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BANKIE'S HOT TAKE #63 - Vince Russo's Filter


Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of Vince Russo’s work.


Mr. Russo is one of wrestling’s most polarizing figures. You either love him or hate him; there is no in-between. His work and opinions are consistently scrutinized on interviews and social media. So many feel that “Vince Russo helped kill the wrestling business”.


I am in the complete minority.


Beginning with his work in WWF Magazine in the mid-1990s, Mr. Russo has constantly showcased his creativity. Becoming head writer in 1997 of World Wrestling Federation programming, his vision of the Attitude Era, combined with phenomenal performers, were second-to-none. 


Although it might not have been his best work, in my opinion, his tenure in WCW was fun, especially the first three months with “The Powers That Be”. (EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve never been sure if he was meant to be like George Steinbrenner in Seinfeld or Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget, but I digress.) I also enjoyed his time with TNA with Sports Entertainment Xtreme on camera and behind-the-scenes, especially with the ahead-of-its-time Main Event Mafia storyline.


I’m also a subscriber for Channel Attitude, Mr. Russo’s podcast network. Castrating the Marks is a guilty pleasure of mine, as well as Bucket Full of Chicken Necks. Although I am not able to listen to every episode, I am always apt to notice his creativity and work ethic.


This is where the story begins.


—--


Around 2016, Mr. Russo began discussing how he had been helping out his friend Matt Yaden with his wrestling promotion Rocky Mountain Pro and the students of the Mercury Pro Wrestling School.


Matt Yaden had been a pro wrestler since the early 2000s. As per stories told by Mr. Russo on his podcast network, Yaden busted his butt to get an opportunity with TNA, but the promotion never truly gave him an opportunity to maximize his talents. Throughout the 2010s, Yaden had been in Colorado, trying to establish his wrestling promotion throughout the Mile High State and make it a thriving independent wrestling territory.


When Mr. Russo moved back to Colorado from his log cabin in Indiana, he started to come around and help mentor the next generation of prospective wrestlers on their character development. Within a short time, he became the writer and producer of the then-NRW Wrestling television product in 2016.


With influence from Vinny Ru, NRW rebranded as Rocky Mountain Pro. For the next eighteen months, RMP aired on YouTube, the Relm Network, and the Hunt Channel, gaining a buzz from independent wrestling fans. 


I regretfully admit to not being able to watch RMP from 2017-2018. But recently, I stumbled upon Mr. Russo’s YouTube channel and saw a few episodes available of the shows he produced. I started watching Episode 1 of Charged, and for the next week, I was hooked on the whole first season.


I started to enjoy the characters put into play by the company. There were more backstage vignettes and character development in these thirteen episodes than on any televised product since the early 2010s TNA, coincidentally written and produced by Mr. Russo.


Guys like Mario Vonjur, Curtis Cole, Tyler Stinson, Stephen Ashburn, and 2 Cool Dudes, as well as the Lockettes, Allie Gato, Nanny AC, and Unholy Trinity, really caught my attention.


Naturally, wrestling was secondary, as they were young students still in the early processes of developing their skills between the ropes. But seeing these performers developing their personas and working on their promos was a refreshing site to see. It really gave me insight, from a behind-the-scenes view, to the ideas Mr. Russo was attempting to teach.


There was one guy, above the rest, that completely took me by surprise. His subsequent arrival in Rocky Mountain Pro took everyone by storm, laying by the wayside in a pile of destroyed bodies. He was the proverbial monkey wrench in everyone’s plans.


That man was known as FILTER.


—--


On Episode 7 of the Mr. Russo produced Charged, Tyler Stinson, who had some animosity with the controversial writer over his direction of the show, as well as his needling into breaking up his tag team with Stephen Ashburn, called him out to the ring.




Stinson and Mr. Russo went back and forth in the ring verbally, until Ashburn made his way down and challenged his former partner to a fight later on in the show.


Moments after the incident, Mr. Russo, rattled by the encounter, stated he was tired of being bullied by other talent. As he walked into a locker room, full of young Mercury (or Hoodlum) Pro Wrestling School students, he spied upon one dude. He had crazy hair, an angry face, and had to be 6’10”.


