Vince McMahon Takes Over America

Say what you will about Vincent Kennedy McMahon but there is no denying his success as a professional wrestli…..sorry, “sports entertainment” promoter. For over 35 years Vince has more or less owned a monopoly on the wrestling world that will not end until he dies or retires, whenever that may be. Through good times and bad, through several name changes, what we know as WWE has been a success and entertaining people for generations. It wasn’t always a monopoly though and it wasn’t always Vince running the show. There once was a time where he was only known as Junior while his father was running the business. Let’s take a look at how “Junior” became the most powerful emperor in wrestling history.

The original McMahon was Roderick “Jess” McMahon who promoted boxing, Negro League baseball, barnstorming black basketball and professional wrestling beginning in 1909. In 1925, Jess began promoting his various ventures in New York City at Madison Square Garden. That became his home base until his death in 1954. Before he died he founded his own wrestling company, the Capitol Wrestling Corporation that was stationed in DC but still running New York City. His son Vincent James McMahon took over after his death and became the most powerful promoter in the northeast.

Without going into an in depth chronicle of the history of wrestling, back in those days it was run in different territories. One promoter would run one part of the country and would honor a gentleman’s agreement not to stray into someone else’s turf or tamper with their top stars. Every promoter had their home state and home base to promote their biggest shows. For example, Vince J McMahon aka “Vince Sr” ran the northeast triangle which consisted of Madison Square Garden in NY, Boston Garden in MA and the Philadelphia Spectrum in PA. Instead of listing all three venues, Vince Sr’s territory was simply known as “New York.” Verne Gagne’s AWA was known as “Minnesota”, Bill Watts’ territory was “Mid-South”, Jimmy Crockett ran “The Carolina’s”, Christine and Jerry Jarrett ran “Memphis” and Fritz Von Erich ran “Dallas”. When one wrestler was leaving one territory for another, they would say they were going to New York, Dallas, etc.  As stated earlier, promoters such as Vince Sr, Verne and Watts stayed in their own lines and would trade talent rather than hoard it. For example in 1980 if Vince Sr needed a new top heel to work with WWF champion Bob Backlund, he would look around the country until he found who he wanted, then he’d call the promoter to exchange talent. He’d call up Bill Watts and say “Hey Bill its Vince, hey I really could use Ernie Ladd to work with Backlund can you free him up by September 25?” Bill would reply “Sure Vince, he’s just finishing up here so I can do that.” Vince “Thanks Bill, is there anyone you need to work the Superdome?” Bill “Yes actually, with Ernie gone we’re gonna need a heel ourselves so could you send Ken Patera right around that time?” Vince “I can certainly do that, take care Bill.” While exchanges weren’t always so pleasant with the promoters, this is pretty much how it went down from the 1930’s when wrestling became a traveling monopoly up until 1982 when a familiar face in the background would leap into the spotlight.

Vincent Kennedy McMahon aka “Vince Jr” began working for his father as his lead announcer for their local New York shows and eventually founded Titan Sports Inc with his wife Linda. Useless trivia but guess who the first person Vince Jr hired to Titan Sports? Madison Square Garden announcer Howard Finkel, that’s who. Anyway Vince always had aspirations of taking over for his father but he had bigger plans….MUCH bigger plans than what his father was doing. His grand idea was to go national, not just local. He wanted to promote whenever he wanted, wherever he wanted. He could care less about the boundaries and gentleman’s agreement, he wanted to take over not only his father’s business but the entire United States as well. Two problems stood in his way, one of which had nothing to do with him but simple economics. A lot of these territories were local for a reason, nobody outside of the area knew anyone else. In those days without cable television and the internet, nobody in rural Alabama used to the Fuller/Welch territory had no earthly idea what was going on in Madison Square Garden unless they happened to read wrestling magazines. Also unless you had the free time to drive from Louisville, Kentucky all the way to New York, you would have had no idea when someone lost a loser’s leave match that they’d end up somewhere else. You just assumed they were flipping burgers at a dive bar somewhere out of town. Also in the late 70’s cable television was in its infancy so if Vince Jr wanted to go national, he would need to find a way to secure a cable TV deal. The second problem he faced was in order to go national, he would need a larger than life star to carry the torch. The NWA world champion had to be good enough to work with everyone and on the mic to talk fans into the stands, Vince Jr would need someone similar he could promote across the country. Someone like Ric Flair would be able to draw houses in Georgia, Texas and Minnesota but someone like Ken Patera couldn’t (no disrespect to Ken). The current WWF champion Backlund was a former NCAA wrestling champion and a brilliant technical wrestler. The problem with Bob was as a babyface he was about as exciting as a glass of water on the mic. Vince knew that if he wanted to draw houses all across the country, Backlund couldn’t possibly be that guy. Finally, Vince Jr made his move in 1982 when Titan Sports Inc purchased Capitol Wrestling from Vince Sr., Vince Jr would be running the show but Vince Sr gave a very stern warning. If Junior missed just one payment, he would default the company to Vince’s original three partners Gorilla Monsoon, Phil Zacko and Arnold Skaaland. To show his gratitude he gave Monsoon a lifetime announcer gig, Skaaland became a lifelong agent and Zacko would have his name credited as promoter on every televised event. Now Junior needed a star to run with the ball, and he happened to find his man in the AWA.

