Vince McMahon – The Most Powerful Man in Wrestling
Many of us have had the unpleasant experience of working for an intimidating boss. This intimidation could stem from their superiority complex, edgy nature, or tendency to yell and scream in order to motivate or accomplish tasks.
It is also possible that this leadership tactic stems from a no-nonsense and controlling approach characterized by threats and commands, often giving the impression that they’re running a criminal gang rather than a business.
Whatever the case may be, bosses like this have a sizeable and often negative effect on their employees.
Consider WWE co-founder and executive chairman Vince McMahon as an example.
Based on the image above, he appears to be a serious individual. Just look at how he confidently brandished that chain over his shoulders and chest. After all, he is the one who shaped mainstream professional wrestling into what it is today.
Before stepping away from everyday operations in June 2022 amid accusations of misconduct from former female WWE employees, Vince has been a constant, prominent presence backstage and to the viewing audience for more than thirty years.
Despite it all, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, the New Day, and Dean Ambrose (now Jon Moxley) have all said that Vince is a man who not only respects those who aren’t afraid to approach him and get in his ear about things, he welcomes it.
He also very much respects those who have no problem standing up for themselves to him, too.
Even with this known, there are very few people in and out of WWE who have the gumption to approach him and say, “Let’s try it this way, instead.”
Vince McMahon has been known to intimidate many wrestlers over the years. Here are some examples of this behavior.
Sasha Banks, aka Mercedes Moné on Her Intimidating Relationship with Vince McMahon
In an interview on the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast, former WWE superstar Sasha Banks (now performing as Mercedes Moné for New-Japan Pro Wrestling) shared some revealing thoughts on what her relationship was like with Vince McMahon:
“[Vince] is Granddaddy, and Hunter is Papa. I don’t really get to talk to [Vince] too often because I am, quite honestly, very scared of him. I am honestly very scared of him. When he walks by, I try to be cool. ‘Hello, how are you, sir?’
“It’s mostly Papa Hunter [Triple H] who I talk to. I’ve known him since NXT. He helped me and has seen me since I was a nobody, so he’s my go-to guy if I ever need help or have questions.”
Mercedes was one of the most popular wrestlers during her time as Sasha Banks in WWE, yet she was afraid at times to approach her boss, Vince.
The Boss Is No Longer Afraid of the Boss
In the time that has passed since her interview with Sam Roberts, there was a turn of events: The Boss was no longer afraid of the boss!
Speaking to Al Arabiya English, the former Sasha Banks explained that she felt more comfortable talking about creative with Vince McMahon as time went on, and it made a difference.
“It comes with growing up, becoming more mature, and becoming a woman,” she said.
“You have this more comfortable feeling of, ‘Okay, you work for the boss, you work for the man, a legend, Vince McMahon, but hey, you’re the Legit Boss, so you better go through that door, tell him what you’d like to do and what you’d like to have.’
“Honestly, that’s the biggest thing—not being afraid to stand up for yourself. If you’re very passionate about something, he’s the man to talk to.
“I’ve learned that it’s actually very easy to talk to him, and it’s so much better for me to talk to him than to talk to writers because you get the right answer, and you get the answer right away.
“You kind of understand what he wants from you as a performer. It’s been so much easier talking to him, and I feel less intimidated.
“A lot of times, when it comes to whether we’re handed a promo that I’m not really feeling or trying to figure out what the story—if we don’t know what we’re doing, it’s hard to perform.
“[In the past I] asked him, ‘Hey, where are we going with this storyline? Can you tell me what direction you’d like to see me go?’ Getting the answer right from him straight up makes it so much easier.”
Knowing How to Approach Vince McMahon
Ring announcer and professional wrestler Ricardo Rodriguez worked in the WWE system from 2010 until 2014.
During his time with the company, he was a witness to a lot of happenings behind the scenes, and he had many fascinating stories to share about Vince McMahon, in particular, in his interview with RF Video in 2014:
“Vince McMahon is still the boss. You just have to find an elegant way to approach him.
“Vince, to us, was amazing, and he helped me out a lot. Granted, if, for whatever reason, the segment before us [upset him], there goes the rest of the show for the rest of the guys because now he’s upset. So now, any little bad thing that [you] do, [you’re] going to get the bad end of it, as well.
