A person’s children can often serve as walking embodiments of their legacies. It isn’t always the case, but it’s definitely easy to make the leap that good children are the product of good parents, at least in the general sense that the parents helped the kids become who they are. It’s hard to see Vince McMahon as anything other than the billionaire CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, but at least one other way to describe him is as the father of Shane and Stephanie McMahon.
All parents relate to their children in different ways, but the McMahons nonetheless have a pretty unique method of doing so. Vince, Shane, and Stephanie have not only overseen hundreds of men doing battle in the ring, but they’ve stepped into the squared circle and fought each other on multiple occasions. In fact, the three of them have been amongst the most enduring characters in WWE history, which arguably makes sense as the McMahon Family are definitely the most important figures on the corporate side of things.
Outside of the ring as well as inside, it’s sufficed to say Vince hasn’t had the most textbook relationship with either of his kids. The thing that may surprise you the most about our upcoming list is the fact despite it all, the McMahons are actually by all accounts a very happy, loving, family. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of interesting and confusing stories attached to them along the way, so keep reading to learn 15 things you didn’t know about Vince McMahon’s relationship with his children.
15. Vince Was Broke When Shane Was Born
Since the wildest heights of the Attitude Era, most of the world knows Vince McMahon as a certified billionaire, mostly because that’s what he boasted himself as on television. His exact net worth has waxed and waned a bit since WWE went public, but there’s no denying the fact the McMahon’s are a very wealthy family, and Vince is the member of the family with the largest personal bank account. However, that hasn’t always been the case, as McMahon was extremely poor prior to meeting his father at the age of 12, and it wasn’t all roses after that moment, either.
Vince, Sr. would help his son in immeasurable ways later on in his life, but he made sure Vince, Jr. established a solid work ethic of his own before giving him control over the wrestling world. The younger Vince McMahon worked plenty of non-wrestling jobs before even getting involved in promoting, as well, including working long hours at a quarry just to make ends meet and was actually bankrupt around the time Shane was born. Vince pulled himself out of debt fast enough Shane probably doesn’t have any memories of poverty, but it could technically be said he was born into it, albeit for an especially brief period of time.
14. He Was Never Around When They Were Growing Up
Vince and Linda married young and subsequently had children young, but Vince was already well on his way to sports entertainment mogul from the day he was born thanks to having a famous father of his own. He was hardly the impresario he would become later in life, but his foot was already in the door to WWE history by the time Shane was born. Not only did Vince need to work extra hard to get out of his brief financial rut, once he started to get successful he did so with great aplomb, and before long had little time for the traditional child rearing process.
Plenty of people need to make the unfortunate choice of choosing between family and work, and at least for a large portion of his children’s lives, Vince McMahon had no choice but to choose work if he wanted to succeed the way he did. He wasn’t around much during either of his offspring’s early childhoods, but in his own weird way he tried to make up for it by giving them jobs and consistent on screen roles in his company. The entire family has claimed one of the reasons they’re all so involved in the company is so they can spend time together, and with Vince specifically, since he’s the one who never steps away from work.
13. He Killed Dracula For Young Shane
Despite what the often controversial WWE writer’s room may imply, Vince McMahon has always been the ultimate creative mind behind WWE. Considering how long he’s been in the game, it could be argued Vince McMahon is responsible for more stories than any other writer on television. That said, it’s still a little hard to picture him telling his children bedtime stories. As it would turn out, Vince would actually tell his kids stories all the time, but true to his character they could get a little bit violent and contain some questionable content for young audiences.
Most fans likely see Shane McMahon as fearless due to his death defying stunts and reputation as a daredevil. This may have been true ever since Shane was an adult, but like many children, he was afraid of monsters and things that go bump in the night. Vince famously told Playboy magazine a story about a time he told Shane a story that may have been just a little bit too scary, and left Shane terrified that Dracula was living in his closet. Vince responded by entering the closet, making a lot of noise, and working a one-man match against himself. He walked out of the closet and told Shane, “You never have to worry about Dracula again. Dracula’s dead.” With a dad like that protecting him, it’s no wonder Shane thought he had nothing to fear.
12. He Made Shane Raise Stephanie
Despite the fact the entire McMahon family is constantly feuding on television, behind the scenes, they all get along extremely well, as this list will prove again and again. Shane and Stephanie are particularly close, and the reason practically stems all the way back to Stephanie’s birth. Just like with Shane, Vince wasn’t around much when Stephanie was young, and at that point he was working for his father in the wrestling industry, so he may have had even less time than he did with Shane. Although he was still young himself, Shane stepped in and helped raise his sister as a result of Vince’s absence.
Both siblings have said in interviews their favorite part of working on television is getting to be around each other all the time, and the fact Shane has always looked out for Stephanie and taken care of her is no doubt a huge part of that shared feeling. When Shane left WWE for several years, Stephanie always said she hoped he would come back mainly for selfish reasons. In turn, part of the reason Shane came back was so he could be with his family again.
