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WWE Network Live Special
Shane McMahon “Tell-All Podcast”
Host: Mick Foley
Airdate: Monday, May 23 following Raw
After Raw went off the air, the Network picked up Foley and Shane backstage sitting at a triangularly-shaped desk facing each other to dive into Shane’s return to WWE.
Foley started by telling the audience that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin usually hosts this podcast, but he has a shoulder injury and gave Foley his blessing to host with Shane.
Foley asked Shane about returning to WWE after seven years. Shane said he always knew he wanted to come back, even after leaving to do his own thing, but he had to have a real good reason to come back. Shane endorsed Detroit for the reaction he got when he first came back to WWE. Foley made it about himself that he started to compare pops from his career to Shane’s return pop, and he felt like his feelings were a little hurt. But, he was still glad to see Shane back and to get that reaction.
Foley went back to Shane’s childhood. Shane said he missed his father Vince McMahon a lot when he was on the road and wishing he was home more. Foley said it seems like a universal theme for the children of wrestlers or people in the business. Shane said he got used to being Vince’s son and not being in awe of him. He was just dad to him.
Foley asked Shane when Vince was the most mad at him. Shane took a while to think about an answer. He said one specific instance was back when he was 17 and Vince warned him to never get on a super-speed bike. But, one day he got on the bike with hardly any protection. Shane said he zipped away on the bike and came back home. Vince was in the driveway when he got home and he sent all of Shane’s friends home so he could yell at Shane.
And, the Pool Discussion came up. Shane said he learned the psychology of the business from Vince and Pat Patterson listening to them book TV poolside in the backyard. Shane said the person who came to the meeting always ended up in the pool as part of the ongoing gag. Shane said he decided one day that it needed to be Vince. He said he pushed him so hard that Vince threw a temper-tantrum in the air, shot out of the pool, and was ready to kill Shane, who got in his car and sped off. Shane was asked if he ever was bullied as a kid. No, he said.
Foley and Shane talked about spending time with their fathers in different settings trying to bond. Foley asked Shane about growing up around larger-than-life wrestlers. Shane referenced the photo that’s come into play recently on WWE TV of Vince taking Shane to his first WWE show. Shane went back to one specific event where there was a riot and Vince stuck him under the bleachers so that he would be safe. So, it was a “very interesting childhood.” Shane said seeing WWE go from a little armory to where WWE is today is very impressive.
Foley noted that Shane was heavily influenced by Andre the Giant and “Superstar” Billy Graham. Shane said Andre had the connection to their family and he just loved Graham’s shtick. Shane noted he hung out in the locker room and was kind of like a mascot getting ribbed all the time. Shane said he got stretched and submitted and put in an immense amount of pain as part of the learning process. Shane said no one has had as much hands-on training in this business as he has. He said even Vince got into the business later in life, but he was learning psychology and sitting under the learning tree from a very young age. Then, he had to figure out the physical aspect.
Foley said it was important for him to start at the bottom and work his way up. He said he was on the ring crew, starting at 5 or 6 years-old. Then, he learned how to referee and listen to the psychology from the masters. He said he worked with Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson to learn so much about when, where, and how. Foley asked Shane if he wanted to end up in the ring as a competitor. Shane said as a kid, he thought about it, but when he got older, he just wanted to be involved in the business.
Shane told a story about Vince, Sr. pushing Vince’s buttons like no one else. Shane said they competed over pool and it was never just a game. Shane said it’s continued down to him being very competitive, and him being competitive with Stephanie, who once beat Vince at pool.
Foley asked Shane about the competitive nature of the family as family photos flashed on the screen. So, why did he want to step in the ring if his behind-the-scenes role was set? Shane said he wanted to showcase his athletic talent. He always had an itch that he wanted to scratch, and he dove in completely. Who taught him how to work? Physically, Dr. Tom Prichard worked with him. Also, Al Snow. Did they go easy on him as Vince’s son? Definitely not. Shane said Dr. Tom treated him like a green rookie coming in to learn how to work. As the years progressed, Shane worked with Tommy Dreamer. And, all of the “amazing talent” that he got to work with, including Mick.
