Vince McMahon is the godfather of modern wrestling, an American entrepreneur and media magnate worth a cool $2.8 billion. He was raised in a trailer park in North Carolina but went on to turn the World Wrestling Federation (now known as WWE) into a global phenomenon. McMahon is responsible for creating superstars like Hulk Hogan and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. He also became a character in his own right, going from a commentator to an in-ring villain, ordering wrestlers around and shouting his Trump-esque catchphrase ‘You’re fired!’
However, McMahon abruptly stepped down from his role as WWE chairman last week after the Wall Street Journal published a piece accusing him of a whole host of sordid, maybe even criminal, activities. There are allegations of people trafficking as well as disturbing sexual improprieties, which McMahon denies. However, his 50-year career appears to be over. In the course of that career, Vince McMahon the multi-billionaire businessman became the on-screen villain Mr McMahon. As WWE became racier and the absurd show increasingly needed a showman, the line became blurred – until, one day, it no longer existed. And now McMahon, too, has been fired.
His strange behaviour was apparent for a while. After all, this is a man who insisted on running with a storyline where he impregnates his own daughter. His on-screen daughter, Stephanie McMahon, happens to be his real, actual daughter. Yes, some will say, but wrestling is fake; it’s not real-life. No one really gets hurt. I’ve followed wrestling for the best part of two decades and I’m not so sure. Plot twists are arranged in advance, but performers regularly put their bodies on the line, skulls are damaged, bones are broken, and sometimes lives are lost.
Vince has a history of going to great lengths to attract viewers – even exposing himself live on air.