Interview: Vince Russo Talks The “Oklahoma” Gimmick

Vince Russo
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During the Monday Night Wars, writer, producer, promoter, and booker Vince Russo worked for both WCW and WWE during this very pivotal part of wrestling history. Early on in his time working with WCW Russo and longtime friend, Ed Ferrara would take to the screen with a character that was both edgy and controversial with the “Oklahoma” gimmick. During this time on screen, Ferrara would often imitate WWE commentator Jim Ross even going as far as to imitate medical complications from Ross’s Bell’s Palsy. Ross himself came out and said that the impersonation was “personal and hurtful.” Fast forward to 2022 and Vince Russo is sitting down with Will Gray, for an episode of his podcast Botched Spots and Chair Shots and the host asks Russo, which story he would take back if he could.

Vince Russo Interview – The “Oklahoma” Gimmick

“I have to remind myself, that was the environment back then… No Punches were pulled.”

Russo reflects on the effects and strains mentally that the talent and writers had to face every week during the faceoff for Monday night supremacy. The pull no punches mentality is what led to the formation of the character. Russo would go on and explain that the original idea for the character actually came from WWE creative meetings before departing from the company for the competition.

“During our creative meetings, Ed would do a JR impression and it would pop Vince like every time.”

So, without missing a beat, in order to catch lightning in a bottle, Russo and Ferrara turned the script on Vince and the WWE and went on screen with the Oklahoma character, mocking Ross, his medical conditions, and the WWE all on air.

Russo would tell the host “I swear to God bro, there was a part of us where it was really an innocent jab at JR, because it’s like okay Vince you used to laugh at this, no we’re on the other side and we are kind of putting it in your face.” The issue wasn’t the heat from the fans or the competition it was the hurtful words and how they made JR feel.

The Aftermath of “The Oklahoma Gimmick”

“We never looked at how this was going to affect JR because that’s what we never looked at because that’s the last thing we wanted to do was hurt that guy, which we did.”

Russo would also explain that the character was a product of the environment of the war between the two companies.

“That atmosphere and the environment, that’s what really lead to the Oklahoma character. Because again, people will believe whatever the hell they want to believe about me, I really don’t give a **** what they think anymore, but the reality of it is I did not have heat with JR.”

Vince would tell Will that he has since apologized to JR a million times. Russo stated they have talked and he even tried to get Ross on board during his time with TNA! “I put him over weekly to this day,” Russo says about Ross and his work with AEW as head of their commentary team.

“Bro, I worked in a sea of sharks. I worked in a world of liars and conmen and carnies that would do whatever they had to do to get ahead. They would lie, they would beg, they would steal, and they had no moral compass. JR was the one guy that was always 100% honest with me to my face, nothing behind my back, no political posturing, none of that! That was almost impossible at the level he was at, none of that! That’s why I love the guy to this day.”

Vince Russo has famously stated that he hates talking about professional wrestling and proudly states that he only watches modern wrestling “if he’s getting paid to.” There is one thing for certain, of all the terrible things from the Monday Night War Russo was adamant about taking this one back, as the mulligan for his career.

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