Of all the wild and wacky characters in the WWE Universe, the strangest of all has always been the man on top. Vince McMahon is the proverbial mystery wrapped in a riddle, loaded with healthy doses of ruthless aggression, making him one of the most difficult public figures to understand in all of popular culture. Even removed from his own bizarre personality, some of McMahon’s decisions when writing WWE storylines have regularly confounded his audience, remaining inexplicable for years after they happened.
Granted, no matter what Vince does, his company remains the absolute peak of the sports entertainment world. No other organization has made as much money, produced as much TV content, or filled as many aspiring wrestler’s heads with dreams of championship glory. Unfortunately, when a person signs with WWE, they can never be entirely sure if the boss will treat them like a future WrestleMania main eventer, or shove them into one of the bizarre, silly gimmicks that are known for killing careers.
The good news is that sometimes, even Vince’s weirdest ideas turn around and lead to something positive. For all his faults, the man simply does not give up, and with enough effort, he can sell audiences on just about any idea. To see some of the weirdest ones he’s had, keep reading and learn about 15 strange decisions not even Vince McMahon’s biggest supporters can explain.
15 Keeping WCW and ECW Around Just To Bury Them
Had anyone other than Vince McMahon been running the show, there’s almost no way the Invasion storyline would have wound up on a list such as this. With the WWE, ECW, and WCW rosters all at his disposal, the potential for great, unique sports entertainment action was almost limitless.
Unfortunately, instead of using his former competition in a way that would actually increase ratings, McMahon repeatedly proved his dominance over both other companies by making their top superstars look like complete jokes.
From an ego driven standpoint, this almost makes just the slightest amount of sense. Vince won the war, and wanted to keep his superstars strong now that it was clear his dynasty would indefinitely reign supreme over the industry. However, he accomplished this in a way that destroyed almost every WCW and ECW prospect he inherited, with only Booker T and Rob Van Dam truly surviving the ordeal. More than hurting the wrestlers, Vince also destroyed the WCW and ECW brands once and for all, ruining potential money made on retrospective DVDs and specials. He also started a downslide in his own ratings from which the company has still never quite recovered. What should have been Vince’s greatest accomplishment turned into one of his strangest mistakes, simply because he couldn’t stop bragging about how he won.
14 The Spirit Squad, Main Event Male Cheerleaders
Anything can happen in the WWE Universe, so if a bunch of male cheerleaders want to show up and start challenging other wrestlers, more power to them. That said, the company should have been aware this was a rather goofy gimmick, and one that probably wouldn’t instantly get accepted in the main event. In fairness, they did spent a few short months having the Spirit Squad slowly acclimate themselves to fans by, what else, cheering on other wrestlers. However, once the Squad shot from the sidelines directly to the top, fans started harshly rejecting the idea of wrestlers carrying around pom-poms.
Out of nowhere, the Spirit Squad went from a silly distraction to a major part of Vince McMahon’s feud against D-Generation X.
Along the way, they also defeated Kane and The Big Show for the WWE Tag Team Champions, firmly cementing them as main event stars. Unsurprisingly, though, fans didn’t quite buy them in the position, knowing it was a foregone conclusion that actual main eventers Shawn Michaels and Triple H were going to destroy them in their every encounter. Eventually, Vince caught on to the fact it wasn’t working and had DX send the Spirit Squad directly to OVW, but that doesn’t explain how he thought cheerleaders versus wrestlers was going to be a good idea in the first place.
13 Repeatedly Mocking A Beloved Announcer
From the beginning of his career, Jim Ross has always been perhaps the most respected announcer in all of pro wrestling. No other commentator has ever been better at building excitement while accurately calling the wrestling action in an informative and entertaining way. For whatever reason, the one man who never quite appreciated this talent was JR’s long time boss Vince McMahon, who seemed to only hire and promote him in begrudging fashion. If nothing else, Vince clearly liked picking on JR, repeatedly making him the butt of shockingly offensive jokes about his real life struggles with Bell’s palsy and other medical ailments.
Aside from regular barbs on the commentary table that could be chalked up to simple feuding, the most egregious example of McMahon insulting JR came on a 2005 episode of Raw.
Shortly after Ross had real surgery on his colon, McMahon masqueraded as the announcer’s doctor in a highly offensive segment.
