There’s no denying that Vince McMahon has made more money from the sport of professional wrestling than any other one person. Through his WWE Universe, McMahon has created a genre of television all his own, which he refers to as sports entertainment and has brought wrestling to greater heights than any other promoter has ever even come close to reaching. With all of this in mind, Vince McMahon is still human and humans are capable of terribly ugly things regardless of the level of success they’re able to achieve.
McMahon has made a veritable plethora of wrestlers extremely wealthy men and women, but he’s also rather blatantly ruined lives, ran his rivals out of business, and generally acted like a jerk in the process of building his empire. Occasionally, Vince’s heart was even in the right place when he did some of these things, although quite a few of his sins were deliberate moves meant to destroy people who he believed crossed him. The worst part is that while Vince didn’t exactly ruin his fan’s lives, he often damaged the entertainment he was creating when undergoing some of his most ruthless acts. Keep reading to learn what we’re talking about and discover 15 of the most heinous acts committed by Vince McMahon.
15 Letting The Fabulous Moolah Control Women's Wrestling
WWE has been boasting a Divas/women’s revolution since late 2015, when a large influx of NXT trained females were called up to the main roster. There’s no denying these women are making strides, but the unfortunate reality is that they only need to do so because The Fabulous Moolah systemically controlled women’s wrestling in America for decades, essentially killing the chances of any other females ever becoming successful until she retired and completely left the business. Moolah obviously didn’t do this by herself and Vince McMahon was one of her most powerful allies by allowing her to hold the WWE Women’s Championship for nearly three decades. Moolah’s main power came from the fact she had a hand in training most female wrestlers in America, and then went on to control portions of her students’ contracts when they were ready to go pro. Moolah would then garnish her students’ wages and make sure they never become more successful than she was. Moolah was also accused of treating her trainees like borderline prostitutes, although to be fair, there’s nothing to indicate McMahon was at all complicit in this portion of her life.
14 Hiring George Zahorian
Not everyone in the WWE Universe is familiar with the name George Zahorian and a quick explanation of who he is makes it clear why WWE has made it policy not to mention him. Zahorian was the doctor convicted of distributing steroids to his clients, many of whom were pro wrestlers, possibly including McMahon himself. Whether or not McMahon partook is unclear, but what he proved in a court of law was that McMahon was in no way complicit in the steroid distribution amongst his other talent. However, McMahon was responsible for hiring George Zahorian as the ringside physician every time WWE came to Zahorian’s native Pennsylvania. Although the court agreed McMahon never implicitly forced his employees to use steroids, he did make it pretty easy for them to come in contact with the drugs and evidence supports he in the very least knew about it, if not actively supported it.
13 Supporting Decades Of Racism
This might seem like a cop out and yet it stands as a testament to just how many ridiculously racist and offensive gimmicks Vince McMahon has either created or promoted on his programming that it would be impossible to pick just one and call it worst of all. WWE has an unfortunate history of insensitivity, especially when it comes to racial manners and Vince needs to take some responsibility for allowing it all to happen. In addition to awful gimmicks like Saba Simba and The Mexicools, Vince also takes the blame for a serious lack of people in color throughout the WWE Championship lineage, not to mention a general lack of diversity his company has exhibited practically since it was founded. There have been dozens of foreign and ethnic stars, although stereotypes about their foreignness or ethnicity were almost always the focus, kind of dampening any good will Vince has built in this area. The truth of the matter is that WWE is and always has been a white bread company, and that won’t ever change until Vince wants it to.
12 Firing Alberto Del Rio
Speaking of racism, there are few more recent examples of how blatant WWE can be about their race problem than the 2014 firing of Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio was fired after slapping a WWE digital media employee, which sounds like a reasonable grounds for dismissal until you learn that employee had just made a racist joke at Del Rio’s expense and then refused to apologize when Del Rio called him out on it. Del Rio was only a few years into his WWE tenure and had already won multiple World Championships, making him one of the company’s bigger stars and in turn making the employee’s racial comments even more blatantly stupid to have made. Nonetheless, Vince McMahon decided Del Rio was at fault for acting violently, due to pressure from lawyers of the party who was attacked, and fired him as a result. Del Rio later returned to WWE only to leave again shortly thereafter, later citing systemic racism within WWE as one of his main reasons for leaving.
