To many, Vince McMahon is wrestling. Whether you agree with that statement or not, there’s no doubting McMahon’s place in wrestling history, with him having totally changed the game since purchasing the World Wrestling Federation from his father in 1982.
From there, McMahon implemented a ruthless business plan that saw him take all of the hottest stars from the various territories of the day as he took the WWF to a national and international stage. It was a bold move from Vince – not least due to the bankruptcy that awaited him if the first WrestleMania wasn’t a success – but the reward was ultimately well worth the risk.
Now while Vinny Mac has completely revolutionized the wrestling world over the past several decades, he’s also quite the odd fella. From wrestlers and crew who were close to Vince, we’ve heard plentiful stories of his quirks and nuances – such as his bizarre love of pushing unsuspecting people into his swimming pool.
Given the hands-on nature of McMahon with the WWE product and talent, his quirks extend to what we viewers see on WWE TV. You see, these days Vincent Kennedy McMahon has a whole host of restrictions in place for his employees, whether they're an in-ring talent, an on-air performer, or a backstage staff member.
So, here we have some examples of things banned under Vince’s watch.
15 Say No To Piledrivers
For decades, the Piledriver was a potent part of many a grappler’s moveset, with some truly legendary figures using that particular manoeuvre to finish off many an opponent. Not today, though.
In a modern wrestling world where so many finishing moves of yesteryear are now simply throwaway moves or spots used purely for a near fall or false finish, the Piledriver is a completely different animal, for it’s an old-time move that’s now completely out of the equation.
To be fair to Vince McMahon and Co., while many of the things featured in this quiz border on farcical and outright bizarre, the reason for wrestlers not being allowed to use the Piledriver is simply down to the potential risk of injury that comes with the move. After all, if a Piledriver goes wrong then it leaves the person receiving the move with a very real chance of breaking their neck. And problematic neck issues have taken a huge chunk out of Hall of Fame careers such as Steve Austin, Edge, Kurt Angle, and Sting, not to mention the tragic paralysis suffered by Darren Drozdov.
Of course, not all neck injuries have been caused by the Piledriver, but the WWE brass has decided that the risk just isn’t worth the reward on this topic. So much so, that when the likes of CM Punk and John Cena pulled the move out during one of their epic confrontations, the wrestling world let out a collective gasp of shock at seeing this former staple of the business being used.
14 Never, Ever Say Belt
It’s well known that Vince McMahon is a man with plentiful quirks. From the times that McMahon has been in the public spotlight or when former wrestlers and staff have discussed Vinny Mac, it’s clear that he’s one unique guy. And one such quirk of McMahon’s pertains to the language and words used by his wrestlers and on-air talent.
Longtime wrestling journalists have often cited how Vince actually has a list of banned terms that he prohibits his performers from using, and one of those is the term “belt.” McMahon has made clear to drill it in to his performers for the past several decades that the company does not have any belts. No, the WWE has championship titles. Many a wrestler and former employee of Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s has commented on how the boss would blow a gasket any time that one of the company’s championships was referred to as a belt or a strap.
In McMahon’s eyes, referring to any piece of championship gold as a “belt” was almost demeaning to the championship itself and didn’t carry anywhere near the prestige as the phrase “championship title.”
You can kind of see where Vince is coming from on this matter, for he wants any and everything to do with his company to seem as prestigious and as big-time as possible. It’s just, as ever with Vince McMahon, the intensity of the reaction from him to all of this is almost laughable in how exasperated he can be.
13 There Will Be No Cuts
In 2007’s oft-heralded There Will Be Blood, Daniel Day-Lewis managed to nab himself a Best Actor gong at the Oscars for his turn as Daniel Plainview; an oilman who would happily spill plentiful buckets of blood to take advantage of Southern California’s oil boom. For the landscape of the WWE though, blood is very much off the table.
The no-blood rule has kind of been in place for decades now. In fact, Ric Flair and Randy Savage famously got fined for Flair’s bleeding back at WrestleMania VIII. Of course, the Attitude Era saw that rule thrown out of the window as bloodshed and violence were taken to the extreme. Since the mid-2000s though, blood has been a huge no except for on extremely rare occasions. One such example is the crimson mask worn by Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 34; an example of McMahon yet again pulling out all of the stops to try and somehow garner sympathy for the Big Dog.
For the most part, blood is completely ruled out of WWE programming these days. While that maximises the impact of blood on the rare occasions somebody does get busted open, it also fits in with the PG-driven product of the current day.
To show how not even the biggest stars of the day can get away with bleeding, multiple-time World Champion Batista was famously fined a whopping $100,000 for bleeding in a Cage Match against Chris Jericho back in 2008.
