Vince McMahon's Many Talents and the Shoes Triple H Will Have to Fill
Vince McMahon remains the wealthiest, most powerful, most influential man in the history of professional wrestling. He has consistently been at the forefront of the business for several decades.
Many wrestlers—notably The Rock—claim to have "done it all in this business." Vince McMahon is actually among the few men who can legitimately claim that—in the ring, out of the ring, behind the scenes and more.
With Johnny Ace and Vince McMahon off TV and a pair of GMs that are definitely beneath Triple H in the pecking order, Triple H has finally been successfully established as an on-air authority figure after a few years of trying.
Few realise just how broad Vince McMahon's array of talents are. Let us look back at his illustrious—and ongoing—career and see just what big shoes Triple H must fill.
Vince caught one of his early breaks as a ring announcer in 1969.
Within two years he had proven adept enough on the mic that he was swiftly promoted beyond this role to that of commentator.
This role is not one he has returned to subsequently, but it still adds to Vince's multi-faceted experience of the wrestling business, showing even this relatively lowly position in the performer hierarchy is that one he has personally been involved in.
Commentator / Announcer
Many elder wrestling fans will remember McMahon for his role as a play-by-play commentator, which he did from 1971 to 1997. That's one heck of a long career as a commentator, with McMahon being the "Voice of WWE" longer than JR ever was.
Fairly early in his career, McMahon was voted the runner up in a PWI poll for the best announcer of 1977. Its worth remembering that at that time WWE was not a national promotion and was one of many members of the NWA; there really was a lot of competition for the award, unlike today.
McMahon has occasionally returned to commentary since that time including this fairly recent video from 2009.
This is what Vince McMahon is best at and what he's most famous for. Paul Heyman and Jim Cornette, both hard men to impress, do not always agree that what Vince promotes is strictly "wrestling" but have both conceded that no one promotes "sports entertainment" as successfully as Vince does.
As early as 1971, a young Vince McMahon was promoting his first wrestling card and his role within his father's company steadily grew until he became Chairman in 1980. He purchased the company in 1982 and has run it ever since.
Creations such as WrestleMania are McMahon's own. Others such as the Attitude Era were done on his watch, with McMahon calling the shots on what ideas would run.
The Attitude Era worked in part because only things McMahon signed off on came to pass. This can be contrasted with Vince Russo's time in WCW when Russo did not have a filter like that keeping watch over him.
McMahon also commands the utmost respect of his wrestlers and has formed a close personal bond with many of the top-level wrestlers. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart have described McMahon as having been something of a father figure to them in their younger years.
Head of a Corporation
When a company gets as big as a WWE, running a corporate empire becomes a job in and of itself.
You can be the best promoter in the world and command the respect of all of your wrestlers and still go out of business (looking at you, Heyman!).
Jim Crockett Jr put George Scott in charge of booking so he could focus on the business side of JCP. Any sane person in charge of a major wrestling promotion would do the same.
Vince McMahon has thrived in his role as a corporate head however, making excellent business decisions from his purchase of the Cape Cod Colosseum to thet obtaining of WCW and ECW.
WWE's expansion as a global brand has involved juggling sponsors and since the company became publicly traded, investors have also had to be pleased.
On-Screen Authority Figure
Since 1997 Vince McMahon has played the character of Mr. McMahon, chairman and owner of WWE.
Mr. McMahon would remain a fairly constant presence on tv until June 2008, cutting down to being a part time performer until mid 2010. Since then Mr. McMahon's appearances are less frequent, though he still makes several a year.
He remains the definitive authority figure in wrestling history. Whenever wrestling fans debate the greatest feud in wrestling history, Austin vs. McMahon is frequently cited as the number one feud.
Mr. McMahon has generally been portrayed as a heel but he has also made a face switch numerous times, notably during 2001's "Invasion" angle.
Most recently McMahon appeared on SmackDown! for the first time in three years to assign Booker T the brand's new General Manager.
Vince McMahon wrestled his first match in 1998 and his most recent in 2010.
Though McMahon is not a wrestler by trade he has wrestled in a total of 56 matches to date, which is probably more than many people expect; 1999 was his most active year, wrestling 13 matches in total.
Considering his in-ring career started when he was 52 years old, McMahon has managed to be involved in a remarkable number of genuinely entertaining matches.
A muscular physique lent him some credibility as a competitor and he proved willing to take major bumps.
McMahon currently has a five-match losing streak at WrestleMania. I like to point that out to anyone who claims McMahon only buries other people and that his ego cannot be contained.
McMahon's WrestleMania match with Shawn Michaels won PWI's Match of the Year award in 2006. Being partnered with the best wrestler of all time must have helped, but McMahon played his part too, and the match earned its award.
How many Chairmen/CEOs literally bleed for their company?
Head of a Dynasty
Maintaining a marriage in the wrestling world is hard. The lifestyle's tough, there's attractive women chasing the wrestlers everywhere and couples often spend long periods of time apart. Ric Flair, Jerry Lawler and Hulk Hogan have all had to handle divorces and John Cena is currently in the process of one of his own.
Linda McMahon has stuck by Vince's side since she was a teenager and from 1980 to 2009 assisted in the running of WWE. It may have hindered her political career but she stuck by Vince throughout the years.
Their daughter, Stephanie, has been involved in the company since modelling merch as a child. She began working full-time for WWE in 1998 and continues to do so to this day; she most recently appeared on screen at Raw 1000 but works full-time behind the scenes.
Stephanie married wrestler Triple H and the two will inherit WWE. Many were perplexed at McMahon allowing the couple to wed on his watch, as a young Triple H was a member of the Kliq, a group of wrestlers who sought to usurp McMahon's authority. However he has matured and taken on a major role in the company. In the last four years has put over many other superstars and did so again at SummerSlam, losing to Brock Lesnar.
Shane McMahon is no longer a part of WWE but he stuck with his father throughout WWE's struggles in the Monday Night Wars, only departing after the company's place at the top of the industry was secure, putting his body on the line countless times along the way.
Involving one's children does not always work well (Ric Flair, Eric Bischoff, you've both made that mistake), but the entire McMahon clan took to wrestling like ducks to water.
Beyond Vince McMahon
Recent reports indicate that Triple H is rapidly being given more control of WWE behind the scenes, arguably being the second most important man in the company after Vince McMahon at this point.
As a WWE lifer with a little experience in other promotions Triple H would be a solid choice as a corporate heir even if he were not married into the McMahon family. Few men have had Triple H's level of success, having been a regular in WWE's main events from 1999 to 2010.
Triple H first showed an astute understanding of the business when he joined the Kliq with Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash (Diesel), Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) and Sean Waltman (X-Pac). They formed what was effectively a wrestler's union to glean the best out of their employers, muscling their way to the top.
Triple H recently reached out to Bruno Sammartino over possibly inducting him into the WWE Hall of Fame. It appears Sammartino was more receptive than he has been in the past; given how many bridges Vince McMahon has burned over the years, Triple H's better diplomatic abilities could result in him repairing some of them.
A Final Note
A vital part of what we all love about Vince McMahon is his eccentricity, a trait which has led to him investing in some rather silly ideas, like the XFL and the WBF.
Having seen Triple H fail at acting in films like The Chaperone, Blade: Trinity and Inside Out, it looks like that same desire to break out into other avenues of entertainment, and same complete inability to succeed at it, are thoroughly intact.