11 Forcing Trish Stratus To Bark Like A Dog
Much like with racism, we could make an entire list out of Vince McMahon’s blatant displays of sexism, which could easily be summed up with the fact virtually every female who worked for him during a solid five year period also made out with him. Despite how widespread it has been, the tip of the iceberg for Vince’s misogyny can easily be pinpointed to a segment on Raw in March of 2001. Vince invited his onscreen girlfriend/assistant at the time, Trish Stratus, to the ring and threatened to fire her, telling her the only way to save her job would be to strip to her underwear, get on all fours, and bark like a dog. Trish did what Vince demanded in front of a rabidly approving crowd. Vince and WWE executives have defended the segment with the fact Trish eventually got her revenge and that’s true, but it doesn’t take back the terrible images the segment created, which were arguably way too far for even the wrestling ring.
10 Covering His Top Stars' Crimes
Vince McMahon can’t be held accountable for every time his employees act poorly, but once he starts helping them get away with it, he becomes seriously complicit in the crimes. In 2002, Steve Austin was arrested for beating his wife, Debra, who later claimed during interviews it was at least the third time he had raised fists against her. Debra further explained she wanted to go public with it the first time it happened, but WWE officials including Vince and Linda McMahon urged her to keep quiet lest she harm their biggest star. Decades earlier when top star Jimmy Snuka was accused of murdering Nancy Argentino, Vince set a precedent by allegedly helping Snuka hide evidence, let alone continuing to promote him when the trial was dropped on a technicality. Vince has also promoted dozens of other criminals to varying degrees, with these two major examples merely proving the trend survived multiple eras of wrestling history.
9 Going On The Record With Bob Costas
It’s bad enough for wrestling fans when thinking about the ways Vince McMahon has embarrassed himself in front of his own audience, and things have a tendency of getting significantly worse when Vince discusses his product on other media. The worst example was probably when Vince appeared on HBO’s On The Record With Bob Costas in anticipation of WrestleMania X-Seven. Costas was slightly more confrontational about recent controversies than Vince had expected, i.e. item number 11 on this list. Costas may have been slightly out of line, but Vince was significantly worse in response, repeatedly mocking Costas for daring to ask him tough questions and going so far as to knock the reporter’s notes out of his hand. Vince and Costas eventually made up and worked together yet again, but the incident remains one of Vince’s most embarrassing public moments and stands as the most unprofessional interview he’s ever given.
8 Stealing From His Competition And Taking All The Credit
At no point in WWE’s long history were they the only wrestling company in town, and every rival promotion of any size had a chance at somehow influencing the big dogs in one way or another. The bigger competitions like NJPW, WCW, ECW, AWA, and more recently, ROH and TNA, especially deserve consideration for introducing countless hours of great content, not to mention endless wrestlers who later take what they learned in the small companies to become superstars in WWE. As influential as many of these companies were, Vince and the entire McMahon family like to pretend like they invented practically everything in the wrestling world, discounting even the work of his own employees. Vince particularly doesn’t like discussing the accomplishments of his direct rivals and never gives WCW credit for introducing cruiserweight action to America, nor ECW for spearheading the Attitude Era, nor any of the other companies who he took bits and pieces from while expanding his empire throughout the territorial days of the industry.
7 Ignoring Former Legends
Vince has shared his wealth with the superstars who made him the most money, making plenty of millionaires on the way to making himself a billionaire. However, he has also completely ignored some of his past employed, including ones who have made public cries for help. Plenty of past superstars have taken to the Internet asking for help paying medical bills, including Sabu, Rico Constantino, and Jim Duggan. Not that Vince is necessarily complicit for supporting every past employee to the end of their lives, but these superstars all suffered physical ailments clearly caused by their time in the ring, making Vince at least a little bit culpable in the cases of wrestlers who worked for him the longest. Outside of these direct examples of wrestlers asking for help, Vince has also ignored dozens of great superstars by refusing to induct them into the Hall of Fame, making many fans go so far as to question the prestige of an establishment that seems to be run more on political favors than actual respect to wrestling history.