Looking back at his first match, Shane said he met Mr. Socko and it tasted awful. He recapped the storyline and then how Mick led him through the match, including Mick being a little stiff with him. Foley said he didn’t know what to expect from Shane in that match setting. He said Shane played a great character, then he decided that Shane truly was fearless. How did you handle it? Shane said it was extremely important for him to earn the respect of the locker room. He said the rules were different back then compared to today, but it’s still about respect.
Foley said Shane could have kept playing the spoiled kid character, but he became a great character who made people slowly take notice of his in-ring ability. Then came King of the Ring with Kurt Angle. Shane said he wanted to prove more. He said there’s something to the boss’s kid where you want to stand on your own and go the extra mile. Shane said that’s when the exciting things started being added. He said he was just going to do some one-off stunts, but the fans and he wanted a little more, than a little more. He said it’s his pride and wanting to do better than he did last time.
What was his favorite career match? KOTR with Angle was his favorite match from an accomplishment standpoint. Shane said it was an immense amount of fun, and walking through the curtain when the match was over, he was told they got a standing ovation. Then, walking back through Gorilla position, the other wrestlers clapped for them and told them it was an amazing match. He said that was one of the greatest feelings he ever had. Shane said he felt it was the respect he had been searching for and it stuck with him.
– Foley went back to November 1997 for the Montreal Screwjob fall-out and seeing Bret Hart punch out his dad. Shane went back to the build-up to the event. He said Vince was heart-broken and distraught and did not want things to end the way they did. Shane said Bret had an opposite view of how to drop the title, not wanting to lose in Canada before leaving the company. Shane said it built for weeks until finally they were at such an impasse over how to handle it that Vince made the call.
Foley noted his own experience of leaving the company for one whole day over it, then his wife called him to remind him of his contract that he couldn’t work anywhere in the world for five years if he breached his contract, so he came back, Vince shook his hand, and it was water under the bridge. Foley said Vince felt that he did what he thought he had to do save the company.
Shane went back to the story of Vince approaching Bret after the match. Shane said he asked Vince if he really wanted to do this when he knew Bret was going to punch him. Vince said he wanted to face Bret, so he walked into the locker room in front of everyone, Bret punched him in the jaw, Vince stumbled back, he collected himself, and they separated. Shane said his perspective is Vince “took it on the chin like a man,” he wanted to show the other wrestlers that he did the right thing for business, and he wanted to let Bret get out his aggression.
– Foley moved to another historic night when WWE bought WCW and Shane showed up on WCW TV as the storyline owner of WCW. Foley said Stephanie was in the Raw arena and was in tears because the “war was over.” Foley asked Shane to talk about his perspective from the night. Was he nervous? Shane he definitely felt pressure going to enemy territory, even if some of the wrestlers had been in WWE. So, Shane walked in to the locker room after John Laurinaitis gathered the roster. Shane said some of the looks were dead-stares and others were happy. He said it was incredibly awkward. Shane said Vince operates by trial by fire, and that’s how this happened, too.
– Foley brought up Shane and Vince’s father/son bond. Despite all of that, Vince was always “tough” on Shane. Shane said “tough” is not the right word. But, he picked his dad to be his best-man at his wedding. Shane picked the word “brutal” to better describe their relationship. He said it’s high expectations and being an example to everyone else.
Foley said the trouble he had when he was on WWE commentary was how demanding Vince was (through the magic headset). But, he was always told that you should see how hard he is on his kids (Shane and Stephanie). Did that bring out the best in him? Shane thought it over. He said it made him better to a point, but sometimes he just wanted a pat on the shoulder. Shane said it rarely came. Foley acted surprised. He said he got the pat on the back a lot and other wrestlers viewed Vince as a bit of a father figure looking for the acceptance. Shane said that’s a front, from his view. He added that he was held to a different standard, but don’t get him wrong that Vince was a great dad.
