The Vice-President of Talent, Triple H has developed a closer connection to the WWE Superstars in the recent years. Down in NXT, Hunter has embraced the youth movement pushing some of his favorites to the top of the card. The only issue with this is that in most cases, McMahon just doesn’t see eye-to-eye with The Game on the talent he might be pushing. McMahon has buried some of Triple H’s favorite acts. Perhaps if not for Hunter’s relationship with these particular WWE stars they might be out of a job. In this article, we look at some of the obvious names that might be jobless if not for Triple H. We’ll also look at names McMahon just doesn’t care for despite Hunter’s strong push for the stars.
On the flip, we’ll take a look at wrestlers Vince McMahon has a soft spot for. We’ll include examples from both the current guard and older wrestlers that are still with the company. In some of these cases, Triple H himself wouldn’t be booking the talents with as much steam – however, due to Vince’s relationship with the performers, he continues to push them with lots of promise. We also include some of the more obvious names Vince has a soft spot such as The Big Dog.
Enjoy the article folks and like always be sure to share it with a friend. Without further ado, here are 14 wrestlers Vince would have already fired if it wasn’t for Triple H and 6 he has a soft spot for. Let’s get started!
21 Fired - Sami Zayn
Who can forget the hilarious story of Vince McMahon giving the absolute "no sell" to Zayn’s birthday greeting behind the scenes. Jericho discussed the story on his podcast. It might really show how McMahon feels about the former NXT talent. It is believed that Vince finds Zayn to be quite annoying behind the scenes. Zayn’s current gimmick might be the way the boss views the talent in real-life – basically silly and obnoxious.
His best run with the company came with NXT as one of the brand’s best champions ever. He hasn’t replicated this type of success on the main roster, not even close. Thankfully, McMahon’s decision to turn Zayn heel has given him an entire new life.
20 Fired - Shinsuke Nakamura
Oh how things soured for Vince McMahon and his thoughts on Nakamura. Following NXT TakeOver Dallas, McMahon was the first face Shinsuke saw following his epic display in the debut match against Sami Zayn. In that instance, McMahon was all smiles.
It all turned on Nakamura following a terrible freak incident that saw John Cena land on his neck following his signature Exploder Suplex. Thankfully Cena was okay but Vince McMahon was not. According to Sports Illustrated the boss ripped into Nakamura behind the scenes. Had it not been for his successful past with Triple H perhaps he would have been shown the door instantly following the botch. As a punishment, Shinsuke lost his championship match to Jinder Mahal.
19 Soft Spot - The Miz
“When you come into WWE- it's like a fraternity, fans don't like you, because you're an outsider, you're from a reality show, you're not supposed to have talent. The locker room doesn't like you, you get thrown out of the locker room, and then going back and having Vince telling me 'We're going with you. I know you can do it,' solidifies everything. Everything I worked for. It was awesome." (Source: Ewrestling)
The statement above perfectly sums up Miz’s relationship with Vince McMahon. Behind the scenes Miz wasn’t the most popular. Thinking of Miz winning the championship saw many roll their eyes both behind the scenes and in the audience. However McMahon always believed in the talent despite the reaction – clearly he has a soft spot for the wrestler. Even to this day Miz continues to enjoy lots of success and a lot of that has to do with Vince’s personal feelings towards the former IC Champion.
18 Fired - The Revival
The Revival failing on the main roster seemed impossible. However, time and time again Hunter’s acts somehow get buried for one reason or another. McMahon soured on the duo during a post-match promo. The team called themselves “pro wrestlers”, a term that is banned from the WWE vocabulary. Vince was none too pleased and it sunk The Revival to the bottom of the totem pole.
All that NXT momentum was squandered and the duo would go on to get completely embarrassed at the Raw 25 show taking a loss to Gallows and Anderson. After the match the insult continued, the team received a beatdown by Finn Balor and The Kliq. Now we’re only speculating but Hunter might be the only reason these guys survived that brutal storm early on.
17 Fired - Kevin Owens
He wasn’t a sought after prospect on WWE’s radar. In fact, Owens himself admitted that he thought a WWE contract would have never presented itself. Had it been up to Vince perhaps the contract would have never come due to his look. Triple H along with William Regal (who recruited Owens) were the only two willing to give KO a chance.
The decision worked out pretty darn well. However, given McMahon’s personal tastes most might assume Kevin would be out the door rather quickly under Vince’s watch. He managed to thrive and a lot of that has to do with Triple H. Since his main roster run began Vince hasn’t been afraid to rip Owens. Who can forget McMahon’s negative reaction to his WrestleMania 33 match against Chris Jericho? A match that truly wasn’t all that bad.