6 Repeatedly Mocking Jim Ross
Wrestlers and wrestling personalities are expected to take a certain amount of abuse, heel or face, in order to built the sympathies and fan connection required to become a superstar. This doesn’t account for the level of abuse levied upon Jim Ross, though, especially considering JR has spent his career as a respected announcer who almost never stepped into the ring for anything other than a professional interview. Despite JR’s attempts at maintaining his integrity, Vince repeatedly put him through embarrassing and downright disgusting angles, mocking him for his Bell’s palsy, imitating his colonoscopy, and forcing JR to literally kiss his ass more than once. Vince never quite got his comeuppance for his many mistreatments of one of his most loyal and respected employees and, worst of all, the behavior bled into real life when McMahon fired Jim Ross for virtually no reason and pretended JR retired instead of being honest about it. JR has typically maintained his decorum and claimed to understand Vince’s actions, and yet his fans have long believed McMahon should have long treated JR with more respect.
5 Firing Alundra Blayze While Women's Champion
In addition to Vince McMahon’s involvement in undercutting women’s wrestling for multiple decades, there have actually been a few brief periods where he more or less managed to destroy the concept entirely. The first was in 1990, when Women’s Champion Rockin’ Robin retired and Vince didn’t bother finding someone to replace her. WWE finally found that replacement three years later in Alundra Blayze, who quickly won the Women’s Championship three times in less than two years. In the middle of Blayze’s third reign as champion, Vince suddenly decided to scrap the women’s division altogether and fired her while she still held the belt. Vince was part of the systemic minimization of women in American wrestling up until this point and firing Alundra was the moment that outright killed women’s wrestling in America for at least the next three years. Blayze made history by throwing belt in the trash a few weeks later on WCW Monday Nitro, also allowing Vince to use her questionable ethics to cover for his own.
4 Suspending Titus O'Neil
The retirement of Daniel Bryan will likely go down as one of the most emotional moments in WWE history, marred slightly by the actions of Vince McMahon only slightly after it took place. Titus O’Neil had grabbed Vince and pulled him by the shoulder in order to make way for Stephanie McMahon in adherence of a “ladies first” philosophy, and for some reason Vince chose to suspend Titus for 90 days over the incident. It’s hard to defend the incident, as even if Vince may have slight cause to have been startled and embarrassed, taking away 90 days worth of a man’s way of supporting his family seemed like a particularly harsh reaction to what happened. Fans were particularly upset about the fact the incident took place during Black History Month, and managed to petition the suspension down to 60 days instead of the original 90.
3 Killing Bunkhouse Stampede With The Royal Rumble
WWE has rewritten history to imply WCW was the more ruthless and vindictive party during the Monday Night Wars and that Vince’s business philosophy was to help yourself and not hurt the other guy. Vince points to Nitro being created in direct competition to Raw, a mass exodus of top stars, and Clash of the Champions undercutting Pay-Per-View sales of WrestleMania IV as the most aggressive moves of the war, but he actually predated them with several cutthroat tactics of his own. One of the most infamous examples of Vince trying to destroy WCW back when it was still the NWA involved him creating the Royal Rumble to destroy the buyrate of the first NWA PPV of 1988, Bunkhouse Stampede. Far more fans watched the Rumble and this was actually the second time in a few months Vince pulled this exact move…
2 Killing Starrcade With Survivor Series
Only a few months prior to undercutting NWA’s first Pay-Per-View of 1988, Vince McMahon did the same thing to their biggest PPV of 1987. Starrcade was NWA’s WrestleMania and predated The Showcase of Immortals. While Survivor Series would eventually turn into one of WWE’s grandest traditions, it was originally created simply to ensure that significantly fewer fans would watch Starrcade than had in years previous, let alone even have the ability to do so. Vince negotiated with Pay-Per-View companies and threatened that he wouldn’t allow them to broadcast WrestleMania unless they acquiesced to his demands and aired Survivor Series over Starrcade, and many of them caved in and chose not to offer Starrcade at all. The first Survivor Series went off without a hitch and only expanded from there, while the NWA was begging Ted Turner to buy them out less than a year later.
1 Firing CM Punk On His Wedding Day
Much has been said about the saga of CM Punk’s exit from WWE and subsequent retirement, and Vince McMahon quite frankly didn’t have much to do with the ordeal. Triple H is far more culpable, although many longstanding policies Vince instated were definitely complicit in Punk’s decision. Regardless of who deserves most of the blame for Punk’s initial walkout, that doesn’t change the fact that Vince made it clear the relationship was over in a particularly cruel way, sending Punk his termination papers on the same day he married fellow wrestler AJ Lee. Punk later claimed he was willing to renegotiate with the company and simply needed some time off to recuperate from injuries and mental stress, only for the circumstances of his dismissal to cause him to leave WWE and wrestling behind entirely.