Russo gained his nickname for his skill with an icepick, which he was known to have used against several rivals. He rose through the family ranks with his brother Luigi 'Louie' or 'Fuckface' Russo, and their friend Frank Falcone, who became the Don of Los Angeles.
During the Olive Oil War, Salvatore Maranzano asked Al Capone for help in dealing with a young upstart olive oil salesman, Vito Corleone. Russo and an associate were sent out to deal with Corleone, but they were captured by Luca Brasi, who proceeded to hack one of the men to death with an axe, whilst the other ended up choking to death on the towel he had been gagged with. Shocked by this incident, Capone made no repercussions and pulled out of the conflict.