With great success comes some great failures. In 1980, Vince McMahon made his biggest purchase ever acquiring the WWE. He would later turn this pro wrestling company into something people had never seen before, basing his product on a new sports and entertainment outlook. Later on, with the addition of Hulk Hogan, McMahon took the wrestling world by storm and forever changed the wrestling business.
With this great success came some epic hardships. His first major hardship took place in 1993 when McMahon was indicted in federal court for illegal distribution of steroids. Vince risked the possibility of being put away for 25-30 years. Ultimately, the charges were dropped and McMahon was acquitted of all charges. This would turn to be one of the many speed bumps McMahon would face along the way. Let’s now take a look at 13 other epic Vince McMahon failures. Enjoy!
13) World Bodybuilding Federation
Spanning from 1990 to 1992, the WBF was an absolute failure owned and found by Vince McMahon himself. McMahon attempted to start a federation that would revolutionize the world of bodybuilding forever, but boy oh boy was he ever wrong. After receiving terrible PPV buy rates McMahon decided it was time to disband the federation. A couple of months later he was indicted on steroid charges. Talk about a disaster.
12) Buying A Hockey Team
Yes, that’s right, Vince McMahon purchased the Cape Cod Buccaneers. The team played in the Atlantic Coast Hockey League and were in fact owned at one point by Vince McMahon. In his only season as the owner of the team, Cape Cod went 17-21-1 during the 1981-1982 season. After an apparent cash flow problem, McMahon had enough and decided to fold from the team. Due to McMahon folding the league was forced into an emergency meeting, where they later decided to begin the post-season immediately with four teams. As you can imagine, McMahon has stayed away from hockey ever since.
11) Killing Off His Character
Never one to shy away from controversy, McMahon somehow thought it would be a good idea to kill off his character with his limousine exploding during an episode of RAW. McMahon went as far as paying homage to his fake death over the course of the week. Networks like CNBC needed to be warned by the WWE that this in fact was only a work.
This ludicrous idea came to an end two weeks later following the actual death of Chris Benoit. During a Chris Benoit tribute show, the event opened with McMahon explaining that his “death” was a storyline.
10) Size, Size and More Size
One major fail pertaining to Vince’s personal preference is his constant reliance on wrestlers that have a larger than life look to them. It wasn’t until the Heart Break Kid Shawn Michaels that McMahon finally realized that smaller guys can also draw. Vince hasn’t been listening to what wrestling fans really want, which is wrestlers that can perform night in and night out no matter how big or small they are. McMahon has been reluctant to do so constantly putting wrestlers like The Big Show, Great Khali and Kevin Nash over for years. With Triple H in charge more and more as of late, it finally looks like the WWE is transitioning into an era that relies on true talent. This does not mean that larger than life wrestlers will no longer exist, it simply means that the new era of wrestling will make room for big wrestlers with talent like Baron Corbin for example, who despite his limited wrestling experience has that “it” factor along with talent. It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds regarding this situation.
9) Daniel Bryan Losing The Rumble
Sometimes you just have to listen to the WWE universe. Fans demanded Daniel Bryan win the Rumble following his long awaited comeback. The Philly crowd was furious when Bryan was eliminated mid-way through the match. The fans booed the rest of the Royal Rumble match in disgust. Reigns was absolutely booed out of the building, in large part due to the fact that Bryan didn’t win, as opposed to hate towards him.
Following the match #CancelWWENetwork began to trend as the number one trend worldwide. According to reports, the WWE network cancellation page jammed for how many people attempted so unsubscribe to the Network following the event. McMahon responded to the situation by claiming the controversy was “good for business”. He also stated that “Santa Claus didn’t come on that PPV”. The situation got so bad that WWE considered adding Bryan to the main event for the second year in a row. McMahon finally over ruled the situation and demanded that things stayed the same. Not sure if this situation truly was best for business….
8) Celebrity Cameos
Oh, so much money spent on celebrity cameos throughout the years. Yes, I understand it creates a buzz to more of a mainstream audience, but at the end of the day do those true wrestling enthusiasts that keep the engine running for all these years really give a damn? The answer is no. It’s disturbing to think that 99 celebrities have been involved in WrestleMania shows alone. The breakdown of the 99 celeb appearances at the biggest stage of them all is 32 athletes, 29 musicians, 19 actors and 20 others coming from different backgrounds. Has the buzz truly been worth the money and air time over the years? No, it hasn’t. Unless you bring in Ronda Rousey who actually has a fighting background, now that would be an investment worthwhile.
7) The Divas Division
We can’t blame anyone else asides Vince for the destruction of the Women’s division. The division did not do any good in showcasing the true talents the female wrestlers posses. Instead, McMahon relied on horrible gimmick matches like Bra and panties, lingerie pillow fight, paddle on pole, wet n wild match, pudding match, gravy match and countless other ridiculous match concepts. The belt lost all meaning at one point when it was flopped around the likes of Candice Michelle and Layla. Thankfully, the division is finally being resurfaced and allowing women to showcase their true abilities in the ring. Sasha Banks and Bayley put on the match of the year during an NXT PPV event held in Brooklyn, and this just goes to show how McMahon missed the boat on Women’s wrestling for so many years. His treatment of the division was an absolute catastrophic failure.
