Stephanie McMahon is the daughter of the most powerful man in professional wrestling history, Vince McMahon. After working for the family company, WWE, for a period of years, she was introduced as an on screen character in the early days of the Attitude Era, and it was around that time that she transitioned to a more formal role of power in the company’s backstage structures, too. While it went without saying that the boss’s daughter was not be messed with, things went to a new level when she began calling shots and became a significant player in WWE creative.
Stephanie is not without her enemies. As a strong, opinionated, and ultimately untouchable woman, she carries herself with the confidence of a McMahon and doesn’t hesitate to let her opinions be known. There are those people who love her. Her family and friends, sure, but also those long time wrestlers who essentially grew up in the business alongside her, or those talents that Stephanie believed in or stood up for at different point to help make their careers.
It seems that for everyone who publicly stands up and professes his or her love for Stephanie McMahon there’s someone else who hates her. There are those people in wrestling who disagree with her outlook and philosophies toward the wrestling business. There are those who were dressed down or insulted by Stephanie at various points in time. There are those who feel Stephanie held back their careers or at least didn’t advocate for them while she could have. For as much of a heat magnet as Stephanie is as on screen heel, she easily replicates that level of tension and unpopularity behind the scenes for the volume of people who have spoken out against her.
This article looks at eight people who hate Stephanie McMahon and seven who love her.
15 Hates Her: AJ Lee
Before WWE’s so called Divas Revolution, AJ Lee spent over a year as the de facto face of the company’s women’s division. She was a focal point for storytelling in the men’s division when cast as a manager and then authority figure. She was then a star wrestler who was not only booked to win, but genuinely demonstrated skills and athletic prowess uncommon to the female roster in her day.
Lee delivered a heated worked shoot promo against the Total Divas reality series and the culture of marginalizing female talents that he program seemed to embody. She also spearheaded the “GiveDivasAChance” hashtag that called for female wrestlers to get more time and more opportunities to demonstrate their talents. Lee would wind up leaving WWE before the call ups of Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks that seemed to really catalyze change. By most indications, Lee stands by her real life husband, CM Punk in looking at WWE’s management and particularly the McMahons with disdain. Given Stephanie's (at minimum) on screen role in championing women’s wrestling after Lee left, Lee has to have some sense of resentment for missing her chance at sharing the spotlight with today’s celebrated female stars.
14 Loves Her: Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair has been largely cast as the face of WWE’s women’s division since the fall of 2015, and she’s spoken up about her admiration for Stephanie McMahon, and the way she’s helped shepherd in this new era of women’s wrestling being taken seriously in the company.
Interestingly, Flair has also expressed an interest in having even more to do with Stephanie in an on screen role. In a series of shoot interviews she referenced Stephanie as her dream opponent. While no one will argue Stephanie is Flair’s athletic equal or a top in ring performer, the point is taken—that she is a unique female star in the wrestling world, and any story with her as one of the principles is likely to be pretty great and get a lot of attention at this point.
13 Hates Her: Bruce Prichard
Bruce Prichard—perhaps better known for his 1980s and 1990s on screen character Brother Love—was a major contributor to WWE’s creative processes for years. Vince McMahon’s key contributors tend to have a love-hate relationship with him, becoming close to the McMahons and helping to shape the WWE product for a period of time. By the same token there tend to be big falls from grace as people feel marginalized or disrespected on their way out the door.
Such is the case for Bruce Prichard, now working with TNA, who felt that he butted heads with Stephanie McMahon in a war he had no hopes of winning before he got pushed out of the company. While Prichard has yet to go into real specifics, his tone seems to suggest that he and Stephanie had major creative clashes and she felt that nepotism ensured Stephanie got her way.
12 Loves Her: Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins is one of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon’s chosen ones—hand picked to be crowned the first NXT Champion, after which he got a huge push as part of The Shield, and then became the first Shield alum to win a world championship. Throughout his singles run in particular, Rollins’s work has been intertwined with Stephanie as they were at first aligned with Rollins as the Authority’s golden boy, and then the two became heated rivals on the mic when Rollins turned face.
