Exclusive: “Russo’s Road Stories” Vol. 4: The Night Double J Beat My Ass

Vince Russo

russo's road storiesThere’s many facets to getting a degree in professional wrestling, and one of them is getting your @$$ kicked! Being a part of the wrestling business, on the inside of it, is comparable to waking up every day and going to school. There is always something to be learned, and unless you were enrolled at one time or another, you could never TRULY understand. No matter how much you think you know . . . . you don’t.

My schooling was endless, no matter how many years I was in – 23 years to be exact – there was always something that I didn’t know, that I had to be taught, even if it meant that my adult education was going to come the hard way.

This particular story stems from a writing session at Jeff Jarrett’s house early on in the inception of TNA, around 2002 – early 2003. At that time, I believe the booking committee consisted of me, Jeff Jarrett, and “Dirty” Dutch Mantel (aka Zeb Colter) with referee Rudy Charles taking the notes of the meeting and adding his thoughts along the way. 

When I look back at those early times in TNA, I honestly wish I would have appreciated them more. With Jeff, Dutch and Rudy, it was just so simple. Yes, there were times when I would get frustrated with Dutch, as I’m sure he would me, because he was much more old school then I was, but I respected the hell out of him, and still do to this day. There was never any arguing in those days – just passion-filled discussions. How TNA went from that simple creative format to what it would eventually turn into, forcing my resignation almost three years ago, is mind number. And with all the change, and all the money WASTED, the investment spent did not warrant the results.

During this time, I was really down on the work of some of the boys. Now, you have to understand what a slippery slope it is when the writer crosses that line into the wrestling. That’s why I rarely did. Go back and see, through history, those that were a part of TNA who have belly-ached publicly about my creative – and how many times publicly, or privately, I said anything negative about their in-ring work – I just didn’t go there. I felt it was disrespectful, because even though I had taken bumps in wrestling school and at WCW, I  wasn’t a wrestler, and I fully realized that. However, at this particular point, I just felt some of the in-ring action was looking “overly” fake. 

So, as I always did, I said something. When I felt that we needed to improve on something, no matter who I was working with – or for – I said something.

In the meeting, I spoke up about the work, and I questioned why it couldn’t be more “snug”. To put it simply, I didn’t understand why the guys couldn’t “really” hit each other without actually hurting each other. These guys were professional wrestlers, and their job was to make their craft look as believable as possible.

When I brought up issues concerning actually wrestling, I knew it would piss Jeff Jarrett off. Maybe because part of him thought I was right, but, primarily because I was crossing the bounds into his territory. But also, keep in mind, it was a two-way street. As a wrestler, Jeff at times thought he knew everything there was about creative, but in all due respect, he didn’t. Why? Because he was a wrestler and that was his education in being brought up in the business.

As things would turn out, a couple of weeks later Jeff and I were “booked” to have a wild brawl at the Asylum on pay-per-view. It was a weekly ppv “back in those days” – remember those days? In preparing for this fight, I really began to work out hard, just doing cardio in hope of not losing my wind too fast. Remember, I was into my forties at that point and I hadn’t been called on to deliver physicality like this in a while. So I went hard on the treadmill about an hour a day, for maybe 2-3 week. Looking back now – what a FREAKIN’ JOKE! Jeff Jarrett had been training his entire life as a wrestler and in my feeble mind, I believe that I’m going to hang with him after two weeks of walking on a treadmill.

The night came, and just like years prior when I had a cage match with Ric Flair at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, the only thing I cared about was not making JEFF look bad. That’s it – that’s all that went through my mind. Now, based on the little experience in the ring that I did have, I understood one thing – if you really don’t attempt to at least “somewhat” lay it in, the end result could resemble a REALLY bad, fake wrestling match. And that’s what I didn’t want. That’s what I had actually been accusing the talent of up until that point. So, in my nimble mind, I was going to “fight” Jeff Jarrett.

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