Vince McMahon's 10 Most Unforgettable WWE Moments to Celebrate 74th Birthday

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2019

Vince McMahon's 10 Most Unforgettable WWE Moments to Celebrate 74th Birthday

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    Vince McMahon celebrated his 74th birthday Saturday, inching one year closer to three-quarters of a century on Earth.

    For many of those years, he has entered the living rooms of wrestling fans, either as a ringside commentator, interviewer or evil billionaire businessman hell-bent on making life a living hell for the popular babyface of the era.

    He has fired, screwed over and humiliated everyone from Steve Austin to Eric Bischoff, never once being afraid to abuse his power if he knew he could get away with it.

    In the process, he has been responsible for some of the most unforgettable moments in wrestling history.

    Celebrate the Chairman of the Board with these 10 moments that represent his very best yet are but a sample of the magnificence he has provided audiences.

10. 'It Was Me, Austin! It Was Me ALL ALONG!'

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    For months, The Undertaker and his Ministry of Darkness had wreaked havoc on WWE and its Superstars, all in the name of a Greater Power. They abducted Stephanie McMahon, sacrificed the likes of Dennis Knight (Mideon), Mabel (Viscera) and Ryan Shamrock. They were unforgiving, cult-like and menacing.

    As their story advanced, the mystery surrounding the identity of The Greater Power built.

    Who was the master puppeteer pulling Undertaker's strings and making life a living hell for McMahon, his Superstars and his family?

    After many weeks of speculation, we finally found out on the June 7, 1999, episode of Raw. Pulling a hood back from his head, McMahon himself flashed a devilish look and spoke into the microphone. "It was me, Austin," he yelled. "It was me ALL ALONG!"

    McMahon had sunk to such depths to get one over on Steve Austin that he set up the kidnapping of his own daughter, manipulated his closest friends and put the well-being of his employees at risk.

    To this day, the revelation is notoriously recognized as one of the worst in wrestling history. It was anticlimactic and smelled of desperation. It made sense, sure, but so much had been made of the moment that fans expected more, not more of the same.

    Still, despite the creative disappointment, McMahon was excellent as the braggadocios billionaire who was incredibly proud of his deception. It was further proof of his brilliance from a character standpoint, even when the creative behind it may have been lacking.

9. WrestleMania III

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    Those surprised by McMahon's ability to attract an audience to the first WrestleMania were floored on March 29, 1987, when 93,173 fans jam-packed the historic Silverdome in suburban Detroit for WrestleMania III.

    Headlined by the colossal clash between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, the event had a magnitude about it that had never been experienced before, even by prior stadium shows. The glitz, the glamour, the fusion of sport and celebrity and the monumental match card came together to create the first real Showcase of the Immortals, as WWE fans would come to know it.

    McMahon recalled in the 2012 WWE Home Video release The True Story of WrestleMania that, as he stood in the center of the ring, he could feel his father's presence. He became visibly emotional, with the gravity of the moment hitting him some 25 years later.

    Few promoters can claim to have drawn the massive audience McMahon did at WrestleMania III, let alone do so in the face of constant criticism and doubt about the way he did. As was the case numerous times over the course of his career, Vinnie Mac showed his proverbial grapefruits and reaped the rewards.

8. Battle of the Billionaires

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    The real main event of WrestleMania 23 was not for the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship. No, the marquee bout of that year's Showcase of the Immortals was dubbed "The Battle of the Billionaires" featuring Vince McMahon and Donald Trump. Each man chose a Superstar to represent them in a high-stakes match that promised a public, humiliating head shaving for the loser.

    In front of 80,103 fans in Detroit's Ford Field, McMahon watched as Umaga fell to Bobby Lashley, courtesy of some help from special referee "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

    The match itself was forgettable, but the post-bout shenanigans were anything but.

    Lashley and Austin forced McMahon into a barber's chair, tethered him to it and, with Trump, proceeded to shave the Chairman of the Board's head in front of a worldwide audience. McMahon was at his over-the-top best, screaming in agony as he was humiliated on the grand stage he had created.

