Since the 1980s, it has been difficult to argue that there’s any single person more important to the professional wrestling business than Vince McMahon. Some WWE lore may overstate his accomplishments or what he introduced to the wrestling business. The fact remains, however, that his plans for national expansion revolutionized the wrestling business and resulted in the formation of the most watched, best resourced, most profitable professional wrestling company that has ever existed. Moreover, as the creative head of WWE, and final decision maker on all essential matters, there’s little arguing against the idea that McMahon is remains the most powerful man in sports entertainment today.
It’s only natural that a person with McMahon’s behind the scenes influence—not to mention his entertaining on air persona, and his famous family—would be the subject of a great deal of speculation. Whether it’s theories about McMahon’s plans for WWE, the future of his character, what he did in the past, or his personal life, it seems as though people simply can’t talking about him and wondering about hidden truths all around him. That’s no small feat for a seventy two year old man.
This article takes a look at eight Vince McMahon rumors that we, the fans, hope are indeed true, for our own self interest, the betterment of the wrestling business, or for our perceptions of McMahon as a person. Additionally, we’ll analyze seven more rumors that we have to hope aren’t true or don’t come to fruition because they might suggest more questionable judgment on McMahon’s part, or taint our view of the business’s leader.
15 Hope Is True: He’s Trying To Air Indies On The WWE Network
Rumors have circulated for months that Vince may be gearing up to start airing indie wrestling promotions on the WWE Network. There’s a fair bit of logic to it, given that WWE has increasingly brought in top players from the independents for NXT and even the main roster, and the company has grown more open making mention of accomplishments from outside their own programming. Additionally, productions like the Cruiserweight Classic and the Mae Young Classic have featured mostly talent that isn’t under contract to WWE, demonstrating a willingness to collaborate and work with freelancers. Add in WWE’s arrangements with Evolve that have included guest appearances from WWE executives and talent, and a recent survey of WWE Network subscribers about indies they’d like to have accessible on the Network, and things all seem to be moving in the same direction.
Airing indies on the WWE Network looks to be a win-win by giving smaller companies better exposure and by better diversifying the kind of live or at least recent content WWE can air. Additionally, such partnerships could go a long way toward introducing the WWE audience to up and coming talents who may well make their way to WWE before long.
14 Hope Isn’t True: He Sees His Son As An Elite Draw
Rumor has it that Shane McMahon was originally supposed to square off with Kevin Owens at SummerSlam, but WWE held off on the match because SummerSlam was already so stacked and company wanted a surefire main event to make Hell in a Cell a success. Reportedly, Vince sees his son as a tip top draw on account of the bump his return to WWE gave WrestleMania 32.
While Shane is a nostalgic favorite and is certainly willing to put his body on the line, it’s hard to accept the argument that Shane himself is a massive draw. Yes, his return to WWE after the better part of a decade away was shocking and booking him in a high stakes Hell in a Cell Match with The Undertaker captured a lot of fans’ attention. But the longer Shane sticks around and the more times he has wrestled, the less intrigue he tends to produce. Hopefully, Vince isn’t really banking too heavily on his son as an elite draw in the long term.
13 Hope Is True: He Sees Big Things In Kevin Owens
This fall saw Vince make an increasingly rare appearance on live TV for an episode of SmackDown. In that appearance, he had a confrontation with Kevin Owens to set up his Hell in a Cell Match with Shane. After a war of words, things went physical with Owens delivering a stiff head butt and later a big frog splash off the top rope.
For Vince to interact with a performer—and particularly to let them get the better of him—is a testament that that performer is being taken seriously. Consider that 72-year-old Vince bled in the ring to put over the gravity of the attack and it would seem you’re looking at a whole other level of faith.
Hopefully, it’s true that Vince sees big things in Owens, because despite not fitting the traditional body type of a WWE main eventer, Owens does have the indie bred in ring chops and gift for gab to be one of WWE’s top players for years to come.
12 Hope Isn’t True: He Won’t Retire
It has long been rumored that Vince McMahon is such a workaholic that he won’t step away from a full time work schedule until he passes on. Given that the guy is 72 years old and still working full time in the office, plus running things backstage at most Raw, SmackDown, and PPV broadcasts, there’s reason to believe that these rumors are true.
While Vince certainly has a proven track record and strong business sense, there are also indicators he’s a bit out of touch these nowadays. He’s insisted on pushing stars like Roman Reigns and Jinder Mahal despite middling crowd reactions. On top of that, he seems a bit out of sync with technology trends, as demonstrated in Chris Jericho’s anecdote about Vince not understanding that a podcast and a shoot interview aren’t synonyms. While Vince’s input remains valuable, and it’s fun to see him make the occasional appearance on live TV, one would hope he’ll hand over the company to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, and only stay on in a less regular consulting role.