Does the name Sterling Golden make you want to buy a ticket to see wrestling? What about Terry Boulder? No? Well neither did Vince Sr when he secured the services of a green 6 foot 8, 300 pound 3 year rookie who broke into the business in 1977 in Florida. The man known as Terry Bollea got his start in Florida, moved on to Memphis and worked the territories as Golden or Boulder until coming to New York in 1979. Since the WWF already had an Italian in Bruno Sammartino and a Puerto Rican in Pedro Morales, Vince Sr decided to turn the Italian Terry Boulder into “The Incredible” Hulk Hogan to appeal to the Irish crowds in Madison Square Garden. He made his debut as a heel wearing a fancy hat, long robe and was managed by “Classy” Freddie Blassie, one of the greatest heel managers ever. Hogan got over with the crowd with his high impact power moves and feuded mostly with Andre The Giant rather than Backlund. In 1980 Hogan was offered the role of Thunderlips in the upcoming movie Rocky III and Vince Sr said if Hulk took the role, he’d never wrestle in New York again. Hulk ignored him and took the role, eventually meeting Sylvester Stallone and Mr. T while filming. Vince Sr blackballed him from WWF and told promoters around the country not to give him work.

While Hogan was back in Florida, Verne and Greg Gagne saw Hulk’s potential and said to come work up in Minnesota. Hogan made his AWA debut in 1981 as a heel but for whatever reason fans began cheering him. The AWA had a habit of showcasing the same guys no matter how old they got so seeing Hulk was a breath of fresh air. Greg and Verne told Hogan to run with it and soon Hulkamania was born. Hogan rose to the top of the AWA by 1983 and he stumbled upon an untapped resource for revenue, merchandising. At that time the only extra bucks a wrestler could make was selling 8 X 10’s of themselves at concession stands during intermission. Hogan began custom making t-shirts either saying “American Made” or “Hulkamania” and sold those along with 8 X 10’s. Another venture Hogan liked to take was working in Japan which paid American wrestlers better than most American promoters. Legendary wrestler Stan Hansen chose to wrestle the majority of his career in Japan because of how well he was paid. That’s where Hogan and Verne began to butt heads. Verne was stuck in the old time promoter’s mindset that he deserved to get all the money, not Hogan. Not only did he demand the majority of the profits from t-shirt and photo sales but he wanted the majority of Hogan’s paychecks from Japan. For a while Hogan simply told Verne to pound sand, but when the time came to put the AWA title on Hulk, Hogan figured out that would be the only way Verne could truly control him and what he did. Hulk began to grow tired of Verne constantly harassing him over money and word of his unhappiness reached Vince Jr. Vince had just secured a cable TV deal to air WWF All-American Wrestling on September 4, 1983 on the USA Network and he figured if he could take the regional “Hulkamania” and turn it national, they just may have something. Hogan was booked in the winter of 1983 to work with AWA champion Nick Bockwinkel in yet another attempt to get Hogan to accept Verne’s terms as AWA champion. Realizing Verne and or his father would blow a gasket if they found out, Vince Jr contacted Hogan directly to organize a secret meeting. When Hogan met with Vince, Vince said he wanted him as WWF Champion and his top superstar. Hogan was skeptical but Vince made it clear while he’d be taking a slice of the pie, Hulk would get the majority of the merchandising profits and he’d leave Hulk’s Japanese money alone. That’s all it took and literally days before a cage match was supposed to feature Hogan vs Bockwinkel, Hulk signed with WWF. The story that Greg Gagne tells is that Hogan sent Verne his notice but Verne saw the address on the notice was from Tampa, Florida and assumed it was his long time friend and Florida promoter Eddie Graham playing a prank on him. This was no joke though, Hogan really was leaving.