    Left bald and splattered with shaving cream, McMahon tucked tail and headed to the locker room, proving there is little he would not do to entertain and make money if the situation called for it.

    To this day, it remains one of his greatest performances.

7. 'I Now Own WCW'

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    The March 26, 2001, episode of WWE Raw brought with it the conclusion of a six-year war with Eric Bischoff, Ted Turner and WCW, as Vince McMahon announced the purchase of his competition at the beginning of Monday Nitro.

    Over the next two hours, McMahon would revel in his victory, with the evil businessman willing and eager to manipulate the lives of the men and women who worked for the other team. He publicly fired Jeff Jarrett. He held a live poll of the audience as to which stars from WCW they wanted to see in WWE. He was insufferable as he celebrated the victory no one knew would happen.

    Then his son, Shane, appeared and announced it was he who had purchased the company, capitalizing on his father's hubris and signing on the dotted line before Vince could.

    The moment, simulcast across both TNT and TNN, made for magical television and enhanced the rivalry that would culminate in a Street Fight six days later at WrestleMania X-Seven.

6. Paging Dr. Austin

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    The Mr. McMahon character was in the midst of a not-so-enjoyable fall of 1998.

    Despite manipulating WWE Championship off of rival "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, he had incited the wrath of Undertaker and Kane, leading The Brothers of Destruction to physically assault him and break his ankle.

    This led to a series of pre-taped vignettes on the October 5 episode of WWE Raw that showcased McMahon's ridiculous, over-the-top performance, featured one of the most creative beatdowns in company history and introduced a new act to a beloved character's arsenal.

    The lovable Mankind visited a stubborn, hard-headed McMahon in the hospital and brought with him Yurple the Clown, some balloons and a sock puppet named Mr. Socko.

    Few could imagine the impact that puppet would have on the future of the Mankind character, but it was McMahon's reaction to it that sold the moment. Disgusted, he kicked the masked Superstar out of the room, titled his head back and said "Mr. Socko," almost defeated by the entire ordeal.

    From there, he became increasingly paranoid that Austin would somehow find his way to the hospital to greet him with an ass-whooping—and justifiably so because that is exactly what happened.

    Austin, disguised as a doctor, beat McMahon up, down and all around before smacking his head with a bed pan. The segment concluded with the implication that The Texas Rattlesnake had shoved a thermometer somewhere the sun doesn't shine, eliciting a scream of agony from the boss.

    The wild, unpredictable and ludicrous nature of the segment endeared it to audiences and was further proof of McMahon's willingness to be the butt of any joke as long as it entertained and made sense within the context of his character. 

5. The 1st Stunner

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    New York's famed Madison Square Garden was the site of McMahon's first Stone Cold Stunner on the September 22, 1997, episode of Monday Night Raw.

    After weeks of mounting tension and Austin stunning other on-air personalities like Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler, things culminated with an in-ring interview in which McMahon implored Austin to settle down and seek the help he needed for his injured neck.

    For the first time, McMahon shed his announcer skin and appeared more like a concerned employer seeking to help his rising star.

    Austin's answer? A Stone Cold Stunner, taken horrendously by the non-wrestler McMahon.

    Still, the fans in New York popped enormously, and the announce team was left in awe as the millionaire owner of WWE was physically assaulted by the Superstar who would go on to become his biggest foe.

    It would be quite some time before WWE mounted an offensive in the Monday Night War against WCW, but that stunner was the emphasis for the rivalry that would do it and, more importantly, the first hint that McMahon was willing to become physical to get an angle or storyline over.

4. The Beer Bath

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    The war between Steve Austin and Mr. McMahon raged on into 1999, and just days before WrestleMania XV, The Texas Rattlesnake had a special treat in store for the boss, son Shane and WWE champion The Rock.

    Austin drove a beer truck into the arena on the March 22 episode of Raw and, after a standard back-and-forth promo to sell the main event of that year's Granddaddy of Them All, produced a hose and delivered to the heels a beer bath.

