- This article is about Vincent Kennedy McMahon, current chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment. For his father, see Vincent J. McMahon.
Early Life and Career
McMahon attended Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro, Virginia, where he became the first cadet in the school's history to be court-martialed. He was not convicted, however. He graduated from East Carolina University in 1968 with a degree in Business Administration/Marketing. He had married Linda Edwards, three years his junior, in 1966. His first child, Shane Brandon McMahon, was born in 1970.
McMahon was actually raised as Vinnie Lupton. His mother, Victoria 'Vicki' Lupton, remarried after her first marriage to famed wrestling promoter Vincent J. McMahon failed during World War II. McMahon also has a slightly older brother, Rodney, who is understood to work in the steel industry in Texas.
McMahon didn't meet his biological father until he was 12. Living in a trailer park in North Carolina, he had only known a string of abusive stepfathers until his mother revealed that his father was McMahon. McMahon's company, the WWWF, (World Wide Wrestling Federation) and its parent company the Capitol Wrestling Corporation, had dominated pro wrestling in the Northeastern United States during the mid-20th century, when it was divided into strictly regional enterprises.
Vince Jr. and Sr. quickly grew close over the subsequent years, and Vince Jr. was fascinated by the pro wrestling business. He became involved in it himself after a ring announcer left abruptly over money and his father needed a quick replacement, but his father wasn't pleased by his son's eagerness to be in the business, since he knew how difficult it could be.
The elder McMahon was willing to give his son, then a struggling traveling salesman, a shot, however, in Bangor, Maine. In 1971 he promoted his first wrestling card there. In 1972, in addition to promoting, McMahon provided play-by-play TV commentary for the WWWF, but promotion was his real interest.
Throughout the 1970s, McMahon became a prominent force in his father's company, tripling the WWWF's TV syndication and pushing for the renaming of the company to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). The young McMahon was also behind the famous Muhammad Ali versus Antonio Inoki match of 1976, the year his daughter, the now Stephanie McMahon-Levesque was born. In 1979, the WWWF became the WWF and Vincent K. purchased the Cape Cod Coliseum, which held both hockey and wrestling events. In 1980 he incorporated Titan Sports, Inc., which would purchase the Capitol Wrestling Corporation from his father in 1982.
Against his father's express wishes, McMahon began a national expansion process that would fundamentally change the business. By 1983, Vince had full control and ownership of the WWF and its future direction, having bought out all of his father's former partners, including the legendary Gorilla Monsoon. (As part of the deal, Vince promised Monsoon lifetime employment, and Monsoon did in fact remain affiliated with the WWF until his death). Vince's father died in 1984, leaving his son behind to carry on his pro wrestling legacy. The first thing he did as full owner of the WWF was to break away from the National Wrestling Alliance, as his vision of a new, national wrestling promotion was incompatible with their old-school promoting philosophy.
In Rocky III, Hulk Hogan began to exploit his new-found celebrity, and returned to Vince McMahon's all-new WWF. Hogan won the WWF Title just weeks after his return, on January 23, 1984, and helped engineer Hogan's insurgence into the mainstream entertainment media, in which Hogan was portrayed as the ultimate all-American good guy. McMahon did not stop there, however, inviting rock and pop stars such as Cyndi Lauper to participate in WWF storylines in what would come to be called the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection. The popularity of the WWF increased exponentially as MTV often featured wrestling in its programming to follow the exploits of music stars and other celebrities in the wrestling world. McMahon called the incorporation of pro wrestling among other types of entertainment such as music and movies Sports Entertainment. Hogan even co-hosted Saturday Night Live and had his own CBS cartoon series. With Hulk Hogan as the performer, and McMahon as the promoter, the two worked to take the pro wrestling business to places no one ever deemed imaginable.
