Vince McMahon has been the most powerful man in the wrestling industry for the past couple of decades. Some would make the argument that Vince McMahon has been THE wrestling industry for the majority of that time frame due to WWE’s massive success. The once small wrestling promotion turned into a global phenomenon that we all love or in some cases, love to hate. While the wrestlers on television are the ones that convince fans to come to shows or continue watching the product, McMahon is the person to make the big decisions of who becomes a star at the end of the day.
Daniel Bryan shared a story in his autobiography about mentor William Regal telling him to form a relationship with Vince because every top star has a close bond with the chairman. Looking at the biggest stars of the industry, Regal’s theory is proven correct more times than not. The rare cases of a main event act hating McMahon usually come at the end of a messy split. CM Punk badmouthed Vince after quitting WWE and retiring from pro wrestling but that appeared to be more of a frustration of how things ended. McMahon and Punk had a pretty close relationship before Punk’s anger of how he was being used at the end of his run left things on bitter terms.
McMahon is often regarded as a ruthless businessman that doesn’t have a heart. His heart may be frigidly cold but he does have one as seen with how he treats some of the performers. A very small number of wrestlers have been able to crack the mystery of McMahon and form a close bond with one of the most powerful men in the world. It often comes through hard work, generating money and being a valuable asset to WWE but the stories are varying. We’ll look at the broad range of reasons why Vince McMahon has a soft spot for these thirteen wrestlers.
13 The Rock
The Rock is the biggest name in wrestling history due to his outstanding work in the WWE and his career as a blockbuster action movie star. Vince McMahon made a lot of money off of The Rock but it was fair game considering he saw the potential in The Rock from day one. The long time frame that saw The Rock go seven years without appearing in a WWE ring ended in 2011 and McMahon was ecstatic enough to have him be the top name at three consecutive WrestleMania events. Vince knew The Rock as a child, saw him enter the business as a clueless young man and watched him progress into a household name. The relationship will always land Rock a spot in McMahon’s heart.
12 Chris Jericho
The relationship between Chris Jericho and Vince McMahon did not start on the best terms but they have become extremely close over the years. McMahon actually cursed out Jericho back in 1999 claiming Jericho wasn’t worth the money WWE invested in him following the departure from WCW. This only motivated Jericho to work harder and he ended up evolving into one of the best performers in WWE history. Jericho has referred to McMahon as a father figure and it’s clearly obvious McMahon has a soft spot for Y2J. McMahon would only allow someone to defeat Steve Austin and The Rock in the same night if he truly appreciated the person. The part-time schedule and opportunities given by WWE to Jericho today is another example of McMahon wanting the star back in the company.
11 The Miz
Very few wrestlers in the WWE have ever been as loyal of an employee as The Miz. Many believe the main reason Miz won the WWE Championship and main evented WrestleMania 27 was a “thank you” for all he does for the company along with his improvements. The Miz is one of the best talents at doing media work for the company. The terms of Superstars, WWE Universe, sports entertainment and formerly divas are buzz words WWE badly wants to be used in place of wrestling or wrestlers and The Miz remembers it better than a programmed robot. Vince McMahon is obviously a big fan of The Miz and will always have a soft spot for him. Expect Miz to have a post-wrestling career in broadcasting for WWE whenever he does hang up the boots.
10 Roman Reigns
A large percentage of wrestling fans have a strong disdain not solely for Roman Reigns but for Vince McMahon’s love of pushing Roman Reigns as the next big star. Reigns has been McMahon’s “chosen one” for the past year and a half but fans have pushed back against the controversial superstar. McMahon is showing no desire to change his outlook on Roman and you can see that with Reigns referring to himself as “THE Guy” on a weekly basis. Vince even appeared on WWE television for the first time in years and took a Superman Punch to the face in hopes of getting Roman over. Only in wrestling will a seventy-year-old man getting punched in the face mean that he has a soft spot for someone else.
9 Mark Henry
Vince McMahon loves giants and athletes that have an impossible level of strength. With this being said it made sense he would develop a fandom of Mark Henry. “The World’s Strongest Man” was signed in the mid-90s with high hopes for blossoming into a star following his past work in the Olympics representing the United States. Henry struggled to improve and was one of the most irrelevant wrestlers in the company for years but McMahon never quit on him. Most would have thrown in the towel but Vince’s soft spot for Henry gave him more opportunities than deserved. It ultimately paid off with Henry hitting his stride in 2011, winning the World Championship for the first time defeating Randy Orton.
