Once upon a time there lived a miserly old man named Vincent Kennedy McMahon. He lived in isolation, working daily, never relaxing, always tinkering with his WWE product. He sat in his mobile office, backstage at the last Raw before Christmas, going over the latest ratings numbers, mumbling to himself while his lowly and overlooked employee, Cesaro, sat in the nearby backstage area, doing one-handed pushups…
“Lousy 3rd quarter hour…no one cares about the Dudleys…stupid NFL…” Vince mumbled under his breath. He was fighting back a sneeze, and though it had not come, he was angry at the mere possibility that he could come down with a cold. “Cesaro! What are you doing!” He shouted.
“Just getting loosened up for the big match later.” Cesaro said, hopping up from the floor.
“Change of plans, we’re holding you off the show tonight. The fans are getting tired of you.” Vince waved dismissively at him as he returned to his papers. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, willing back the yawn that was trying to escape.
“Viiiiince…” the sound of a familiar—but long absent—voice rang through the office.
“Wha? Who’s there?” Vince said, looking all around. Cesaro had left to sign autographs to the poor, freezing Raw attendees, waiting in line outside the arena. The backstage area was eerily silent. Whatever the source of the mysterious voice, Vince could not find it. He shook his head back to his senses and carried on with the evening’s work.
After the show, Vince was feeling pretty good. Cole had accidentally name-dropped Mick Foley in a rare moment of ad-libbing, and Vince tore him a new one over the headset. Ripping into the commentators always brings a spark to his day. He stepped out of his limo and approached the bellhop at the ritzy hotel he was staying at. Normally he wouldn’t even think to make eye contact, but this time he did, and as he did he noticed something completely unbelievable. The face of the bellhop began to change, the closer Vince got to him. Not “changed” as though his expression went from happy to somber, but “changed” in that he looked one way and then his whole face transformed into another face…a face he knew very well.
“Vince R-r-r-ruuso?” McMahon said, staring dumbfounded at the face of his old writing stooge. The eyes of the Russo-bellhop were glassy and deadened, as though he was looking far past McMahon into an endless void. And, as quickly as it appeared, the face was gone, and in its place was the very confused expression of the bellhop. Vince stammered a bit before mumbling “er…sorry…mistook you for someone else.” With a little more gusto in his steps he hurried to the elevator and pressed the button to take him to the penthouse suite at the top of the tower.
“Viiiiince…” the sound reverberated through the cramped elevator.
“What do you want?!” He couldn’t hide his terror. Thankfully, with a “ding” the elevator stopped, and the door to his suite opened. Vince ran, knowing the risk to his quads, to his room, slammed the door behind him and locked every bolt. He plopped into a fancy chair next to a window overlooking the city, and sat still and quiet. The long haunting silence was finally broken with a ring of his cell phone. McMahon quickly rejected the call and turned to toss the phone onto the bed. That’s when he saw it.
Or to be precise, when he saw him.
Appearing through the door was the ghastly, ghostly grey outline of the stooge he once employed. Vince Russo oozed his body through the door as though it were air, and slowly hovered toward McMahon.
“Go away!” McMahon shouted.
“Viiiiiince…Viiiiince…do you know me?” The ghostly figure called out.
“I…you…you….Vince Russo? But you can not be!”
“But I am…dead these 16 years…” Russo said, hovering ever closer to McMahon.
“…what? You’re not dead.” McMahon said suddenly.
“No but my career is. Dead as a door nail, ever since I left WWF…”
“AH! No one says the F!” McMahon shouted, covering his ears.
“Those were the days I’ve come back to you for.” Russo said, dragging heavy chains from his ankles and wrists. “It wasn’t too long ago that you loved the “F.” You were all F’d up in this place.”
“Tell me spirit…what are those heavy chains…” Vince focused his gaze on the entwined metal; anything to keep from staring at Russo’s sunken eyes.
“These are the chains I carry through all eternity. These are the chains of my punishment. I carry them as a reminder of all the bad wrestling angles I was a part of.”
“Oh…well, better you than me.”
“HAR HAR HAR HAR!” Russo’s laugh rumbled all around the room. “If you don’t change your ways, your chains will be heavier than mine!”
“Me?! Hardly. I’ve not written a bad angle in my life.” Vince was incredulous, momentarily forgetting that he was conversing with such a frightening spirit.
“How quickly you forget…Katie Vick!” At the sound of the name, a new chain fell from Russo’s hand, it landed with a thud onto the floor. “Or what about King Mabel!” THUD, another chain hit the floor. “And then there was Fake Diesel” THUD “Bobby Lashley, ECW champion” THUD “VINCE McMAHON, ECW CHAMPION!” THUD THUD THUD, chain after chain fell to the floor.
“Spirit, taunt me no more!” Vince fell from his cheer, pleading with the ghost. “What can I do to avoid your horrid fate!”
Russo dragged the chains back toward himself. “Tonight,” he said, fluttering past McMahon toward the window, “you will be visited by three spirits. Listen to them, heed their warnings, or your fate will be worse than mine.”
“Couldn’t I take them all at once, like a handicap match.” Vince mumbled meekly.
“Expect the first spirit at the stroke of 1am……” Russo dragged his chains to the window’s edge. “Farewell…” And with that, he was gone.
McMahon sat on the floor, dumbfounded and unable to move for several minutes. After a while, however, he convinced himself that the ghost of Vince Russo was really nothing more than a reaction to some bad ketchup he had on his nightly steak. He tucked into bed at 12:30pm, expecting to get his customary five hours of sleep.
Then, the clock chimed at 1:00…