If Vince McMahon is the king of modern day wrestling—the business and creative head of the largest wrestling company in the world for over 30 years running—his offsprings, Shane and Stephanie, could be considered the prince and princess. Appropriately, at different times and to different degrees, they’ve worked alongside their father as higher ups in the business.
In addition to their work behind the scenes, though, the McMahons have made their mark and have evolved before our very eyes as wrestling fans. Shane McMahon went from working as an inconspicuous referee, to a more conspicuous color commentator, to an active wrestler and on-air authority figure. Stephanie went from playing Vince’s pure, innocent daughter to becoming one of the top heel wrestling personalities of all time alongside her husband Triple H.
Like any pair of siblings, Shane and Stephanie have a complex relationship. There’s a lot of love and collaboration in their history, but there are also key differences of opinions and moments of strife. Some elements of their relationship are subject to speculation and opinion. Others are well documented based on first-hand observations by third parties, or on what Shane, Stephanie, and people close to them have said in documentaries, interviews, and books.
So what’s life like between kids who grew up as the heirs to a wrestling empire, and have grown into key business people and performers within their father’s industry? This article looks at 15 elements of the relationships between Shane and Stephanie McMahon that you may not have known.
15. Vince McMahon Pitched An Incest Storyline For Shane And Stephanie
When Stephanie McMahon was pregnant with her first child, Vince McMahon pitched all sorts of ideas about how to incorporate her real-life condition into an on-screen wrestling angle. He pitched himself as the kayfabe father. Then he pitched Shane.
It’s unclear why Vince thought an incest angle would appeal to the audience, but Shane and Stephanie have each gone on the record to express disgust with the idea.They cite it as a key example of their father being willing to do anything for the business and how much he enjoys featuring family in major storylines. In the same breath, they acknowledged it as an example of their father getting over-zealous and thinking a little too far outside the box, beyond his family’s comfort level or sense of decency.
14. Shane And Stephanie Have Aesthetic Differences When It Comes To Wrestling
Shane and Stephanie have each weighed in on WWE’s product in substantive ways, including weighing in on the creative direction of the company. By all accounts, Shane is more adventurous and prone to big ideas. He was purportedly instrumental in swaying his father to take ECW programming seriously, which had a major influence on the Attitude Era. He’s also said to have championed borrowing elements from mixed martial arts, as well as developing international territories around the world. The latter idea came nearly a decade ago, and may now be paying off with WWE’s UK Championship tournament (and the company has reportedly been thinking about similar events in other countries).
Stephanie seems to be more of a traditionalist in terms of her aesthetic, espousing a similar creative style to her father. She’s less wildly creative, but more consistently on point maintaining what has worked for WWE up to this point.
13. The McMahon Siblings Each Had Spouses Who Worked For WWE
Given how much of Shane and Stephanie’s lives have been intertwined with WWE business, it may be of little surprise that they’d either meet their eventual spouses through the company, or draw their partners into it.
Stephanie McMahon famously met Triple H while he was an up and coming wrestler. The two wound up dating amidst a storyline that saw them get married on screen, and three years later wound up married in real life. Together, they’ve become real-life power brokers behind the scenes, not to mention an on-air power couple.
Shane McMahon’s wife, Marissa, has had a less visible role in WWE programming. She got involved with the company after marrying Shane and worked behind the scenes in public relations, in addition to a brief stint as an on-air interviewer. Unlike most of the family she married into, Marissa seems to content to stay out of the spotlight, despite being an active part of the promotion for years.
12. Both Shane And Stephanie Wrestled Their Father On Pay Per View
Once both Vince and Shane McMahon began wrestling on WWE shows, it may not have been so outlandish to imagine they’d eventually come to blows in the ring. It’s more surprising and unique, however, that Vince would eventually wrestle his daughter (less than a week before her wedding, no less!).
Vince and Shane had an up and down on screen relationship, splitting time between being close allies and tag team partners, and being bitter rivals. Though much of their feuding appeared via proxies, such as when Shane backed The Alliance against his father’s WWE, the two did meet in the ring more than once. The most famous instance saw them square off in a Street Fight at WrestleMania X-Seven that ended with Shane leaping from one corner of the ring to another to dropkick a trashcan into his father’s face.
While the match between Vince and Stephanie featured less plunder and fewer acrobatic stunts, it was brutal in its own right. The bout came to a close when Vince choked out his daughter with a lead pipe.