8 Hulk Hogan
They always say you’ll never get over your first love and Hulk Hogan was the first man to become a mainstream superstar under Vince McMahon’s vision. Hogan and McMahon turned the original WrestleMania into a huge success and WWE would take off, becoming bigger than ever expected. The relationship between Hogan and McMahon is not as pleasant as most others on this list, but there was always a mutual respect for each other. Vince has brought Hogan back more times than his inner circle would have hoped for considering how many times Hogan has left McMahon hanging or badmouthed him in public. The racist comments made by Hogan in a sex tape caused WWE to terminate Hogan’s contract but McMahon will likely bring him back one day when it all blows over.
7 Big Show
Why in the world does Big Show get so many main event matches and title shots out of nowhere? Vince McMahon loves him and has a soft spot for the gentle giant. Show has remained loyal to the company since making the jump from WCW in 1999 and does anything asked of him. WWE has transitioned him from face to heel and back too many times to keep track. The World’s Largest Athlete excels in comedy when asked but can make things get serious with one glance. McMahon has appreciated Big Show’s hard work and the big man will likely have a job in the WWE until he decides to retire. Sometimes a strong work ethic and loyalty is all you need to get in the cold heart of Vince McMahon.
The character change from Bradshaw to JBL led to the most improbable WWE Championship run of all time. Lifelong midcarder Bradshaw won the title just a few months into the debut of his JBL persona. JBL was a rich arrogant billionaire. Sound familiar? Vince McMahon loved the gimmick since it hit home and he pushed JBL to a near one-year-long title reign. Bradshaw was an enforcer of the locker room for years and McMahon loved him for it, long before the big JBL push. The soft spot McMahon holds for him is shown today with JBL getting one of the top announcers spots for Raw and PPVs. Many would argue JBL is the worst of all the commentators, but he has a secure position in the company.
5 Ric Flair
You wouldn’t expect Ric Flair to be one of the very rare wrestlers to hold a soft spot in Vince McMahon’s heart considering the majority of his career was spent in WCW but it’s the truth. Flair developed a close relationship with all of the McMahons and Triple H during his stint in WWE following the demise of WCW. The legend was always featured on television despite being way past his prime and somewhat embarrassing to watch at times. It has been widely reported that Flair has struggled with money and he admitted that McMahon lent him over $800,000 to get out of debt. Charlotte's push as the face of the newly revamped women’s division over Sasha Banks, Paige or Becky Lynch is definitely favoritism, showing McMahon's love for Flair still lives.
4 John Cena
John Cena is the wrestler Vince McMahon has always wanted. Unlike Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin and The Rock, Cena didn’t leave and has always remained loyal to the WWE brand. No one works harder or does more for the WWE in the ring than Cena. McMahon’s top stars have usually been unpredictable wild cards that have spoken up when booked poorly or left the business for better opportunities, but Cena does not follow that line of thinking. Cena has been the face of WWE for over a decade now and is still the biggest star in the company by far. McMahon is likely going to be the one that inducts Cena into the Hall of Fame one day and he will always hold Cena fondly in his heart.
3 Triple H
Vince McMahon's son-in-law is obviously going to hold a place in his heart considering the role Triple H plays in his life. Vince has always appreciated Triple H from his days in The Kliq and Triple H honestly believes he would have been in a management position even if he never married Stephanie. Triple H’s strong work ethic and passion for the WWE won over Vince and they are now the two most powerful people in the wrestling industry. The obvious pick on this list has to be the one wrestler that found a way to have Thanksgiving dinner at Vince McMahon’s house.
2 Shawn Michaels
Triple H’s best friend Shawn Michaels is right there with him in having a close relationship with Vince McMahon. Michaels was a trainwreck during the 90s and frequently had issues with the other wrestlers and even with the boss himself. His personal demons would make Michaels the biggest jerk in the wrestling business during that time frame but Vince never quit on him. In fact, McMahon supported Michaels more than anyone else in his position would have due to a love for The Heartbreak Kid’s work. Some wrestlers actually believed that HBK and Vince were in a secret romantic relationship considering how much love McMahon showed for Michaels, but that has never been proven.
1 The Undertaker
The one wrestler that Vince McMahon will always have a soft spot for is The Undertaker. No performer has ever been as loyal to the WWE as The Deadman. Undertaker never once left the company in his run spanning over two decades in the WWE. The other stars have almost all come and gone with various controversial incidents causing drama between them and Vince McMahon. That never happened with Taker and he was always a model employee. In addition to his hard work in the ring, The Undertaker was viewed as a locker room leader and meant more to WWE than anyone else. McMahon cherishes everything The Undertaker has done and we will see a massive celebration for the career of Taker whenever he finally decides to hang them up for good. Also for what it's worth, McMahon considers The Undertaker his favorite wrestler of all time.