The McMahon family holds all of the power in professional wrestling. Following the death of WCW, we have not seen any wrestling promotions move into the mainstream. WWE completely dominates the market and will likely never have realistic competition in the wrestling industry again. Vince McMahon is regarded as the most influential man in wrestling history. Under his guidance, WWE has become a global juggernaut with brand power equal to just about any major entity. WrestleMania is one of the biggest overall events in the country and it all started with McMahon taking over from his father Vince McMahon Sr.
One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the fact that wrestling runs in the blood of the McMahon family. Much like with his father, Vince has allowed his children to have pivotal roles in the future of the company. Stephanie McMahon is the Chief Brand Officer of the WWE behind the scenes and an integral part of the on-screen product as the Commissioner of Raw. She will likely hold all of the power in succession to her father. Shane McMahon has returned to the company on screen after many years away from the business.
Through the years, many wrestlers have become close to various members of the family. We’ll look at some of the more shocking names you didn’t realize were close to the McMahons.
14 Ric Flair
The glory days of Ric Flair’s career actually took place in WCW and NWA as competition to the WWE, but he still managed to become a close friend of the family. Flair had a short stint with WWE in the early 90s and spent more time again following WCW going out of business. The tenure in the company from 2001 to 2009 earned a great deal of respect from the McMahons.
Vince McMahon specifically went out of his way to lend Flair almost one million bucks during dire times for The Nature Boy. Flair has made many horrible mistakes with money management and could have been in big trouble if not for Vince saving the day. The even closer relationship with Triple H has earned Flair another McMahon friend in the form of Stephanie McMahon.
Flair has nothing but kind things to say about Stephanie and the rest of the family on his weekly podcast. Many have speculated Charlotte receiving the biggest push of the NXT women is due to her father’s ties to the McMahons, but that remains to be only speculation at this point.
13 Mean Street Posse
Long time wrestling fans will always remember the hilarity of The Mean Street Posse. The trio of privileged Connecticut geeks played friends of Shane McMahon and would typically take a beating on behalf of the McMahons. Fiction and reality blended as two members of the group were close friends of Shane-O-Mac outside of the ring. Pete Gas and Rodney entered the business due to their friendship with Shane and used McMahon to fulfill their desire of entering the wrestling business.
The third man was Joey Abs and he was an actual wrestler signed after working on the independent scene. Rodney and Pete Gas showed less potential than Joey Abs and it made sense given their backgrounds. Still, The Mean Street Posse managed to stay employed for a couple of years on national television during the hottest era in wrestling history. They owe a lot to Shane. Pete Gas has appeared on various podcasts and interview specials recently stating he still a friend of Shane, despite not talking as much as in the past.
12 Brie Bella
Stephanie McMahon very rarely participates in a wrestling match. In fact, she has only worked one legitimate match over the past thirteen years. Needless to say, Stephanie making a wrestling appearance is saved for special moments. Brie Bella earned the opportunity of her career when she managed to get selected for a big SummerSlam match against Stephanie in 2014. The storyline stemmed from The Authority’s feud with Daniel Bryan and moved onto his wife as he was on the shelf with an injury.
Brie and Stephanie closed the show on Raw and saw their match being treated as equal to the top male matches on the SummerSlam card that year. The payoff ended with Stephanie winning thanks to Brie’s twin sister Nikki Bella turning heel on her. Brie and Stephanie have publicly discussed the honor of working together and they clearly sparked a friendship. Her husband Bryan does not always have the closest relationship with the WWE management, but Brie makes up for it. She still has nothing but kind words to say about working with Stephanie in recent promotional interviews.
12. Pat Patterson
WWE television featured retired greats Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco in the late 90s as the “stooges” of Vince McMahon. However, some don't realize that Patterson is one of the closest friends of McMahon in the wrestling business. The relationship between Patterson and the WWE has been going strong since 1979. Patterson would retire before Vince Jr. started taking the company into the future with his vision of pro wrestling. McMahon respected Patterson enough to find various backstage roles for him.
Aside from a couple of months of being released due to accusations of sexual harassment in the 90s, Patterson has held some sort of role in the WWE and McMahon is quite loyal to him. The recent autobiography about Patterson’s life featured Vince writing the foreword and expressing what Patterson means to him. On Twitter, McMahon flat out referred to Patterson as one of his best friends when plugging the book. Vince rarely speaks publicly about such things, but his friendship with Patterson was enough to get him to do it.