As per usual, there was no payoff except Vince getting to laugh at one of his hardest working talents, leaving fans bitter and enraged at the constantly mockery. He also once donned a cowboy hat and distorted his face in a crass “impression” of JR’s visage. Always a trooper, JR accepted this mockery as part of doing business, but that didn’t help fans understand why it had to happen.
12 Bringing Back The Warrior
Ever a fan of nostalgia, Vince McMahon tends to bring back old talent at just about every chance he gets. This explains why The Ultimate Warrior made a sudden comeback in the summer of 1996, long after he had warn out his welcome in sports entertainment. While there was a time when the Warrior truly was one of the most popular superstars around, almost immediately after he won the WWE Champion, the powerhouse performer entirely ran out of steam. Attendance quickly dropped from the days of Hulk Hogan, largely because Warrior’s matches and promos weren’t all that interesting.
Due to all these factors and the fact Warrior wouldn’t accept them, WWE let him go when his contract expired in 1992. For whatever reason, four short years later, Vince brought him back and put him in the same top slot in which he had previously been so lackluster it destroyed the ratings. Not only was his value questionable, but Warrior didn’t fit in with the New Generation’s style at all, leading to a hasty exit from the company that probably cost WWE a bunch of money. In fairness to Vince, his mistake in bringing back the Warrior was nowhere near as costly as when WCW did the same thing two years later, with even worse results.
11 The Debacle Of Roman Reigns
In the 50+ year history of WWE, the company has never attempted to deny it’s fans desires as heavily as they do with Roman Reigns. No matter what The Guy does, he gets booed out of the building for daring to show up, yet Vince McMahon keeps telling his announcers to treat Reigns like a bona fide hero. This has lead to four WrestleMania main events in a row where the supposed top babyface in wrestling received overwhelmingly negative reactions, in addition to the same thing happening during countless matches on Raw. Of Roman’s three WWE Championship victories thus far, only one lead to cheers, mostly because Vince McMahon himself got involved in the match.
At this point, there’s absolutely no denying the company is aware Roman isn’t working, but there are apparently no plans to change the course.
Triple H and Reigns himself have both given interviews acknowledging the negative response, essentially brushing it off as irrelevant, because the fact fans are making noise at all is generally a good thing. That may be so, but the vitriol thrown in Roman’s direction isn’t the sort received by a good heel, but rather a warning that if he doesn’t go away, they’ll keep changing the channel on Monday nights. Not that Vince cares, since he just can’t get enough of The Guy.
10 Going Out With A Bang?
For all the drama that takes place in the WWE Universe, by and large, the company puts death and dying in the category of angles they just won’t touch. Of course, there’s an exception to every rule, and for Vince McMahon, this meant staring death straight in the face and exploding out of sheer defiance. Or something like that. Unfortunately, this is one idea that almost could have ended well, if not for the fact WWE was forced to immediately stop it short, leaving behind a confusing mess in it’s wake.
In all fairness, Vince truly can’t be blamed for the story instantly falling apart, as the exploding limo of 2007 suddenly looked like a terrible idea in retrospect when top wrestler Chris Benoit actually took his own life as the it was developing.
Vince himself immediately returned to WWE and admitted the explosion was a ruse that no longer felt appropriate given the real events.
The catch is that any other rational human being would have realized it was a pretty terrible idea from the beginning. Even if the Benoit tragedy hadn’t occurred, countless other wrestlers have actually died before, and at an alarming rate, no less. For that reason alone, no one can explain why Vince thought faking his death would work without making fans uncomfortable.
9 Turning A Wrestler's Passing Into An Angle... More Than Once
As if it weren’t bad enough for Vince McMahon to try and fake his own death for an angle, two years earlier, he had already done something much more questionable. In fact, this first example is simply proof of how crazy the explosion angle was in the first place, making it very obvious McMahon was well aware of the potential it could epically backfire. Mere months after the very real death of Eddie Guerrero, Vince started using the biggest loss in modern wrestling history as part of his storylines. During Randy Orton’s feud with Rey Mysterio, the Viper repeatedly brought up the fact Mysterio’s best friend recently passed, mocking the WWE Hall of Famer and suggesting he was “in hell.”
Despite severe critical backlash, McMahon would do it all over again a little over seven years later when Paul Bearer passed.
This time, he had CM Punk and Paul Heyman severely mock the recently deceased live on Raw to further enrage The Undertaker. Both incidences lead to the insulted party getting revenge, but that didn’t change how shocked and offended fans had been that they happened. No one has ever been able to explain why Vince thought this would be appropriate, with most in the business simply choosing not to talk about the angles once they were finished.