Around the same time, McMahon publicly admitted the secret behind kayfabe in pro wrestling: that its outcomes were predetermined, moves planned and rehearsed, and that wrestlers played character roles much like Hollywood actors do. While general knowledge to most wrestling fans, this admission broke the final taboo of the old ways of wrestling, and earned McMahon much ire among old-school fans, wrestlers, and promoters, who were already incensed at McMahon for his invasion into long-held NWA territories. Then-NWA Champion Harley Race was very vocal of his frustrations toward McMahon and the WWF; when promoting a show in his hometown of Kansas City, Race supposedly attempted to burn down a WWF ring. Interestingly, Race jumped ship to the WWF just two years later, and became "King" Harley Race.
The culmination of the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection was the first-ever WrestleMania event at Madison Square Garden in New York City. While wrestling mega-events were not a new idea (the NWA's StarrCade had existed for several years), WrestleMania, held on March 31, 1985, was innovative in its inclusion of mainstream stars, including Mr. T, Cyndi Lauper, old pal Muhammad Ali, Billy Martin, Liberace, and the Radio City Rockettes. McMahon promoted the event across the country on closed-circuit TV (pay-per-view technology was not yet sufficiently developed), pouring all of his and his company's resources into what was widely seen in the business as a long shot.
The investment paid off, and the inaugural WrestleMania was a resounding financial success. The show became an annual event, held every March or April, with it already completing 21 incarnations. WrestleMania III on March 29, 1987 was the most popular, drawing 93,173 fans to the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan and many more viewers on PPV for the much-anticipated showdown between WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and challenger André the Giant. This is the famous match which saw Hogan body slam the 7'4", 520-pound Giant, and hand André a rare pinfall defeat.
Also in 1987, McMahon launched a second annual PPV extravaganza, known as the Survivor Series, held roughly every Thanksgiving. In August 1988, the SummerSlam series was launched, and then in January 1989 the Royal Rumble spectacular was added to the calendar. Things stayed like this until 1993, when a fifth PPV, King of the Ring launched. By 1996, the WWF were promoting 12 pay-per-view cards; one a month. The big five events stayed in their traditional places, while the other months played host to the In Your House shows, which were generally shorter and cheaper to view than the main five shows. In September 1997, the In Your House concept was amended to fill three hours as per the other five main cards, and it has roughly remained this way ever since with, McMahon now promoting one, maybe two, three-hour PPV cards each calendar month.
From 1988 to around 1992, the WWF firmly ruled when it came to "sports entertainment." At roughly the same time, some die-hard NWA territories run by Jim Crockett, Jr., badly bruised by McMahon's ego and his garish comic book heroes, sold up to Ted Turner, thus creating WCW. WCW never really troubled the WWF at this juncture when it came to TV ratings or attendances, but it was generally accepted amongst many that WCW had the edge when it came to "real" pro wrestling.
However, around 1992, things began to change. Alleged steroid abuse among the wrestlers came under scrutiny, and Hulk Hogan was nearing the end of his big run in the WWF at the time. The equally 'well-sculptured' Sid Justice vanished, and a comeback run for the 'chiseled' Ultimate Warrior was aborted that year after 7 months. Smaller, more technical wrestlers such as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair were prime beneficiaries of this shift in focus, as were rather unorthodox stars such as the "sumo" wrestler Yokozuna. However, silly storylines and characters still abounded throughout 1993 in particular, with an expensive and failed attempt to turn Lex Luger into the next Hogan not helping matters. By 1994, things were slowly turning in WCW's favor, especially when they signed Hulk Hogan.
McMahon was put on trial in 1994, accused of distributing steroids to his wrestlers. As a legal move, his wife Linda was made CEO of the WWF during the trial. He was acquitted of all charges, but later admitted taking steroids himself in the 80s. The prosecution made Hulk Hogan its star witness, and his testimony in the trial severely damaged the two's friendship. Despite not being convicted, McMahon and the WWF took a major public relations hit. The WWF's popularity definitely declined from that point, mainly in part to even more dumb ideas and matches being served up in Vince's enforced absence.
