Vincent Kennedy McMahon, the 40 year Chairman of the Board and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, retired last Friday, marking a pivotal change in the world of professional wrestling.
Vince’s “retirement” at age 77 in the company he helped turn into the largest North American professional wrestling promotion largely had to do with two things. The first was a Board of Directors investigation into several NDAs signed by former WWE employees Vince had sexual relationships with over a span of 20 years. The amount paid in exchange for these signed NDAs was over $12 million out of Vince’s personal piggybank.
The second factor in McMahon’s retirement probably had to do with a WWE SEC filing made the same day Vince announced his retirement: accounting for some “unrecorded expenses,” the patriarch of the McMahon family will repay his former company $14.6 million.
WWE and McMahon have made it clear this was a completely separate set of “expenses” from the $12 million plus in hush money that Vince paid out of pocket. It’s unclear what these new expenses are, but when the paralegal you’re banging is making four times the going rate for paralegals in Connecticut one’s got to take notice eventually.
All of this could’ve been avoided if Vince hired sex workers. I mean seriously, for $3 million I hear you can get the services of a high end call girl for about EIGHT YEARS. Don’t ask me how I came to this information. Just trust me: hookers would’ve been substantially cheaper in the long run, more discreet, and there would’ve been less legal red tape.
This will probably go down in the history books as the worst business decision Vince McMahon ever made, not hiring professionals to do the job. But over the past 40 years, Vince has had a history of making bad business decisions. Let’s examine a few.
The World Bodybuilding Federation
Vince somehow thought if he could get people to pay to watch grown men roll around in their underwear, he could get people to pay to watch grown men in their underwear pose for cameras. This idea failed miserably. I’m pretty sure the WBF folded minutes after their first pay-per-view event aired and there’s palates of ICOPRO nutritional supplements collecting dust in a Stamford, Connecticut warehouse somewhere.
XFL, Part 1 and 2
Vince’s forays into professional football were snakebit. There’s no better way to put it. The first season was chock full of stupidity, including scrambles for possession of the ball, no fair catch rule, and guys with things like “He Hate Me” printed on their jerseys.
Season two was plagued with a pandemic and McMahon just recently settled a wrongful termination suit with former XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck.
(If you’ve seen ads or press for a 2023 XFL season, that’s completely on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and his ex-wife Dany Garcia, so there’s a chance this one will actually make money.)
The ’96 Montreal Double Cross
What fans call the “Montreal Screwjob” I’ll argue was a bad business decision because it forced Vince to expose the dirty underbelly of pro wrestling to a new audience. Vince was so certain that former champion Bret “The Hitman” Hart wouldn’t blab to the press his former boss fucked him out of the belt, so when Hart started yelling to every Canadian news outlet that would listen Vince put together a TV interview about the “time honored tradition” of dropping the belt when you left a company and how Vince didn’t screw Bret.
“Bret screwed Bret,” Vince would say in a line that would later make him one of the biggest pro wrestling villains of all time.
Yes, as “Mr. McMahon” he feuded with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in a feud that pitted the blue collar working man against his asshole corporate boss and made millions for his company, but there were red flags during this period that should’ve told us something about the real man…
Multiple affairs with talent on air, “Grapefruits,” the “Genetic Jackhammer” and the “Kiss My Ass Club”
These are all real things, and no I’m not exaggerating when I tell you there was an angle on TV where Vince would drop trou and someone would have to plant their lips on his butt-cheeks.
Like I said, there were signs and we all ignored them because we knew this was a character, right? RIGHT???
Butchering the English language because reasons.
This is a Vince has his quibbles thing, but it’s still worth pointing out you can’t call it a “championship belt” on WWE TV, even though it’s a thing you wear around your waist. It’s a “Championship Title.” Matches where you get a shot at a title aren’t “Title shots,” they’re “Championship Opportunities.” “Fans” are “the WWE Universe,” and perhaps the strangest is hospitals had to be referred to as “medical facilities” on television.
Which is how you get grown men saying things like “(Wrestler X) was taken to a medical facility after sustaining injuries during his title opportunity for the WWE Championship Title.”
It makes no goddamn sense, but that’s the way people have had to talk around Vince for 40 years.
Feuding with God and killing himself on live television
Yes, these are two put I’m combining them for the sheer narcissism both incidents display. In one case, Vince wrestled with, and won a match over, God. Who was depicted as a spotlight shining in the ring.
The latter incident involved Vince getting blown up in a limo explosion one week. In storyline, the next week would’ve centered around a funeral for “Mr. McMahon” since Vince the character and Vince the person were allegedly two different people.
Alas, there would be no funeral, because in the week following the limo explosion news broke about the murder-suicide of WWE wrestler Chris Benoit and his family. Can’t really do a fake funeral angle when you’re burying your own talent the next week, I suppose.
Giving himself Championship Belts
This is a thing done in almost every promotion and I’ll never grasp the rationale. For those of you who don’t know, having a championship belt as a wrestler means the company you work for thinks you’ll draw money for them and they want to give you a shot as the face of the company.
Which makes giving an old man, albeit one in very good shape, a championship belt all the more irritating. Of course he’s the face of the company. He IS the fucking company!
Using the N-word on Live Television
Under any other circumstances this would’ve been grounds for immediate cancellation of a person and I don’t know how this didn’t get Vince axed other than it was the late 90s-early 2000s and we hadn’t invented cancelling people yet.
But the elder McMahon did actually utter That Word Which White People Should Never Utter. On live TV. In front of two black members of the roster. One of whom was scripted in response to say “Tell me he didn’t just say that!”
Once Vince left the company, the stock price jumped. Maybe now investors are convinced WWE won’t lose any of its TV deals now that the Chair and co CEO is Vince’s daughter Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie’s husband, Paul “Triple H” Levesque is taking over the creative duties of WWE, so this really is a new era for not just WWE but professional wrestling overall.
As a means of celebrating the end of McMahon’s storied career, I asked last week on Twitter if anyone would be willing to clip a video of Vince McMahon walking to the sad music from Lou Ferrigno’s “Incredible Hulk” tv series.
Little did I know my brother from another mother and fellow KnoxVilliain Dave Ratliff would come through in stellar fashion.
Enjoy the video below, my friends, and we’ll see you next week. Come Scotch-O-Clock, raise one with me to Vince McMahon with one caveat: he should’ve hired hookers.
This video by @1ChicagoDave is the best send off Vince McMahon could ever ask for.
Take a minute and enjoy. https://t.co/UwglOQILJA
— Chris Seaton (@clsesq) July 24, 2022