It has always been said that the winners write the war, and this has certainly been true in the world of professional wrestling. As the owner and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, Vince McMahon is the biggest “winner” in the game, and he’s written countless hours worth of wrestling history to prove it. Each and every week on Monday Night Raw, Vince adds to his volumes of lore by having the WWE superstars wrestle their hearts out for championships, honor, and fan approval.
With the sheer amount of entertainment WWE has created, it was almost inevitable that some of this history would start to contradict other parts of it. In some cases, Vince McMahon rewrites history almost accidentally, simply because strictly adhering to it would make future storylines almost impossible. Some wrestlers have such strange and unusual pasts they should be in prison, so elements of their characters need to get ignored for them to keep their day jobs.
Other times, Vince and his writers attempt to rewrite history for borderline vindictive reasons. To put it bluntly, the man hates sharing credit with any wrestlers or rival promoters who don’t ultimately admit he’s the most important person in wrestling, and will try his darndest to erase them from history if this defiance continues. For all the details on who and what WWE has tried to rub out over the years, keep reading to learn about 15 times Vince McMahon rewrote his own history.
15. What’s In A Name? Or, Get The F Out
To start things off, let’s discuss the time Vince McMahon changed history not out of his own free will, but out of legal necessity. Pretty much from the day WWE switched its name from the World Wide Wrestling Federation, or WWWF, to simply the World Wrestling Federation, or WWF, another organization sharing those initials was unhappy about the confusion the move inevitably caused. Feeling they had legal copyright to the letters, the World Wildlife Fund, an animal-friendly charity founded in the 1960s, repeatedly took McMahon to court demanding they change their name. In 2002, the animal lovers won, hence the name WWE we all know and love today. In accordance with this move, Vince has at times edited countless hours of old programming to either obscure the letters WWF in physical form or even bleep announcers who inevitably said it. Luckily, the situation cooled down enough that at least the bleeping is no longer necessary.
14. Pretending Old Championships Don’t Exist
No matter how prestigious the honor is, each time a wrestler wins a WWE championship is cause for their fans to celebrate. This is obviously true in regards to the main WWE Championship, and it also holds true for smaller accolades like the NXT or Tag Team Championships. Well, for now, anyway. One can never know when Vince McMahon is going to retire one of these belts, at which point any reference to former prestige will be forgotten about in short order. Think about it—how often does anyone mention Triple H, William Regal, or Kurt Angle were European Champions? Never, because that title doesn’t exist anymore, and there’s no reason to care about it. The same is true about former Hardcore, Light Heavyweight, or Divas Champions, and doubly so for extremely old belts like the North American or United States Tag Team Championships. Not that these old titles need to get brought up every week, but it would be nice if the company could remember them during retrospectives and honor ceremonies.
13. Ignoring The Contributions Of Anyone Who Works Elsewhere
Of all the ways Vince McMahon has tried to rewrite history over the years, the most prolific method is immediately icing out any wrestler who no longer works for him. Especially if a top superstar decides to work for a rival organization, Vince doesn’t want their name said on his programming, lest it possibly bring publicity to a company other than WWE. This practice was most rampant during the Monday Night Wars, when iconic superstars like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were entirely forgotten about the second they jumped ship to WCW. More recently, it happened to names like Jeff Hardy, Mick Foley, and Kurt Angle when they had their runs in NWA/TNA/GFW/etc. In short, a wrestler who isn’t currently working for Vince McMahon isn’t a wrestler at all, nor should anyone discuss a time they once were in any retrospectives or comparative commentary.
12. Claiming Released Talent Was Stolen
It’s pretty annoying when Vince McMahon starts acting like an enormously popular wrestler doesn’t even exist, but from a business perspective, it almost makes sense. When Hulk Hogan was working for WCW, saying his name might have made fans want to watch WCW, a fact that needed to be avoided. However, Vince sometimes goes a step further with things and pretends the circumstances of a wrestler leaving were different than reality, to make WWE look like a victim when in fact they basically fired people. It happened to Randy Savage when Vince refused to let him wrestle for a year, forcing the Macho Man to work someplace he could get back in the ring. More prominently, Alundra Blayze suffered this treatment when Vince fired her because he thought women’s wrestling couldn’t draw, making her symbolically throw away the WWE Women’s Championship on Monday Nitro. The way Vince tells it, though, she planned the whole thing from the beginning, leaving WWE for no reason instead of getting fired and making the move out of necessity.
