Russo is joined on today’s show by his co-host Jeff Lane and Glenn Gilbertti (Disco Inferno).
Lane opens today’s show by mentioning that WWE intends to use Ronda Rousey to help get Stephanie McMahon over as a mainstream star. Russo says he doesn’t buy Stephanie’s act and nobody else should either. Her charity work and her fake smiles aren’t believable to him at all, and he thinks it’s going to take a lot of great writers to make this story happen.
Gilbertti agrees and points out that WWE will never be able to replicate the situation they had with Steve Austin/Vince McMahon. The notion that WWE is actually trying to do so is ridiculous in his opinion.
Lane points out that The Wrestling Observer’s Bryan Alvarez was very critical of WWE’s attitude era shows this past week. Gilbertti thinks it’s pretty obvious that Alvarez and most other dirt sheet writers are fans of the style of professional wrestling that will never appeal to mainstream audiences. On the other hand, they hate the attitude era’s programming because that was a mainstream show that appealed to millions.
Gilbertti also thinks that Alvarez is on a mission to be critical of anything that Russo did during his career in the business. Even if Alvarez enjoyed something about those old shows, he’d never admit to enjoying something that was written by Russo.
Lane points out that James Ellsworth did an interview this past week. During that interview, Ellsworth informed that he thinks his release from WWE came partly as a result of him arguing about his character’s creative. Gilbertti points out that Ellsworth’s not a star and he was expendable, so he can’t act up or argue things like the top guys. Russo gives Ellsworth credit for speaking up about his character, but he adds that if you make those comments you have to understand that there may be consequences.
Lane informs that Vince McMahon has reportedly given up control of 205 Live, passing the show onto Triple H. 205 Live’s ratings actually increased after McMahon moved Enzo Amore to the brand, but even with the increase in ratings, some people within the company still wanted to change the show.
Russo thinks it’s ridiculous that some people within the company wanted to change the show just as things were appearing to pick up, with McMahon focusing on character driven storylines. He fears that under Triple H’s direction the show will focus solely on in-ring action, alienating mainstream fans and making it nearly impossible for the brand to attract new viewers.
Gilbertti points out that WWE has continuously placed television ratings on the back-burner over the last couple of years. WWE officials might argue that ratings don’t matter anymore, but eventually they’re going to come to the harsh realization that this is untrue. USA Network knows what WWE’s ratings were in the past, and since the ratings continue to fall, the network won’t be quick to hand WWE a big cheque for television rights. Gilbertti also doesn’t think that the addition of Ronda Rousey will help WWE’s negotiations with television networks.
Lane points out that Cody Rhodes was very critical of a fan on Twitter this past week after the fan claimed that Vince McMahon holds talents back. Rhodes says he didn’t once see McMahon hold a talent back, and Russo says he never saw Vince McMahon hold anyone back either.
The only time he saw McMahon pull back on a push was when some of the women started to get very popular during the attitude era. Some of the bigger male stars weren’t happy about that at the time and McMahon decided to pull back on pushing some of the women. He adds that it doesn’t make any sense from a business perspective for McMahon to hold talents back, because the more someone gets over, the more money he makes.
WWE released their latest WWE Network subscriber information recently, and Gilbertti points out that there seems to be a cap on subscribers in the United States right now. He says that WWE is writing RAW and Smackdown with fear, and they need to take risks in order to get new subscribers. WWE won’t lose current subscribers by taking risks, but they might gain new ones.
Gilbertti also thinks it’s unfortunate that WWE didn’t take advantage of their RAW 25 viewership. RAW’s rating was 3.3 the week before RAW 25, and it fell to 3.1 the week after. Russo says someone needs to be reprimanded for that. Gilbertti points out that those same people probably wrote the Ronda Rousey debut segment, which he also thought was terrible. He says WWE’s ratings should have seen a notable increase after her debut, but WWE creative blew that opportunity.
Russo and Gilbertti talk about the recent drama between Corey Graves and Booker T. Gilbertti thinks Graves was very disrespectful towards Booker T on television. He points out that Graves’ tactics didn’t appear to be a work; he was semi-shooting on Booker T knowing full well that Booker T couldn’t really come back the way he’d like to because they were on live television. Gilbertti adds that Graves is also empowered by the dirt sheet writers who love him, when in reality he’s not that good.
Russo points out that McMahon probably doesn’t want Booker T speaking out about Graves the way he did this past week, but Booker T has a lot of rope given his history in the business and his years of service to WWE. Russo thinks that Graves is a young punk who disrespected Booker T one too many times.
Russo doesn’t think this is a work, and he’s sure if Booker T had a minute alone with Graves he’d teach him a lesson or two about respect. Russo says he’s pretty sure that Graves doesn’t even know his role as an announcer on WWE programming.
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!