6) Outdated Product View
Having an outdated product view is a common theme throughout McMahon’s run as the chairman and CEO of the WWE. During the 90s, it took a meeting with the Kliq for McMahon to realize how outdated his ideas truly were. This eventually caused Vince to change his ways and turn to a more edgy style of wrestling which ultimately opened the doors to the Attitude era, arguably the greatest era in pro wrestling history. Today, once again the knock on McMahon is that his view of the product is outdated. McMahon continues to rely on the same faces night in and night out. Former WWE star CM Punk claims one of the reasons why he left the WWE was for this reason. Punk also claimed that Vince simply didn’t understand the business anymore. With the WWE receiving some extremely low ratings as of late, it remains to be seen if another type of wrestling revolution will take place in the WWE anytime soon (excluding NXT which is the only thing right for the WWE) .
5) WWE Tough Enough
Oh Tough Enough, what a flop you continue to be year after year. This year, McMahon attempted to make Tough Enough a priority of his, so much so that Vince missed every SmackDown taping to be on set at Full Sail University in Florida. Despite his presence though, the show was once again flawed giving the audience a couple of minutes to vote for their favorites. In addition, the judges were only able to use their saves before the votes were in which makes absolutely zero sense. The USA Network was also displeased with the ratings and the system the show had going. USA Network executives believed that there simply wasn’t enough time for the WWE Universe and judges to make a fair decision based on something they had just watched. The general feeling was that this system created no buzz whatsoever throughout the week. What a disaster the competition continues to be, and at the end of the day, how many Tough Enough winners do you actually remember (asides from The Miz who didn’t win)? The competition has been a pretty epic failure if you ask me.
4) 3 hour RAW
A 3 hour episode of RAW sounded like a dream back in 90s, but unfortunately it never happened. The difference as to why it would have worked better back then, as opposed to now, is roster depth. Vince had the tools to go 3 hours years ago, but today, he simply doesn’t. The WWE’s roster is just not deep enough, causing programs and feuds to run longer than they really should. Half of the show at times consists of RAW recaps of the past show (or past shows), as there is constant need of meaningless time fillers. Three hours is just way too long, and WWE executives also feel that it is long, with Triple H himself admitting that booking a 3 hour show is extremely challenging. Ludicrous to think that an episode of RAW is actually longer than most PPVs. It remains to be seen if McMahon will realize this failure and go back to two hour episodes.
3) Too Much Entertainment, Not Enough Wrestling
Former WWE employee Jim Cornette, said it best, wrestling is dead. Cornette made some very interesting points when assessing today’s sports and entertainment product. Cornette discussed how we are living in the era of sports and entertainment which caters to about a third or a fourth of the amount people that pro wrestling used to appeal to. Jim claims most of the hardcore fans stopped watching wrestling because McMahon simply destroyed it. The shows have become way too scripted and don’t have the raw in-your-face appeal that wrestling fans once adored. Cornette later went on to say that the state of wrestling today is at the lowest of lows. Jim ended the shoot by saying that there are more former fans that dislike today’s product than actually fans of the WWE. Many wrestling enthusiasts truly believe that the entertainment aspect of it all destroyed wrestling and that McMahon is forever reluctant to change his ways. It remains to be seen what the future holds for McMahon and his sports and entertainment vision.
2) The PG Era
The PG era continues to be one of McMahon’s most recent epic failures. Vince’s PG rating has caused so many limitations to the WWE’s programming, and this has ultimately caused the demise of McMahon’s product over the last couple of years. The edgy, in-your-face raw material that hardcore wrestling fans fell in love with is pretty much gone. Today, wrestling is much more scripted and promos are nowhere near the entertainment value that they used to be, and this is in large part because of the restrictions caused by the PG rating. Wrestling had an edge in the 90s and more importantly, you never knew what to expect. There was simply something so much more real to the product than the dry one today. It seems that all the new PG rating has done for the product is cause barriers and limitations. This has played a major role in many aspects of the company’s state today. As of now this has been an epic failure by McMahon. Can Vince salvage this situation?
1) The XFL
It simply does not get any worse than this. I have to admit first of all, it takes a great amount of ‘you know what’ to try and compete with the NFL, but ultimately, Vince failed miserably trying to run his own pro sports league. After debuting in February 2001, it was quickly evident that the league wasn’t going to work because they weren’t able to gather enough publicity. After only one season, the XFL closed its doors. The league will forever be remembered as one of the biggest flops in history. It was reported that the WWE and NBC each lost over $35 million. Thankfully, the league didn’t go any further after its first failed year. This will forever be regarded as not only one of Vince’s biggest failures, but one of the biggest failed sporting ventures in history.