– Foley went back to November 2009 when Shane decided to resign from WWE. He said it was a decision that had been building for a while. Shane said it was no different than what happened when Vince battled his dad. He said Vince had a lot of ideas and Vince, Sr. told him, “No, Vinny, we’re not going to do that.” Shane said one specific thing was to bring in Hulk Hogan and make him the champion. But, Vince, Sr. was totally against that because he didn’t think you could get any heat or sympathy on a huge man like Hogan. But, his dad stuck to his idea.
Shane said he felt like the old guard was so against ideas from the new generation, including his own seeing if they could flesh out some ideas to see if they would work. So, he felt like Vince wasn’t open enough his ideas. In summary, he felt like his role stopped being a collaboration and stopped being fun. He said WWE defines his father, so he wasn’t going to let a deteriorating business relationship affect their personal lives. So, he decided he wasn’t going to do this anymore, he loves Vince too much, and he decided to leave.
Shane said part of it, too, was wanting to know if he could stand on his own two feet being the child of a successful parent. “Can you do it on your own, or are you always the ‘boss’s son?'” Shane said. He said he also has an amazing view of the business after being able to take a step away from it to look at the product with fresh eyes.
Shane got specific that lot of the Creative team, including Vince, cannot see the forest from the trees. He said listening to the fans has allowed him to see where WWE needed a boost. Foley asked Shane if he thought about just going along with Vince and just shutting up and doing his job. Shane said people thought he was an idiot for leaving behind a boat-load of cash, but he needed to do it. How did the conversation go? Shane said it was shocking to Vince and their conversation was very emotional, but he shook his hand and thanked him for everything he taught him and he said that he loves him. Shane said their personal relationship was way too important for him to let business affect it. He added that Vince was shocked, proud, and conflicted all in one emotional package.
Foley brought up Stephanie taking on a larger role in the company after he left. Shane said their relationship is fine, he loves her, and she’s proud of what she’s accomplished. Shane said Stephanie has her own path. He said their relationship didn’t change when he left.
What about his relationship with Triple H? Shane said when he left the company, their relationship didn’t change. What about now? He said Hunter makes his sister happy, and he’s happy he does that. Shane flashed an uncomfortable smile, which Foley noted sounds like Shane is being evasive. Is the relationship contentious? “No contention,” Shane said. Foley said he will accept that. Shane said it’s the truth whether he wants to accept it or not.
Foley flashed back to when Hunter and Stephanie married. Shane said as long as Stephanie was happy, he was cool with it. But, back in the day, you didn’t date the boss’s daughter. So, there was some old-school mentality being broken. What also hurt him is that it was kept from him for a while, so “that didn’t feel good.” But, other than that, as long as Hunter makes her happy, he’s fine with the relationship. He said they have great little girls and a nice family.
Foley brought up the “jealousy” word of whether he has any jealousy over Stephanie’s position in the company or regrets over walking away. “Zero,” he said. So, what brought him back to WWE? Shane said he got a phone call from his father, which was followed by a phone call from The Undertaker. Plus, the biggest reason, which he said in other interviews, was wrestling in front of his children at the age they could understand what he was doing. Shane said it felt like the perfect storm came together, he talked it over with his wife, and he felt like it was the right time to come back for WrestleMania.
Foley said Shane came back after seven years and was having The Match at the biggest event in WWE history against the mythical figure, The Undertaker. Shane thought over how to answer the question. So, he decided to go back to when he got the call from Vince. He said the first call was about three weeks before he returned in Detroit. Shane said he’s known Taker for a long time and they have a great friendship. And, with all of the injuries to the roster, enter Vince’s phone call. Shane said he felt flattered and humbled that Taker would have the confidence and want to do that with him. Shane said he told his wife that this is the right time and venue. “It’s right to come back,” he said.
Flashing forward to Detroit, they set the ball in motion. Foley said there’s something about The Undertaker, so he has the big entrance at WrestleMania – where did that come from? Shane said about seven minutes before his entrance, he asked his boys if they wanted to come out with him. He said they were stoked. Shane said they had been at AT&T Stadium the day before and were aware of the set-up. Shane said when they came out with him, it was one of the proudest moments of his life. He also chuckled to himself that his sons were soaking it all up and playing into it without being intimidated by the moment. Shane said it was a magical moment for him.
