Vince McMahon took the wrestling business and turned it from a series of regional touring companies into a global entertainment business worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
For all intents and purposes, Vince McMahon IS wrestling.
Not only has he been the best in the business behind a desk, but he has also carved out a reputation as a great entertainer and the top authority figure, whether he is playing a heel or babyface.
Many authority figures have come and gone in WWE over the years. Some of them have been better than others, but none of them are anywhere near the level of Vince McMahon.
The reason for this is very simple. It is because none of them are Vince McMahon
Vince is not just an authority figure: He is the actual authority. Nothing happens in WWE unless Vince McMahon is on board with it, and the fact that everyone knows that is part of what makes him one of a kind.
You can't just package up a heel in a suit, have him put some babyfaces in unfavorable situations and expect him to be taken as seriously as Vince McMahon. It just isn't possible.
Why isn't it possible? Because nobody else screwed Bret Hart.
It has been 16 years since the Montreal Screwjob, and a whole new generation of wrestling has been born, raised and learned to drive in that time.
But no matter how much time passes, McMahon will always be the most realistic heel in wrestling because of that night in 1997. Even wrestling fans who had not been born yet know what happened that night.
Bret was going to go to WCW, and he was going to leave the then-WWF as champion. The final WWF match for The Hitman was scheduled for the Survivor Series against Shawn Michaels, and Bret was supposed to win.
Vince agreed to this but changed his mind and called for the bell as soon as Shawn Michaels put Bret in his own Sharpshooter.
Nobody really knew what was going on when it actually happened. Everyone at ringside started to scramble while Bret stood up, looked right at Vince and spit in his face.
That was the night everything changed for Vince McMahon. That was the night he became Mr. McMahon.
Despite his best efforts to justify his actions, nobody wanted to accept Vince's explanation of why he screwed over everyone's favorite Canadian.
What Vince did next changed everything.
He embraced the hate and turned it into heat for his character. The angle allowed fans to boo him until their voices hurt while cheering for whomever he put against himself in the current feud.
It was one of the most brilliant accidents in the history of wrestling. Nobody could have predicted that Vince turning on Bret could have led to the creation of the greatest heel in wrestling, but that is what happened.
In the years since 1997, McMahon has been both a heel and a face, but he always operates better as a heel. His gravely voice, over-the-top strut and animated facial expressions have only added to the villain that is Mr. McMahon.
They say time heels all wounds, and that may be no more true than in the case of Bret and Vince.
Eventually the two came to a professional and personal understanding, and even began to do business together again a few years ago. But McMahon will always be able to turn on a dime and make the crowd hate him because of that one night.
This kind of legacy has turned Mr. McMahon into a character we will never see matched again in pro wrestling. No matter how many other McMahons try, and no matter how many other authority figures come and go, there will never be anyone who can truly fill the wingtips of Vince McMahon.
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