IDIOT OF THE YEAR No. 4: Vince McMahon
Wrestling fans never thought they’d see the day. Vince McMahon is no longer the mover and shaker of professional wrestling. The former chairman and CEO of WWE, the squared circle’s biggest promotion, was forced to resign back in July after multiple sexual misconduct allegations were made public alongside more than $12 million in hush payments. Don’t have anyone fool you, this was a resignation, not a retirement.
Parts of McMahon’s on-screen character turned out to be a projection of his real-life antics — a womanizer who believes his power and money could shield him from consequences from wrongdoing. And who can’t forget (but probably hopes to) the Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass club, where wrestlers actually had to pucker up on those wrinkly cheeks? That’s definitely the sign of a healthy individual. The accusations brought against McMahon haven’t been denied or confirmed publicly, but the former CEO’s reaction to the Wall Street Journal breaking the news might as well have been a confession. Rare on-screen appearances from the 77-year-old McMahon turned into a weekly occurrence once the hush payments became readily known. Retreating to the safe haven of WWE audiences for validation is the stroking of McMahon’s ego he needed.
Taking over WWE was Stephanie McMahon and Paul “Triple H” Levesque, Vince McMahon’s married daughter and son-in-law, alongside company executive Nick Khan. Numerous changes have been made to the program since the elder McMahon’s departure. Talent released has been brought back into the fold such as Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, and Karrion Kross. The company’s shows feel less repetitive and more representative of professional wrestling as an art form, not fragments of McMahon’s imagination. The magic behind McMahon’s revolutionary and monopolizing ideas of professional wrestling became outdated in 2002, exactly two decades before he left the company.
The residual effects of McMahon’s unwillingness to change WWE’s core product led to the golden generation of independent wrestling of the late 2000s. Most of WWE’s top stars were part of that charge. Remove Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Daniel Bryan to name a few from WWE’s product over the last few years. Things look drastically different. Now with actual competition coming from All Elite Wrestling, McMahon would’ve fallen further behind a true alternative.
A honeymoon period took place with Triple H leading WWE’s creative efforts beginning at the end of the summer. And while some of that has spoiled, it only showed the bar Triple H had to hit was the equivalent of an Olympic high-jumper needing to clear a baby gate. McMahon’s made billions from WWE and other businesses, riding off into the sunset with your lifestyle still intact is one heck of a consolation prize not available to most. And of course, it’s been recently reported that McMahon wants back into WWE, citing bad advice to resign didn’t represent his true views.
That’s not a reunion WWE or professional wrestling will want any part of. Now that the details of McMahon’s promiscuous past have come to light, having someone with his resume in sports entertainment isn’t the endorsement you would think it is. McMahon is still the majority owner of the WWE and hasn’t given up any voting power in the company, which will be tricky to navigate if WWE wanted to distance themselves from McMahon and everything he’s been accused of. Before this year, a WWE without McMahon calling the shots was unthinkable, as would him giving up his ownership title, even to family. The last 12 months proved that in professional wrestling anything can happen as it nearly rid itself of McMahon.