IDIOT OF THE YEAR #4: Vince McMahon

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Wrestling fans never thought they would live to see the day. Vince McMahon is no longer the creator of professional wrestling. The former chairman and CEO of WWE, the square circle’s biggest promotion, was forced to resign in July after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and hush-hush payments totaling more than $12 million were made public. Make no mistake, that was a resignation, not a resignation.

Portions of McMahon’s on-screen character turned out to be a projection of his real-life antics – a womanizer who believes his power and money could protect him from the consequences of wrongdoing. And who can’t forget (but probably hopes to) the Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass Club, where wrestlers actually had to pucker their wrinkled cheeks? This is definitely the sign of a healthy person. The allegations made against McMahon have not been publicly denied or confirmed, but the former CEO’s reaction to the Wall Street Journal’s news might as well have been a confession. Rare screen appearances by 77-year-old McMahon became a weekly occurrence as the silent payments became public knowledge. Pulling back to the safe haven of the WWE audience for validation is the ego stroke McMahon needed.

WWE acquired Vince McMahon’s married daughter and son-in-law, Stephanie McMahon and Paul “Triple H” Levesque, along with CEO Nick Khan. Numerous changes have been made to the program since the elder McMahon left. Released talent was brought back into the herd such as Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman and Karrion Kross. The company’s shows feel less repetitive and more representative of professional wrestling as an art form, not fragments of McMahon’s imagination. The magic behind McMahon’s revolutionary and monopolizing ideas of professional wrestling was obsolete by 2002, exactly two decades before he left the company.

The aftermath of McMahon’s unwillingness to change WWE’s core product led to independent wrestling’s golden generation in the late 2000s. Most of WWE’s top stars were part of this charge. Remove Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Daniel Bryan to name a few from the WWE product of recent years. Things look drastically different. Now that actual competition comes from All Elite Wrestling, McMahon would have fallen further behind a viable alternative.

Beginning in late summer, a honeymoon period occurred during which Triple H directed WWE’s creative endeavors. And while some of it is spoiled, it just showed that the pole Triple H had to hit was the equivalent of an Olympic high jumper having to clear a baby gate. McMahon has made billions from WWE and other companies, riding into the sunset with his lifestyle still intact is a damn consolation prize most don’t have. And of course, it was recently reported that McMahon wants to return to WWE, citing bad advice to resign does not reflect his true views.

This is not a reunion that WWE or pro wrestling want to be a part of. Now that the details of McMahon’s promiscuous past have come to light, having someone with a resume in sports entertainment isn’t the validation one would think. McMahon is still the majority owner of WWE and has not relinquished voting rights in the company, which will be difficult to navigate if WWE has wanted to distance itself from McMahon and all that has been accused of him. Before this year, WWE without McMahon was unthinkable, just as he would not relinquish his ownership title, even to family. The last 12 months has proven that anything can happen in professional wrestling as it almost breaks free of McMahon.