Editorial Columns

The Rise and Fall of Mr. McMahon – Part Two

James Klonowski takes a look at the timeline of the Mr. McMahon character

I’d like to start by thanking everyone for their positive feedback on my article last week, but as the great Mr. McMahon himself says, the show must go on.

So, let’s get to it with part two on the chairman of the board.

Not everything Vince McMahon touches turns to gold, as evidenced by a whole plethora of ideas that failed to grab the audience’s attention over the years, but none failed bigger or grander than the invasion of WCW and ECW. What should’ve been the greatest story ever told since the birth of Jesus Christ turned into a piss poor version of all our hopes and dreams.

Instead of Goldberg vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. Sting vs. Undertaker. NWO vs. DX. We got DDP, Booker T, Mike Awesome and Lance Storm acting like WCW’s biggest stars. The threat didn’t exist. It didn’t get better with the inclusion of ECW either which consisted of pretty much most of the WWE roster. It was a mess.

Shane and Stephanie McMahon being in control of WCW and ECW respectively instead of Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman was another strange decision by McMahon, who portrayed a babyface throughout the angle. He was even back with Linda, who seemed to have forgotten her husband had been drugging her and having an affair only a few short months previously. WWE fiction is less believable than soap soapland sometimes.

What should’ve been the crowning angle to end all angles and take WWE into their next big boom period ended with a whimper just 7 months after it started. By the time WCW’s big hitters arrived, the invasion angle was but a distant memory. If only McMahon had waited until everyone was at his disposal. One of the biggest what ifs in wrestling history.

For what it’s worth, Mr. McMahon was the conquering hero that vanquished both companies in real life and on TV. The night after his side’s empathic victory at Survivor Series, McMahon reverted back to the dark side and soon began forcing employees to kiss his ass. Donald Trump only wishes he could get away with crap like that.

Once WCW and ECW were vanquished for good rather than keeping their entities alive and running three separate brands, Vince McMahon decided that wrestling just wasn’t the same without competition, so he created his own. Thus, the brand split was born. Raw and Smackdown were split into two in 2002, each with their own titles, rosters and general managers.

Mr. McMahon took a back seat to proceedings, allowing Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon to run Raw and Smackdown respectively. While Eric was tremendous in his role as the smarmy boss, Stephanie was just plain awkward as a babyface. With ratings dwindling on the blue brand, Mr. McMahon made his triumphant return to make his daughter’s life a living hell. As you do.

WWE TV just wasn’t the same in 2002 without Mr. McMahon. He is the ultimate villainous boss. As good a job as Bischoff was doing, he wasn’t McMahon. There was no question that Vince needed to return, but what followed was one of the worst and creepiest years in the history of the Mr. McMahon character. 

What can I say about Mr. McMahon’s run in 2003 that hasn’t already been reported in the news? It will be easier to name the things his character didn’t do, but for the purpose of this article here’s just a few of the controversial and outrageous things he did.

He repeatedly stabbed Hulk Hogan in the eye with a pen in order to sign their WrestleMania contract with the Hulkster’s blood.

He had an auspicious affair with Sable, Torrie Wilson, Stacy Keibler and whichever other blonde bombshell happened to appear within his vicinity. Some of the scenes were a bit too much even for porn channels.

He beat up his own daughter in order to make her quit as general manager of Smackdown, instead of, you know, just firing her. Could’ve been worse, he could’ve made her kiss his ass.

He threatened to have The Undertaker’s wife raped, his children kidnapped and murdered. Nothing says family-friendly TV than that. How he got away with saying those things on a wrestling show is anyone’s guess.

So yes, 2003 was a year we will never forget, mainly because it was the stuff of nightmares. I think Vince was looking to push the envelope as much as possible to see what he could get away with and was surprised with the answer. Thankfully he stayed clear of such controversy until the time he fought God and mocked the entire concept of religion while standing in a church.

Mr. McMahon removed himself from the limelight for a few years to let the controversy die down before the re-emerging in 2006, arguably worse than ever before. However, this time it was done for comedic effect as opposed to sheer horror.

The Chairman of the board was on a tyrannical reign of abuse of power, making the lives of Shawn Michaels and Triple H a living hell until the pair decided to join forces and reunite DX, much to the shock of Mr. McMahon. He rallied his troops, which were the Spirit Squad, a group of Male cheerleaders. Yes, the gimmick was as bad as it sounds.

Suffice to say, DX wiped the floor with them before Mr. McMahon and his son Shane took to the ring with them at SummerSlam. It was an entertaining bout filled with bells and whistles of course. DX obviously went over, but the feud continued. McMahon began to lose his mind due to all the antics DX were pulling and finally snapped. His rage forced him to challenge the rowdy pair to a Hell In A Cell match alongside The Big Show.

The match in question was one of the most brutal and enjoyable Cell battles in recent memory. The McMahons bled heavy and took an absolute battering before suffering to defeat to end the rivalry once and for all. Somewhere, God was looking down and chuckling at Mr. McMahon’s pummeling…. If he in fact exists at all. And even if he does, I doubt he watches Monday Night Raw.

The President of the United States has a rich history with WWE. He promoted two WrestleManias, hosted and owned Monday Night Raw for a week, and even managed to get himself in the Hall Of Fame. That’s what you get for being friends with Vince McMahon. 

Mr. McMahon’s on-screen rivalry with Donald Trump began in 2007 with the two constantly bickering like schoolchildren. Trump was portrayed as the good guy, but unless he was handing money out to people he was booed out of every building. Maybe Seth Rollins should try that trick.

The two Billionaires decided to settle the score on the grandest stage of them all with their famous hair on the line. Bobby Lashley represented Trump while Umaga was McMahon’s hired hand. Stone Cold Steve Austin was the man in the middle.

Hulk Hogan and The Great Khali were the original two superstars lined up for this epic showdown, but Hogan had creative differences then pulled out with a back injury. The Hulkster will never change. Anyway, Lashley won the surprisingly good contest, meaning McMahon got his head shaved bald at WrestleMania. Sadly, the Mr. McMahon character was never the same again. What’s worse is that Trump got to leave with that loaf of bread still attached to his head. At least Austin gave him the Stunner.

Three years of not a lot happening for Mr. McMahon, changed when the legendary Bret Hart returned to WWE thirteen years after the Montreal Screwjob. After making peace with Shawn Michaels with the most awkward hug seen on TV since Jose Mourinho embraced Antonio Conte, it was time to bury the hatchet with McMahon. 

McMahon had other ideas, and kicked Hart in the gut. This set up an angle for their eventual WrestleMania showdown. It was an excuse for McMahon to reminisce about screwing Hart, of course. The match itself was a sheer letdown. Hart couldn’t take any bumps, while McMahon was in his sixties and not able to do much either. Somehow the bout lasted over 13 minutes. Who was booking this crap?

Bret Hart pummeled McMahon with 13 chair shots before making him tap out to the Sharpshooter to finally close the chapter on that fateful Survivor Series night. It also closed the chapter on the character of Mr. McMahon, who was born on that very night in 1997 and left at WrestleMania at the hands of The Hitman. Poetic justice at its finest.

Yes, McMahon did make forays back to our screens in the years since but never as a full-time character. He would have the odd run-in with CM Punk, Brock Lesnar, Daniel Bryan, and Roman Reigns, but all were part of a bigger story. The Mr. McMahon character will go down in history as arguably the greatest villain in wrestling history.

Will we ever see another like him? No chance in hell!

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You can find the author of this article on Twitter @JK_CFC3Thanks for reading!

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