11. He Let Them Backstage From Young Ages
The last few entries have painted the picture Vince was a bit too busy to be a father to his children for the first few years of their lives, and unfortunately that was pretty much the case. However, Vince sincerely did want his kids around, he was just too busy trying to become the billionaire that he would eventually be. The best solution Vince could find was to allow his kids to hang out backstage at WWE events from a very early age. Vince, Sr.’s father had done the same for Vince since he was a teenager, and it both allowed his kids to grow a love for the business, and get to be around their dad a lot more than they usually would have been able to.
There are pros and cons to letting young kids hang out with violent brutes, but one pro at least is that all the kids are going to be safe, since everyone knows their careers would be over if anything happened to them. Another pro for young Stephanie at least is that she would go on to claim Andre The Giant was her best friend. Of course, most fans would think Stephanie has since made a more significant wrestler friend, and more on that later.
10. He Yelled At Them For Hanging Out With Certain Wrestlers
Vince probably hoped his wrestlers would be especially careful with his children, and most of them certainly were, but a couple of them threw caution to the wind and developed perhaps questionable relationships with Shane and Stephanie. Both kids had plenty of positive influences from heir wrestler friends, but they also both had at least once negative experience that upset their father and could’ve cost the wrestlers their jobs.
Shane’s problems perhaps a little predictably stemmed from the fact he was a close friend of Raven while in his early 20s. Raven has a reputation as a heavy drinker and partier in general, and Shane would try to match Raven in his indulgences and often wind up excessively drunk very early in the morning as a result. Vince told Shane to cut it out, and never really forgave Raven for allowing Shane to hang out with him. Stephanie’s issue was also perhaps predictably at the start of her relationship with Triple H, when Vince briefly barred the two from seeing each other when he realized how serious the relationship was getting. Of course, that one later turned out to be a test, and Vince went on to give the couple his blessing when they proved their love by defying his orders.
9. He Put Them Both To Work At A Young Age
There’s no clear cut set of characteristics required for one to become a billionaire, but something most successful businesspeople share is a strong work ethic. Vince McMahon certainly had this from a very young age, and he was committed to making sure his children would, as well, despite the fact he was rapidly becoming rich enough that his family would never have to work at all if they didn’t feel like it. Vince accomplished this by putting both of his children to work practically as soon as they were capable of doing so.
Shane got his start in WWE as a referee, and soon would start working as a road agent and backstage official. It wasn’t long before he was his father’s right hand men both onscreen and off, and for a long time it seemed like Vince was grooming Shane to inherit the company. Stephanie started in WWE in her early teens, first as a receptionist and model for WWE merchandise. Like her brother, she rapidly progressed in the company to high backstage positions while blossoming onscreen at the same time, and today has usurped her brother as the most likely candidate to take over should Vince ever step down as the CEO.
8. He’s Done Battle With Them Both
Vince McMahon is a wrestling promoter above all else, and at times that may include his responsibilities as a father. Vince is also a master showman, and on a few occasions he would combine the three to put on spectacular matches with both of his children on several occasions. Vince has feuded with dozens of wrestlers, but many fans would agree the most enduring of his feuds is the never ending family feud between all of the McMahon’s.
Vince first locked up with Shane in 2001 at WrestleMania X7, and they would have another match on Raw later in the year. Shane won both matches, the first with the help of his mother and Mick Foley, and the second thanks to Kurt Angle. Vince and Stephanie only had one match against one another at No Mercy 2003, which Vince won by choking Stephanie with a pipe. Her wedding was a few days later, and he considered it one of the many presents he would give to her. Vince has been getting along with his children for the past several years, and he’s getting up there in age, but fans can never know when he’s going to want to step into the ring against one or both of them again.
7. He Wanted To Broadcast Stephanie’s Wedding on Pay-Per-View
Everything about Vince McMahon is big and bombastic, and that includes all elements of his personal life on top of his business strategies. Vince may have briefly been adverse to the idea of his daughter dating Triple H, but he quickly came around and began supporting the couple once he realized how serious the two were about their love. Once Triple H proposed and the two were set to be wed, Vince was so heavily in support of their union Stephanie would later claim he actually considered having the wedding broadcast on Pay-Per-View.
Vince McMahon has more Pay-Per-View experience than almost any other person in television, and that’s probably why it wasn’t too hard for his executives to talk him out of this one. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon would have two weddings on television as it was, both memorable in their own right for McMahon appropriate reasons. While fame may have been interested to witness the rumored story of Michael Hayes getting too drunk and temporarily crashing the wedding with his singing, but other than that, Vince probably saved himself a lot of money by not broadcasting something most fans wouldn’t have watched in the first place. He didn’t have the best justification for broadcasting the wedding in the first place, as he basically only wanted to do so on the philosophy of going big or going home.
6. He Was The Best Man At Shane’s Wedding
Stephanie McMahon’s wedding and subsequent marriage were the focus of WWE television for four entire years before it started in the real world, but Shane’s longer lasting marriage to his wife Marissa has been less of a source of public interest. Marissa Mazzola-McMahon briefly appeared on WWE television during the Attitude Era as a host of shows like WWE Livewire, and despite her very minor role in the company, she became part of WWE history in 1996 when she and Shane were married.