16 Soft Spot - Baron Corbin
"The other day, he got me good. I was just standing by 'Gorilla' [position] and looking at myself in the mirror or something and he bodychecked me. It startles you and you're instantly angry, like, 'argh! If you weren't Vince McMahon…it was so funny because then later, he stopped texting on his phone or whatever and I just snuck up behind him and whispered in his ear, 'I could have got you back right there.' And he just belly-laughed.”(Source: Wrestling Inc)
Vince does not have this type of relationship with most of the wrestlers. Clearly, he’s a fan of Corbin. McMahon sees the wrestler as a main eventer, giving him big spots after big spots throughout 2018. As you can tell, they're actually quite close behind the scenes as well. It was Vince himself that requested Corbin shave his head.
15 Fired – Finn Balor
Last year Triple H reportedly grew furious with McMahon due to his booking of Finn Balor. McMahon just doesn’t view Finn in the same regard as Hunter. According to the speculation, Vince views Balor as a Dolph Ziggler-type of wrestler.
McMahon refused to book Balor in a bout against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble due the feeling that he wasn’t over enough. Another concern is the overall size of Finn Balor. Seriously speaking, McMahon might be able to work without Balor these days. The former NXT talent is being booked with ineffective storylines in the undercard alongside Bayley, Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox.
14 Fired – Randy Orton
There isn’t a single wrestler that should have gotten the axe more times than Randy Orton. Whether it was multiple Wellness Policy failures or inappropriate conduct behind the scenes an Orton release should have taken place. Even to this day Randy is still involved in misconduct related incidents.
A determining factor has to be Triple H’s connection to Orton. He took Randy under his wing early on. Even during his earlier days, Triple H was always the one to go out of his way and talk to Randy about keeping a cooler head. This has obviously carried over throughout Orton’s WWE career.
13 Soft Spot: R-Truth
We don't know why or how, but R-Truth is still employed in the WWE after years of mediocrity. The probable reason? He makes Vince McMahon laugh. But in all seriousness, Vince and R-Truth are said to have a very close relationship. There aren't any specifics, as neither person has gone too in depth in terms of their friendship.
It's certainly worked out for Truth, who continues to get regular TV time, now teaming up with Carmella as The Fabulous Truth. Let's not forget it was R-Truth who teamed with a fellow "Vince soft spot" in The Miz to take on the "once in a lifetime" tag team of John Cena and The Rock at Survivor Series 2011.
12 Fired - Rusev
“I love how you just laughed in the chairman’s face — in one of the biggest matches of your career.” (Source Pro Wrestling Sheet)
The quote above is from Aiden English during an episode of Ride Along. Once McMahon booked the Rusev versus Undertaker casket match the Bulgarian Brute felt the need to send out this tweet;
“Bury me softly, Brother.”
That didn’t sit well with the boss and Rusev was instantly taken out of the match. There are some things you just don’t do and one of them is make a mockery out of a match against The Undertaker. Vince might have taken things a step further and completely buried Rusev’s career from that point on. However, Triple H typically listens to the people and knowing the success of Rusev day he might have talked Vince out of it. Rusev was put back in the match shortly after.
11 Fired - The Ascension
Only in the WWE can a duo go from becoming the most dominant team in the developmental brand and then completely tank on the main roster. Vince immediately pressed the abort button on the team’s early main roster push. McMahon wasn’t pleased with anything the duo had to offer from their look to in-ring ability. Had it not been for their NXT success they would have been shown the door instantly.
Their poor booking has continued since leaving NXT, the team almost went a year without winning a match at one point. Triple H and the fact that their willing to “do the job” is the only reasons why they remain hired. Hopefully this current push that’s long overdue sticks but knowing Vince, that’s also unlikely.
10 Soft Spot - Bobby Lashley
"I still speak with Vince off and on, and Shane [McMahon] is a good friend. We text and joke around all the time, and I was just talking to him last week.” (Source Wrestling Inc)
Let’s not forget that it was Lashley’s decision to leave the WWE initially and not Vince McMahon. The boss had high hopes for Lashley - at one point he was considered to be on the same level as a John Cena. Heck Bobby even shaved Vince’s head let’s not forget!
He’s back in the WWE and once again enjoying a strong push. Vince clearly has a soft spot for the wrestler keeping in touch with him even during his days away from the company.
9 Fired - Sasha Banks
Her main roster run hasn’t been terrible however it isn’t anything close to her rise with NXT under Triple H’s watch. A lot of that has to do with Vince McMahon. Despite Sasha’s star power Vince just doesn’t see Banks as a huge star in the women’s division. A lot of that has to do with her injury battles given her reckless style inside of the squared circle.