Overall, Shane said he feels what he said when he came back is true that the product needed to get a buzz again for the benefit of the generations to come, and he feels like it’s starting to pick up since he came back. So, he’s very excited about it.
Foley went back to Shane’s match against Taker at WrestleMania. Specifically, Shane jumping off the top of the Cell. Shane said it’s tough to replicate the feeling of working the crowd building to the spot. He said everyone was against the idea, except for him. And, Mick Foley started it all anyways. Foley said when he decided to do the jump, he had no idea what he was getting into because it hadn’t been done before. He said if he had to do it all over again, he would have found a way to gracefully climb back down the Cell. “The worst decision I ever made,” Foley said. But, Shane knew what price he would pay for the jump. Why? Shane said he felt that the match needed it. Want or need to? Shane said he wanted to do it, and he still needed to do it anyways because he’s an adrenaline junkie. Foley said when he saw Shane do the jump, he needed to be the first person Shane saw when he got back through the curtain. Foley said he wanted to reciprocate for Shane being there for him when his dad died. Foley talked over the topic, not letting Shane get in his complete thought.
Foley got to the end of his topics wanting to discuss the current product. They did the bit where they were up against the hour, and wanted to call their own time shot since they own the Network.
So, Shane went back to to the Hell in a Cell. Foley talked over him again, then Shane tried to go back to HIAC, but Foley talked over him again and told a story about himself. Foley eventually got back to WrestleMania. Shane said Taker is iconic and stands alone. For Vince and Taker to ask him to be in the match, he is so proud of the entire match. Being in there with Taker, one of his buddies, was fun just going at each other. He said there were some special moments for them, but to tell the story with him and “dare I say steal the show” was something he doesn’t think will be replicated.
Shane said after the match was over, he went back through Gorilla, and one of the things he did was hugged his dad and broke down. He was a sobbing mess. One part of it was going through the physical aspect of it, another was the family dynamic being away for seven years, and the spectacle of WrestleMania. Shane said all of those emotions came flooding through at once. (WWE showed a photo of Shane, Taker, Michelle McCool, and Stephanie backstage after the match.) Shane said he got one of his first pats on the back after the match. Foley said it was a long time coming for Shane.
Foley thanked Shane for being open. Shane asked if they’re being cut right now? Foley said they could discuss the current product, but he thinks they should go out on a high note of WrestleMania and the shared experience with his father. Shane smiled toward Foley, who signed off as Shane’s theme music played.
REAX: The Audience of One. If there was ever a reminder of the company being the personal theater for Vince McMahon, it was this interview, which was essentially an hour devoted to Vince McMahon. Vince loves to tell the feel-good redemption story in WWE, and what better feel-good redemption story than his own son endorsing him and Shane closing by saying he finally got one of the pats on the back from his dad? Under the guise of this being McMahon Personal Theater, there just wasn’t enough new information, such as whether Shane plans to stay with WWE for the foreseeable future or what his plans are going forward, to justify the heavy hype, especially with Foley cutting of Shane throughout to talk about himself and not let Shane finish thoughts. To his credit, Shane showed patience not getting agitated by Foley’s interruptions. Foley had his strengths diving into some subjects with good questions, while also knowing when to back off when Shane was uncomfortable with a subject, most notably Triple H. Ultimately, though, this was about telling Vince McMahon’s personal story through the WWE platform, dressed up like Shane “telling all” about pertinent subjects.
Regarding Shane’s comments, the interview reinforced his reputation for a lack of self-awareness how he receives special privileges like being able to do a crazy bump off the Hell in a Cell because he didn’t have to wrestle on Raw TV the next night. Shane talked a lot about locker room respect and growing up in the business and various codes, yet the idea of being able to do things that no other wrestler could possibly pull off and survive on WWE’s schedule has seemingly not registered. Shane made it sound like the adrenaline rush and being an adrenaline junkie, like Vince, dominates his thinking within WWE settings. It’s the opposite of Shane coming across levelheaded and mature in settings outside of WWE.