Now Vince had Hogan but now what? He couldn’t just book Backlund vs Hogan because Backlund himself refused to lose to anyone without legitimate amateur experience. Vince let Bob know he was transitioning to Hogan and Backlund was disappointed but understand. He let Bob handpick his temporary successor and he chose his friend and training buddy Iron Sheik. Sheik was a legitimate Iranian wrestler who competed in the 1968 Olympics and later won the 1971 AAU 180 pound championship in the US. By 1983 he was 41 years old but could still look menacing in the ring so on December 23, 1983, Sheik dethroned Backlund for the title. Right around this time Vince looked at how Hogan was so easily obtainable just by offering more money and wondered who else would be willing to jump ship. He got his answer quickly when one of the top heel wrestlers Jesse “The Body” Ventura and the top announcer “Mean” Gene Okerlund jumped ship as well. Greg said that both Jesse and Gene had simply got up and left with no notice. Word went around the wrestling world that Junior was breaking all the unwritten rules and he had something very sinister in mind. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan also eventually made his way to the WWF but at least he finished out his dates like a true professional. Also what Vince began to do is sign all his guys to guaranteed contracts to work exclusively for him. Rather than Jimmy Snuka, Andre, Bob Orton Jr and Tito Santana work for a few months in New York then go to Crockett or Ole, Vince said they were HIS guys and his guys alone. The territorial pipeline was about to bite the dust because the only way to compete with that kind of hoarding was to do it yourself but I’ll get into that later. Back to the Hulkster, Vince had him make his debut help Bob Backlund against the heel tag team Wild Samoans and after Hulk cut a promo denouncing Blassie, seeing the error of his ways and he’ll bring the WWF title back to America. On January 24, 1984 in Madison Square Garden Hulk came to the ring to Survivor’s Eye of The Tiger as entrance music and dethroned Sheik to become the new WWF Champion. Now it was up to Vince to take over the wrestling world and he had his champion to do it with.

Other territories laughed when the title was put on Hogan because in those days the top draw had to work with everyone. While history shows Hulk was a bad “worker”, he wasn’t. As evidenced by his work in the AWA and in Japan, Hulk COULD get on the mat and wrestle but that’s not what the fans wanted to see. They wanted Hulk to be Hulk, not Backlund. (Take notice modern day wrestling nerds). Still, guys like Gagne, Crockett and Watts brushed off Hogan winning the title because they assumed fans would get tired of him. They were right but not for almost 10 years. It was very evident that Hulk was over with the crowd when he made his first title defense in the Philadelphia Spectrum and the fans cheered so loudly during his intro you couldn’t even hear Eye of The Tiger. Vince had his champion but he needed to go national, and in order to do that he needed to build an empire before other promoters knew what hit them. One way to do that was offer money not only to top guys but to underneath guys as well. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was in one of the featured matches for NWA’s Starrcade 83 and Vince felt if he could get that guy, he’d have one of the top draws in the country. Then he looked a guy floundering in Memphis named Eddie Boulder (Hogan’s old partner) and figured if he could take that guy and turn him into a star, ANYONE could be a star. All of a sudden guys like Bob Orton Jr, Tito Santana, Jimmy Snuka, Dr. D Dave Schultz, Jesse The Body and others started working exclusively for Vince. The fever spread to the boys working as well because they all got a piece of the house action and when Hogan was selling out left and right, they got a higher piece of the pie because of it. Suddenly people wanted to come to New York to ride the tidal wave. Vince rode a couple of hot months from January to April of 1984 to turn enough profit to consider the next step of the takeover. Vince let it be known you were either with him or against him and he was either going to buy you out outright or buy off your top talent until you had nothing. Vince gained allies when he purchased Maple Leaf Wrestling from Jack and Eddie Tunney in May of 1984 and made Jack the storyline figurehead president on camera for the next 11 years. Vince now controlled the wrestling market in Toronto then later controlled Calgary when he bought out Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling. When he purchased Stampede, he also got the services of four budding stars in Davey Boy Smith, Jim Niedhart, Dynamite Kid and Bret “The Hitman” Hart. While the foray into Canada was highly successful what happened next changed the course of wrestling history.