11. Repeatedly Killing And Reviving Women’s Wrestling
Speaking of Alundra Blayze, perhaps Vince McMahon’s shaky feelings towards women’s wrestling in general deserve a little bit of attention on our list, as well. Blayze certainly wasn’t the only example of a female wrestler he hired with alleged intentions of making into a massive superstar on par with the man talent only to change his mind almost instantly, as in fact WWE had a long history of doing exactly that. They did the same thing to Wendi Richter and the Glamour Girls in the 1980s, and once Sable started getting too famous for her own good in the late ‘90s, she met the treatment any female to dare get popular in the past was bound to experience. Only very recently has Vince realized that women’s wrestling can actually draw money, so now he’s rewriting it to make it seem like WWE was always hugely respectful and forward thinking about the idea.
10. Mae Young Suddenly Became A Legend In Her 70s
One more thing about women’s wrestling before we move on to other facets of the sport Vince McMahon likes pretending didn’t happen the way they did. For as little respect as females have traditionally received in the wrestling business, a select few nonetheless have indeed been rightfully honored as legends. The WWE Hall of Fame already has a few deserved female inductees, including The Fabulous Moolah, Mildred Burke, and Trish Stratus, all of whom left their mark on the industry in a major way. There’s also Mae Young, who let’s face it, was never quite the same caliber as these other ladies. Not that there aren’t other ways for a wrestler to make their mark, but Mae Young never even won a Women’s Championship in NWA or WWE, let alone wrestled in a single significant match or feud until the late 1990s, at which point she was in her mid-70s. Yes, what Mae did at that age was shocking and impressive, yet it hardly retroactively turned her into one of the best women in the business.
9. Editing Fan Reactions To Suit His Whims
In all fairness to Vince McMahon, the WWE Universe does belong to him, so if he wants to rewrite wrestling history, it’s pretty much his prerogative to do so. That said, one thing Vince should never have autonomy over is how his fans feel about the product he creates. As with all entertainment, how an audience responds to the show should be the most important element in further production thereof, yet McMahon seems to think he can mold people to hold whatever opinion he wants them to about his company. Time and again, that has proven demonstrably false, so McMahon went back and edited recaps to make it seem like fans cheered when they were booing or vice versa. He’s even cut and pasted pieces of a given program to turn individual audience members into fans of wrestlers they may or may not care about.
8. Going Back And Forth On The Warrior’s Legacy
Too many wrestlers have had their person histories rewritten for the broader reasons on this list for us to name them all specifically, so let’s key in on one worker in particular whose legacy went through a gigantic roller coaster ride over a two-decade span. Immediately upon his arrival to the WWE Universe, it was clear The Ultimate Warrior was going to be a massive star like no other. He didn’t have much to offer in the way of traditional wrestling skills, but Warrior connected with fans on an almost supernatural level, becoming one of the most popular wrestlers of the 1980s in under a year.
Things started to wane when Warrior became WWE Champion, then he was almost entirely forgotten after getting into contract disputes with McMahon in the early ‘90s. Four years later, Warrior was suddenly back and an icon once more…for all of three months, when he turned into a lunatic whack job again. That reputation stuck for over a decade, the nadir/peak being WWE’s first DVD retrospective about his “self-destruction.” Luckily, Warrior and McMahon patched up their relationship right before his passing, and now they have an award dedicated in his honor.
7. The Impossibly Complex Life And Times Of Kane
All right, so remember how the intro mentioned some wrestlers have had their backgrounds rewritten out of sheer necessity? No one superstar better exemplifies this than the Big Red Monster himself, The Undertaker’s little brother, Kane. Introduced as a man who spent years in captivity after learning his brother murdered their parents, Kane later discovered his real father was Paul Bearer all along. Also, he somehow took the time out of his many visits to various psych wards to date and accidentally kill a girl named Katie Vick during his teenage years. This is despite horrific burns he suffered all over his body, which shattered his vocal chords in the process…except it turns out neither of those things were true, and it was all in his head. How much of it? Oh, who the hellfire and brimstone can tell at this point. All we know for sure is Kane the Authority member turned politician is no longer anything like the Big Red Machine he started out as.
6. The Winners Write The Monday Night Wars
The old cliché about winners and how they influence history books has already been stated a few times in this article, and yet it bears repeating in reference to the most literal way WWE has ever taken the expression. The Monday Night Wars is a term given to the weekly ratings battle between WCW Monday Nitro and WWE Monday Night Raw, when both companies produced countless hours of incredible wrestling programming at the start of every week. Also, they made some bad TV along the way, yet WWE likes ignoring this part when talking about things retrospectively. Unsurprisingly, the good things about WCW are often left out, as well, with the Vince McMahon version of the story making it seem like Ted Turner was a vindictive jerk who simply wanted to put him out of business. The truth is far more complicated than that, and had more to do with wrestling fans wanting an alternative to his product, yet McMahon could never admit he wasn’t a victim who survived an oppressive rival.
