I feel like I need to defend professional wrestling before this post. There’s a stigma surrounding it as something only rednecks or unwashed teenagers enjoy. Sometimes, rightfully so. I’ve been to some indy wrestling shows that were not lacking in either. But there’s a whole group of people who understand it’s pre-determined, corny and, frankly, ridiculous, but love it anyway. I’m (semi-proud) to say that I am among those weirdos.
A lot of the fans who fit into this category watched wrestling while growing up, and thus appreciate how bad some of the characters and storylines can be. I started watching in 1998 when I was 11, right in the middle of the industry’s biggest boom. This was the beginning of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, the nWo (with “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan), and a bunch of other stuff that even non-fans have heard about in passing. It was the cool thing to watch, and the weekly storylines just kept getting edgier and edgier. The very first show I watched was smack dab in the middle of one such story, but more on that in a bit.
I was definitely hooked, to the point where the next step seemed obvious: watch as many wrestling tapes as I could, as often as I could. Many a crucial Saturday night was spent going to Mad Mike’s videos and renting the same four early-to-mid 90s PPVs on VHS. It didn’t do much for my social standing outside of the handful of friends I’d watch with, but I had piledrivers and that’s all I needed. I also watched to hone my sense of humor, listening in awe as Jerry Lawler claimed to see Vince McMahon’s toupee scuttle off of his head when the house lights went down.
Which somehow brings me to my point, which is this: Vince McMahon is, bar none, one of the most entertaining media figures on the planet. Many things have been said about him, but you just can’t deny the man’s talent and vision. More importantly, you can’t deny that he is the king of hilarious facial expressions and awkward body movements.
This is an effort to celebrate that fact. It’s a testament to a man who sacrificed his own body and well-being for our entertainment.
“Examples?”, you ask? Oh I have examples.
Wherein Vince McMahon Receives His First Stone Cold Stunner
Vince started out his on-camera role in the company as a play-by play man, calling the action in the ring. I personally miss this, and think it was one of his greatest achievements. It never got old hearing, for every single near-fall, “ONE, TWO, THREE HE GOT HIM oh no, no he didn’t only two.”
But a man can only dominate the announce table for so long before wanting more. Following an incident involving a disagreement with a wrestler (google The Montreal Screw-Job, or else this article is going to be 15,000 words), Vince decided to go along with the whole “everyone in this arena hates me” thing and pit himself against the most rebellious and baldest of his rising stars- Stone Cold Steve Austin.
It upsets me a little that so many people missed out on their feud, just because of preconceived notions of wrestling. It was legitimately some of the funniest and over-the-top television I’ve ever seen. I think it was such a hot time for wrestling because fans were tuning in ever week just to see which of Vince’s 75 cars Stone Cold was going to fill with concrete next. And each act of destruction was inevitably followed up by Vince’s classic “gulp of fear”
But it all started here, in some month I don’t remember but quite possibly November of 1997. Or some other month of 1998. All we can be sure of it, at some point, Vince took this monumental first stunner from his soon-to-be rival. It set up everything that happened between the two in the future, and without it we would not have the rest of this article.
It’s also the first chance for Vince to show how incredibly uncoordinated he is.
You’ll have to watch the video, because I can’t really explain what the Stone Cold stunner is, or how creepy Vince looks after taking it. First off, it takes a bit longer to Austin to set up the move, thanks to Vince’s flailing limbs and spastic head jerks. Once he finally drops, though, is when the real magic happens.
The move appears to knock Vince out, but he’s not content to just lay there looking unconscious. Instead, his eyes are open wide, staring without seeing. It’s almost poetic, as if he’s looking to the heavens for answers. Why did Austin forsake him? Why are people cheering so loudly for this blatant physical abuse of authority?
With this, the character of Mr. McMahon was born.
Wherein The Undertaker and Kane Break Vince McMahon’s Ankle
As I started to mention earlier, this moment occurred on the very first show I started watching. I had no idea what was going on at the time, but it turned out that Vince was continuing his never-ending quest to make himself the most hated man in the WWF. On the previous night’s PPV, he had enlisted the help of two “brothers” named Undertaker and Kane to team up and destroy Stone Cold for the WWF title. They both pinned him, leading to a segment on RAW in which Vince was to present one of them with the belt. With the two men in the ring, he proceeds to yell that neither would get the title, and begins to berate them. For some reason, no one seems to question why Vince would go through the trouble of spreading a red carpet across the ring mat and lugging out a nice podium if he was just going to be a dick about things.
This was admittedly a pretty ballsy move, with Vince perhaps forgetting one of these men was 7 feet tall and named “The Undertaker.” Speaking of balls, if this was an article about Vince’s greatest interviews, here is where I was list the time he claimed his beanbags were the size of grapefruits. Also probably the time he referred to himself as a “genetic jackhammer” in response to doubts about his ability to sire more children.
ANYWAY Vince continues his tirade until the Undertaker justifiably punches him in the face. Taker and Kane eventually drag their boss over to the steel steps, propping his leg up on them before slamming the top half on his femur.
