The Reality of Wrestling: Russo & Angle in TNA


A good portion of the wrestling world had their eyes on TNA’s No Surrender PPV this past Sunday. It wasn’t because of the card that TNA put out for the show, but rather for a surprise announcement that Dixie Carter and TNA had in store. In the week preceeding the show, it was announced that Vince Russo (yes Vince Russo) was taking over as head of creative for TNA after Mike Tenay, Scott D’Amore, and Jeremy Borash were kicked off the creative team. However, the big announcement was TNA’s new timeslot at 8PM CT (my time) starting November 16 and that Kurt Angle was in fact coming to TNA. For the past week, these two stories have been the hot-topic conversation pieces for wrestling fans and wrestling insiders providing opinions going both ways on the potentially devestating and prosperous effects these two moves may have on TNA.

P.C. Says: I’m optimistic, but not ready to take a side on both moves

I was not surprised at Kurt Angle going to TNA; I was very surprised that Vince Russo was getting another shot in TNA. Understand that I’m not a fan of Russo (never really was) and his work speaks in many ways to why I hate him. Russo was the inventor of the soap-opera angle (a big pet peeve of mine) in wrestling and also was the man who almost singlehandedly transformed wrestling into sports entertainment. However, my optimisim in his hiring stems from a rule TNA is giving Russo and the potential that Russo has always provided.

Vince Russo is a creative person, I will never take that away from him. However, his creativity comes with a short attention span and a willingness to push the envelope with no real rhyme or reason attached. However, despite nobody on TNA’s creative team to filter out Russo’s bad ideas (Tenay and D’Amore would’ve been good at that job) like Jim Ross and Vince did when he was writing for The E, Russo has been given a “no sleaze” rule by TNA, which may or not have been a dealbreaker in his returning to TNA. Without trying to write sports entertainment, that leaves Russo with the following to work on: interviews of generally unheard wrestlers, feuds, air time for mid-card people (especially if TNA gets another hour), and generally booking PPV matches. These are all things that Russo did moderately to very well in The E from 1997-98. He did do some revolutionary things like inventing the backstage skit, creating characters for guys without characters (The DX/Nation feud was a fine example of this) and making Vince McMahon believable as a heel after being an announcer for nearly 20 years and setting the template for the “evil authority figure” that would be copied by almost every fed that came after it. With those things in mind, Russo has the potential to do well, but I’m not holding my breath.

With Angle’s arrival, there’s a mixture of feelings. I’m happy to see him in TNA, because he’s a big name signing that will actually bring the goods unlike Sting, and Team 3D. I’m also a bit uneasy simply because Angle shouldn’t be wrestling. Am I excited at the prospect of Joe/Angle? Of course, but I’m also concerned about Angle period at this point. After reading Botter’s article about the backstage events surrounding Angle’s departure and the stories surrounding him as of late with his career and personal life, maybe time off would’ve been better. But Angle wants to wrestle, there’s no denying that. The E released him and he didn’t skip a beat going right into the arms of TNA who could use a star name such as Angle to help their slipping ratings.

Most people have brought up the point that the diminished schedule and the fact that Angle could be wrestling as little as once a month in TNA is good for Angle in the short term, he’s still not well in the long term. This is true, but this is not the first time in Angle’s career that something like this has happened. He came back very quickly from the neck injury in 2003, he wrestled and won a gold medal with a bad neck, the list does go on. I’ve come to the conclusion that, despite many people in and out of the wrestling community wanting the best for Angle, he’s still going to do what he loves to do: wrestle. It’s pretty clear at this point that nobody can stop him from doing it as he will find a way because he knows that somebody is going to want to book him somewhere.

The Reality is…both of these aquisitions are gambles on TNA’s part. The hiring of Russo seems to be more of a desparate meneuver for a ratings boost than a step in the right direction for the company. Angle’s hiring is typical TNA: hiring an ex-WWE wrestler who can get pushed right to the top while doing shoot interviews bad mouthing The E. In this case, Angle would deserve an automatic advance to the top as anyone who knows anything about wrestling knows that Angle is one of the best (if not the best) in the business and credibility wouldn’t be the issue. With Angle comes dream matches and a possible boost in ratings just because of his being in TNA, with Russo comes nervousness and tension from TNA fans, and (hopefully) thought from people within TNA on what direction their company is going.