Make no mistake about it, though, that Rollins gets along very well with Stephanie behind the scenes and it’s noted that he looks up to and is close to both her and her husband. There’s every reason to think they’ll remain close as Rollins looks to remain one of WWE’s top stars for years to come.
11 Hates Her: Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio is one of the biggest wrestling stars of his generation. Interestingly, however, he’s not really a WWE homegrown talent, nor someone who stuck with the company long. On the contrary, Del Rio established himself as one of the best in the world in Mexico before coming to WWE to garner worldwide fame. While he was a world champion in WWE multiple times, most hardcore fans agree that he’s done better work with Lucha Underground, TNA, and ROH.
Del Rio is not a fan of WWE. His backstage issues with Triple H are well documented and he’s made no bones about poking fun and insulting WWE management for perceived mistreatment and poor decision making. At this point, it’s quite clear Stephanie and WWE want nothing to do with Del Rio, and the same is true from Del Rio’s perspective.
10 Loves Her: Trish Stratus
Trish Stratus and Stephanie McMahon, in a very real sense, came up in wrestling together. In the late 1990s, Stephanie became an on air character for WWE and not long after, Trish Stratus entered the scene. Stratus became a part of a McMahon family storyline as Vince’s mistress and Stephanie’s rival for Vince’s attention. It all culminated in the two of them brawling in fights that demonstrated little technical skill, but plenty of heat and promise that each woman was invested in the business. This storyline laid the foundation for Stephanie moving into a role increasingly like her father’s, as a powerful, egomaniacal authority figure.
While Stratus would go on to become an all time great in the ring and Stephanie traveled a different path, the two remained linked and by all accounts get along nicely in real life.
9 Hates Her: CM Punk
CM Punk was about as anti-authority as you can get as a top player in WWE programming. He was an unlikely star who proved himself on the indies before coming to WWE, didn’t match the look of WWE Superstars of his day, and was vocal about his disapproval of cheesy storylines and misusages of talent. Along the way, it was well noted that he butted heads with Triple H, Vince McMahon, and Stephanie McMahon.
The divide between someone like Punk and someone like Stephanie largely comes down to culture and values. Punk represents difference and questioning authority. Stephanie represents the establishment itself. They were never going to be friends, but it’s clear from Punk’s comments post-WWE that he doesn’t think kindly of Stephanie or her family.
8 Love Her: The Rock
It’s no secret that The Attitude Era was one of the most successful periods in professional wrestling history, and there’s an interesting interplay between those talents who helped make the era as special as it was and those talents who were made famous by the era. Based on talent, charisma, and work ethic, The Rock probably would have wound up a success in any era, but he was a key player in vaulting the Attitude Era into the stratosphere, and the success of the era made him a household name and set him up for a successful career in Hollywood.
The Rock doesn’t need WWE at this point, but has still remained part of the family as a part time contributor. You have to believe that, in addition to his love of the business and the fans, that loyalty to the company also stems from his personal friendships with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, both of whom he spent so much time working with in the prime of his wrestling career.
7 Hates Her: Gail Kim
Gail Kim is a super talented wrestler who played a deceptively great submission specialist heel in her first run with WWE, before proving her chops as an even better underdog face when she worked with TNA. Kim returned to WWE and has made no bones about the fact that she did so for money. In that second run she was relegated to a supporting role at best, losing far more than she one and often going weeks without TV time. She got her pay day and got out again, and while she hasn’t been too outspoken about specifics, she also hasn’t been shy about noting that she didn’t enjoy either tenure with the company.
In more recent years, WWE has touted its so called Women’s Revolution. Kim took to Twitter not too long ago to point out that TNA took its women’s division more seriously well before WWE did, and if anything, that company truly started the revolution. It’s clear WWE’s shifted in how it books women after Kim left the company, which rubs her the wrong way, and she doesn’t want them to get away with writing her talent out of the history books.
