Rope Opera — Vince Russo's first-hand account of his life as a television wrestling scriptwriter for Vince McMahon's WWF/WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment); Ted Turner's WCW (World Championship Wrestling); and finally Jeff Jarrett/Dixie Carter's TNA (Total Nonstop Action) — was not supposed to affect me this way.
So, if in fact I've been "worked" in much the same way Russo has done so many times over the years in writing the storylines behind some of "pro-rasslin's" greatest (and worst) televised feuds over the years, consider me had as the latest hapless victim of the con. The fact still remains. In the vernacular of professional wrestling itself, I think I've actually become a Russo "mark."
For those who don't follow TV wrestling, Vince Russo is one of its most influential players of the past decade or more — even if his name isn't as instantly recognizable outside of the game as such mainstream personalities as Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Vince McMahon and the like. Call Russo the "other Vince," if you will.
As principal writer for both WWE and WCW at different points of wrestling's "boom years" during the so-called "Monday Night Wars" of the nineties, Russo has been labeled both saint, savior and Antichrist. He has been equally credited as the man responsible for both winning the Monday night ratings war for Vince McMahon's WWE during the so-called "attitude era," and with destroying WCW upon defecting to the rival organization long after they had already lost the same battle.
Quite a cross to bear for the man who, at least in his words, simply wanted to earn the respect of "the boys" and do whatever was best for the business. And one which, if this account is to be taken seriously anyway, exacted a considerable emotional toll on both Russo himself and his family.
To hear it in Russo's own words, the world of professional wrestling was a near continuous battle of backstage politicking and, above all, watching one's own back while doing a near nonstop juggling act between the egos of the locker room and the suits of the boardroom.
But Russo also tells two separate stories here. When he is not revealing unique insider perspectives about obvious TV ratings ploys (like awarding the WCW championship to Hollywood actor David Arquette, for example) or his own personal battles with mega-legends Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, Russo recounts his own personal journey from the career and money driven architect of WWE's often raunchy "Crash TV," to the inner peace he now derives from his Christian faith.