The most earth-shattering news that rocked the wrestling world this year is, by far, Vince McMahon stepping down from his chairman and CEO posts at WWE in July. It was a significant consensus that McMahon would be on his deathbed before he ever turned over the reigns to somebody else. Ultimately, it was the sexual misconduct and hush money payments probe that sent him into early retirement. Even yesterday morning, the New York Times published a new report referencing two women who accused McMahon of sexual assault, updating their legal demands. As much has played out in public regarding McMahon’s P.T. Barnum-esque stature in the professional business, it feels like there’s a lot more to his revered (and jeered) pioneer of the wrestling business as we know it.
If you were hoping the Vice special, The 9 Lives of Vince McMahon, would provide that to you, viewers might leave disappointed. The two-hour special was a chronological retelling of Dark Side of The Ring episodes. Yes, the stories of 1994’s Steroid Trials, the tragic death of Owen Hart, the Montreal Screwjob, and “the Plane Ride from Hell” are all present with clips from those episodes – neatly placed in a timeline that would benefit a new viewer to understand McMahon’s history. However, a wrestling connoisseur has already heard ample stories about the Monday Night Wars and McMahon’s “ruthless aggression” (both in personal and professional life) that led him to take over his father’s company and drive most of the wrestling territories out of business.
However, much of this is common knowledge already. Personality details about Vince McMahon have been subdued, for the most part, other than anecdotes from former colleagues (apparently, McMahon really hates sneezing. Don’t we all!). I sincerely doubt you’ll ever hear more information from Vince, especially with the ongoing controversy. The 9 Lives of Vince McMahon briefly touches on the former chairman’s difficult childhood and adds the rape allegations from former referee Rita Chatterton and a 2006 sexual harassment allegation from his visit to a tanning salon in Florida into the full view of his story.
If there’s anything to gain from watching the two-hour special is deducing the classic tale of powerful men with money and influence using intimidation and ambition to get everything they want – even if that means hurting some people along the way. Allegedly, McMahon wants to return to the WWE – and that’s not a surprise considering 1. the concept of downtime is foreign to him and 2. so is accountability. In recent months, the WWE has moved away from the Vince McMahon style of booking and looking towards the future. So, no. He can’t come back – but he’ll try because that's what a salesman tries to do. Vice’s special traces over a template they’ve already drawn. Perhaps, another company (maybe Netflix) can give us more meat on the bone.