6 Love Her: Brie Bella
In the summer of 2014, Stephanie McMahon worked her first real wrestling angle as an in ring performer in years, in a heated feud with Brie Bella, that included the two getting main event promo segments on Raw. It all culminated at SummerSlam 2014, with a deceptively great match between the two.
It has often been said that the greatest wrestling rivals are often the best of friends backstage, and it seems to hold true in this case as the pair worked hard to assemble a great story together, Bella got some great exposure form the high profile angle, while Stephanie added some extra credibility to her character and proved her willingness to mix it up and take physical punishment to the locker room. They both came out the better for the collaboration.
5 Hates Her: Batista
For all of his successes with WWE, Batista has had a tumultuous relationship with the company. That relationship has included leaving in his prime to pursue MMA and then acting. When he came back to company he wasn’t entirely happy with his run, and has spoken publicly about feeling misused, particularly in having been cast as a conquering hero when he first came back.
While Batista is known to have had a good relationship with Triple H who both mentored him and put him over huge in his first main event feud. He seems to be less fond of Stephanie, however. In 2016, Stephanie tweeted that the slap was her signature move, only for Batista respond, dressing her down for making performers look bad when she slapped them, and it never having a pay off because men can’t get physical retribution against her. It was odd for a star of Batista’s caliber to tweet at her, and clearly out of character given he was a year removed from appearing on WWE TV. The social media move suggests he has some real animosity toward her.
4 Loves Her: The Undertaker
In the build to WrestleMania 33, as rumors swirled that The Undertaker might be retiring, Stephanie McMahon spoke about The Dead Man in a number of interviews, in particular citing that she looks at him like a brother.
The Undertaker is known to be incredibly loyal to Vince McMahon who gave him his career defining gimmick. The Phenom’s friendship with Shane McMahon is also well established. They’re real life friends and were reportedly honored to get the chance to work with each other at WrestleMania 32. It seems the connection extends to The Undertaker and Stephanie, too, for growing up in WWE together—The Undertaker as a character, and Stephanie as both a character and a person as she grew from the boss’s daughter to an executive and a power broker in her own right.
3 Hates Her: Shane McMahon
OK, it’s a stretch to say that Shane McMahon really hates his own sister, but rumors abound about animosity between the two. When Shane left WWE, the general consensus was that he saw himself getting boxed out of power as his sister and Triple H rose to the fore of the company’s leadership, and became the favored candidates to lead WWE after Vince McMahon. Moreover, there were quite a few reports that Stephanie and Triple H weren’t happy when Shane came back to WWE in 2016, our of fear he was going to disrupt their steady road to absolute power behind the scenes in WWE.
For his part Vince McMahon is rumored to have pushed the sibling rivalry, wanting them hungry, and wanting them to compete.
2 Loves Her: Triple H
It may seem like a no brainer to say that Triple H loves his wife, but the road to their marriage is a long one. While some cynical fans speculate that Helmsley wormed his way into Stephanie’s good graces as a political move, by multiple accounts, Triple H did not so much maneuver into a position of power as he bucked authority to pursue love. In the Thy Kingdom Come WWE produced documentary about Triple H, he discusses Vince telling him not to date his daughter, for fear of appearances, but that the two had a magnetic attraction to one another.
It all worked out in the end as their on screen relationship turned into a real one and they’ve been happily married now for over a decade.
1 Hates Her: Paul Heyman
Stephanie McMahon in so many ways represents her father’s ideal of a businesswoman who promotes a polished, professional product. By contrast, Paul Heyman is all about rough edges, rising to his peak as the head of the original ECW for which he scratched and clawed to make his business a national success.
In multiple WWE documentaries, Stephanie appears, talking about how Heyman was a sleazy businessman and the McMahons would laugh at him. Surely, comments like that eat at Heyman, as one of wrestling’s great minds who bucks against the mainstream in favor of innovation and making things work on a budget. Stephanie’s aesthetics, and her judgment of him have to stick in Heyman’s craw. While Heyman seems to have made peace with the McMahons for the time being as a part time manager rather than a creative contributor, old grudges don’t just fade away.