12 Don’t Push The Boss!
It appears that one of the worst things that any wrestler can do when it comes to earning the ire of Vince McMahon is to get mildly physical with the boss. Sure, there have been stories of wrestlers getting involved in legit physical confrontations with McMahon – most famously, Nailz getting fired after attempting to choke-out Vince over a SummerSlam '92 pay-off – but the example of Titus O’Neil’s suspension is farcical.
To give you a little bit of background, it was the Raw episode in which Daniel Bryan had tearfully had to announce his in-ring retirement. As the roster assembled on the stage to give D-Bry a strong send-off, Titus playfully grabbed Vinny Mac – reportedly to allow Stephanie McMahon to pass – and ended up paying a huge price for this “moment of madness.”
Of course, Titus meant no harm, but Vince blew his top over all of this. Certain news outlets reported that McMahon actually wanted to fire O’Neil, although Triple H would convince him to simply suspend the originator of Titus Worldwide. We say “simply,” but poor Titus spent two months on the sidelines, including missing out on WrestleMania 32 and the hefty payday that the WWE’s annual Showcase of the Immortals offers to the company’s grapplers.
11 The Term "Hospital" Is Not Allowed
If you’ve watched wrestling with any sort of frequency over the last few decades, you’ll have likely heard how such and such a competitor has been “rushed to a local medical facility.” Yes, that’s right kids, a local medical facility. Never, ever a hospital. For you and us, if the local doctor won’t suffice and we need to go to somewhere in the case of a serious medical issue, we’d go to the hospital. Not where the McMahons are concerned, though.
There are a couple of different rumors and stories out there as to why the WWE insists on using the “local medical facility” line when discussing injured grapplers, but the most common theory is that Vinny Mac simply wants to avoid the issue of concerned fans heading to their local hospital to check on their favorite superstars.
It’s a strange logic for sure, but this has reportedly happened in the past – much like how people have at times called the police due to believing what they’ve seen on WWE television to be 100% legit, such as the on-screen arrest of the Vince McMahon character back in 2015.
10 Media Work Has To Be Pre-Approved
These days, it seems that wrestling podcasts are everywhere you turn online. Some are great, some are decent, and some are outright awful. For WWE talent though, they are only allowed to appear on podcasts, radio stations, and TV shows that have been pre-approved by the WWE brass. Of course, this is kind of to be expected, and you could even argue it might also be for the benefit of certain wrestlers and their career just in case they said something that may later get them in trouble with the powers that be.
If you did a casual survey of general wrestling fans in regards to their favorite podcasts, you’d likely get shows such as Wade Keller and the PW Torch content, Wrestling Soup, Solomonster Sounds Off, and The Don Tony & Kevin Castle Show as the most listened to. Unfortunately, the WWE is choosy about allowing contracted talents from appearing on such podcasts, and instead, they only allow their performers to appear on approved, “safe” shows like The Sam Roberts Podcast and Talk Is Jericho.
As mentioned, this is all understandable, but it’s still something that WWE talent have to be aware of, with any and all media work having to be run past the relevant officials before a star makes such an appearance.
9 Don’t Appear On Another Wrestling Show
You’d think this was a bit of a no-brainer, but one of the WWE’s big rules is that a contracted talent cannot appear in any form or fashion on another wrestling company’s show. Sure, the WWE is open at times to allowing certain talents to make one-off appearances with particular organizations — such as Johnny Gargano in Evolve and Apollo Crews in PCW — but that all comes down to the WWE having agreed such a deal with the company in question. But going out on your own and just appearing on another wrestling organization’s TV show? Nope! In fact, that’s the sort of behaviour that’s guaranteed to get you in hot water.
The prime example of this is back in 2008 when Robbie of The Highlanders was shown in the audience of a TNA show. Even worse for this then-WWE talent, TNA identified him on air.
The reason he was at the show was due to both the WWE and TNA being in Orlando at that time, and he was supposedly visiting friends at the Impact show. From there, Robbie would miss out on his WrestleMania payday and would soon be fired from the company. As a team, The Highlanders would work the independent scene for a few years before calling it a day in 2014 — proving that making the stupid move to appear on a rival organization’s TV show was a big no-no for Vince McMahon.
8 Don’t Mention The Boss At The Hall Of Fame
It’s become almost a running joke by this point in time, but a strict rule of Vince McMahon’s is that nobody makes mention of him during the WWE’s annual Hall of Fame ceremony. If you saw this year’s Hall of Fame show, you’d have seen Kid Rock even make mention of it; Rock revealing how he was instructed to not mention Vinny Mac or anything of a political nature. Kid Rock being Kid Rock, he promptly ignored those instructions as he went on to discuss Vince and then bring up Donald Trump. Now, while Kid Rock may have made light of this, the stern instruction of McMahon not being mentioned at the Hall of Fame is a very real rule that’s in place.