8 Hitting The Brakes On The Lex Express
From the moment Hulk Hogan started winding down his time in the WWE Universe, Vince McMahon was understandably frantic about trying to find a replacement. Despite how things turned out, in the early ‘90s, it actually looked like Lex Luger was a pretty good pick for the gig. Much like the Hulkster, Luger had the long blonde hair and impressive muscles that coupled with a little bit of charisma could have made him a star. Granted, having him dress up in American flags while traveling the Lex Express may not have been the way to get there, but that gimmick alone wasn’t the worst part about the idea.
For whatever reason, although McMahon initially appeared to be putting his full resources behind Luger, when it came time to pull the trigger, he instead hit the brakes in a way they couldn’t undo.
At SummerSlam 1993, most fans expected Luger to have his big moment and defeat Yokozuna for the WWE Championship, only for the match to end by countout.
To make Luger especially look like a fool, he celebrated like he won the match, anyway, with confetti and all. This pretty much killed the person WWE spent an entire summer turning into their next Hulk Hogan, and Vince barely even tried to fix the problem.
7 Digging In To His Wrestlers' Struggles
For far too long, wrestlers have been dying young from drug overdoses and other preventable causes, putting terrible strain on the industry at large in terms of public image. Of course, Vince McMahon is hardly responsible for what wrestlers get up to during their time off, but he could at least be a little bit more proactive about things. Then again, there have been some improvements, like the fact WWE no longer openly mocks wrestlers who admit to suffering from addiction.
On at least three separate occasions (and possibly more), McMahon has instructed his wrestlers to head out to the ring and speak at length about their issues with various substances.
Rather than offer support during their struggle, WWE almost always has another wrestler mock and insult them for acknowledging their problems.
Jake Roberts had Roddy Piper calling him a drunk, CM Punk constantly derided Jeff Hardy, and Road Warrior Hawk slowly lost his tag team with Animal. The last example was the most egregious, as it culminated with Hawk also falling off the Titantron, presumably to his death. The Road Warriors have been the only group to speak out about this, and they unsurprisingly weren’t fans of the idea. While the others have been quieter, there’s still no explaining why McMahon thought it would be a good idea.
6 Dropping An Egg At The 1990 Survivor Series
At this point, wrestlers have made their debut in just about every way one could possibly contrive. Plenty of these introductions have been memorable in ways that launched careers, while others fell short in terms of instantly making an impact. Luckily, a lackluster debut isn’t always a career killer, but it absolutely was in the case of Vince McMahon’s strangest idea in history. Things were confusing pretty much immediately, when WWE started dragging a gigantic egg around to provide updates on its status during weekly TV shows.
Believe it or not, the payoff for the big weird egg was even dumber than the fact it had been the focus of so much time and energy.
Once the thing finally hatched at the 1990 Survivor Series, all that came out was a big weird turkey calling itself the Gobbledy Gooker. Portrayed by Eddie Guerrero’s brother Héctor, the Gooker then hopped into the ring and danced around with announcer “Mean” Gene Okerlund. Unsurprisingly, the crowd hated the whole thing, leaving the Gooker seldom seen nor heard from again. To this day, no one has quite been able to explain or justify what exactly Vince thought he could accomplish with this new wrestler. There was just no way the Gooker could get taken seriously after popping out of an egg.
5 Katie Vick Brings Vince To Hysterics
Living in an insular world dominated by thoughts of sports entertainment, Vince McMahon has developed an incredibly unique and occasionally bizarre sense of humor. That said, only a select few failed jokes were so bad they reached the point of being completely inexplicable. High on the list of such occasions was the moment when Triple H claimed Kane was a former murderer. Granted, that wasn’t the punch line, but the part fans were supposed to laugh at was even less funny—Triple H also suggested Kane used his victim’s body in a seriously offensive and upsetting way.
To prove his point, Triple H even aired a “video” featuring himself committing the alleged acts while wearing a Kane mask. Once it was over, The Game forced himself into riotous laughter, which one can assume echoed McMahon’s real reaction.
Even Triple H himself later admitted the angle was no good, but he couldn’t exactly turn down an idea that his father-in-law supported so heavily.
Not only was the idea seriously tasteless and offensive, but it had absolutely nothing to do with wrestling, as Triple H and Kane could have found countless better reasons to intensify their feud. Unfortunately for them, Vince seriously loved this one, and there was no way to explain to him how easily it could backfire.