“Of course, depending on the mood he was in, for the most part, he was very supportive, and he would always help us out.”
Vince McMahon Tests Son of WWE Hall of Famer
Ricardo Rodriguez continued with a story on Curtis Axel (then known as Michael McGillicutty), the son of the legendary wrestler “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig:
“Vince likes it when you stand up for yourself. I remember one instance, specifically. We used to have promo class with Vince. I remember this one because I was brand new, so I just stood off to the corner by myself quietly and watched.
“[Vince] kept walking by McGillicutty. Curtis Axel had his foot out, and Vince would just step on his foot on purpose and keep walking. He’d keep talking and walking, come back, step on his foot, boom, keep walking and talking, step on his foot again, repeat…
“Eventually, [Vince] just turned around and was like, ‘Aren’t you going to say anything?’
“McGillicutty was just like, ‘Sorry, sir.’
“Vince was like, ‘No, no, no, no. You don’t know what I’m doing! I’m stepping on your foot on purpose as I want you to say something. I’m waiting for you to stand up for yourself.'”
Ricardo Rodriguez continued, “Vince likes it when you have a problem; you address it. He doesn’t like it when you become a little *****. Vince would just do that on purpose. He would step on your foot just to see if you would do something.”
Chris Jericho on How Vince McMahon Holds the Purse Strings
On the subject of money, Vince McMahon is said to be very tight-pocketed and unwilling to let talent get over on their own. If the idea didn’t come from him, he would have a tough time getting behind it. (See: Zack Ryder)
In 2010, Chris Jericho’s star was rising outside of the squared circle without the help of WWE. He was able to secure a hosting role on a new prime-time TV game show on ABC called Downfall, beating the likes of Ian Ziering and Mario Lopez for the part.
It was a massive opportunity for both Jericho and WWE to capitalize on it. Vince, as you can likely foretell, was not behind the idea.
The Nature of Vince McMahon
In his third autobiography, The Best In The World: At What I Have No Idea, Chris Jericho had this to say about Vince McMahon’s nature:
“When ABC placed a press release in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, trumpeting the show and its new host, I thought it was awesome… until [my agent] Barry Bloom called me in a panic.
“‘Stephanie just contacted me and said you’re not allowed to host Downfall. When Vince saw the press release, he flipped out and said, ‘Under no circumstances are you to do the show.’
Chris Jericho on Vince McMahon Shutting Down His Big Plans
Chris Jericho continued:
“I was shocked. Obviously, I had dropped the ball by not telling Vince about the gig, but this was a perfect chance for the WWE to get the mainstream coverage they craved by having one of its top guys host a prime-time major network program.
“Not to mention I’d delivered it to him on a silver platter with no expense or effort on his part. Why would he forbid me to do it? It made no sense, so I called him myself.”
Chris Jericho Approaches Vince
“‘Chris, I can’t allow you to do this show,” Vince McMahon said to Jericho. “It sets a bad precedent if I let talent go find opportunities on their own. Also, we have an agreement with NBC, and if you do an ABC show, our investors will be asking why you’re not doing an NBC show.’
“This was total bull,” thought Jericho, “even though I knew I’d insulted him by not telling him I’d gotten the job in the first place. But it was always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, right?
“‘Look, Vince, I’m sorry for not telling you about this, but if you look at the big picture, this is good for all of us. I got picked for this job over fifty other people with celebrity value. If this show hits, it could be a big thing for the WWE and for me.
“Vince refused to budge and reiterated that there was no chance in hell he was going to let me do the show.
“That [angered me].”
Chris Jericho Goes Off on Vince McMahon
“‘Vince, this is *******. You’re [messing] with my future, and you’re [messing] with my family. I’m doing this show whether you like it or not,'” Chris Jericho told his then-boss.
“If you do it, I’ll fire you on the spot,” Vince replied.
“‘I’ll quit first; my contract is almost up anyway.’
“You are really stupid if you do this,” the boss retorted.
“Now I really lost it.
“‘Stupid? All right, I’m going straight to the airport and chartering a plane to Connecticut, so I can come over to your house and punch you in the face!’ I screamed into the phone.
“‘I’ll give you my address!’ he yelled back.
