WWE: Vince McMahon - Is He Brilliant Or Insane?
It was earlier this week, twenty-one years ago that Vincent K. McMahon founded Titan Sports, Inc and began building his empire. McMahon took his father's legacy and transformed it into a multi-million dollar company, trading publicly, averaging an audience of fourteen million people a week through televised programming and even more through the Internet and several other systems alone - this isn't taking overseas audiences into the equation. No matter what you may think of Vince McMahon, the reality is hes the millionaire - possibly billionaire - CEO of an amazingly successful company and the godfather of professional wrestling as we know it today, whether he wishes it be referred to solely as sports-entertainment, a brand name synonymous with his company and name is irrelevant, McMahon is the centerpiece in the world of pro-wrestling we watch and enjoy. A strong argument could be made that hes a genius. A stronger argument could be made that hes also insane. Im not suggesting he writes RAWs programming on the wall with his own feces or thinks Rey Mysterio is secretly a lizard, but you only have to take a cursory glance at some of his eccentricities to see somethings up within the mind of Vincent K. McMahon. This is a man who has forced people, his own employees, friends and even his son, to stick their faces against his bare ass on national television. If you dont think thats just a little messed up then thanks for reading this from the comfort of your prison cell. Never known as a bastion of ethical business practices, Vince turned his fathers World Wide Wrestling Federation, a relatively small time territorial promotion, into the WWE, a globally recognized multi-media corporation. How'd he do it? Well when you bring it down to brass tax he did how basically every other successful businessman has - by being a ruthless, competitive, stubborn, for lack of a better term, asshole. Back in the day, promotions kept to their areas of operation, not just in touring but with their television deals and rosters. Nothing was official, it was just an understanding perpetuated by the NWA, an unwritten rule of good sportsmanship. The first thing Vince did after buying the company from his father was to sit down, possibly with other company officials, look into the sky and say to himself, "F#ck 'em, and everybody who isn't me," and began tearing the territorial system to shreds. He broke the code, toured wherever he wanted, and stole wrestlers from other promotions, most notably Hulk Hogan from the AWA, someone Vince's father had previously severed ties with after Hogan declined McMahon Sr's objections to Hogan's appearance in Rocky III. Everyone was understandably pissed off but were essentially powerless as Vince took over. Perhaps it was foolish to expect rival businesses to get by on the honor system, but the reality is Vince saw a soft underbelly exposed and tore into it. You wouldnt fault a wolf for killing a deer. After establishing himself as the prominent wrestling company, Vince made one gamble after another. Some paid off: Wrestlemania, monthly pay-per-views, Fonzie hairdo. Yet every time he stepped out of his element he wound up figuretivly pissing in the wind. The World Bodybuilding Federation was a disaster only eclipsed a decade later by the XFL, a blunder exemplified by crashing promotional blimps and a poor attempt to compete with the National Football League. These days, WWE Films continues to thrill empty theatres (Triple Hs The Chaperone made back a whole $43,795 of its estimated 3 million budget) but McMahon's determination to succeed never faulters, as he continually pumps millions into division, probably preying every night before his 4:00am workout that Dead Man Down, which stars Colin Farrell, Terrance Howard, Dominic Cooper and a brief appearance from Superstar Wade Barrett, will in some form be a success. Tout proved to be an immediate failure - the idea of allowing fans to publicly support wrestlers via their webcams or phone was idiotic to begin with - as was "Stand Up for WWE" which saw many questioning why they're standing up. Nevertheless other ventures have proved minorly successful, such as WWE's support for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure for Breat Cancer Awareness, and their Be a Star campaign. And while the wrestling business has wavered from time-to-time, it still draws huge crowds year round and continues to show profits. Some make the argument that its the very association with wrestling that dooms certain projects. As much as you or I may love it, wrestling still carries a stigma, a holdover from the carney era when wrestling was a con run at fares. Wrestlings pre-scripted nature leads people to distrust it. Others reject it out of hand for being low-class or uncerebral. Why this would affect your opinion of football or action movies is anyones guess. It didnt help that certain products themselves werent of the highest quality, but this is a world where Scary Movies are still being made so the bar is not exactly too low for limbo. But did you ever ask why does Vince McMahon still do it? Why invest millions in failed ventures instead of being satisfied with a near monopoly on mainstream wrestling in North America? Narcissism maybe. Or megalomania. Could be as simple as greed. Something drives him like a man possessed to expand beyond his element. Perhaps its to do with his upbringing. His real father walked out on him only to be replaced by a series of stepfathers, some abusive to him and his mother. Victims of such circumstances can sometimes grow up to be overtly aggressive delinquents. Others have an intrinsic need for control. Stories of Vince blowing up backstage over seemingly innocuous things are unsubstantiated but commonplace enough that some of them have to be true. Rumors fly about performers being punished for simple things like taking a nap or not greeting a VIP with due respect. The line between running a tight ship and becoming Captain Bligh is incredibly thin and Vince sails over it without thought. According to the most accurate of sources - my second semester Digital Media professor - Aristotle once said, No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness. Whether his continous attempts to gain the adulation and praise of mainstream media frustrate you, his vision that professional wrestling, or sports entertainment as he himself coined it, should be wholesome entertainment the entire family can enjoy angers you because you yourn for needless violence, meshed with random, non-sensical characters and a wealth of women's breats you can view on any low brow Internet pornography site, it is irrelevant. Vince McMahon is a true vision of success, one which never seems satisfied with what he has. At sixty-seven years old his determination to further his business and projects is undying, still appearing on television even through speakerphone if the situation calls. This coming week on Raw, three weeks removed from hip replacement surgery McMahon is advertised to face former rival Paul Heyman. It doesnt matter if it is brilliance or insanity, it's simply remarkable.
"I'm not afraid of failure. I'm not afraid to fail. I hate failure, I love to succeed. But I wouldn't say I'm afraid of it," - Vincent K. McMahon