If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Well, unless the thing you were attempting to do is a colossal waste of time and money, that is. In that case, you probably should’ve learned your lesson the first time around, and never try anything like it ever again. Unfortunately, Vince McMahon never got the memo on this one, and has repeatedly attempted some of his absolute worst ideas again and again and again.
It could even be argued that some of McMahon’s greatest failures are the ideas he keeps pushing after the crowd already weighed in on them, as the man occasionally refuses to give up regardless of how much he has to lose should the fight continue. Looking through pro wrestling history in general, there’s a whole lot of repetition, and truth be told, a lot of this makes sense. There are only so many stories to be told about one wrestler fighting another for the World Championship, but McMahon could at least stick to some of the better ideas than rehash his failed nadirs.
Given the breadth of his power, however, and the WWE mandate that employees not cross the boss, it’s unlikely anyone is going to help him see the light. Luckily, web sites like ours are able to step in, knowing we won’t lose our jobs for doing so. Keep reading to learn about 15 mistakes Vince McMahon should have learned from, but clearly wants forgotten.
15 ECW Invasions
In fairness to Vince McMahon, WWE is hardly the only company in the world that seems to have trouble learning a very basic history lesson: Extreme Championship Wrestling, the little hardcore company that nearly hit mainstream in the ‘90s, is now dead and buried. In fact, it has been for over a decade and a half. Not only that, there’s a reason the promotion went out of business, as not that many fans watched the programming they produced at the time or in retrospect.
We’re not trying to sound down on ECW, as when it was good it was great, yet the fact remains extreme hardcore wrestling isn’t for everyone. This is largely the reason why every attempt at an ECW has failed, except perhaps the first one, when Paul Heyman still had some say over what was happening. That adds another layer to the failure of 2001’s ECW portion of the Invasion and then the later attempt at reviving ECW Originals and a TV show—Heyman’s the only one who could make it work on any level, and WWE kept lowering his influence without realizing that was killing the whole thing.
14 Giving Away Huge Matches On Free TV
Considering how long WWE has been producing Pay-Per-Views, one might think Vince McMahon as a pretty good understanding of how to build towards and then market such an event. Take two wrestlers who hate one another yet are loved by fans and have them produce a uniquely hard-hitting encounter…it’s almost easy. Fan intrigue to such an event exponentially decreases the more times those two athletes wrestler one another, though, especially if they’ve done so repeatedly on free TV.
McMahon has messed up this formula more times than we can count or even begin to list, constantly giving away marquee PPV main events on Raw or SmackDown. It happened just recently with John Cena and Shinsuke Nakamura’s first match, which many fans believed could be saved for SummerSlam. The most infamous incident likely came in 2002 when the biggest star in company history, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, walked out on McMahon rather than listen when he argued a match against Brock Lesnar deserved PPV attention. If that didn’t catch McMahon’s attention, nothing will. Good news for people who can’t afford Pay-Per-View, but blatantly bad for business.
13 No One Cares About Pose Offs
Of all the mistakes Vince McMahon has made in his career, chances are the man’s obsession with bodybuilding has led to the strangest results. There’s no other item on this list McMahon tried transitioning into an entire separate industry of its own, which he failed at accomplishing big time with his World Bodybuilding Federation. The most baffling part is that McMahon already should have been aware such an endeavor would fail, as every single “pose off” between two wrestlers has gone exactly the same way: two physically impressive wrestlers waste a whole lot of time boring everyone in the crowd (except McMahon, apparently). This even happens when he throws out his absolute biggest stars to do the posing, like WWE Hall of Famers The Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude, or more recently, Triple H. Why Vince thought segments that were poorly received across the board would suddenly sell as a Pay-Per-View event, the world will never know.
12 Paying For Linda’s Senate Campaigns
On paper, the fact Linda McMahon is the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, and thus a member of the United States Cabinet, more than justifies her decision to enter politics. The catch is that McMahon didn’t exactly earn this position due to her exemplary service in government. Almost admittedly, McMahon got her job because her family has been friends with Donald Trump for a long time now, not to mention their long history of working together. There’s a good chance Linda could have applied and probably won the gig even without her husband Vince helping pay for two disastrously expensive bids to the Connecticut Senate. Between the two campaigns, the McMahons spent tens of millions of dollars trying to get Linda elected only to lose in landslides twice in a row. It’s got to sting even worse in retrospect, knowing it was all for nothing.