11 Hope Is True: Triple H Is Taking Over For Him
The conventional wisdom among fans is that when Vince retires or passes on, Triple H and Stephanie are in line to take over WWE, with Stephanie more of the business head, while Triple H leads talent relations and booking. Having Triple H in power by and large seems like a very good thing for hardcore fans.
Since being given the reins of WWE developmental and talent relations, Triple H has made a hard push to incorporate more talent out of the independents and Japan. Moreover, his vision of NXT has yielded an old school product that emphasizes straightforward storytelling and quality matches over bells and whistles. Under Triple H, female performers have earned greater opportunities, while old school concepts like War Games have come back on the table as well. At the end of the day, while not everyone loves Triple H as a performer in 2017, as an executive he comes across as on point.
10 Hope Isn’t True: Vince Had Affairs With A Number Of Top Divas
Vince McMahon’s on air character has often been portrayed as a bit lascivious. In particularly, in the build to WrestleMania X-Seven, McMahon was shown alternately having a kayfabe affair with, and harassing Trish Stratus. Other storylines and moments saw him linked of varying degrees with Torrie Wilson, Stacy Keibler, Dawn Marie, Sable, and others. It’s little wonder that rumors would arise about Vince not behaving altogether professionally with his female clientele.
There’s never been a substantiated claim about McMahon engaging in affairs, though, and we’d like to think that it was all storyline. McMahon has been married for the duration of his time in the spotlight, and while he may not be one hundred percent ethical, cheating on his wife is one line we hope he never crossed.
9 Hope Is True: He Bet Everything On The Original WrestleMania
A part of the folklore surrounding WrestleMania is that the original iteration of WWE’s super show was a big gamble, with Vince putting WWE’s business and his personal assets on the line for a huge investment in that one night. The story goes that, had WrestleMania not been a box office success, it may have put McMahon and WWE out of business personally.
There are conflicting reports as to the veracity of this claim. While it was surely a gamble to some degree, like any major event is, it’s unclear if failure really would have meant McMahon’s ruination. Accepting this rumor as true, however, keeps something good about WWE and Vince’s entrepreneurial spirt intact. It’s easy to think of Vince as Goliath now, and it’s inspiring to think of someone who got to the top based on hard work and the gumption to bet everything he had on his vision.
8 Hope Isn’t True: Vince And Hulk Hogan Personally Re-Wrote No Holds Barred
Before there was a WWE Studios, Vince entered the world of major motion pictures with the production of No Holds Barred, a movie designed to capitalize on wrestling’s popularity and push top wrestler Hulk Hogan to movie star status. McMahon and Hogan are each listed das executive producers for the film and it has been rumored that the two of them went so far as to rewrite significant portion’s of the films script before cameras started rolling.
While there’s no official confirmation, the largely nonsensical script is laden with the kind of awkward sexual entendre seem to match well with the immature creative tactics WWE programming is often criticized for. The similarities lend some credence to the rumor, but given how bad the film ultimately was, we hope that Vince didn’t really, intentionally steer it in these lackluster directions.
7 Hope Is True: He Recognizes Jinder Mahal Isn’t Working On Top
This spring/summer, Jinder Mahal emerged as the unlikely WWE Champion. The title win was a surprise given that Mahal hadn’t been built up as much of a top contender. He hasn’t exactly grown much more credible as champ since with a series of lackluster performances on the ring and on the mic, and almost all of his matches ending in predictable interference or distractions that facilitate Mahal’s anticlimactic pin fall wins.
WWE seems to be staying the course to cater to the audience in India, particularly in anticipation of a big tour of India. Nonetheless, Vince is rumored to not be thrilled with Mahal’s progress or drawing power, as evidenced by Mahal never getting the main event spot on co-branded PPVs and often as not not getting top billing for SmackDown only PPVs either, including the Money in the Bank Ladder Match getting top billing over it, and later Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon getting the nod over Mahal’s title defense at Hell in a Cell. If the rumor is true, hopefully Mahal will drop the title, and fall out of the main event scene altogether after the India tour at the end of the year.
6 Hope Isn’t True: Vince Wanted To Book Himself As Stephanie’s Lover
According to several accounts, Vince went a little off the rails when his daughter Stephanie was pregnant with her and Triple H’s first child. In particular, rumors suggest that Vince wanted to cast either himself or his son Shane as the child’s father for a wild storyline twist.