11 Tommy Dreamer
Shane McMahon’s shocking return to the WWE made for a huge moment that shook the wrestling landscape. The most riveting match heading into WrestleMania 32 featured Shane facing off against The Undertaker inside of the Hell in a Cell cage structure. Following a seven-year break from his last hiatus, McMahon needed to train intensely to get in shape for the high profile match on the biggest wrestling show of all time.
The wrestler selected by Shane to help train with him in the ring was the shocking choice of Tommy Dreamer. McMahon bonded with a few wrestlers during his tenure in the late 90s and early 2000s, and Dreamer was one of them. Both men took great risks in their matches and likely bonded that way. Shane found help from a longtime friend and has been a member of the WWE since his return. Rumors indicate Dreamer was offered a contract for the brand split that he turned down. It is highly possible that Shane was the one to help get Dreamer connected with the WWE before the talks fell apart.
10 Arnold Skaaland
This selection goes back deeper in the history books of the WWE than any other on the list. Arnold Skaaland was an entertaining performer on WWE television for many years, but his backstage relationship with the McMahon family proved to be equally impressive. Vince McMahon Sr. had an extremely close relationship with Skaaland and Skaaland even invested money into the company during troubling years. The relationship carried over to Vince McMahon Jr. with the Skaaland family being treated with great respect.
Vince Jr. made a promise to Skaaland that his family would be taken care of by the WWE regardless of what happened with the future of the company. As a worker, business partner and friend, Skaaland meant a lot to the historical legacy of the WWE. Arnold passed away in 2007 but his wife Betty Skaaland has remained a member of the the WWE family. Betty is seated front row at every New York show and any big event she chooses to attend, like the Hall of Fame or WrestleMania. The loyalty and friendship of the McMahon’s extended beyond Arnold Skaaland’s life.
It took a long time for John “Bradshaw” Layfield to become a valued commodity in the WWE but he ended up having a legendary career. Bradshaw struggled to find relevancy in the big company during his early years until forming a tag team with Ron Simmons. Things went to the next level from him when he adopted a new heel persona, as a rich Wall Street tycoon who would eventually carry the WWE Championship. Most were stunned to realize Bradshaw was getting a legitimate main event push out of nowhere.
The insiders have revealed information for years stating that JBL was one of the closer wrestlers to Vince McMahon. Bradshaw served as an enforcer for the WWE’s locker room with the unofficial role of laying down the law to anyone giving the company a negative look. There’s also the benefit of him giving Vince great advice on which stocks to invest in. The relationship has led to JBL returning and becoming one of the prominent WWE broadcasters with SmackDown Live.
8 Big Show
The friendliest giant around is loved by just about everyone and that extends to the entire McMahon family. Big Show signed with the WWE in 1999 and has remained a loyal employee to this very day. The athletic big man has done just about everything one can achieve in the business from winning the World Title to main eventing WrestleMania to branching out into acting roles. Many of the opportunities for Show came on behalf of the McMahon family.
Big Show has a good relationship with each member of the McMahon family. Vince has a love for the giants in pro wrestling and that made his love of Big Show instant. Big Show has been screamed at and criticized, but it was all out of love from Vince wanting him to get to the next level. Shane formed a bond in 2000 with Big Show when they worked together as both partners and opponents. Stephanie is also close to Big Show and they tried tapping into that during a storyline that showed her to be a ruthless heel to her friend. All ties remain strong and Big Show will likely always have a place in the WWE.
7 Moolah and Mae Young
The Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young were legends in the WWE world. Moolah spent a bit of time in the WWE during the 80s as one of the more heralded female in-ring performers. Mae Young didn’t work for the company in her prime years but she later became a comedic character in The Attitude Era. Both women appeared together and found their way into various storylines. The McMahon family held both Young and Moolah dearly and it showed with the appearances into their 80s.
There’s a bit of controversy attached to Moolah over accusations of her basically running a human trafficking operation with how she used female workers, but the WWE has always painted Moolah in a positive light due to Vince having nothing but respect and admiration for her. Young had the respect of everyone in the company for her toughness and true love of being in the ring. Stephanie was especially close to Mae and stated her passing was very tough to process.
6 Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels is arguably the greatest in-ring worker in wrestling history and Vince McMahon sure gave him a lot of leeway due to it. The personality of Michaels in the 90s during his battle with alcohol and drugs saw him be an absolute jerk to many of the talents and backstage personnel. A good number of people wanted him fired and exiled from the WWE, but McMahon always gave him chances to redeem himself.