11. Stephanie Kept Her Relationship with Triple H From Shane
When Stephanie and Triple H started seeing one another, it was a dicey proposition. After all, Triple H was all of a sudden dating the boss’s daughter—not to mention that that daughter was being groomed for a leadership role in the company. Not to mention that her brother was, too.
Soon after Stephanie and Triple H started dating, Vince told them it was a bad idea. They continued before long and kept the relationship a secret in the early going. They flew under their father’s radar, and were also concerned about any appearance of favoritism for Triple H as a wrestler.
Among the people who didn’t know about the relationship for quite some time was Shane. He has explained more than once—most recently in a WWE Network interview with Mick Foley—that he was taken aback by one of the wrestlers dating his sister. While he’s been diplomatic in talking about the relationship and its beginnings, lots of fans have read into his comments as a suggestion that he was hurt by the situation, and particularly its secrecy.
10. Shane And Stephanie Both Worked Low Profile Jobs For WWE Before They Hit The Big Time
As I alluded to in the intro, Shane McMahon worked his way up in WWE. Before he even donned a referee’s uniform, he worked on the crew that set up the ring and ringside area before shows. His movement up the ranks therefore demonstrated that, whether it was Shane’s choice or Vince’s order, it was important for him to learn every aspect of the business.
Stephanie got her start in an inauspicious role at first—her very first gig under the company banner was as a model, wearing WWE Superstars’ t-shirts for catalogs and advertisements. After college, she started full time with the company in a purely backstage, business-related role in the office.
These humble beginnings demonstrate that each of the McMahon kids worked their way up, but also to how extreme of a degree their entire lives have been intertwined with the wrestling business.
9. The Adult Sibling Rivalry Between Shane And Stephanie Left Their Father Torn
As both Stephanie and Shane came of age, it became clear that Vince would have to make a choice as to which one would truly succeed him in leading WWE. By all accounts, he’s close to both of his kids and had a hard time choosing. It’s unclear whether he made an official, concrete decision, or if the winds simply began to blow in one direction. Regardless, Stephanie took the lead with Triple H alongside her.
Vince was reportedly very hurt when Shane left WWE (more on that to follow) and made repeated overtures for him to stay, and then for him to come back. For a businessman known to be ruthless and driven by business over personal concerns, Stephanie and Shane’s race to the top of their father’s empire seems to have really tested Vince’s limits.
8. Shane Left WWE When Stephanie and Triple H Gained Power
When Stephanie and Triple H more firmly took the reigns of WWE, Shane elected to leave the company altogether and blaze his own trail. By most accounts, there was a healthy mix at stake of Shane wanting to prove himself, and not wanting to play second fiddle in a company that had once looked like it was his to inherit.
During his time away, McMahon headed up You On Demand, a company focused on providing video on demand and pay-per-view content to China. He was gone from WWE for just over six years before making a surprise on-screen return. By most accounts, while Vince missed his son, he was also proud of him for making it on his own. Since Shane’s return, his backstage role is unclear, but he has certainly been featured prominently as an on-air character.
7. Shane And Stephanie Were Each Instrumental In Bringing A Real-Life Fighter To WrestleMania
Shane and Stephanie each have their interests beyond the wrestling world. When WWE started building the card for WrestleMania XXIV, Shane was purportedly the mastermind behind bringing renowned boxer Floyd Mayweather into the fold. Rumor has it he pitched something of a mixed tag match of sorts with Oscar De La Hoya forming a Latino dream team with Rey Mysterio opposite Mayweather and a heel—likely MVP or Shane himself. Mysterio got hurt and pieces got moved around to transition to Mayweather vs. The Big Show. While the match wasn’t exactly a four-star classic, it was very good by celebrity match standards.
Stephanie has her own interest in the stars of women’s MMA. When they visited Chris Jericho’s podcast, Marina Shafir, Shana Baszler, and Jessamyn Duke discussed their relationship with Stephanie. In particular, they cited that she had taken care of them and hooked them and final member of “The Four Horsewomen” Ronda Rousey up with ringside seats for SummerSlam. Unsurprisingly, then, Stephanie was instrumental in booking Rousey to take part in a segment at WrestleMania 31 in which Rousey and The Rock took down The Authority.
6. Shane And Stephanie Have Each Held Championships In WWE
While Shane, and particularly Stephanie, are more established as non-wrestling personalities on air, and have accomplished more for the business behind the scenes than on air, they have each had their forays into the ring. Shane’s in-ring career has been more extensive, including relatively regular matches during the Attitude Era and more sporadic appearances as a wrestler thereafter. Along the way, he won the European and Hardcore Championships.