July 14, 1984 aka “Black Saturday” will forever be known to longtime wrestling fans as when Vince McMahon showed up unannounced on NWA television. Georgia Championship Wrestling had been one of the flagship programs for not only the NWA but for cable television station TBS. It had been there since the 70’s and up until this date, had been a highly lucrative promotion and TV show. GCW was run primarily by 3 groups, long time promoter Jim Barnett, long time wrestlers Jack and Gerald Brisco and long time booker Ole Anderson. By the summer of 1984 Barnett felt like he was being double-crossed and muscled out by Ole so he decided to do something about it. Barnett was interested in selling out to Vince but needed the Brisco brothers to go along with it. Sure enough, the Brisco’s sold out and next thing you know, on July 7th there’s Gordon Solie welcoming you to CGW and one week later with no notice there’s Vince McMahon showing reruns of his syndicated shows from the week before. At this point the rest of the U.S. promoters could no longer ignore Vince, he had bought out three companies in the span of four months and was hoarding all the top talent that he could find. The only hiccup with Vince’s expansion was TBS viewers were outraged. The “southern wrasslin” that Vince and his goons liked to put down again and again was what TBS audiences wanted to see. They didn’t want to watch the half assed squash matches already seen on USA or syndication so they complained to TBS head honcho Ted Turner. Ratings for GCW sank like a rock so Turner decided to bring the NWA back to TBS by airing a Mid-South wrestling program and a new Georgia program run by Ole Anderson. Vince got hot because he wanted exclusive rights to be on TBS and Turner told him to increase his ratings or stick it in his hat. Vince also made a power play to negotiate with USA for a 2-hour show on Monday nights. On January 1, 1985, Prime Time Wrestling made its debut.

Undeterred by the NWA and Turner’s insolence, Vince figured out what the next step of his takeover had to be. Mostly due to sheer luck, Vince stumbled upon MTV as his next source of revenue. Captain Lou Albano was catching a flight somewhere and just had to be sitting next to pop sensation Cyndi Lauper. The two struck up a friendship and she was able to cast Lou as her “father” in the music video for her hit song “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. What this led to is now known as one of the biggest yearly weekend getaways in wrestling but at the time it began with Lou coming out on WWF television bragging that he was Cyndi’s manager to his buddy “Rowdy” Roddy Piper on his new hot segment “Piper’s Pit.” Piper supported Lou but wanted to hear this from Cyndi herself and after a long, drawn out tension building month, out came Cyndi on WWF television. Lou heeled on her and she not only went berserk on him, but Piper as well. What this led to was Cyndi joining forces with up and coming women’s wrestler Wendi Richter to challenge Captain Lou’s WWF women’s champion Fabulous Moolah for the title. Vince turned his monthly Madison Square Garden supershow into a TV special aired on MTV on July 23, 1984 called “Brawl To End It All” Richter defeated Moolah for the title and the show drew a 9.0 ratings score which at the time was the highest rated MTV show ever.  Vince held off on his next special because he needed to build his newest top heel. Roddy Piper had gotten massive heat due to him attacking babyfaces on Piper’s Pit most notably jobber Frankie Williams and “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka. To make him top heel, Vince had to break kayfabe that despite being a heel manager for the past 20 years, Lou Albano was actually the head of the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation and had raised millions in not only money but awareness for the disease as well. Vince had Albano turn babyface by apologizing to Lauper and accept an award for his charity work. Naturally Piper crashed the party, beat the crap out of Lou, attacked Cyndi and her real life manager David Wolfe. The Hulkster took offense to this and it was time to plan the next MTV special centered around Piper vs Hogan. Vince turned his February 18, 1985 MSG show into “War To Settle The Score” between Piper and Hogan. The event not only featured Lauper in Richter’s corner against Leilani Kai, but TV tough guy Mr. T of the hit series The A-Team was there as well. At the end of the show, Piper’s crew of Bob Orton and Paul Orndorff attacked the Hulkster and T himself made the save. Vince had a very special idea for the next Madison Square Garden show on March 31 but he had a bit of an issue. He wanted this to be the show to end all shows with a star studded cast. Not only did he want Cyndi Lauper to come back to manager Richter in her rematch with Leilani, he wanted a special main event. He had a vision of Hogan teaming with Mr T to take on Piper and Orndorff but that’s not all. He wanted New York Yankees manager Billy Martin to be the guest ring announcer, entertainer Liberace would be the guest timekeeper and legendary heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali to be the special guest referee. This all seemed like a good idea, but the problem was money. Vince took a look at the books and realized there was no way he could afford a show like this unless he had to sacrifice something.

