SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE CEO Vince McMahon pulled back the curtain on his personality and how he operates as a business leader in a rare interview with Brian Fritz of the Orlando Sentinel tied in with the WrestleMania announcement for April 2017.
– McMahon said he does not feel like he’s 70-years-old, said he feels like he’s 30 years younger, admitted to acting like a teenager at times, and said said at the end of the day that since he is 70, then he’s not going to change who he is.
Asked if he feels like he’s 70, McMahon replied, “No. I don’t know if I feel like I’m 40. Actually, some would say I’m still a teenager as far as certain aspects of my brain. It’s like I refuse to grow up. I don’t want to grow up. Now I’m old enough to say I’m not going to grow up. So what are you going to do about that?”
Later, McMahon commented on not planning to die in the context of not being worried about the past, which would cripple him.
“I never look back except to learn from my mistakes. Obviously, I’ve made a number of those but cover them up pretty quick or everybody else covers them up for me. (laughs) I’m not good at all at looking back. I’m not good at that at all. I just don’t do that,” McMahon said.
“It’s what’s tomorrow, what’s next year. How am I going to leave this to the next generation, although I don’t plan to die. It may take a while for that. I don’t know. I could have a heart attack right here. (laughs)”
– McMahon attempted to place WWE at the same level as a major corporation like Disney in terms of corporate and executive structure. It’s counter to our “Inside WWE” PWTorch Newsletter Cover Story from July 2015 where we documented the outflow of high-ranking executives over the past few years after they experienced headaches with the internal structure that McMahon extolled in this interview. McMahon’s only admission was noting that his “corporate acumen” is not his “greatest skill.”
“I want to impress upon you one thing: from a standard standpoint, you hear Vince a lot. Vince, Vince, Vince. Vince’s vision. Vince’s this. Vince’s that. The organization that we built and the depth and talent from a corporate standpoint, I’ll put us up against Disney. I’ll put us up against anybody. And you have to have that,” McMahon said.
“You can’t grow from within if you don’t have certain skills. I wouldn’t say that my corporate acumen is my greatest skill, but when you bring people together that can take a vision and execute it and add to it and be creative … It doesn’t come out of one person’s head. This is not one person’s business anymore.”
– McMahon admitted to being too far out in front with the WWE Network launch two years ago, but he believes WWE has “opened the floodgates” now.
“If you’re too far ahead, then what happens is you make the mistakes and everyone else is looking at you going, ‘I won’t make that mistake.’ The network was a little ahead of its time and after that, the floodgates opened. I know a lot of people followed us. It’s been challenging but I love challenges. I love change, not for change’s sake, but I love to be able to have fingers on everything that’s going on,” McMahon said.
– McMahon offered unique insight on how he handles talent in the current era. McMahon said wrestlers from previous eras were cutthroat, while he sees today’s wrestlers as more team-oriented striving for the “brass ring” as a collective unit in an individual-driven business.
McMahon also applied his view of today’s roster to how he treats them – like fans. The context was McMahon bragging about trying to surprise the roster with things like Shane McMahon’s return, tying it in with not trusting the roster to keep a secret. McMahon, who is big on the military, called back to World War II about not revealing secrets. It’s also why he ranted about the wrestling media in this interview because of spoilers, then checked himself and praised the opinions of the wrestling media, not wanting to sound like he’s about censorship.
“It’s different for a talent to know what they’re going to be performing in is a surprise. It’s going to be great, I can’t wait. It’s so difficult for them to hold that just inside. They have to share that with their family and maybe their best friend or it’s one of those things where loose lips sink ships, like back in World War II. Not that I was around then. Actually, I was. Nonetheless, It’s difficult to hold something like that but if you can, the audience loves it,” McMahon said.
“It’s one of the reasons why I’ll always be anti-some members of the media, so-called dirt sheets or whatever it is. I’ve always disliked them. Not because of their voice and certainly not because of their opinion. No one respects the First Amendment more than me. Their opinions, negative or positive, they’re entitled to. I’ve always appreciated that because, quite frankly, some of the things I’ve learned from. I learn from everybody. It’s that they want to be a spoiler. No! No! Don’t spoil this. Don’t spoil it for the public. But I know that’s a part of their job too. It’s one of those things we try, with any form of the media now, we try no, no, no. Let me surprise you.”
McMahon went further into his view of surprising the roster as it relates to Shane’s return: “And all of the guys backstage, the vast majority of them, they didn’t see Shane when he walked through. They were all shocked and surprised. That’s what I try to do: totally surprise our talent. They like to be surprised just like the audience. They like to be entertained so I like to entertain our talent as well. And the talent likes to be entertained or entertain themselves as we all do. It’s one great big entertainment wheel on all fronts.”
Overall, the big picture is WWE might not be “one person’s business anymore,” but McMahon let out how it’s one family’s theater to play out in front of the masses.
“It’s great that Shane is back. Whether or not there’s a corporate place, we’ll wait and see. From a performer standpoint, I so enjoy performing with him. And when the three of us are out there, Stephanie and Shane and me, and throw in Paul (Triple H) because that has happened in the past, oh my God! We could stay out there and entertain each other, much less the audience, for an hour. It would be easy. It’s just so much fun because we can ad-lib and entertain ourselves. I think if you are entertaining yourselves and you’re having fun, that projects and the audience is having fun with you,” McMahon said.