“I hung up on him. I couldn’t believe things had come down to this, but I really felt he was screwing up a big chance for me.”
Chris Jericho on Standing Up to Vince McMahon
In his book, “The Best In The World: At What I Have No Idea,” Chris Jericho continued:
“I went through my contract to figure out if he could sue me for quitting the company. I was poring through the various sections and subsections when I heard the beep of an incoming e-mail from Vince.
“‘I hope you understand the reasons I can’t let you do this. However, we’re taping a film next month, and I want you to star in it,'” Vince e-mailed Jericho.
“Who the heck ‘tapes a film’ in this day and age?” Chris thought.
I didn’t understand Vince’s logic in offering me the starring role in a straight-to-DVD movie that would take me six weeks to film and be seen by a few hundred thousand people, yet refuse to allow me to host a prime-time TV show that would take me a week to film and be seen by millions.
“I told him I wasn’t interested in ‘taping a film’ and asked him to rethink his decision. A few hours later, he called me again, and this time it was a different Vince on the line.
How to Change Vince McMahon’s Mind
Chis Jericho shared how he was able to get Vince McMahon to change his mind and allow him to host the ABC television show Downfall in 2010.
“If you want something from me, then I’m going to want something from you,” Vince McMahon said to Jericho in a gruff Clint Eastwood voice. “I’ll let you do the show, but I want you to commit to a new contract.”
Jericho and Vince would go back and forth over what Jericho felt were some low payoffs, and he wanted some sort of restitution.
“I suggested stock options or a signing bonus for my next contract, and he was hesitant because he’d never done anything like that before. I refused to negotiate a new deal or return to the WWE until he made things financially right,” Jericho said in his book.
Downfall TV Show
Downfall only lasted six episodes and was panned by critics, but Chris Jericho got positive reviews for his role as one of the hosts of the show, and it opened a lot of doors for him.
“It also opened another door between Vince McMahon and me, as I believe he respected the fact I didn’t back down from him, even though he didn’t agree with me at first.
“Conversely, I realized not keeping him in the loop and not telling him I was up for the job was the wrong thing to do. It was very disrespectful to him, and I’m sorry for that. But the whole situation brought us closer as business associates and friends.”
Chris Jericho stood up for himself, didn’t back down, got what he wanted with a bit of negotiation, and in the end, earned the respect of Vince McMahon.
Kofi Kingston Threatens to Fight Vince McMahon
Of course, Chris Jericho isn’t the only person to send caution of physical violence to Vince McMahon when standing up for themselves.
Let’s not forget when Kofi Kingston threatened to fight Vince McMahon!
Sometimes the best antidote for intimidation is to intimidate the intimidator.
Wrestling Injuries That Ended Careers Too Soon
“When I hit the mat, I knew my neck was broken and that I was paralyzed.”
Greg Valentine’s Defiant Act Behind The WWE Intercontinental Championship Belt
When Greg Valentine and Tito Santana met on July 6, 1985, in a steel cage in Baltimore, Maryland, Santana got the victory to reclaim the title. Valentine responded by retrieving the championship and destroying the belt, beating it repeatedly against the cage and tearing the gold away from the leather.
"I had to give the belt back to Tito after that angle," Valentine said. "And one day, when I saw him a few years ago, I asked whatever became of that belt, because Tito kept it after that angle. What he responded with broke my heart.”
Owen Hart’s Death: What Really Happened, From Those There
VINCE McMAHON: “Earlier that day, I was shocked and surprised by what Owen said.”
On May 23rd, 1999, the wrestling world mourned the loss of Owen Hart. People behind the scenes on this unthinkable day reflect on the tragedy, answering the all-important questions.
Mr Perfect Curt Hennig – A Great Life with an Unfortunate End
On camera, Curt Hennig was arrogant, and he backed up his Mr. Perfect persona brilliantly. However, outside of the ring, it was a different story.
Katie Vick – Behind WWE’s Most Shameful TV Segment
Bruce Prichard: "Vince McMahon was like, ‘I love it! That’s perfect!’ I lost a couple of crew members because of this shoot that were highly offended at the subject matter."
In 2002, Katie Vick was introduced to the WWE audience. Many consider what followed one of the most tasteless segments in television history!
Learn more: Katie Vick: Behind WWE’s Most Shameful Storyline
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