is joined on today’s show by Big Vito.
Russo opens today’s show by commenting on the Wrestle Kingdom 12 match between Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega. He was watching NFL football on Sunday night but he switched to AXS TV’s presentation of WrestleKingdom 12 during the commercial breaks. He couldn’t believe how long the Jericho/Omega match went, and he thinks Jericho deserves a lot of respect for the effort he put into this match.
He says that he’s known Jericho for a long time, and he’s been friends with him for as long as he can remember. Watching him work a 30-minute match at age 47 was an unbelievable experience for Russo. This match had a a “No DQ” stipulation and that was necessary in Russo’s opinion, because Jericho simply can’t work like he did when he was 27. However, it’s “borderline freakish” that Jericho can still do what he does at his age.
Vito points out that you can’t teach heart, and there was a sense of pride involved here from Jericho’s perspective. It takes incredible work ethic to get up every day and go to the gym, especially as you get older. He’s sure that Jericho will step away when he reaches a point where he doesn’t feel as confident in the ring as he has in the past.
The thing that Russo really loved about Jericho heading to Japan for this match, is that he truly did it out of his love for the business. Jericho didn’t do it for the money because he doesn’t need more money. He did it because it was a new way for him to express his creativity and he knew he could do something cool with this.
Russo stayed tuned into the AXS TV broadcast in order to watch the main event between Okada and Naito. He couldn’t believe how long this match was, and he wonders how the fans could stay interested in such a long match when neither of the competitors sold at all.
In Japan, they don’t try to make fans believe that it’s a real fight, so he can’t understand how fans are compelled to watch. He points out that fans wouldn’t care about the battles in Star Wars if we didn’t care about the characters that were in those battles.
Vito explains that in the Japanese culture, professional wrestling is a physical affair and that’s what the people expect. He worked in Japan for a number of years, and if you’re not tough and capable they will kick your ass everyday and you’ll never make it over there.
Russo points out that while that’s perfectly okay in Japan, WWE is the number one wrestling company in the world and they appeal to a larger audience. He doesn’t understand why they’d change their style of programming in order to appeal to a limited number of additional fans at the risk of losing millions of fans who they’ve appealed to for decades.
Vito thinks that the world is smaller than it has ever been, and WWE needs to do whatever they can to appeal to various different markets. This is the reason they spent so much money to push Jinder Mahal as WWE Champion – in order to appeal to the market in India.
Russo understands that, but the numbers are telling WWE that this isn’t working, and they’re alienating their biggest fanbase in the United States. He points out that no company can simultaneously appeal to every single person on the planet – that’s the number one rule in business. They need to pick their target demographic and appeal to that fanbase.
He would be much more understanding of the situation if WWE would give the Japanese style one or two segments throughout their 3-hour RAW, but this style has taken over the entire show now, and this is never going to work in Russo’s opinion.
Vito thinks there are massive issues within WWE’s creative team because they are all a bunch of Hollywood writers who are “Yes Men”. The reason Paul Heyman only wrote for the company for a short period of time is because he wasn’t afraid to stand up for his ideas, and that was never going to work there. Russo can relate to that.
That sums up today’s episode of Vince Russo’s The Brand. You can listen to the show yourself anytime here, and I’ll catch ya tomorrow for another recap!