The Monday Night Wars and WWF Attitude
In 1997, the WWF and its flagship show on the USA Network, Monday Night Raw, were consistently losing the ratings war with WCW and its new show, WCW Monday Nitro, which premiered in September 1995. Despite the fans' loud yearning for less over-the-top gimmicks like "The Patriot" and "Doink the Clown", the returning McMahon resisted, and the WWF product was very much as it had been in late 80s and early 90s. Meanwhile, WCW's nWo storyline, which blurred the division between pro wrestling and reality, was cutting edge, and viewers deserted the WWF in droves. Eventually, taking notice of his main competition as well as upstart Extreme Championship Wrestling, McMahon started moving the WWF toward more adult-oriented and reality-based storylines. This concept, which the WWF openly marketed as WWF Attitude, began in earnest with the infamous Montreal Screwjob at that year's Survivor Series PPV in November. At the event, Vince McMahon conspired to remove the WWF Championship from then-champion Bret Hart, who was soon leaving for the rival WCW. The event went down, and WWF fans witnessed McMahon – who to many was largely known as an announcer rather than the WWF owner – "screw" Bret Hart out of the WWF Title "for real."
After the 1997 Survivor Series, McMahon inserted himself into the WWF show as an evil owner character, Mr. McMahon, who (fictionally) conspired and meddled in the affairs of other fan favorite wrestlers. He eventually led various heel stars in the 'Corporation' stable, which complimented the prolific Austin vs. McMahon feud which saw popular beer-guzzling, finger-waving, profanity-spewing anti-hero Stone Cold Steve Austin challenge McMahon's authority every week on Raw, and business really picked up.
In the spring of 1998, the WWF solidified itself as the wrestling ratings king and never looked back. After a complex storyline with The Undertaker in 1999 (as a super-monster heel who terrorized his daughter, Stephanie), McMahon turned turned face, but quickly turned heel when he revealed he was in cahoots with the Undertaker all along (so he could gain Stephanie's control of the WWF and thwart Austin); however, Linda foiled McMahon's scheme by naming Austin co-general manager of RAW.
McMahon then turned face once again during a feud with Triple H. On the September 16, 1999 edition of SmackDown!, McMahon defeated Triple H to become the WWF Champion with assistance from several people including his son Shane and Stone Cold Steve Austin. The feud with Triple H intensified that fall, upon Stephanie's engagement to Test; at the wedding, Triple H showed video footage of him eloping with an obviously-drugged Stephanie at a drive-through wedding chapel in Las Vegas. In December of that year, McMahon (as a babyface) established himself as a legitimate physical presence in a thirty minute 'No Holds Barred' match with Triple H at the Armageddon PPV. However, Stephanie turned heel when she betrayed her father at the end of the match, thus starting the McMahon-Helmsley Era storyline.
Mr. McMahon was both a face and a heel on WWF programming for the next several years, turning on The Rock at WrestleMania 2000, having to combat the WCW/ECW Alliance, and siding with Kurt Angle after the Alliance's demise. In 2003, Hulk Hogan, who had returned to WWE in 2002, and McMahon turned their real-life animosity over McMahon's steroid trial into fuel for a wrestling storyline, and the two had a street fight match at WrestleMania XIX. His last match was against Eric Bischoff on Monday Night RAW with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the Guest Referee. The Match ended in a no contest when Brock Lesner of SmackDown! interfered in the match by giving Austin an F5. During that time it was a heel vs. heel match, since Vince still had a feud with Austin and questioned his skills as a referee.
Now 60 years old, Mr. McMahon no longer wrestles and makes far less frequent appearances on WWE TV. When he does appear, he generally receives face reactions and makes fan-pleasing storyline decisions, such as firing then-SmackDown! General Manager Kurt Angle in 2004, and antagonizing former rival turned RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff.