11 Failing To Push New Stars
One of the most confusing aspects of Vince McMahon failing to learn from his own mistakes is how often he can mock other companies for making the same damn ones. For example, half of the subjects breached in this list also could have applied to WCW, a company Vince put out of business because they kept doing the same things he does now. High on the issues putting WCW under was the company’s inability to make new stars, an issue WWE definitely has today.
Names like Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, John Cena, and Triple H were the biggest stars WWE had to offer back in 2002, and the fact those four names still main event any Pay-Per-View they feel like appearing on is a seriously bad sign. WWE faced the same issue right before three of those four names debuted when The Rock and Steve Austin left at the same time, and given their replacements are starting to get up there in age, he might want to remember this one real quick, before it's too late.
10 Burying The Tag Team Division
This next issue has been happening for so long that it’s hard to point to any specific examples of Vince McMahon doing it. Of course, when the issue is that he fails to present tag team wrestling as serious, the fact no high profile examples exist almost proves the point. It’s been a solid two or three decades since doubles wrestling was big enough to regularly main event, and we’re not talking about when two solo stars get mashed together at house shows. A Raw, SmackDown, or especially a Pay-Per-View headlined by a Tag Team Championship match is pretty much out of the question, because McMahon simply refuses to treat tag teams with the same respect as solo wrestlers. McMahon’s influence in this matter is so vast few promoters will even try, so we have to admit, this is mere speculation, but is it really that outlandish to suggest tag team wrestling could sell if booked properly?
9 Comedy For The Lowest Common Denominator
When you're done reading this article, we suggest searching through our archives for all the times we called WWE and/or Vince McMahon tasteless or offensive. To save time for people who aren’t willing to put in the effort, we’ll summarize and point out almost all moments mentioned on such lists will pertain to so-called “comedy” moments gone wrong, as McMahon’s understanding of humor is somewhere between the most disgusting and outright bizarre versions of the genre out there. After he had septuagenarian Mae Young give birth on live television, a moment still reviled as perhaps the worst thing ever committed to tape, one might think there was no lower “comedy” he could attempt. Then, three years later, his son-in-law humped a casket. Thankfully, those two moments were pretty much the bottom, yet McMahon still goes to the bad comedy well far too often.
8 Making His Family The Main Focus Of TV
To Vince McMahon’s credit, the most successful period of his company’s history came when he was front and center on Raw and SmackDown on a regular basis. McMahon himself was without a doubt the main villain throughout the Attitude Era, his wars with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin having since become stuff of legend. However, all good things must come to an end, and once all was said and done between Vince and Stone Cold, that pretty much should have been it for the McMahon family creating the primary foundation for WWE television. Stephanie’s presence has almost never been welcome on a main event level, and Shane’s reaching an age where it’s dangerously cringe-inducing to watch him attempt some of the stunts he does. Despite his own children’s lives being at risk and fans not wanting to see them in the first place, Vince keeps his kids out there as commissioners.
7 Putting Talented Women In Misogynistic Angles
Similar to the problem with tag team wrestling yet intensified by the underlying message behind his actions, Vince McMahon has had an incredibly hard time actually accepting female wrestlers as equal to the men. Sure, two women recently were able to main event a Pay-Per-View for the first time in history. Unfortunately, both women in the match have also been forced by WWE to work angles showing them as petty, vindictive, and caring about little else than mocking one another’s appearances. Even Bayley, a wrestler with an incredible character during her time in NXT, has turned into another bland shallow WWE diva. The fact they finally got with the times and stopped using that word so blatantly doesn’t change the fact its how they continue to write all female performers…except, of course, Stephanie McMahon, which goes back to that last point in always needing his family to come out on top.
6 Telling The Crowd How To Feel
So much has been written about Vince McMahon’s confusing obsession with Roman Reigns it felt redundant to put the Big Dog on this list in and of himself. Everyone watching WWE today knows Reigns is the most hated man in the company despite having been pushed as the biggest babyface in the promotion for several years. The most annoying part of this for long term fans is that it isn’t even the first time McMahon has tried forcing ideas down his fans throats that they clearly weren’t buying. Take for instance when he turned “Stone Cold” Steve Austin heel when everyone watching his product still wanted to cheer the Texas Rattlesnake. The harder McMahon tried making fans hate Stone Cold, the less of them watched, and now the exact opposite situation with Reigns is having the same result. Instead of learning his lesson, once again McMahon is doubling down out of spite.