Mr. Russo looked him up and down, and asked the student to “Come with me.” The student didn’t hesitate, nodded, and followed suit.


Later on in the night during Stinson and Asburn’s fight, which had no referee, Stinson had the upper hand when all of a sudden, that student, now in a black suit and shades, entered the squared circle, grabbed him by the throat, and chokeslammed him down to the mat.


As quick as he entered, the big man left twice as fast. Although it was not an official match, Ashburn was the last man standing and declared himself the winner.


WHY DID THE BIG GUY DO THAT?


On the next episode of CHARGED, we got to see why.




During a backstage meeting between Mr. Russo and Ashburn, Stinson, still simmering after the attack from the episode prior, ran in the room and attacked his former partner. Without a moment’s hesitation, Mr. Russo made the verbal Batsignal:


FILTER! FILTERRRRRR! FILLLLLTER!


The big guy, mere seconds later, ran into the room and tossed Stinson over a table like a piece of paper. With Mr. Russo’s commands, he delivered some serious stomps to a prone Stinson lying on the floor.


Now christened as Filter, Vince Russo had his muscle watching his back.


However, his night was not done yet.


After the Left Coast Guerrillas, brothers Anaya and Hoodlum, participated in and won a Chain Gang match, the duo was prepared to go to the local dancing establishment to celebrate. As Anaya was bringing the head trainer of the “Hoodlum” Wrestling Academy’s bags to the car, Hoodlum decided to relieve himself on the Quarry, the official arena of RMP. 


Coincidentally, standing outside was Filter, standing in solitude, “minding his own business”. Hoodlum subsequently disrespected the big guy with some comments. Just as he went to drain the lizard, Filter pounced, jumping him from behind. After some heavy duty punches and kicks, Filter walked off and disappeared.


The young enigma truly invoked a lot of anger into the Rocky Mountain Pro locker room. So much so, he pissed off Titus Machavelli.




Titus, the leader of the Four Point Cartel and a major player behind the scenes for RMP, took great offense to Filter’s assault on Hoodlum and called out Mr. Russo to the ring.


Mr. Russo came out and had Filter by his side, as well as a mess of security in front of them. Russo, with an impassioned plea to make the situation pass quickly so the show could progress forward, gave Titus his truth.


For 20 years plus, the world had told him that Vince Russo needed a “filter” for his creative work behind the scenes. Now, he had one with Filter. Filter was a man that Mr. Russo could bounce his ideas off of and see if they were perfect to utilize. If they were solid, plans would progress forward.


As it came to the attack on Hoodlum, Mr. Russo had a simpler statement: Filter was a 20 year old who was new and green to pro wrestling. He had made a mistake. Things happen, and Mr. Russo apologized for Filter’s actions.


A peace offering was ultimately made between Titus and Mr. Russo, as Filter’s services were offered to Titus for the Guerillas’ upcoming tag team match against Duane Douglas and Warren Credence and to stand in their corner. However, it wasn’t for protection against the young and upcoming duo; it would be from Matt Yaden, who was doing commentary at ringside and had major beef with Hoodlum over the ownership of the Pro Wrestling Academy, Titus agreed, the men shook hands, and all was well…for a moment.


Just as it looked like Hoodlum and Anaya would pick up the victory, Credence and Anaya went over the ropes for a skirmish, and with the referee somewhat distracted, Filter entered the ring and caught Hoodlum off guard. A few moments later, Douglas caught Hoodlum in a pinning predicament and got the three count!


Backstage, a brawl almost erupted between the LFG and Filter, but Mr. Russo and security got in between the unrelenting chaos.


In two weeks, Filter became a marked man from multiple talents. It didn’t get any easier.


Curtis Cole also had an issue with Mr. Russo. According to Cole, due to the issue he created with Stinson and Ashburn, it cost him the Charged Championship.