Shane and Vince don’t seem like the best of friends on television, but as we’ve been saying throughout this list, they obviously have a great deal of respect for one another. Shane proved this respect by asking Vince to be the best man at his wedding. Comedian Jim Norton performed at Shane’s bachelor party, and claimed the biggest takeaway from the event was the incredible loving bond Shane held with his father. Shane certainly isn’t lacking in close friends, and by asking his father to do the honor he was making a statement of love and respect that speaks louder than anything he could have done in the ring.
5. He And Shane Don’t Always Get Along Professionally
The McMahon family are closer than they look on camera, but that doesn’t mean everything is perfect between every member of the family at all times. Vince and Shane in particular have been known to butt heads creatively when it comes to the overall direction of WWE, and this is a large part of the reason Shane left the company for several years. Vince is known for having a large cadre of “yes men,” and Shane wasn’t willing to add himself to those ranks. Shane also wanted to make a name for himself, but he would explain to Mick Foley in a tell-all interview that the creative differences were starting to put a strain on their personal relationship, and it was at such a point Shane felt the only reasonable thing to do would be to step away before things got too tense.
When Shane returned to WWE in 2016, it was reported through many outlets that he was only returning on camera, and wasn’t taking any backstage role with the company. Most people read this to mean Shane still isn’t completely on board with the direction the business is headed in, but he still respects his father on a personal level highly enough to put his feelings aside and play the role written for him when cameras are rolling. Stephanie’s a little bit different from her brother in this regard…
4. He’s Giving Stephanie More Power
Shane McMahon spent several years away from WWE due to creative differences with his father, but Stephanie has always been firmly in support of Vince and his various ideas. Vince has responded to his daughter’s support by giving her increasingly high positions of power within WWE, and many insiders assume that if and when Vince ever steps down from his position as the CEO of the company, Stephanie and her husband Triple H will be the ones to presume ultimate power in sports entertainment.
Stephanie started in WWE as a receptionist, and was the head of WWE creative before she turned 30. Stephanie kept gaining power while Shane was away, which is most likely part of why Vince has grown more attached to the idea of her taking over in Shane’s absence. The ambition of Triple H definitely helps the equation, as well, but fans shouldn’t underestimate how much power Stephanie is likely to have in the very near future. Of course, the fact Stephanie is so close to Shane could mean she gives her brother more power than their father ever did.
3. He Respected Shane For Leaving
Shane resigning from his position in 2009 sent shockwaves through the sports entertainment industry, and was one of the most unexpected staff departures in WWE history. That doesn’t mean it didn’t make a certain degree of sense, on both obvious and subtle levels. Shane didn’t want to be stuck in his father’s shadow, and the increasing creative differences between the two were started to affect their personal relationship. While Vince was personally saddened and in some ways disappointed in Shane’s decision to step away from the company, Shane has since said he believes his father always respected his decision to do so.
It takes a lot of courage to stand up to Vince McMahon and tell him something he doesn’t want to hear, and Shane no doubt knew he was essentially giving Vince the worst news of his life when he told him he was leaving the company. Shane also knew, though, that his father was a reasonable person who respected smart business decisions, and agreed it was time for Shane to start making a brand for himself outside of Vince’s world.
2. Shane Pulls Pranks On Him
Wrestlers are typically giant, muscular, and imposing people who could scare the average person with their mere physique, but when all things are considered, it’s probably Vince McMahon who ranks as the most intimidating figure in sports entertainment. The wrestlers themselves definitely understand this, and most of them would never dare actually defy one of WWE’s most enduring mottos, “don’t cross the boss.” Shane McMahon has always had a little bit more leeway than his father’s employees, though, which is why he’s one of the few people to get away with pranking Vince on at least one occasion.
During his WWE Network interview with Mick Foley, Shane told a story about his father regularly tricking new employees into attending private meetings with various executives that would ultimately end in Vince or Pat Patterson pushing those employees into Vince’s pool. On Shane’s telling of the story, it must have been one of Vince’s favorite pranks, but when the tables were finally turned, he most decidedly was not laughing. Shane claims he’d never seen his father angrier than when Shane pushed Vince into the pool during an actual business meeting, and said he had to sleep in his car to hide from his father’s wrath for a few days before his mother assured him Vince had calmed down.
1. They Remain Close To One Another, Despite All The Madness
The one thing this list should have proved in nearly every entry is the fact that the McMahons are actually an extremely close, loving family. They may literally beat each other up far more often than even the most lenient psychiatrist would ever deem healthy, but somehow Vince, Linda, and their children have only become closer thanks to the bizarre sports entertainment like twists their family is so well known for. Shane and Stephanie are the closest siblings can be, and both of them have an unending level of respect for their father that overwhelms any negatives the world may be able to see in him.
The McMahon family is loud, controversial, and bombastic in the way leaders of a sports entertainment empire are practically expected to be. Deep down at their core, though, they are a surprisingly normal and loving family, who care deeply about one another and cherishes every moment they get to spend together. They snipe and argue and feud on television on a constant basis, but that’s the patented McMahon method of showing their love. If that can actually be believed, perhaps the fact the McMahons are a happy, loving family perhaps isn’t a surprise at all.