Stephanie made fewer strides and put her body on the line less as a wrestler. Nonetheless, she had a five-month reign as Women’s Champion in 2000, as part of the McMahon-Helmsley Era. More often than not, other wrestlers helped her retain the title with minimal effort during this stretch. Ironically, it wasn’t until over a decade later that McMahon stepped back in the ring to go up against Brie Bella at SummerSlam 2014 that she lived up to her family’s wrestling legacy to a greater degree. With no belt at stake, she demonstrated a new polish and physicality in this surprisingly good performance, adding legitimacy to her own career as a wrestler long after her lone title reign.
5. The Tension Between McMahons When Shane Returned Was Real
By multiple accounts, when Shane McMahon made his surprise return to WWE in early 2016, the rift between him and his sister wasn’t all for show. There were reportedly real life tensions, and particularly concern from Stephanie and Triple H about what kind of power Shane might wield after he’d gone missing from the company for six years.
Another reason for concern: while Triple H’s return to wrestling at the main event level got a lukewarm reaction from fans, Shane’s reappearance on Raw was met with a huge reaction. Triple H held the world title. There was a very real argument to be made, though, that Shane’s WrestleMania match with The Undertaker overshadowed anything else on the card for the sheer excitement of seeing Shane-O-Mac back in action, paired with the aura of The Deadman.
Shane was diplomatic in addressing such tensions with Mick Foley in a WWE Network interview, but there was no masking some sense of discord between Shane and his sister.
4. Shane And Stephanie Each Had a Hard Time Working With Their Dad
In the WWE-produced McMahon documentary, there’s an interesting mix of folks extolling Vince McMahon’s virtues, and speaking of him with a sense of love and admiration. In the same breath, those closest to him also acknowledge Vince’s eccentricities and the challenges to working with him.
In the documentary and elsewhere, Shane and Stephanie have each openly acknowledged that working with their father could be difficult. He has high expectations and a tendency to play people off of one another, purportedly pitting his children against each other in a way not altogether from how he used to use Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels to push one another to greater heights. Moreover, while he can think quite creatively, his story ideas can put the people he loves in awkward positions, including trying to book Shane and Stephanie as lovers in one storyline, and pitting himself against Stephanie once in an I Quit Match.
3. Shane Resents Stephanie’s Husband, Triple H
While Shane has very diplomatically avoided speaking outright about any sort of real-life rivalry with Triple H, it’s not hard for long-time fans to connect the dots. In his WWE Network interview with Mick Foley, Shane was evasive about intrafamily squabbling, before acknowledging that, at the least, he was wary of Triple H, a wrestler, dating his sister early on.
Pair Shane’s comments with his departure from wrestling when Triple H and Stephanie rose to power in the company, and it’s easy enough to surmise that Shane resents Triple H for usurping what might have been his power within the company. In so many ways, Triple H grew into Vince’s right-hand man as the Vice President of Talent Relations and head of NXT. How could Shane not be a little jealous after such roles previously looked as though they were earmarked for him?
2. Shane And Stephanie Were Each Worried For Their Mother
When the McMahons all became regular on-screen characters during the Attitude Era, Linda McMahon had a tendency to get the worst of it. Sure, there was the baseline concern that she had to watch her husband and two kids absorb physical punishment for the entertainment of the audience. On top of that, though, her character was often as not the victim to her family’s machinations. She looked on as her husband made out with Trish Stratus and a number of other younger women. She endured a slap in the face from her daughter.
Shane and Stephanie have each retrospectively expressed their sympathy and concern for their mother for all that she had to observe and endure during this period. In particular, in the McMahon documentary, Stephanie explained that she broke into tears backstage after she had to hit her mother in the ring, apologizing profusely.
1. Shane Was Not Only Stephanie’s Big Brother, But A Father Figure
Shane McMahon is six years his little sister’s senior. Their parents maintained busy schedules, in particular with their father on the road constantly for his hands-on work with the family company. Shane was not only a big brother for Stephanie, but her de facto caretaker and mentor—in many ways, a father figure.
By the time both of the McMahon siblings were on TV, and particularly as they grew into full-fledged wrestling personalities, their difference in age was less noticeable or meaningful to the WWE audience. Just the same, for all of the ups and downs of their relationship, on-screen and off, it’s interesting to look back and remember their roots, and in particular how Stephanie once looked up to Shane, and how Shane once looked after his sister.
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