    The idea of one man bathing his rivals in beer is hilarious enough. Like so many instances throughout his career as an on-screen character, though, it was McMahon's reaction that sold the moment.

    The boss hit the deck and began swimming in the beer, as if he thought he might be able to freestyle his way to safety. Arm over arm, kicking away, he went nowhere. The beer kept coming, the embarrassment continued and Austin had gotten one over on his most hated rival just days before he would dethrone The Rock to regain the title that had eluded him since the previous September.

3. September 13, 2001

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    Two days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, McMahon made the decision to go live with a special episode of SmackDown that would serve as the first major public gathering of any kind in the wake of the events a few days earlier.

    And he would be the first person to greet the WWE fans as the show went on the air.

    Understanding the gravity of the situation, McMahon spoke from the heart, both comforting the audience and inspiring them to live their lives.

    He was assertive but thoughtful, a father figure to a wrestling fanbase that needed the escapism the show was about to bring them.

    His strength at the moment helped to put the viewers at ease provided them the distraction from the death, destruction and fear that had engulfed the nation, even if just for a little while.

2. The Montreal Screwjob

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    There are moments in time that one can point to as the genesis of something truly seismic. For McMahon and his company, one such moment is the storied Montreal Screwjob.

    The 1997 Survivor Series pay-per-view featured a main event of Shawn Michaels vs. Bret "Hitman" Hart for the WWE Championship. Hart, a Canadian hero on his way out the door to the competition, refused to drop the title to Michaels in his native land.

    This forced McMahon's hand.

    The owner of WWE did not want the slightest possibility that Hart would show up on WCW Monday Nitro with his company's world heavyweight title and set out to get it off The Hitman in any way possible. As the 1998 documentary Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows detailed, McMahon promised Hart one finish but conspired with referee Earl Hebner, Michaels and other trusted confidants to screw his long-tenured employee out of the title in front of a worldwide audience.

    When Michaels applied Hart's own Sharpshooter, McMahon ordered the bell rung and stood defiantly on the floor, looking up at the now-former champion. Hart spat in his face, a sign of disrespect to counter the industry-altering events that had just unfolded live on pay-per-view.

    The line between fiction and reality was blurred; the fans in Montreal knew not of what they had just witnessed, but Hart's reaction suggested it was not part of the script.

    In the weeks that followed, Hart told his side of the story while McMahon took to his own television show to denounce Hart's selfishness and claim "Bret screwed Bret" in one of the most significant promos in WWE history. It was that sit-down interview with Jim Ross that sparked fan hatred of McMahon and planted the seeds for the evil Mr. McMahon character that was to come.

1. Austin vs. McMahon Turns the Tide in the Monday Night War

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    The course of professional wrestling history was forever altered on the April 13, 1998, episode of Monday Night Raw, when Mr. McMahon set foot inside the squared circle for his first match.

    Hyped for an hour, his showdown with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin may have been a rather blatant use of bait and switch, ending with Dude Love attacking Austin and setting up their pay-per-view match for the WWE Championship, but its historical significance is nearly unparalleled.

    The McMahon character had become so insufferable that fans were champing at the bit to see him get his ass kicked by the rebellious WWE champion. Even stacking the deck against the Texas Rattlesnake by forcing him to compete with one arm tied behind his back did little to curb the excitement of McMahon's comeuppance.

    Fans tuned into Raw in droves, pushing it to its first ratings victory over WCW's Monday Nitro in 83 weeks.

    After a one-sided ass-whooping that lasted nearly two straight years, WWE fired back with a match that fans would wait nearly another year to finally see play out.

    So much of that was due to the dynamic between Austin and McMahon, including the boss' ability to incite genuine disdain from the masses with his egotistical, holier-than-thou heel persona. Without him playing off of Austin's middle-finger-flipping attitude, who knows whether McMahon's company would exist as the global phenomenon it is today.