Just look at Vince’s reaction. His hands, shaking uncontrollably. His face, frozen in a silent scream.
I’m not going to go searching through past academy award-winning performances to compare them to Vince’s agony, proving his superiority in every way. But I just want you to know that I could.
Wherein Vince McMahon Grabs His Ear A Lot and Makes a Strange Face
I’m going to admit up front that I am not sure when this is from. I want to say 1998. Vince has just been given some bad news, and he responds with something really baffling.
He gets this look on his face, a look that is equal parts confusion, sorrow, and insanity. Then he starts tugging on his ear. I’m going to guess this was meant to represent his descent into madness, as well as illustrate how the anguish was tugging at his tormented soul.
It’s also how I respond to all sources of stress and anxiety in my life from now on.
Wherein Vince McMahon Gets Hit so Hard with a Chair That the Caps Come Off of His Teeth
In another installment of the Vince/Austin saga, Vince decided that he himself would referee Stone Cold’s title defense against Dude Love.
Towards the end of the match, Dude goes to crack Stone Cold across the head with a chair. Of course, Austin ducks and poor Vince takes the full brunt of the blow. As Mick Foley says in his book, the shot is hard enough to completely separate his teeth from the caps covering them. I didn’t even know physics worked that way.
So Vince gets hit so hard with a solid steel chair that the caps are literally knocked out of his head. Look, I don’t care what you think of the man’s ethics, or what horror stories you’ve heard about him. He’s a billionaire that is willing to undo extensive dental work because he thinks it will be entertaining enough to make him even more money. You have to admire that kind of dedication, and to a certain extent the sheer talent it takes to make people hate you so much that they’ll pay out the ear to see it.
Wherein Vince McMahon Slides into the Ring and Both of His Legs Explode
This may very well sum up Vince’s complete lack of agility and athletic prowess. The scene was the Royal Rumble, an event where 30 wrestlers enter the ring, and are eliminated when thrown over the top rope with both feet hitting the floor. The final two men left, John Cena and Batista.
I’m not sure who was slated to win, but whoever it was, things did not go down that way. Instead, while setting up for the end of the match, both men tumbled over at the same time. Even more unbelievably, both of their feet hit the ground at the exact same moment. Clearly, they were going to have to find some way out of this.
Enter Vince, storming the ring with his classic arm-pumping walk (albeit a much angrier version than normal). He’s half in character as Mr. McMahon, pissed about the lack of a conclusive finish, and half out of character as Vince McMahon, pissed about the botched ending. His rage carries him all the way into an energetic slide under the bottom rope.
Now, I feel bad. I do. I’ve heard it’s extremely painful to tear one’s quadriceps muscle. A wrestler named Triple H tore one of his, and essentially had to re-learn how to walk. But when Vince stands up, ready to whoop on both Cena and Batista, his legs just give out and he crumples back to the mat. Since he still has to be in character, he just kinds of yells at them while sitting on his butt. Everyone watching at home and in the area stares at him in confusion.
Apparently, the mere act of sliding into the ring was enough to tear Vince’s quad. But Vince, being a true man’s man, refuses to acknowledge what his body has done to him. He tries to walk off a debilitating, horrific injury and ends of completely tearing his other quad, as well. Vince doesn’t do things halfway. And finally, it catches up to him as his spastic body turns rogue.
Wherein Vince McMahon Steps into His Limo and the Limo Blows Up and Vince Dies (But Not Really)
Probably the strangest segment on this list, it’s the only entry to showcase Vince’s supernatural powers. Following yet another storyline I can’t remember, since this happened after I stopped watching WWE, Vince is sad. Or mad, or something. It’s hard to tell, because the entire thing consists of him sloooowly walking past wrestlers who are lined up backstage. They stare at him like he’s lost his mind, but frankly it really seems like they should be used to this kind of thing from him by now.
After about 45 minutes of this, Vince finally reaches his limo. He casts one last look over his shoulder before stepping in and OH MY GOD the limo explodes into a fiery inferno of twisted metal and presumably various parts of Vince McMahon.
Alas, wrestling fans never got closure to this sordid tale. For a few weeks they started an in-depth plot to uncover who was behind the assault/murder, but then WWE wrestler Chris Benoit really did murder his family before killing himself, so that kind of put the kaibosh on any death storylines. Vince showed up good as new a little while later.
WWE fell under some pretty harsh criticisms for this storyline (amidst many, many others throughout their history), and to be fair they’ve often dealt with some controversial issues. But to reiterate my point from earlier, wrestling really needs to be taken with a grain of salt. You’re talking about an industry where clowns named Doink hit their opponents with car batteries. It’s not meant to be taken seriously. You’re meant to watch it, appreciate the athleticism, laugh at the impossible, and practice your Macho Man voice as you elbow drop your unsuspecting friends from the couch.
If that doesn’t convince you, here’s a bonus video of Vince getting hit in the face with a bedpan.
NEVER FORGET <3