Vince McMahon's 10 Most Embarrassing Moments as Head of WWE
There is no question that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon is one of the most important and successful figures in the history of professional wrestling; but for all the good that he has done for his company and the business as a whole, he has had some failures along the way as well.
It's fair to say that McMahon's contributions have been more positive than negative, however, he has been far from perfect. The WWE wouldn't be the global power that it is today without McMahon at the helm, but he has spearheaded several things from a storyline and a business perspective that have led to professional wrestling earning a bad reputation as well.
McMahon has been a very visible figure since the Attitude Era especially, but he has been in charge of the WWE since 1982, so he has had 30 years to make mistakes. Considering how long he has been in power, he has actually held things together quite well, but nobody is perfect.
Here are the 10 most embarrassing moments, situations and scandals that the WWE has experienced during the McMahon era. Some of them were part of the show and some of them were real-life issues, but all of them were embarrassing for one reason or another.
10. Hornswoggle as Vince's Illegitimate Son
For several weeks in late 2007, a storyline that sought to reveal the identity of Vince McMahon's illegitimate son developed. The angle was one of the biggest ones in the company at the time and fans were hoping for a big payoff.
It was rumored that Mr. Kennedy was to be revealed as McMahon's son, particularly since Mr. Kennedy was a play on Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
Plans changed, however, when Kennedy was suspended for his role in a performance-enhancing drug scandal. Rather than scrapping the angle completely and moving on, the WWE called an audible and revealed that Hornswoggle was, in fact, Vince's son.
Considering how much time had been invested in the storyline, the resolution was disappointing to say the least.
I'm sure that kids thought it was entertaining since they are Hornswoggle's only real supporters, but the vast majority of the fanbase couldn't have cared less. It's hard to say where the storyline was leading with regards to Kennedy, but it fizzled badly when Hornswoggle became the replacement.
Since the change had to be made on the fly, I'm guessing it was Vince's idea to go with the most ridiculous option possible. He succeeded, but the storyline most definitely didn't.
9. 'Kiss My Ass Club'
Vince McMahon has always been known as somewhat of an egomaniac, and the "Kiss My Ass Club" was a perfect example of that.
Beginning in 2001, Vince started a recurring segment where he would force a superstar to kiss his posterior in order to keep their job. William Regal was the first entrant in the club, but it would happen several more times over the years.
I suppose I can see some humor in it, but I don't know of anyone who actually enjoyed these segments. They consisted of Vince dropping his pants in a disgusting manner to reveal either his bare bottom or a thong, which was just as bad.
There were times when the likes of The Rock, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Hornswoggle got the better of McMahon, but it didn't make it any better.
For whatever reason, Vince has long had an infatuation with toilet humor, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that he thought this was a hilarious idea.
In the end, it isn't as if anyone was really harmed by the "Kiss My Ass Club" since it was just an angle, but it wasted a lot of valuable television time over the years.
While the XFL may not have had any true relation to the WWE other than the fact that Vince McMahon owned it, it certainly deserves to be mentioned on this list.
McMahon has been known for biting off more than he can chew at various points throughout his tenure with the WWE, and creating a football league to rival the NFL was undoubtedly one of his biggest blunders.
Vince wanted to provide football fans with an alternative following the NFL season, so he started the XFL in 2001 and even had a great television deal in place with NBC.
It sounded great on the surface, as it was meant to be an edgier league with fewer rules and it even allowed for players to put whatever they wanted on the backs of their jerseys.
The main issue, though, was that the players weren't any good. Every team was made up of undrafted college players and rejects from the NFL and CFL, so the talent level was lacking.
Interest in the league was initially very high, but it waned over the course of the 10-week season and it ultimately led to the XFL closing up shop after just one year.
While you have to admire McMahon for giving it a shot, he simply didn't think things through well enough and that led to what many consider to be Vince's worst business venture ever.