The resurgence of Michaels in 2002 and beyond saw him find religion and turn his life around. WWE brought him back with things turning out much better this time around. Michaels kept his head on straight and developed a closer relationship with Vince. He understood a lot of the advice he received in the past and Vince likely felt he did the right thing by staying loyal to HBK. McMahon loved Michaels to the point that various wrestlers felt maybe they were romantically involved.
Shawn also holds a close relationship with Stephanie and when things get tough for McMahon's husband, Triple H, she flies Shawn out to take some stress off of Hunter. The love for HBK spreads through the entire family and not just Vince.
5 Bob Backlund
Bob Backlund's personality is impossible to figure out. During his wrestling career, Backlund was one of the most bland and vanilla performers in WWE history. Today, Backlund has appeared to have gone off the rails with unpredictable actions any time he is in public. Vince McMahon Sr. was the biggest supporter of Backlund and the two formed a very good relationship in the 80s. Backlund would win the WWE Championship in 1979 and had a four-year long title reign.
McMahon Sr. believed in Backlund and showed loyalty by allowing him to have such a long title reign. Many criticized Backlund, but the WWE gave him the ball for a long time thanks to it being one of Vince Sr.’s final decisions in charge. Vince McMahon Jr. showed less appreciation for Backlund and wanted the business to move forward with performers like Hulk Hogan instead.
The McMahon family still shows love to Backlund these days with him returning to the company as the manager of Darren Young.
4 Trish Stratus
One of the few women to work a long storyline with Stephanie McMahon in the early 2000s was Trish Stratus. The two had good chemistry with a few matches surpassing all expectations. On top of that, they developed a good relationship that lasted through the years. Everyone assumed Stratus would pick Lita as the person to induct her into the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame, but she shocked the wrestling world when it was announced that Stephanie would give the speech.
Trish stated Stephanie provided the encouragement and support needed in her early career to get the momentum going. Stratus would improve rapidly and become the biggest female wrestling star in WWE history. Stephanie delivered a touching Hall of Fame induction showing how much Trish meant to her as well. The close friendship wasn’t common knowledge until the news of the HOF came out. Stratus will likely appear again in the WWE with Stephanie having power in the company going forward.
No one would have ever accused Raven of being a friend of the McMahon family, but it did happen in the early 90s believe it or not. The ECW legend had a forgettable stint in the company as Johnny Polo during the early days of Raw. Raven sparked a close bond with Shane McMahon and the two shockingly became drinking pals. They would hit the bars after shows and enjoy the nightlife together.
Vince McMahon developed a dislike for Raven due to not liking the fact that his son was getting drunk with a wrestler. The wrestling career of Raven never thrived in the WWE, but he at least enjoyed good memories with Shane-O-Mac. Their relationship didn’t last as Shane matured out of his early 20 days of wanting to party and Raven started progressing in other promotions.
It is hard to envision Raven appearing at the McMahon household for holiday,sbut maybe one day Shane will want to bring him home for old times’ sake.
2 Andre the Giant
The legacy of Andre the Giant will always live on in the WWE as the McMahon family appreciates everything he did for the success of the company in the 80s. Andre was a huge draw serving as the top big man in the industry and becoming the foe for their new babyface hero, Hulk Hogan. The two helped progress the WWE into the next era with massive success with their big match at WrestleMania III. Vince McMahon loved Andre and adored everything he brought to the company.
One relationship that flies under the radar is how much Stephanie McMahon loved spending time with Andre as a young child. Stephanie would show up backstage with her family and always wanted to hang out with Andre. The unlikely pair played together and Andre became the unlikely best friend of the boss' kid coming to work. Stephanie has stated she has a lot of great stories about her time with Andre that she will reveal in her upcoming book.
1 The Undertaker
No wrestler has done more for the McMahon family during their tenure in the WWE as The Undertaker. Everyone in the locker room respects The Undertaker for the amazing leadership he's provided during his long career as a full-time star. Vince McMahon viewed Undertaker as the conscience of the WWE and remains loyal for Taker never jumping ship. That is more common knowledge, but Undertaker also has good friendships with Vince’s kids.
Stephanie McMahon’s marriage with Triple H may never have happened if not for The Undertaker. Triple H was unsure of going forward in his relationship with Stephanie due to heat backstage with the boys, but The Undertaker stepped in to tell him he should go for it if they loved each other.
Shane McMahon holds a great relationship with Undertaker as well. In an interview, Shane revealed part of the reason he returned to the WWE this year was The Undertaker calling him about wanting to work together as they respect each other big time. The Undertaker is nearing the end of his career and the respect shown by the McMahon family towards him means he’ll always be celebrated in WWE history.