Highlights from J.J. Dillon’s Book: Part 3 (Vince Russo Edition)

Time to put a bow on J.J. Dillon’s 2005 book “Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls”, which at one time was apparently hard to find. So it gives me hope that the much ballyhooed Gary Hart book will make it to e-book at some point.

Of course, guys like Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, who came from the WWF, were accustomed to getting an accounting of what was sold, so they were very suspicious over their merchandise payoffs in WCW.

It seems like EVERYTHING was done by the seat of the pants in WCW. Even dating to the Crockett days, since Dillon mentioned that the company sued the merchandise guy for ripping people off near the end. Hall and Nash were right to be suspicious since it was rumored that everything was rigged toward Hulk Hogan from a merch perspective.

Russo told Bill [Busch] that he had been writing the shows for the WWF, and not Vince McMahon.  He also claimed that McMahon would make a cursory glance of the scripts and sign off on them.

Not a lot of due diligence there. I know people lie in job interviews and resumes all the time, but they could have asked anyone who worked in the WWF and they could describe how hands-on Vince McMahon is. That continues to this day, for better or worse. Usually worse now.

That’s how Vince Russo got hired.  I was the catalyst and go-between that brought the parties together.  I was happy to help him and I supported the idea that he could help us.

This is Dillon’s Oppenheimer moment. “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” is what J. Robert Oppenheimer supposedly said about the creation of nuclear weapons. For J.J. it might be changed to “I am become death, the destroyer of World Championship Wrestling”.

This story may have been the ammunition that Russo used to convince Jeff that I had stood in the way of Jeff getting a Goldberg-like deal.

One thing I need to make clear: I’ve never liked Jeff Jarrett. He strikes me as such a regional guy, who in his own head thinks he’s a huge star. He wanted a Goldberg-style deal in 1999? WCW needed top stars, not one-dimensional midcarders.

In front of everybody at the meeting, Russo stood up and gave an ultimatum “You’re either for me or against me.  There’s no compromise.  I’m the head writer of this show.  It’s sports entertainment and I’m not going to change.  I can’t believe there’s anyone in this room who would even QUESTION what I’m doing.  You should be using that energy down in the CNN Center fighting against Standards & Practices!”

I read this and kind of drew a comparison between Russo and my own work career. To motivate myself, I usually create boogeymen for me to rail against. As I’ve gotten older, I know when to scale it back and tone it down. Russo’s ego in 1999-2000 was so out there because he thought he was responsible for the Attitude Era when it was really guys like The Rock and Steve Austin. Any imagined restrictions from the Turner people were the least of WCW’s problems.

Russo wanted to wipe down the entire ring with a flammable gel, have Terry come to ringside with his branding iron, and set the whole ring ablaze. 

This was the moment when they realized that maybe they should move on from Russo in early 2000. And yet they STILL brought him back later.

We couldn’t help but look at the fact that Brad Siegel’s fraternity brother, Stu Schneider, was the President of the WWE.

Siegel is targeted heavily in this book as one of the execs responsible for the demise of WCW. Usually it’s Jamie Kellner who takes all the blame, but Dillon understood his rationale. Dillon seems to infer that Siegel might have been trying to help his friend by hurting his own company, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. But it’s WCW in 2000 so it does make sense, maybe.

You can best sum Dusty up by simply saying, “Dusty’s Dusty.”

The comedian Adam Carolla has an old bit on that saying, where if you say a person’s name twice like that it infers a kind of doucheiness on their part. And if you say “Dusty is gonna be Dusty”, the “gonna be” means that the guy is a colossal douche.

While there, the Delaware Department of Correction and I found each other.  I was hired as a Correctional Officer (we don’t use the term “prison guard” anymore because it’s considered to be a demeaning description) and I wear a uniform.

Dillon had a short stint in TNA and left the business entirely. It’s kind of full circle, actually. In 1987, Dillon was famously injured in the first War Games match so they needed a substitute for the next one a few weeks later. The fill-in was War Machine, a masked man played by Ray Traylor aka Big Bubba Rogers aka the Big Bossman, a man who was an actual prison guard before going into wrestling.

Maybe a stretch, but I found it funny.

Overall, this book surprised me in one way: the most interesting stuff was from his wrestling career in the various territories and not his time in the Horsemen. It was a bit weird how he glossed over Starrcade ’85 but hearing about wrestling in places like Amarillo and the Canadian Maritimes was very illuminating. He rightfully gives Pat Patterson a lot of credit for the success of the WWF in the 1980s/90s and takes Vince McMahon to task for his general lack of human understanding.

The book is available for Amazon Kindle for $9.99 and far more money in print. Here is the link for purchase.

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