7. Vince Revealed as Higher Power
A group known as the Ministry of Darkness terrorized the WWE in early 1999 as The Undertaker and his minions looked to gain control of the company.
The primary target was Vince McMahon and his family, as Taker continually got the better of Vince and even managed to abduct Stephanie on a couple of occasions. Undertaker eventually admitted that his acts were a direct result of demands that were being made by a higher power.
There was plenty of speculation about who that higher power might actually be, but the reveal ended up being one of the biggest flops in WWE history.
After months of buildup, the higher power lifted his hood up and showed himself to be Vince McMahon. Despite the fact that Undertaker had been terrorizing Vince's entire family, he was pulling the strings the whole time.
This led to the convoluted Corporate Ministry and essentially killed what was a very promising storyline. There were plenty of compelling options that could have been chosen as the higher power, but Vince made less sense than perhaps anyone, making the angle one of the worst in the entire Attitude Era.
I'm not sure if McMahon was the choice from the very beginning, but if he wasn't, then somebody made a very big mistake by changing it along the way.
6. Vince McMahon Death Storyline
It would be a fair assessment to say that 2007 was a pretty bad year for Vince McMahon from a storyline perspective. Hornswoggle being revealed as his illegitimate son has already been discussed, but the angle that took place before that was even worse.
Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night was held on an episode of RAW in June of 2007, but things didn't go well for the Chairman as most roster members took the opportunity to blast him rather than celebrate him.
This led to a closing segment where Vinny Mac exited the arena and got into a limousine, but the limo shockingly exploded when he shut the door.
Fans weren't quite sure what to make of it, although any sane viewer could tell it was an angle. Not every wrestling fan can be categorized as sane, however, so that led to speculation that Vince had indeed died.
That is precisely what the WWE wanted, of course, and it seemed likely that the WWE would go as far as it possibly could with the angle. There were plans to stage a fake memorial service for McMahon, but real-life tragedy struck as Chris Benoit killed his wife, his son and himself.
The Benoit situation led to RAW being canceled and it led to the McMahon storyline being dropped. Obviously nothing positive came of the Benoit tragedy, but had it not happened, the McMahon fake death storyline probably would have dominated the entire summer.
The angle ended before it ever really got going, but it was terrible nonetheless.
5. Rita Chatterton Sexual Assault Allegations
Although it is an incident that has been forgotten by many over the years, former WWE referee Rita Chatterton, the first female referee in WWE history, accused Vince McMahon of sexual assault in 1992, according to TalkingPointsMemo.com. The allegations were levied against McMahon when Chatterton was on the Geraldo Rivera show, Now It Can Be Told.
Vince and his wife Linda ultimately filed suit against Chatterton for slander and it was never determined whether Chatterton's allegations were legitimate.
Even if Chatterton made the entire thing up, however, such allegations reflect very badly on a person, so I'm sure there are people out there who think that McMahon sexually assaulted Chatterton despite a lack of evidence.
There have been so many scandals in WWE history that this one usually gets swept under the rug, but it might have been bigger than anything else if proven true. McMahon can't be chastised in this instance since it's impossible to say what, if anything, happened.
At the same time, though, I'm sure that Chatterton's allegations were very embarrassing for Vince and his entire family.
4. 1994 Steroid Trial
There is no question that steroids have been an issue in WWE over the years just as they have been in every sport, but Vince McMahon specifically came under fire in 1994 when he was indicted and accused of distributing steroids to his talent. The scandal put the wrestling business in a state of flux and it could have potentially destroyed the WWE.
McMahon testified that while he himself had used steroids, he was not a distributor. The prosecution did its best to gather star witnesses to testify against him and even had Hulk Hogan in place, but things backfired. Hogan and the WWE had parted ways prior to the trial as Hogan went to WCW, but Hogan admitted that McMahon had never given him steroids.