Even Stephanie herself has indicated that her father suggested the idea, and given that he also allegedly wanted to book Paul and Katie Lea Burchill as incestuous siblings, the thinking does seem to fit a pattern. Nonetheless, for most fans of reasonable taste, it seems like a mercy that Vince didn’t get his way, and we can always hope that he wasn’t actually serious about pushing ideas like this or would have come to his senses if the other parties involved hadn’t stopped it themselves.
5 Hope Is True: Bradley Cooper May Play Him In A Movie
There have been rumors of an upcoming major motion picture about Vince McMahon’s story. His life certainly could warrant the movie treatment, though rumors about it being a largely cartoonish reimagining of WWE’s beginnings make the film less appealing to some.
The most recent rumors have suggested Bradley Cooper was offered the role of Vince. Cooper combines the star power and acting chops to make this movie a serious film, with the physical presence to reasonably play the Chairman. While there’s no promise of a good, or successful film, an actor like Cooper being featured front and center bodes well for a project that could appeal to the masses while delivering an enjoyable film for wrestling fans, too, not altogether unlike Netflix’s recent GLOW project.
4 Hope Isn’t True: Vince Doesn’t Believe In Cesaro
Cesaro is very much over with large portion of the crowd and at WrestleMania 30 it looked as though WWE might have recognized the star it had on its hands as the Swiss Superman not only won the inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (at a point when that match might have meant something important), but did so in spectacular fashion when he body slammed The Big Show over the top rope.
Cesaro didn’t get a big push though, remaining firmly planted in the mid card and back in the thick of the battle royal mix by the next year’s WrestleMania, where Show got his elimination back.
The rumor goes that Vince doesn’t see sufficient charisma in Cesaro to get over at the highest level. While, to be fair, his tag run with Sheamus has been a bit of a step up for his WWE career, it remains odd that Vince doesn’t see what he’s looking for in this super strong, technically sound, tough as nails performer whom it seems clear a lot of fans would like to see get a solid main event push.
3 Hope Is True: He Wants To Bring Back Hulk Hogan
Whether we think back to The Ultimate Warrior, Eric Bischoff, or even Hulk Hogan himself after his WCW run and after his TNA run, Vince McMahon has a track record of doing business with people who can make money, regardless of past personal or professional differences.
While Hogan may have made about as grave errors as a public figure can, between having racist comments caught on tape, a 'private' video leaking, his very public divorce, and his son's legal issues, at the end of the day he's still among the elite WWE icons. It may not happen with any immediacy, but there's probably still nostalgia dollars to be drawn from a Hogan return. When the time is right, the crowd will pop to see Hogan run wild over WWE yet again.
2 Hope Isn’t True: Vince Doesn’t See Women As Main Eventers
In fall 2016, the WWE main roster had its first women’s main event at a PPV, in which Sasha Banks defended the Raw Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair. It was purportedly a struggle for women to get that spot, and it seems that they only wound up with it on account of a show without another obvious, super-over, headline match and on account of featuring the novelty of the first women’s Hell in a Cell Match. The resulting bout was generally well-received—not five-star, all-time classic, but as good (if not better) than most other PPV main events that year.
Rumor had it that Vince was the main obstacle of the match going on last, before ultimately ceding the point to Triple H and Stephanie who were in the women’s corner. Word is that that Vince was not won over by the match, however, and it ultimately reinforced his point of view that female performers should not have main evented a show of this caliber. Chris Jericho added some support to this claim on his recent visit to Jim Ross’s podcast in which he cited that he and Vince agreed that women’s main event didn’t really click, and having given a shot, Vince was going back to what his own vision of what would succeed. This perspective seems out of synch with the image WWE puts forth about its view on the women’s division, not to mention more than a little sexist given the quality of performances people like Banks, Flair, Bayley, Becky Lynch, and Asuka have put forward.
1 Hope Is True: Vince Wants To Cater To Old WCW Fans
Over the years, there have been different times when rumors came out that Vince was consciously trying to appeal to old WCW fans in an effort to recapture the share of the market that seemingly disappeared after the Monday Night War era. His first attempt may have been legitimately trying to relaunch the WCW brand before a lack of interest from networks and the failure of the original Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell match tanked that plan. From there, there were efforts like bringing in the New World Order, and signing WCW establishment guys like Goldberg, Scott Steiner, and Sting over the years, and the release of DVD sets and Network specials celebrating WCW’s history.
The bigger moves that harken back to WCW have largely offered up at least some fun nostalgia and, at best, the return of some old school concepts that are worth a second look. Just look at WWE’s plans for November, which include the first WWE War Games match at NXT TakeOver, in addition to the return of the Starrcade brand for a special house show. We’ll have to wait and see how the execution plays out, but there’s the potential for these old concepts to deliver a lot of entertainment for a contemporary audience. It wouldn’t be the worst thing for Vince to continue down this track.