Archive for December 25th, 2009

Linda McMahon’s Husband Vince Fought the Law, and the Law Lost (Part 5 – Aftermath)

Monday – Part 1, Dr. George Zahorian

Tuesday – Part 2, 1992 Drug and Sex Scandals

Wednesday – Part 3, 1994 Drug Trial

Thursday – Part 4, The Defense Lawyer, the “Fixer,” and the Playboy Model

TODAY – Part 5, Aftermath

Saturday – Part 6, Waxman Committee Interview

Sunday – Part 7, Conclusion

In the mid- and late 1990s, WWF lost millions of dollars and significant pro wrestling market share in fierce competition with Ted Turner’s Atlanta-based World Championship Wrestling. Vince McMahon turned the tide of the war in his favor with a series of creative decisions that made major crossover stars out of wrestlers Steve Austin and, later, “The Rock” (now movie actor Dwayne Johnson).

In one of those decisions, McMahon turned himself from a “babyface” (good guy) to a “heel” (bad guy). Previously he had been known on camera only as a sympathetic TV announcer. Now he was pushed as “Mr. McMahon,” a greedy and manipulative corporate boss. The impetus for the big switch was McMahon’s set of dealings with his champion wrestler of the time, Bret Hart, before Hart left WWF for WCW. The scenario culminated in a November 1997 in-ring double-cross of Hart known as the “Montreal screwjob.”

In 1999 WWF broke attendance and profit records, and Vince and Linda McMahon decided to take their closely held company, TitanSports Inc., public. (World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc., was originally traded on the Nasdaq stock  exchange. In the settlement of a trademark dispute with the World Wildlife Fund, the company would be renamed World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. WWE stock is now traded on the New York Stock Exchange.)

In media accounts hyping the October 1999 initial public stock offering, Vince McMahon played up both his status as a cartoon villain and the perceived link to his real-life persona. McMahon ridiculed his federal prosecution five years earlier and even added a dose of fiction, falsely stating that he had been convicted of one of the charges.

To remind himself of this last talking point, McMahon kept a note about it on the cuff of his shirt.

Irvin Muchnick

NEXT: Part 6, Waxman Committee Interview

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December 2009