During a title match between Cole and Ashburn, an incensed Stinson, still angry from the attack from Filter, ran out to the ring and hit Ashburn with a steel chair. Due to Rocky Mountain Pro rules stating a disqualification can result in a title change, Cole lost the Charged Championship!


Cole calling out Mr. Russo backstage was bad for business - Mr. Russo’s business - and Filter was going to handle his “creative vision”.


During a triple threat match between Cole, Stinson, and champion Ashburn, which was Falls Count Anywhere for the gold, Filter bided his time. Just as all three men were prone on the canvas, the big man entered the ring, goozled Stinson and Cole by the throat at the same time, picked them up, and chokeslammed them both to the mat. As Filter left the ring, Ashburn, like a vulture, crawled over and pinned Stinson to retain the title.


Filter wasn’t done.


2 Cool Dudes of Dustin Uhrich and Zero Cool wanted an opportunity to wrestle on Charged. Mr. Russo, fed up with the antics of the goofy duo, put an offer on the table: they’d only get a match if they shaved the head of Jeff Lane.


Who’s Jeff Lane, you ask?


Lane was the right hand man of Mr. Russo, handling the majority of editing and co-hosting duties for The Brand after Mr. Russo’s partnership ended with Chris Cash on Pyro and Ballyhoo. Many say “Lazy” Lane is the unsung hero of Channel Attitude with his hard work.


However, in 2016, Jeff committed a cardinal sin and ended up on the bad side of Mr. Russo. During a car ride to a Rocky Mountain Pro television taping, Lane, after eating bad 7/11 hot dogs, threw up in Mr. Russo’s car, causing Mr. Russo to stop at a McDonald’s and get napkins to try and get the vomit out of his car. Disgusting.


Mr. Russo wanted revenge.


After pulling Jeff aside for a smoke session with some Colorado’s legal green, 2 Cool Dudes slammed Lane’s face into a metal overhead door and proceeded to shave his head bald.


Running full speed to provide Mr. Russo with the evidence, including tripping over a guard rail, Uhrich and Zero Cool got a smile out of the former undefeated WCW World Heavyweight Champion and their promised match. Their opponent: RMP’s resident viking, Hunter Grey.


After being victimized and destroyed by Hunter, during the commercial break, Filter made his way out to the ring, goozled, and double chokeslammed both men.


Mr. Russo’s creative vision wasn’t complete yet.




On the season finale of Charged, Douglas and Credence became Tag Team Champions after beating 2 Cool Dudes for the vacant belts. Once the match ended, Filter was on the warpath, chokeslamming every man in sight. Douglas, a former Sergeant in the US Military, had enough and tried to go fist-for-fist with the rookie monster, but security broke it up before it really got down to business.


Later on in the night, Douglas, with the bombastic Credence in tow, stormed out to the ring and challenged Filter to a match. Mr. Russo walked out to the entranceway and denied the offer, and instead forced the new champions to defend their belts against the thrown together, or forced together, team of Curtis Cole and Humphrey Jacobs the 1st.


The champions, tired from their match earlier on, could not persevere and lost the titles! To add insult to injury, Filter came in after the match and chokeslammed Douglas down to the mat.


What a mountain of enemies Filter had made.


—--


To me, after watching the first season of Rocky Mountain Pro Charged, I enjoyed it. Watching young performers taking their first steps towards how to perform on a televised wrestling show and working within a format was immensely admirable. This vision definitely put RMP on the map with me.


As for Filter, I love the look and the mystique of the character. His actions and persona was very reminiscent of 911 in the early days of ECW. He was the hired gun of Mr. Russo, protecting his “vision” of professional wrestling.


Also, the character was very tongue-in-cheek with what many people have said about Mr. Russo’s career. For all of those said he needed a “filter” for his writing over the years, Mr. Russo surely got one with the big guy in Rocky Mountain Pro. The meta of it all made me laugh, but more importantly, introduced a new character into the world of pro wrestling.


I will be going forward and watching Season 2 of Charged on Mr. Russo’s YouTube channel, and hope that the rise of Filter continues. He seems like a can’t miss prospect and I hope to see more of him.


Vince Russo’s Filter: MONEY.



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