5. Literally Erasing Jesse Ventura’s Commentary
When Vince McMahon made his interns and producers go through the painstaking process of editing old broadcasts so the letters “WWF” never appeared anywhere, it wasn’t exactly his fault. Years earlier, when he did the same thing with absolutely all of Jesse Ventura’s commentary, it was a vindictive move designed to keep as much money as he possibly could, refusing to pay his employees for their work. The censorship was due to Ventura taking McMahon to court and getting a judge to agree he deserved payment for all video releases featuring his commentary. Rather than pay Ventura what he was owed, McMahon hired a producer to bleep out every last word Ventura ever said, acting like the man never existed and provided key commentary on dozens of WWE events. Thankfully, Ventura and McMahon eventually started working together again, and his commentary is back in place on the WWE Network.
4. Inflating The Image Of André The Giant
In promoting an individual main event match, wrestling companies have been known to stretch the truth in some pretty spectacular ways. The most common is probably having commentators claim a match had “never happened before,” when in fact the wrestlers involved squared off on countless episodes of Raw or SmackDown beforehand without it being treated like a big deal. Sometimes, WWE gets more specific and claims a wrestler never lost or in one case, fell victim to a certain move. André The Giant is one of the most iconic superstars in wrestling history, but make no mistake about it—the man lost quite a few matches before Hulk Hogan finally slammed him at WrestleMania III. The Giant had also been slammed a good number of times before then, by men like Harley Race, Stan Hansen, Kamala, and even the Hulkster himself plenty of times before that so-called historic moment.
3. Making Triple H Appear Like A Bigger Deal In Retrospect
For every wrestler Vince McMahon has iced out of history due to some perceived act of betrayal, he’s also rewarded someone to show him loyalty by treating them with more respect than he deserves. Keeping it in the family, the person who has benefitted the most from this treatment is Vince’s own son-in-law, Triple H. From the moment HHH started dating Vince’s daughter Stephanie, he’s been steadily rising to the top of WWE, to the point he’s now heir apparent to run the show when Vince retires.
HHH also has a dozen runs as World Champion to his name, yet this alone doesn’t mean he was one of the biggest stars in wrestling history. Nor does the fact WWE pretends he was, as there as a great number of wrestlers far more important than he was at just about every point of his career. Initially, HHH was no more than second fiddle to Shawn Michaels, then Steve Austin and The Rock routinely outshined him in the Attitude Era. From there, men like John Cena, Randy Orton, and Brock Lesnar continue to eclipse HHH’s fame, but the way WWE tells it, he might as well be the greatest wrestler in history simply because of who he married.
2. That Time His Limo Blew Up
In all fairness to Vince McMahon, the vast majority of his audience either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care most of the time he changes history. This is because McMahon does so in such subtle ways it barely matters, simply letting unwanted memories fade away or get brushed over as time goes by. Unfortunately for him, some issues he rewrote were far too big or fresh in fans minds for him to get away with, like the episode of Monday Night Raw where he faked his own death. The idea was for every member of the WWE Universe to be a murder suspect after Vince McMahon’s limousine exploded the second he stepped inside, only for the company to drop the whole thing mere weeks into the idea taking off. It was a shame they had to do so, as media attention to the story was huge, with some outlets even questioning whether or not what happened was real. The worst part is every knows exactly why they had to drop things so fast…
1. Pro Wrestling’s Elephant In The Room
Fans of pro wrestling, and indeed entertainment in general, will forever have to debate whether or not the life of a given performer outside of their field effects how they should be viewed as an athlete, actor, singer, or etcetera. Does the fact Chris Benoit exited this world at his own hands after taking the lives of his wife and son in any way change the fact he was one of the greatest pro wrestlers in history from a technical standpoint? Not necessarily, but we totally understand why WWE doesn’t want to bring the subject up considering what he did. Being a company that mostly produces content for children, it’s impossible to explain how a man once revered as a hero could murder his own child, and so even mentioning Benoit’s name becomes a slippery slope WWE doesn’t want to fall down. They may have had to erase a former Royal Rumble winner, World Champion, and iconic performer, but few people blame them for doing this, rather than having them, in any way, glorify or promote a man who became a monster.
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