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Dark Side of the Ring Creators On Why the Jim Cornette and Vince Russo Feud Featured So Prominently in Montreal Screwjob Episode

May 4, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Jim Cornette Vince Russo

Speaking with Jeffrey Harris for the 411 Wrestling Interviews Podcast, the creators of Viceland’s acclaimed wrestling docuseries, Dark Side of the Ring, discussed the Montreal Screwjob episode and why the animosity between Jim Cornette and Vince Russo featured so prominently in the episode. Russo and Cornette were both involved in WWE’s creative at that point, and both men take credit in the episode for coming up with the idea of screwing Bret Hart over in the infamous Survivor Series 1997 match.

Talking about how the latter half of that episode turned into a sort of dueling stories situation with Russo and Cornette taking shots at each other, producer/co-creator Evan Husney and director/co-creator Jason Eisener said that they noticed how the issues between the two strongly paralleled the issues between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Highlights from that part of the interview are below

On whether Russo called them and asked to appear in the Montreal Screwjob episode
Evan Husney: “Not exactly.”

Jason Eisener: “Well, we went to go visit Vince Russo for another episode that we were going to do because originally we had set up to film eight episodes. We were on the road to get those eight episodes in the can so we were interviewing Vince Russo for another subject, and when he asked us about some of the other episodes we were doing, and he heard we were doing an episode about the Montreal Screwjob, he was very adamant that he wanted to be part of that and give his perspective because he was there, and he was really excited to do that. So we just let the camera roll and let him loose. [laughs] And he was great. He was great.”

On how the Vince Russo/Jim Cornette animosity became part of the story of the episode
Evan Husney: “Okay. So I think it was something that really kind of emerged in the edit room as like, ‘Wow. These guys really enjoy, for lack of a better word, shooting on each other,’ you know? And it’s interesting to us thematically. Again, another sort of thing to examine that would be entertaining to someone who’s not familiar with any of this is there is kind of a weird motif in that episode where it’s like, at the root of the Montreal Screwjob, you have Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, two guys that don’t really see eye-to-eye and don’t get along with each other. And then it’s like, when you peel back the layers of the onion, you know, with this story, you see that even at its core there are two other people who can’t stand each other and don’t like each other. And so that’s kind of like — Bruce [Prichard] has a line at the end of the episode where he says, ‘Well, if two guys would have just got along, we wouldn’t be sitting here today.’ And then that transitions into, you know, the sort of aftermath of Russo and Cornette, which is just kind of driving that point home of like, here’s these two other guys who can’t stand each other. And that’s comical, but also an interesting thing and an interesting aspect to the story.’

Evan Husney: “It’s just so entertaining to see how passionate, how everyone is about the circumstances around this story in particular. And I think that also adds to the stakes of just like Cornette being a purist, like he takes this more seriously than anything. And then Russo looks at it more utilitarian I guess, or ‘This is a job.’ So [it’s a case of] lifestyle vs. job, and I think that honor and the meaning of a champion and all those types of aspects are another core theme of why that story is so interesting I think on a human level.”

On if it would be insane to think the Russo/Cornette feud is a big work
Evan Husney: [laughs] “Yes, yeah, actually. Yeah. Because it’s like, everyone fantasized about the idea of those two getting in a room and hashing it out, and having it be an event that tickets could be sold or whatever. Or even for maybe this episode. But I just know from the conversations that I’ve had with Jim Cornette, that I don’t think — and trust me — this is very real for him.”

Jason Eisener: “And as you know, Jim Cornette has a restraining order [filed against him by Vince Russo]. Like he had a restraining order presented to him by the police.”

Evan Husney: “We’ve seen it.”

Jason Eisener: “He sold the restraining order, and I think gives the proceeds to charity. But yeah, he got served a restraining order that Vince Russo sent.”

Evan Husney: “Yeah, it’s very real.”

On Cornette selling the restraining order making people think it might be a work
Evan Husney: “But isn’t that what’s sort of fascinating? That just kind of speaks to a larger thing about, you know, going back to the Moolah episode, or even the Screwjob episode or whatever, it just kind of is such an interesting thing as fans, how we always want to believe it’s a work. We always want to believe this stuff is a work, because it’s just that much more insane. And that’s a huge characteristic of our show. It’s just like, these are crazy human stories that happened at the intersection of a work and a shoot. And what is real? I don’t know. And sometimes we don’t know for sure.”

The next episode of Dark Side of the Ring, “The Mysterious Death of Gorgeous Gino,” debuts on Viceland on May 8. Additionally, the season finale on the Fabulous Moolah debuts on May 15.

In the full interview, Husney and Eisener talk more about a potential second season, what we can expect from the Fabulous Moolah season finale episode, Lance Storm’s criticism of the Montreal Screwjob episode and more. You can listen to the full interview below.

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit the 411 Wrestling Interview Podcast on 411mania.com.

Introduction (0:00)
On the response to the show as a whole from The Rock, hardcore fans and casual fans (0:47)
On the rise of docuseries in popular culture (2:32)
On Lance Storm’s criticism of the Montreal Screwjob episode and Scott Hall saying the Screwjob was a work (4:07)
On future episodes and the possibility of a second season (12:05)
On the Fabulous Moolah episode exploring allegations against Moolah and the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal name being changed (13:23)
On Jim Cornette and Vince Russo shooting on each other in the Montreal Screwjob episode and whether Russo reached out to appear in it (16:47)
On whether the Cornette vs. Russo feud is a work (21:16)
On whether there were episodes that had to be cut for the current season (25:30)
On the John Oliver Last Week Tonight segment on WWE and what keeps wrestlers from being part of something like the Screen Actor’s Guild (28:16)
On what they want fans to know about the upcoming episodes and where to find them (30:39)