Perhaps Vince isn’t willing to invest as much time in a wrestler that’s injury prone. Had it not been for her past with NXT and role in the women’s revolution she might be out the door due to her in-ring style and the fact that she’s prone to injuries.
8 Fired – Bayley
Another mega Triple H talent completely squandered by the boss – Vince just hasn’t used Bayley in the correct capacity since her main roster debut. McMahon completely soured on the act following a promo segment that took place in Toronto, Canada. The fans booed Bayley and Vince was none too pleased given her babyface persona and how over it supposed to be with the audience.
Vince might have completely pulled the plug on the gimmick if it wasn’t for her NXT success prior to joining the main roster. Along with Sasha, Bayley has a close connection to Triple H. Surely, this also helped her cause.
7 Soft Spot - The Bella Twins
The recent Brie Bella incident is a clear example as to how McMahon feels about the Bellas. Despite completely knocking Liv Morgan out with a botched kick to the head Vince continues to book Brie regularly. Had this been the other way around we have to believe Liv would have either faced consequences or at the very least be taken off the weekly in-ring loop.
The Bella Twins also have a flexible schedule, they continue to dominate off-screen as major reality stars and a lot has to do with Vince and his belief in them. McMahon loves entertainment and those that thrive in the environment, for that reason, he’ll always have a soft spot for the twins no matter what.
6 Fired – Becky Lynch
It is only fitting to include yet another member of the WWE’s Four Horsewomen, Becky Lynch. For both Sasha and Bayley, Becky’s recent push is a very good sign. Just months ago it was said that McMahon didn’t view Lynch as a top draw and he was souring on the act. She was on the bottom of the totem pole rarely appearing on SmackDown Live during Carmella’s championship run.
However, she went from the doghouse to the Presidential suite, it appears. According to recent news, McMahon is incredibly high on Lynch and he’s using her latest run as an example of what happens when a wrestler "grabs the brass ring". Most of the wrestlers on the list are hoping for a similar story to the one of Lynch.
5 Fired - Lio Rush
Rush almost sunk his career before it even got the chance to blossom on a WWE stage. Following the release of Emma, Rush sent out an insensitive tweet that rubbed the entire WWE locker room the wrong way. Knowing Vince’s style, he might have released the performer altogether.
Thankfully for Rush, Triple H was taking care of the talent at the time. Knowing the type of potential he has along with his immaturity Hunter let the tweet slide, however he did unleash on Rush regardless. Things could have played out much worse for Rush had he been on the main roster.
4 Soft Spot - Roman Reigns
Surprising, right? This one has to be the one of the most obvious entries on the list. McMahon has always been high on Roman usually telling wrestlers to make him look like a million bucks even early on during his main roster run. It appeared as though the relationship soured following his suspension. However, it was only temporary as Roman would restore his spot as the face of the company shortly after.
The talent main evented the last four WrestleMania events and if the rumors are true he’ll break the record closing off the show for a fifth consecutive time. All of this doesn’t happen if not for Vince’s close connection with the talent.
3 Fired – TJP
Vince McMahon taking over the Cruiserweight Division turned out to be a monumental mistake. Hunter built the brand beautifully with the Cruiserweight Classic. TJP won the event however it became evident that McMahon didn’t see eye-to-eye with Hunter on the decision. His title run was short-lived as he dropped the championship to veteran Brian Kendrick.
McMahon doesn’t see Perkins in the same light at The Game. Heck, he made Perkins change his name due hating the Perkins restaurant. This just goes to show how little McMahon thinks of TJP. Unsurprisingly, TJP’s winning a lot more matches since Triple H took over.
2 Fired – Hideo Itami
Itami avoided the wrath of Vince McMahon for the simple fact that he really hasn’t dealt with the boss all that much since his debut way back in 2014. Instead, Itami deals with Triple H whether it was during his NXT run or his current journey with 205 Live.
The biggest downfall for Itami hasn’t been his booking but his injuries in the last couple of years. This has led to inconsistent television time. Factor in that he’s set to turn 38 and the talent would be out the door if it was up to Vince given these factors. Thankfully for the talent, he’s still working with Triple H who seems to have a soft spot for his abilities.
1 Soft Spot – The Undertaker
There isn’t a single wrestler on the planet that McMahon respects more than The Undertaker. Triple H admitted that these days Undertaker does what he wants. He basically comes and goes as he pleases. He’s earned that right according to Vince.
WrestleMania XXX was a clear example of Vince’s love for the Deadman. The Undertaker not only lost the match, but he was rushed to hospital following the defeat, as he suffered a concussion during the bout. A concerned McMahon actually left the biggest show of the year to attend to his favorite WWE star. The bond between these two continues on to this very day.