On the surface, TNA rehiring Vince Russo as a creative consultant and attempting to keep it quiet was a rather foolish decision. Although he had unparalleled success as the WWF's head writer for a couple of years during the Attitude Era fifteen years ago, he's never been able to recapture that magic since. In fact, his frequently illogical and sleazy, crash TV style booking helped kill WCW's business streams, and although his TNA writing runs haven't been disasters on the same scale, that's merely because the company didn't have as far to fall.
Inevitably, such a juicy rumor was going to be discovered and reported by the wrestling media. For months, Russo hid in plain sight (due to his hallmarks being all over TNA Impact's storylines) behind duplicitous denials, but the truth exploded in hilarious fashion when Russo accidentally emailed PWInsider.com's Mike Johnson announcing instructions meant for Mike Tenay. Initially, Russo pretended that the email was a hoax designed to prove that the dirt sheets would print anything without checking into it first, but was forced to publicly come clean about his TNA status when Johnson threatened to publish the email if he did not.
However, the further you dig, the more ludicrous the situation becomes. It was initially believed that Russo's hiring was kept secret because their Japanese partners, Keiji Muto's Wrestle-1 promotion, didn't want to do business with a company where Russo had creative influence because they felt he was prejudiced against minorities given how he had booked Mexican and Japanese talent as jabronies and gave them ethnically degrading gimmicks in WCW and elsewhere. But, as Dave Meltzer explained in this week's subscriber only Wrestling Observer Newsletter, TNA's Executive Vice President of Creative & Talent Relations, John Gaburick, managed to allay Muto's concerns by explaining to him that Russo was only a consultant and wouldn't be the person responsible for deciding how Wrestle-1 talent would be portrayed on TNA television:
"Months ago, their Japanese partners were upset and asked about Russo being involved and were at first never given a straight answer. However, John Gaburick later admitted to Keiji Muto that Russo was working there, but assured him that Russo was working underneath him, didn’t have final say, and that he would be the one deciding on how the Japanese were portrayed and that what happened with Tetsuya Naito, Yujiro Takahashi and Kazuchika Okada would not happen with the Wrestle-1 talent. Wrestle-1 has been happy with how Seiya Sanada has been used."
So who on earth were TNA hiding Vince Russo from if it wasn't Wrestle-1 and why was it so imperative for them to keep it so hushed up?
Apparently, it was their television partners in the United States, Spike TV, who according to Meltzer on his latest Wrestling Observer Radio show, hate Russo with a passion and wouldn't be impressed that he was back working for TNA:
"The deal is, and this is actually potentially gigantic, because Spike TV hates Vince Russo, so that's the key to the story, Spike TV hates Vince Russo. Spike TV was not aware that Russo was working for TNA and TNA was trying to hide that Vince Russo worked for them. Why they would want Vince Russo to work for them, I mean, you know, speculate, I don't get it, but, whatever, but for whatever reason they hired him, they wanted to keep it a secret and they wanted to keep it to a degree from the fans, but the ones they wanted to keep it a secret from were Spike. Spike knows. You know what I mean? You know and the Spike thing, I mean the timing couldn't possibly be worse, obviously. I don't know that its going to make a difference, but obviously they're kissing Spike's ass by sending Bobby Lashley over there [to fight for Bellator].... But just think of it from the side of Spike, you know what I mean? It's not a good thing that that happened."
Although Meltzer didn't explain why Spike TV holds such strong feelings against Russo, it's likely because at times he's pushed the boundaries of acceptable taste on their network. Indeed, under Russo's watch at one point Spike TV explicitly banned TNA from doing any further angles featuring male on female violence, which shows how fed up they were of some of his basest tendencies as a writer.
The reason why the timing of this news breaking couldn't possibly be worse is that TNA's television contract with Spike TV expires in the autumn and a renewal still hasn't been signed. Clearly the delay in a deal being made suggests that there was already some dissatisfaction in Spike's corner with TNA to begin with and finding out that TNA has been intentionally misleading them regarding Russo isn't going to help TNA's case in getting Impact renewed.
Moreover, in order to deceive both Spike TV and the fans, TNA also had to lie to the wrestlers that Vince Russo wasn't a part of the creative process, which, now the cat is out of the bag, will hurt morale further, which was bad enough to begin with, due to all the cost cutting, wrestling in front of empty arenas and uncertainty about the company's future.
It staggers belief that TNA would jeopardize their relationship with Spike TV in such a needless manner, as TNA's very existence depends on the income they generate from producing Impact for Spike, but then again they have never behaved rationally when it comes to Vince Russo.