4 Mantaur Moos His Way To The Ring
For every great gimmick Vince McMahon creates, there’s another one that fans will simply never understand. This entire list could have been bizarre characters he forced wrestlers to use, but to keep it simple, we’ve left most of them out unless they literally made no sense. That was definitely the case with Mantaur, a plus-sized performer who mooed his way to the ring like a big cow while wearing a strange minotaur mask. Despite looking like an outright joke from day one, Mantaur was given a top level manager in Jim Cornette, who later claimed to think the whole thing was a prank.
Far from it, Mantaur actually went on a small winning streak and even earned a shot against Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon.
There was also a non-title match with WWE Champion Bret Hart, yet this was in the “fighting champion” era when Bret would wrestle pretty much anyone. Regardless, the point is, the New Generation was a time frame when a wrestler who thought he was a cow could get major title shots. If ever there was a period when Vince was clearly out of ideas, that must have been it. The only thing stranger than thinking a wrestling minotaur could work is that no one in the writer’s room tried to stop him.
3 Mae Young Gives Mark Henry A Hand
Speaking of the worst jokes Vince McMahon ever wrote, if anything was more tasteless than Katie Vick, it was the relationship between Mark Henry and Mae Young. With all due respect to any actual May-December romances out there, the age difference between these two wasn’t the only problem. Much worse was how blatantly sexual they could get, though this was pretty much a given since Henry was calling himself Sexual Chocolate at the time, and Mae Young was, well, Mae Young. That the behavior fit their characters doesn’t excuse how uncomfortable it made fans, especially after the 76-year-old Mae somehow became pregnant.
Unsurprisingly, she wasn’t quite able to carry the baby to a full term, but that didn’t stop it from being born. Well, kinda. It wasn’t a baby so much as a weird, gooey, plastic hand that somehow later grew up into a young man wearing a foam hand bodysuit. Apparently, Vince McMahon thought the whole ordeal made for a great joke, but even the WWE announcers couldn’t hide their disgust over what was happening. Because the ordeal took place well before Henry was a wrestler of note, none of it mattered, either, merely managing to keep him out of the main event until fans could finally forget about it.
2 Making Terry Taylor Act Like A Chicken
No matter what era we’re talking about, when Vince McMahon steals a rising talent from a rival promotion, it’s not unusual for him to switch up their name and gimmick for branding purposes. So long as the new character makes some sort of rational sense, this is all well and good. Unfortunately, there have been times when Vince took a former NWA, WCW, and independent wrestling promotion’s champions respected for their skills in the ring and on the microphone and turned them into complete jokes. The most blatant example of this likely came when he turned Terry Taylor into a giant, goofy chicken.
As if the brightly colored bill on Taylor’s head as he clucked around the ring weren’t embarrassing enough, Vince had him take things a step further by presenting his character as entirely hopeless inside the ring. Named the Red Rooster, the former NWA and UWF standout couldn’t win a match without his manager Bobby Heenan offering him very direct instructions. The only explanation is that Vince didn’t appreciate Taylor’s talents, but in that case, why hire the guy just to ruin his career? The only bright side is that Taylor eventually ditched the Red Rooster visage and managed to experience a long lasting career backstage in WWE as a trainer for the Performance Center.
1 Refusing To Hinder Jinder
With the amount of content Vince McMahon creates on a regular basis, it’s only reasonable that he would occasionally take a swing and miss. The confusing part in this entry is that he never quite seemed to catch on about how badly the idea was bombing. Even more so than the ongoing saga of Roman Reigns, the decision to make former jobber Jinder Mahal a WWE Champion in the summer of 2017 was completely inexplicable. With all due respect to Mahal’s ability to increase his physique, the Modern Day Maharaja never quite improved inside the ring or on the microphone, meaning fans still didn’t care about him when he defeated Randy Orton for the oldest title in the company.
Had Vince realized this was a huge mistake and had Jinder lose the title in a month, it could be chalked up to experimentation from which fans could easily move on.
However, Jinder remained WWE Champion for six long months, with each passing defense confusing fans and leaving them further dissatisfied.
It didn’t help when some of Mahal’s promos during his feud with Shinsuke Nakamura were castigated as racist. After Mahal dropped that gold, he remains a top name on SmackDown despite having been firmly rejected by the audience. The only explanation is that Vince likes him, even if no one else understands why.