5 Evil Foreigners Don’t Sell Anymore
The times they are a changing, but wouldn’t you know it, Vince McMahon didn’t get the memo on that one, either. While it’s true there was once a point in history when all McMahon or any wrestling promoter had to do to get fans angrily booing one of their competitors is claim they were from one of a select few “enemy” foreign countries. Nowadays however, audiences in general are far less xenophobic, castigating WWE for racist tendencies whenever this sort of behavior is attempted. The switch happened somewhere around the Muhammad Hassan era, when a more open-minded WWE realized there was absolutely no reason to boo the guy based on his character. However, McMahon still wanted people to boo him, because, well, he’s not from around here, you see. (Even if Hassan was supposed to be Arab-American, and not an evil foreigner per se.) For many years, it almost looked like McMahon accepted this and was ready to stop going down this well, until WWE Champion Jinder Mahal appeared out of nowhere and revived the awful trend.
4 The Cruiserweight Division
There are no doubt fans of 205 Live and cruiserweight wrestling in general reading this list and voraciously shaking their heads at this suggestion. Look, we aren’t trying to knock the idea of cruiserweight wrestling in general, it’s just that Vince McMahon has absolutely no idea how to book or market the genre. Ultimately, 99% of cruiserweight matches broadcast on Raw or Pay-Per-View wind up looking exactly the same as the heavyweight matches, just with slightly smaller wrestlers. This is a far cry from the great WCW cruiserweight division, where the lighter athletes were expected to steal the show with their uniquely high-flying move sets. In addition to taking WCW’s Cruiserweight Champion when he purchased that company, McMahon himself has created a Lightweight and another WWE-specific Cruiserweight title, and each time around, it turned out as homogenized as the last.
3 Meticulously Overscripting Every Last Detail
Outside of Roman Reigns, the issue WWE fans seem to complain the most about these days is how painfully obvious the writing is getting, both in terms of broad creative strokes and the specificity of how wrestlers and announcers talk. The language used is really the worst part of it, and we aren’t talking about the occasional curse word that ran rampant during the Attitude Era. No, these days the issue is that Vince McMahon’s attention to detail is focused on all the wrong details, like saying “championship” instead of “title” (or especially "belt") or “WWE Universe” instead of “fans.” Critics and insiders alike have been calling McMahon out on this from the first time footage leaked of him screaming at the announcers for daring ask simple questions. That said, Vince would probably keep this behavior going even if someone hacked into the WWE Network and added it as a commentary option.
2 The Brand Split
Before we start talking about the flaws attached to it, let’s admit there are plenty of good things about the WWE brand split, in theory. Were Raw and SmackDown treated entirely equally, the brand split would be giving more time and space for talented wrestlers to shine. However, WWE has always treated Raw like the more important show, and two attempts at splitting the roster hasn’t done anything to change this. Even when the biggest stars in the company, like John Cena or Daniel Bryan, are on SmackDown, it hardly feels like the flagship bombastic affair Raw always guarantees. This is by McMahon’s design, of course, although it has caused SmackDown’s ratings to heavily sag and all the superstars appearing on the brand to feel second rate by association. Unless he can truly treat the two equally, McMahon needs to give up on brand splits.
1 Putting Part Timers In The Main Event
From the very first time Vince McMahon put on a Pay-Per-View with a part-time employee in the main event, his full-time workers were complaining that he was taking away their spots. Sure, not everyone had the courage to say it, but the entire WWE roster felt the implication, especially as more and more part-timers were getting hired for the highest profile gigs in sports entertainment. Now that McMahon has made a practice of almost exclusively putting part-timers (and Roman Reigns) in his WrestleMania main events, full-time employees barely even have a chance at becoming the figurative top name in the company through the rub such an appearance would give them. Additionally, casual fans are left with no idea who the wrestlers competed on Raw and SmackDown from week to week even are, aside from the fact they clearly aren’t names worth caring about, never appearing in true main events and all.