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WWE’s internal personnel dealings can be described as a fight or flight response.
This is based on one of Vince McMahon’s favorite business lessons to “learn to eat s— and like the taste of it.” Some stay and deal with it, while others feel it’s beneath them or inhumane.
WWE executive Stephanie McMahon repeated McMahon’s “business lesson” at the end of a new podcast interview trainer Joe DeFranco. After a half-hour of Stephanie pleasantly discussing her personal training, fitness goals, morning meditation, family, and cheat meals, it was a jarring re-telling of McMahon’s approach to business.
“Listen. Listen is one of the best lessons he’s ever taught me,” Stephanie said. “Listen to everyone – you never know where a good idea is going to come from. Treat everyone with respect, look everyone in the eyes, shake everyone’s hands, no one is better than anyone else. Believe in your team. You need to delegate.
“And, probably the most-recognized by anyone who directly reports into my father is you have to learn to eat s— and like the taste.” She let that closing line to the podcast linger before laughing. DeFranco noted he’s heard Triple H relay that same line to him before.
Going back five years ago, Stephanie said the line in a 2011 bodybuilding magazine interview describing a life lesson from her dad. Hunter noted the line in his “Making The Game” book about McMahon punishing him for the 1996 Curtain Call incident.
Not everyone is as willing to acquire the taste. Former WWE tag champion Paul London was part of the mid-2000s WWE era that ran off numerous wrestlers during a rough patch for the company.
In a new interview released this week, London described WWE as a “horrible place to work” based on how he felt he was treated.
“When you work there, you eat so much crap,” London told the Pancakes and Powerslams podcast.
“It’s like middle school all over again when you work there, on any level that you’re at. I don’t care if you’re the megastar or the opening guy, corporate office guy, whatever. At some point in your tenure there, you’re gonna be treated like garbage, absolute garbage. And like less of a human being, like the stuff you wipe off of your shoe that you stepped in by accident. And you’re gonna be treated like that constantly. It’s a constant mental hazing. It’s disgusting. It’s a horrible, horrible place to work, absolutely awful place to work. So, it’s not good for human beings of any nature. It was just things that would numb you to life working there.”
A lot of the mid-2000s work environment came from Vince McMahon’s distorted God-complex that manifested itself on WWE TV when McMahon feuded with Shawn Michaels and God. McMahon enjoyed getting a reaction out of the storylines the writing team came up with.
Jensen Karp, a California-based producer, was part of WWE’s writing team in the mid-2000s when McMahon wanted to feud with God and make out with Candice Michelle in backstage vignettes.
This week, Karp appeared on satellite radio host Sam Roberts’s podcast to discuss his time in mid-2000s WWE. He also recalled the mindset McMahon had when there was outrage over the Michaels/God-McMahon storyline.
“We got a whole lot of hate mail,” Karp said. “They loved that. Back then at least. Now, I’m sure it would be a terrible thing with public trading and such. But, back then, we were kind of on our own.”
Karp noted he lasted seven months on the WWE writing team, when three was the average at the time. Karp said that he interviewed with Stephanie McMahon and worked under Vince McMahon, and he has nothing bad to say about his experience. Like everyone else, though, the flight or fight proposition eventually came into play as McMahon tried to weed out “the weak” and keep “the strong” on his team, testing their loyalty.
“Vince or Stephanie are going to read right through your s—. She was a great woman and he was a great man; I have nothing bad to say about any of them,” Karp said.
“You work so closely with him that he just becomes one of your co-workers. We were with him every day. He liked me and my ideas.”