Lance Russell’s recent passing hit a lot of people very hard. He was a beloved member of the wrestling community and nobody hosted a wrestling television show better than him.
WWE did mention Russell’s passing on their website but remained silent about it on their television shows following his death.
“I do think it’s ridiculous WWE never mentioned anything about Lance Russell on Tuesday because he died on Tuesday,” Dave Meltzer said on Wrestling Observer Radio. “You had a two-hour live show and it’s not that hard to make a mention. I know some people will say — it was a long time ago, he was never on their programming. But to me when you’re a giant in the industry and he clearly was you know, you can say something. It’s not hard, it’s not that painful.”
Dave Meltzer went on to discuss how WWE could have made a mention about Russell’s passing on 205 Live because it’s not on television when Bryan Alvarez interjected that there was no reason not to do mention it on WWE’s television show.
Alvarez said there were so many pointless video packages a viewer could have watched the actual show in thirty-five minutes. “They didn’t have any time to even do a graphic for Lance Russell?” Alvarez questioned.
“It’s beyond ridiculous and I know the argument is that he didn’t work for [WWE]” Dave Meltzer said, “The other thing is he did work for WCW. He was on National TV for several years. He was instrumental on a lot of the guys who may not be there now but were there in the previous era — Lawler obviously.”
“I’m not going to say Lance was the greatest announcer of all time but I will say he’s the greatest host of a wrestling show” Meltzer continued. “Maybe that all by itself should have been more than enough. But if you do a discussion of who the greatest announcer of all time, he is one of the three names that you would have to say would be in the argument and you would argue strongly for.”
Meltzer went on about how WWE had a two-hour broadcast and they didn’t even make one mention of Lance Russell’s passing. He said the fact WWE didn’t even make a mention about such a big news story within wrestling had to have meant some kind of specific directive was probably sent down concerning the topic.
Meltzer revealed it didn’t occur to him until that moment and it didn’t bug him until the thought popped in his head, but he went on to speculate what went on backstage at SmackDown Live. “They’re at a meeting because obviously everyone knows because that’s what they’re talking about — that was the thing they were talking about. So they’re in a meeting and Vince McMahon who has the final say so on this stuff goes, ‘we’re not gonna say anything.'”
“Because if [Vince McMahon] says, ‘well do whatever’ I guarantee one of those three announcers is gonna go: ‘I’m gonna bring it up.’ I mean they had to tell them you cannot say this. And that is what they so and to me, it’s like ‘you can not say this'”
Meltzer then began to draw an interesting comparison to something WWE had previously done while Lance Russell was still with us. “When [Jerry] Lawler was in the Hall Of Fame he said ‘I want Lance to [induct me]’ and he’s the only one to do it. He would have been — you know how great Lance Russell would have been in that night in that situation?”
“Woulda been better than [William] Shatner,” Bryan Alvarez quipped.
“He would have been better than anyone on that whole show” Meltzer continued. “Because Lance gets over in every situation that he’s in. But it wasn’t even — they were working on Shatner, okay? And it ended up being Shatner [inducting Jerry Lawler into the WWE Hall Of Fame]. That was Kevin Dunn’s deal. The point is when they said no to Lance it was before they had Shatner. I mean Shatner was who they were working on and that’s who they wanted, but they did not have the Shatner deal when they did that. [WWE] said no to Lance because you know, they didn’t want Lance.”
“And it’s one of those weird things you know where someone is really respected or really liked but [WWE] didn’t make them that and it’s just part of their culture — I get it, I understand it at this stage. But you think about it, you’re sitting in this meeting and somebody — at the end of the day it’s Vince because even if Kevin Dunn is going ‘oh we don’t want to, he never worked here, the audience doesn’t know who he is.’ A lot of the audience wouldn’t and a lot of the audience would. But that’s not necessarily the point, you know? I mean they pay tribute to guys that a lot of the modern audience wouldn’t know when it happened and they were far more obscure in the business than he was.”
Meltzer said he can’t imagine being in a meeting where somebody says they shouldn’t mention Lance Russell’s passing and that’s the decision they go with. It really was an interesting decision to omit any mention of Lance Russell’s passing from WWE television. Hopefully, WWE is preparing a nice video package for him to open up Raw next week. They could certainly get a hold of enough footage.
Maybe it was the fact that Bobby Heenan just passed away so WWE didn’t want to announce another historic announcer’s death. But it still seemed rather odd to just ignore Lance Russell’s passing on a professional wrestling show on the day he died.
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