Over the years, we’ve seen that Vincent Kennedy McMahon is quite the egomaniac, yet, when it comes to the Hall of Fame, he’s actually quite the opposite; instead opting to remain in the shadows and allow for the full spotlight to shine on the names being inducted in to the HoF.
The one time that was an extremely rare example of McMahon publicly appearing on the Hall of Fame was when he off-script decided to join Bruno Sammartino on stage for a hug during the legendary Sammartino’s long overdue Hall of Fame induction. It takes a hell of a lot to become a Hall of Famer, but upon becoming one you still have to be aware of Vince’s stiff rules!
7 If You Become Ill, You’re Fair Game
In one of the most classless moves seen in the wrestling world, period, Vince McMahon seemed to make it a point of pride to mock Jim Ross as often as possible. Worst of all, good old JR had the temerity to suffer from some serious health issues over the years; health issues that Vinny Mac seemingly got a kick out of poking fun at.
Initially, Vince simply mocked Ross’ southern roots and Oklahoma accent, but then things took a truly disgusting turn when the iconic Jim Ross suffered his first Bell’s Palsy attack in the mid-'90s. As Ross battled to come back to the announcement booth after this attack, McMahon made the shocking move to simply allow JR’s contract to run out rather than bring him back to TV. But that wasn’t the end of Vinny Mac’s attacks on Ross for daring to have some health issues.
Fast forward a few years and Vince would dream up a Raw skit in which he pulled various items and objects out of JR’s backside. This just so happened to take place a week after Ross had undergone colon surgery. As classy as ever there, VKM.
So with this in mind, clearly WWE talent have to be aware that if they happen to unfortunately suffer some serious health problems, McMahon is more than happy to openly mock them on air.
6 Don't Be Too Sensitive
Alberto Del Rio has his fair share of fans and detractors. The former Dos Caros has, at times, seemed like one of the hottest stars in the wrestling business, while at other points, he’s seemed nothing but dull, generic, and outright channel-changing. Quite the enigma is Alberto. Still, Vince McMahon is a huge fan of Del Rio’s — so much so, that there have been rumors as recently as this year that Vinny Mac wants to bring ADR back into the WWE fold. This despite the company having previously fired the Mexican superstar back in 2014. The reason for Alberto’s firing back then was a controversial one, to say the least. According to Del Rio himself, a member of the crew made an inappropriate racist remark towards ADR. Not being the sort of person to let something like this slide, Del Rio slapped the person in question.
While many who were at the scene said that Alberto was fully justified in what he did, the WWE brass saw it as a major misdemeanour and promptly fired him.
So the moral here is: don’t you dare think about standing up for yourself if being racially abused! Having made himself into a major player away from the WWE following that firing, Del Rio would be brought back to the company in 2015. That run would start well enough — defeating John Cena for the United States Championship on his first night back — but would ultimately end up disappointing before both parties agreed to go their separate ways in late-2017.
5 Not Even Hall Of Famers Can Ad-Lib
One of the many problems that many fans and former wrestlers often pinpoint when looking at the wrestling landscape of today is how little freedom so many of the current roster have when there’s a microphone in their hand. So little freedom, in fact, that the WWE’s script doesn’t allow for even Hall of Famers to veer from the specific and exact pre-planned dialogue. Case in point, the truly legendary Dusty Rhodes. Back during 2013, a storyline saw Cody Rhodes and Goldust having to fight for their jobs on the WWE roster. That saw them butting heads with the Authority, and it was during all of this that the iconic American Dream made an appearance on WWE television — in particular, verbally sparring with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.
For the Dream — who made his name in a time when wrestlers were given ultimate freedom to develop their characters and deliver their promos — he made the “mistake” of ad-libbing and putting his hand in Stephanie’s face during an in-ring segment.
Once backstage, Steph chastised Dusty and took this as an insult to her on a personal level and not just towards her on-screen character. And thus, the legendary Rhodes found himself in the WWE doghouse for a spell, highlighting that not even one of the greatest talkers in the business is allowed to go off script these days.
4 Don’t Mention New Japan
In the past year or so, the WWE has finally allowed the TNA/Impact Wrestling company to be mentioned on a few select occasions, often when discussing Kurt Angle’s career, but one grappling organization that’s still off the table is New Japan Pro Wrestling. Even though the WWE supposedly doesn’t see New Japan as a rival company, it still refuses to allow its talents to make reference to NJPW despite plenty of their current stars having spent time honing their craft in New Japan.