One of the most powerful members of the NWA was Jimmy Crockett Jr of Jim Crockett Promotions and he had plans to go national as well. His expansion was a lot less ruthless as he simply absorbed different territories over the years. He was running Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in the Carolina’s but made it known he was interested in buying Georgia Championship Wrestling from McMahon. Once word got to Vince that Crockett was interested, Vince saw his chance to finance his super show. After he had negotiated to get Prime Time on Monday Nights and the variety show Tuesday Night Titans (don’t ask) on Tuesday nights, Vince realized he could spare GCW and asked Crockett for double the amount he paid Barnett and the Brisco’s for it. Crockett foolishly accepted this offer and just like that, GCW came back to the NWA just in time for the birth of the Four Horsemen but Vince also had his money he needed. Realizing he needed to hit the home run show, Vince wanted to use an untapped resource for him, closed circuit television. The NWA were the first to use CCTV when they broadcasted Starrcade 83 on Thanksgiving afternoon. Vince realized that if MSG was sold out, a lot of people interested in watching the show in Philadelphia and Boston would be locked out. Vince knew he needed CCTV to increase his profits and he got it. Vince was able to finance the contracts he wanted and he turned to Howard Finkel and said “We had Brawl to End It All and War To Settle The Score….now we have THE COLOSSAL TUSSLE!” Fink looked at him weird and said “Uh, how about WRESTLEMANIA?” Vince “YES! WRESTLEMANIA!”

Wrestlemania turned out to be a huge success and combined with his national TV cable deals with USA, MTV crossovers and merchandise sales, Vince had built a juggernaut. The rest of 1985 was a steamroller building sponsors, gaining fans nationally and showcasing Hogan, Piper, Orndorff, etc as if they were rock stars. Old time promoters such as Bill Watts and Verne Gagne who treated his guys like dirt scoffed at Hogan giving boatloads of money to guys like Hillbilly Jim and George Steele. As the calendar turned to November of 1985, Vince found yet another new source of untapped revenue, pay-per-view. Not even Crockett or the AWA bums had the presence of mind to tap into the pay-per-view market. Closed circuit television was a way to still see the show you wanted if it happened to be sold out. The only problem with closed circuit TV is that it was local. Someone in rural Alabama would have no way to see Wrestlemania on CCTV but pay per view they could. Vince’s inaugural debut on pay-per-view was on November 7, 1985 with The Wrestling Classic. What’s that you ask? Vince’s bright idea was to have a 16 man tournament with the main event being Hogan vs Piper for the 40th time at that point. The event itself was a flop but Vince knew he was on to something with pay-per-view. He wanted to make the next one count and he gave himself some time to make the home run show. His next ppv wouldn’t be until April when Wrestlemania II was announced. Vince wanted to top his first outing by having Wrestlemania II broadcasted from THREE different locations. The show would begin in New York at the Nassau Coliseum featuring a main event boxing fight between Mr. T and Roddy Piper. The second part would be held in Chicago at the Rosemont Horizon (where Wrestling Classic took place) featuring a main event 20-man battle royal featuring pro football players and wrestlers. The third part would be held in Los Angeles at the Sports Arena with the main event being Hogan defending his WWF title against King Kong Bundy in a cage. There would be celebrities galore featuring everyone from A-listers like Elvira to obscure like Herb from the Burger King commercials at the time. The event itself was a success but the triple main event and triple location was tough to pull off. It stretched the announce teams thin and it just had this weird feel to it. Vince knew he had to top himself in order to make Wrestlemania III look good a year later. The problem Vince had was how could he possibly top himself this time. Hulk Hogan had been on top for 2 years straight and it looked like no one would be able to beat him. Who could he possibly face in the main event of Wrestlemania III that could stand a chance now that Bundy had been dispatched? Vince managed to sign former NWA Heavyweight Champion Harley Race but he was well past his prime and couldn’t be seen as a very serious threat to Hogan. As the months went by in 1986, Vince was racking his brain to come up with the Wrestlemania III main event. Paul Orndorff main evented the big August show in Toronto in front of 74,000 people but he wasn’t going to sell millions of dollars. Vince also had a problem when one of his top draws, Andre The Giant, had to take a break due to failing health due to his acromegaly. Then it hit Vince like a ton of bricks. Why not Andre?