The new millennium and the birth of WWE
Also in 2001, the North American wrestling landscape changed forever when McMahon purchased his then-failing rival, WCW. AOL Time Warner, then WCW's parent company, was looking to cut costs dramatically in the wake of its merger. WCW was an easy choice, since it was now losing millions of dollars a year after the departure of figurehead and nWo architect Eric Bischoff. ECW went bankrupt that same year, and McMahon purchased the rights to its video library and trademarks. This WCW, ECW, and WWF "merger" created the biggest and practically only major pro wrestling organization in North America. Since then, however, the WWF failed to hold onto WCW and ECW viewers as well as many of its own viewers, and the wrestling business is largely viewed to be in decline. In fairness, McMahon would be the first to point out that the company is still very profitable, making millions of dollars a year, and its brand recognition is strong.
Having saturated itself with its own talent as well as much of the former talent WCW and ECW, the WWF underwent a talent roster and brand split a year later, creating separate WWF RAW and WWF SmackDown! (a new WWF show broadcast on the United Paramount Network beginning in 1999) brand both with exclusive title belts.
Most recently Vince launched a 'new era' after the episode of WWE Homecoming on October 3, 2005, where he turned heel once again by showing highlights of his favorite moments of beating up Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin then made his appearance, told Vince he didn't like being made fun of and proceeded to show clips of some of their classic confrontations, all ending with Vince on the short end of things. Shortly thereafter, Austin stunned Vince. The other McMahons – Shane, Stephanie and Linda – each came to the ring, only for Austin to stun each of them.
The following week Vince attended WWE RAW live to publicly reprimand RAW announcers Jim Ross, Jonathan Coachman and Jerry Lawler (because they did nothing to stop Austin's rampage a week earlier). The skit ended when McMahon's wife, Linda, turned heel and "fired" Ross.
The 'new era' consisted of the return of Austin, Stephanie, and himself. With the storylines based on the rebelliousness of Stone Cold Steve Austin and the egomaniac Vince McMahon - basically a throwback of the old main event storyline from the Attitude Era. However, this was generally well-received by the fans, who mostly prefer to see the return of Austin and the McMahons rather than the concept of the storyline being the same.
McMahon married his high school sweetheart Linda Edwards on August 6, 1966. They have two children, Shane and Stephanie, both of whom are WWE executives. McMahon and Linda live in Greenwich, Connecticut, and are the grandparents of Shane's son, Declan James McMahon, who was born on February 13, 2004.
- "There's no chance in hell!"
- "You're fired!"
- "In the interest of fairness..."
- "Who the hell do you think you are!?"
- "Life sucks, and then you die!"
- "What about the money, huh? What about the money..."
- "I'M VINCE MCMAHON, DAMMIT!!!"
- "I'm a genetic jackhammer."
Wrestlers managed by McMahon
- Big Bossman
- Ken Shamrock
- Shane McMahon
- The Undertaker
- The Rock
- Big Show
- Triple H
- Stone Cold Steve Austin
On at least two different occasions McMahon has sacrificed Corvettes as part of skits, one where Stone Cold Steve Austin filled it with cement and another where Triple H, as part of a "divorce settlement", sawed it in half.
The cement filled Corvette is has been on display at WWE headquarters, since October 1998.
Championships and accomplishments
- 1-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion
- Royal Rumble Winner (1999)
- Vince has been involved in four PWI Feuds of the Year. He was in 1996 (vs. Eric Bischoff), 1998 & 1999 (both vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin) and 2001 (vs. Shane McMahon).
|WWE Champions||Succeeded by:|
| colspan = 3 align = center | Royal Rumble Winners
| width = 30% align = center | Preceded by:
Stone Cold Steve Austin | width = 40% align = center | First Time | width = 30% align = center | Followed by:
The Rock |- Template:End box
- McMahon's bio in PWInsider's 100 Most Influential Figures in Pro Wrestling
- Vince McMahon's media MMA profile
- WWE Official Website
- WWE Official Corporate Website