One particular example of this is the current on-going rivalry between WWE Champion AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura. The WWE announce team are eager to emphasize that these two have previously battled over in Japan, but that’s where the conversation stops. Instead, the WWE chooses to generically just say that they’ve wrestled each other in Japan, rather than outright mentioning New Japan. As well as Styles and Nakamura, of course, names such as Finn Balor, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows became major names in the wrestling world thanks to their time in New Japan.
To try and get in to the mindset of Vince McMahon, he likely will only start mentioning New Japan if he somehow ever manages to put them out of business — much like he did with any previous rivals. So yeah, don’t be expecting anybody to be making reference to New Japan any time soon.
3 Business Over Babies
It’s bad enough that numerous superstars have been fired whilst out injured over the decades, but it’s even worse to remember that the WWE has fired women who were pregnant. The main example of this is ECW mainstay Dawn Marie. Sure, Dawn was never the greatest of in-ring workers and her overall work was so-so at best, but neither her wrestling work or her mic work ever managed to get her fired. Her getting pregnant, though? Yep, that was enough for the WWE to give her the boot. Shocking, right?
That particular situation came in 2005, when Dawn was fired while on maternity leave. You stay classy, Vince. With Dawn rightfully irked by all of this, she filed a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal. The WWE ate a piece of humble pie and agreed on an out-of-court settlement.
Skipping forward to 2011, and the company had a not too dissimilar case involving Kharma, a.k.a. Awesome Kong. Kharma had been hyped up with a whole host of vignettes, but her tenure with the company was an unfortunate one. Before she could make her in-ring debut, Kharma broke down on the air and followed that up by revealing that she was pregnant. By mid-2012, Kharma confirmed that she had left the company, with her citing that the WWE wanted her to return to action way before she was ready — with her having unfortunately gone through the trauma of her child not surviving the birth.
2 If You’re Not Meant To Be Popular, Don’t Be
Oh boy. Whatever you do, you better not get yourself over the with the crowd when you’re not supposed to! While the rest of this feature are genuine, legitimate things that Vince McMahon loudly and proudly berates his talent for doing, this one is more of an unsaid rule. Simply put, if the company don’t see you as a huge star then don’t you dare organically become popular with the fans!
Right now, one glaring and obvious case of this is the curious case of “don’t you dare call me Alexander” Rusev. The Bulgarian Brute has had the sheer audacity to make himself a must-watch part of WWE programming when the WWE brass saw him in a far, far lesser role.
With Rusev Day currently being shouted from the rooftops by live crowds — not to mention the huge merchandise sales generated by Rusev in the past several months — logic would say that you should be pushing this guy to the moon and striking while the iron’s hot. Apparently not, though.
Previously, Zack Ryder underwent something similar with his Z! True Long Island Story. Frustrated with being overlooked, the Long Island Iced Z had the temerity to try and do something off his own back to connect with the audience. And it worked! And the WWE largely rejected it. Great. Then, of course, there was the refusal of the WWE to acknowledge Daniel Bryan’s popularity for the longest time before finally caving in to fan demand and giving the loveable D-Bry the spotlight at WrestleMania 30.
1 Keep Repeating, “You Are A Sports Entertainer”
For anyone who’s ever listened to even a single episode of Steve Austin’s brilliant podcast, you’ll hear the Texas Rattlesnake often rant about the term “sports entertainer.” Ever since Vince McMahon took over the then-World Wrestling Federation from his father, he looked to implement the sports entertainment phrase. To Vince, pro wrestling was a dirty word associated with the carnival acts of yesteryear. And so, McMahon made sure to coin sports entertainment as his way of describing his business. That was back in the early 1980s though, and even then he would still refer to his talents as wrestlers. Now however, that’s all changed.
No longer are wrestlers “wrestlers.” Despite competing in a wrestling ring, wearing wrestling gear, often having a background in amateur wrestling, and doing battle for wrestling championships, the competitors in the WWE are never, ever to be referred to as wrestlers.
Instead, the totally-doesn’t-run-off-the-tongue term of sports entertainer is what you have to refer to yourself as if you want to work in one of Vinny Mac’s rings. To hammer the point home, anybody associated with the WWE is forced to use sports entertainment and sports entertainer any time they’re discussing the company and their grapplers. It’s ridiculous on a whole host of levels, and something that irks many wrestling legends, many of whom are actually a part of the WWE’s Hall of Fame.