Due to a lack of evidence, McMahon was able to get off essentially scot-free. It definitely left a black mark on the wrestling business, though, and that mark has only gotten bigger over the years as many former wrestlers have died young, with steroid abuse being viewed as a major culprit.
For the first time ever, the WWE seems to be taking the health of its talent seriously with stringent drug testing in place, but none of that can erase how prevalent steroid abuse was at one time in professional wrestling.
3. Montreal Screwjob
Not only is it the most infamous moment in professional wrestling history, but the Montreal Screwjob is the event that essentially created the on-screen Mr. McMahon character.
WWE Champion Bret Hart was set to leave the WWE in late 1997 in favor of WCW, due to a sizable pay increase. McMahon wanted Hart to drop the title to Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series, but Hart refused, so Vince took matters into his own hands.
McMahon could have easily had Hart drop the title to someone else, but he viewed Hart's refusal as a sign of disrespect, so he organized a ruse that would legitimately screw Hart out of the title. In the match itself, Michaels put Hart in Hart's signature Sharpshooter and referee Earl Hebner called for the bell at McMahon's request.
Hart believed that he was booked to win the match, but it quickly became apparent that he had been screwed and it happened in his home country of Canada no less. Hart spat in McMahon's face after the match and assaulted him backstage, as well. Hart didn't handle the situation well, but his reaction was certainly understandable.
I'm in the camp that considers both men to be at fault, but it definitely reflected worse on McMahon. He may have felt like he did what he had to in order to protect the WWE Championship, but it was at the expense of the respect of many fans.
2. Chris Benoit Tribute Show
One of the biggest tragedies in professional wrestling history occurred in June 2007 as Chris Benoit murdered his wife and son before killing himself while still a member of the WWE's active roster. Wrestling fans were absolutely shocked to find out about Benoit's death, and it wasn't initially known how the killings had happened, so many assumed that it was a home invasion of some kind.
The WWE brass clearly believed that to be the case as well since RAW was canceled that night and replaced with a Benoit tribute show. It may have made sense at the time, but in retrospect it is one of the worst decisions the WWE has ever made, as Benoit was ultimately outed as a monster.
The WWE didn't have all the facts, but it basically celebrated Benoit's life after he had heartlessly murdered his family.
The details surrounding the deaths were suspicious to say the least, so the WWE really should have held off until things became more clear. It's possible that Vince McMahon had wrestlers in his ear telling him that a tribute show was the right move, but Vince ultimately made the decision and it was the wrong one.
People often try to rationalize Benoit's actions by saying that he had suffered countless concussions and abused steroids, which limited his cognitive ability. Even if that was the case, Benoit didn't deserve a tribute and it reflected badly upon McMahon for giving him one.
1. Owen Hart Tragedy
Owen Hart was one of the most beloved men in the wrestling business, but he was taken from his family, friends and fans suddenly on May 23, 1999, due to a stunt gone terribly wrong. Owen had reprised the role of The Blue Blazer, which he played earlier in his career; part of his character was that he would descend from the rafters much like Sting in WCW.
Hart was supposed to do precisely that prior to his match with The Godfather at Over The Edge, but a malfunction occurred, causing him to fall to his untimely death. Realistically, this was simply an awful, tragic accident that nobody should be blamed for necessarily, but many fans have intimated that Vince McMahon is partially to blame for Owen's death.
Owen supposedly wasn't comfortable doing the stunt, and if that was the case, then he probably shouldn't have been forced into doing it. Also, Hart was an incredibly talented wrestler who shouldn't have been saddled with the Blazer gimmick to begin with. Things went ahead as McMahon wanted, though, and the unthinkable happened.
McMahon has been further criticized for continuing the show after Owen's death, but I don't really blame him for that since he had an obligation to the fans. Wrestling lost an incredible person and performer when Owen died, and while I don't blame Vince, a lot of people do.
Owen's death was tragic more than anything, but I'm sure McMahon was embarrassed that something so terrible happened under his watch.