What Exactly Is Vince McMahon's... Whole Deal: An Outsider's Perspective
Even in my younger days, I was never bitten by the wrestling bug that seems to take over some kids’ lives and wardrobes. I had no shortage of embarrassing and lame interests in hobbies sure to keep me chaste well into young adulthood, but wrestling was never one of them. I think my greatest exposure was the occasional commercial airing halfway through The Simpsons or Toonami. But now, as an adult, between spending time in the world of stand-up comedy which is absolutely infested to the gills with wrestling fans of all levels of obsession, and being terminally Online, where the natural meme potential of WWE and wrestling in general results in a massive share of the reaction GIF market, I am forced to try to figure out wrestling from the outside in.
For the most part, I get it. It’s like a buff boy soap opera where every grievance is solved with a televised duel. We’re way past the relevance of the “don’t you know that stuff is fake” ribs and criticisms, and I don’t think anyone truly ever or did care. A popular tweet slash meme describes wrestling as “redneck anime” and from what I know I can’t fully disagree. Just one long, neverending tournament arc featuring a lot of pointing and an entire nursery wing’s worth of baby oil. I can pick up on most wrestlers’ gimmicks, which, to be fair, don’t exactly abound in subtleties.
There remains one facet I am unable to fully wrap my head around, however. One nut my brain is not able to crack. And that is this:
What exactly is Vince McMahon’s… whole deal? He is the real, actual CEO of the company but at the same time is effectively the mascot? He’s basically a Looney Tunes drawing of a business owner but also extremely, genuinely rich? Even more confusing is the fact that I know most wrestlers are playing a character in the ring, whether it’s some absolutely insane s**t or just a dialed up version of themselves, but I’m sure if I ran into them at a CVS they’re probably just reading shampoo labels like the rest of us. I’m not sure Vince McMahon even knows what a CVS is. As far as I can tell, and glean from wrestling friends, he is just, whether on-camera or off, an absolutely bizarre human being.
This is all thrown into more confusing relief than ever with the recent news that McMahon is stepping down as CEO after controversy over hush-money payments to cover up an internal affair. A story that is horrific on two levels: one, because of the abuse of power demonstrated in the case, and secondly, because it makes you imagine what Vince McMahon’s face looks like while in the throes of sexual passion. In my mind it’s very Dan Aykroyd getting blown by a ghost in Ghostbusters-esque.
Even stranger is to imagine what the life of a Vince McMahon who is NOT the CEO of the WWE is even like. It’s gotta be like watching an unfrozen caveman try to navigate an unfamiliar and frightening world. Vince McMahon trying to climb over the sneezeguard at a Chipotle to get at the meats. That is, if he even, as the urban legend goes, knows what a burrito is. McMahon at the post office, trying to mail letters without envelopes, throwing packing peanuts around in frustration when they try to help him.
This is my second big point of confusion with McMahon, though. Because despite how much fun it is to imagine him at the DMV, he actually also seems to be a genuinely fairly shitty person. Not that CEO is an occupation littered with good samaritans, or even medium samaritans, but they at least usually have enough fork-tongued charm to hide what they’re doing in crooked language. Vince McMahon goes on TV regularly for purportedly an acting job to be like “what if I was a massive dickhead and crooked businessman that mistreats my employees” and then also… just is all those things. He’s going into the ring like “ok, you guys pretend you all hate me” and they all go “yeah, pretend” and then bouncing him off the canvas as hard as they are possibly allowed to without making it obvious.
He neatly checks basically every box on the Evil CEO bingo board, from nepotism, to allegations of sexual improprieties, to mistreatment of employees. But because he is an absolute Six Flags caricature of a man, it almost feels redundant to point out any of these things. Somehow, in his own little created circus, he just gets to walk on camera and do things other CEOs would pay good money to have hushed up. “The guy had inappropriate office relationships!” Yeah, man, I mean, this is the same guy who just writes himself into kissing attractive female wrestlers in front of his wife.
Now, whether we will ACTUALLY ever see a McMahon-less WWE is in question, as he showed up on RAW the day after “stepping away” from the company. Once again, we find ourselves in the McMahon paradox. If he’s not supposed to have anything to do with the WWE right now, would he really be on camera in the middle of the ring? Vince McMahon’s entire existence as a human independent of the WWE is a form of gaslighting. And he’s such a f*cking weirdo that even if they try to punish him for showing up on RAW, I almost feel that his lawyers could successfully argue in court that he considers being part of the wrestling show part of his day-to-day hobbies and not a business obligation. It’s like trying to ban a fish from water.
If he really does have to step down as CEO, whoever takes over in the interim is missing out a massive opportunity if they don’t immediately greenlight a show that just follows him attempting to venture out into the modern world. I’ve never watched a wrestling pay-per-view in my life but I would gladly enter my credit card details to watch Vince McMahon try to buy an ottoman at Crate & Barrel.
Top Image: WWE/Pixabay