Not many outside of the New York territory remembered Hogan vs Andre back in 1980 when Andre was the babyface and Hogan the heel. What if roles were reversed for Wrestlemania III? Andre had NEVER worked heel in the 14 years he’d been wrestling in the States and that would be something nobody had seen before. The problem was Andre was 40 years old in 1986 and would be close to 41 by the time Wrestlemania III rolled around and even Andre himself didn’t know if his body could handle the strain of working the main events anymore. While Andre was out with back surgery and doing a hokey storyline where he wrestled under a mask, Vince kept pressing to see if he was willing to turn heel and wrestle Hogan at Wrestlemania III. Andre finally relented seeing as this would make not only himself but everyone in the company rich. The heel turn started perfectly with Andre and Hogan both getting trophies, Andre for being undefeated for 15 years and Hogan as the champion for 3 years. Andre appeared to be jealous of Hogan and two weeks later, marched out with heel manager Bobby Heenan to challenge Hogan at Wrestlemania. The wrestling world was stunned when the Pontiac Silverdome sold out almost instantly as the WWF was presenting a match that hadn’t been seen on a worldwide scale before. The smaller territories were either beginning to go belly up or be absorbed by the NWA. The AWA was beginning to suffer as their top young talent began to go elsewhere because Verne continued to pay his workers shit and demand most of their proceeds from outside sources. Vince knew Wrestlemania III was his big chance to bury Verne and cripple the NWA once and for all. He threw out the home run show featuring a Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat match still talked about to this day along with King Kong Bundy beating up a midget. All his top stars were showcased in 6-man or tag matches just to get them on the card and the main event did not disappoint. Hogan vs Andre may not have been “worked” to perfection or one of the geeks “6 star classics” but it didn’t have to be. Hogan had to outwit and outrun his much larger opponent and when he slammed Andre, the thousands in attendance cheered in unison. After Hogan got the pin, not only was his status as a legend cemented, Vince as a promoter was as well. Vince himself admitted when he welcomed everyone at the beginning of the show and saw the size of the crowd he could feel Vince Sr’s presence with him. So not only did Wrestlemania III sell out the Pontiac Silverdome but their pay-per-view buyrate was 10.2 which has really never been touched again. Even during the 1998 boom period where WCW, WWF and even ECW was doing great business, nothing compared to Wrestlemania 3’s buyrate. The WWF took in a ton of revenue and never looked back.

In the aftermath of Wrestlemania III, the territories were all but screwed because the local promoters couldn’t pay them the way Jimmy Crockett or Vince could. Within four years they were all but dried up with the one exception of Jerry Jarrett in Memphis. The AWA keeled over in 1990 after Verne’s ticket sales began to nosedive when he continued to treat his employees like dirt. Vince went to work on Crockett in 1987 but that’s a long story for another day, but by winter 1988 Crockett was gone. The NWA had turned into WCW by 1993 and it took another few years and a LOT of complacency by Vince to have any semblence of competition again. What started with simply buying his father’s promotion in 1982 turned into an empire within five years and has survived every single promotion that has come down the pipe since. Vince McMahon is in his 70’s now and he has taken a ton of critcism about being too far in the past, but even with a much more older Vince there is no competition from other promotions. Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling each had their shot to dethrone Vince and both failed. In the 36 years since Vince Jr bought the WWF, nobody has been able to replicate the structure, schedule or stability that Vince has since. WCW caught fire in 1996 but burned out by 1999, folding in 2001. Impact/TNA/Global could never get out of the blocks due to one bad decision after another and Ring of Honor had their chance to go national but stayed local, maybe for the best. Either way if WCW and TNA are how NOT to run a wrestling company, especially if Vince Russo is involved, then WWF is a story of how to do it right.


One thought on “Vince McMahon Takes Over America

  1. A very good summation of what happened back then. I had a good friend who did a paper for his MBA on the, then WWF. It was around 1990 and he actually had the opportunity to interview Vince. Traveled to Stamford and sat down with him. What was supposed to be 20 minutes became an hour. Vince went through everything. Said Vince was very nice but that he recorded the interview to “protect both of them”. At the end he told my friend, “Pal, when you graduate, come see me. We always like to have smart people around”. He never did that and his career went another direction. He always said to never underestimate McMahon. He was a survivor and always found a way to make it to the next day. As time passes, many assume that McMahon was handed the company. As you detailed so well, it was not. There was a real risk of bankruptcy for McMahon. He faced that at least 2 more times in the future. Thanks for this!


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