For those of you who have read my columns over the years, you’ll likely recall that I am an avid fan of professional wrestling.
I’ve been asked countless times what it is that draws me to pro wrestling, or sports entertainment as the WWE calls it, and over time that answer has changed.
As a teenager, it was the action and drama that hooked me. It was a time when Monday Night Raw was 14A – lots of cursing and inappropriate behaviour for all to enjoy. As a 13-year-old kid, it felt like you were watching something you shouldn’t have been.
As I entered my 20s, pro wrestling was a way for me to stay connected with friends from high school. For the past decade, save for the past three years due to COVID, my friends and I have gotten together to watch WrestleMania.
Football fans have the Super Bowl, I have WrestleMania.
In recent years, I continue to watch wrestling because I enjoy the storyline aspect of it, no different from a TV show. I also watch because both of my boys have now caught the bug and tune in regularly for Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown.
The one constant throughout all of those years of watching the WWE was Vince McMahon.
McMahon, the founder of the WWE, has remained active in the company over recent years, serving as chair of the board and CEO, and was in charge of all creative content for the company.
That all changed on Friday, July 22 when McMahon announced his retirement, effective immediately, at the age of 77.
If you’ve been following the news lately, McMahon’s name has been attached to allegations of paying hush money to former female employees over the past 16 years to keep alleged sexual affairs quiet. The Wall Street Journal reports the payments to add up to more than $12 million, with one payment being in the $6.5 million range.
About a month ago, McMahon “temporarily stepped down” as CEO of the company while the board investigated these claims. During that time, he remained in charge of the creative side of the company.
To say his retirement announcement on July 22 was surprising would be a lie. However, it was unexpected.
Regardless of what McMahon may or may not have done in his personal life, I believe it is still appropriate , as a fan, to say thank you for his contributions to wrestling and entertainment.
For the past 40 years – longer than this writer has been alive – McMahon headed his pro wrestling empire, taking it to heights nobody expected. WWE entertains millions of people across the globe every week, both on television and at live events.
In my teens, I looked forward to every Monday and Thursday (SmackDown’s original night) to see what antics “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, John Cena, Kurt Angle, The Undertaker, Bret Hart, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and company would get up to.
And how could I forget Mr. McMahon? Mr. McMahon was McMahon’s on-screen character, the evil boss that everyone loved to hate. He was the perfect foil to Austin in a storyline that kickstarted WWE’s popularity (and subsequent massive profitability).
Some of those acts would become so popular – namely The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) and Cena – that they are now two of the most in-demand names in Hollywood.
Today, I feel it is fair to thank McMahon for continuing to create content that I have enjoyed so so many years, and content my kids now enjoy.
So while the legacy of Vince McMahon may now be a little muddy, his contributions to entertainment cannot be ignored.
Thank you, Mr. McMahon, for the years of entertainment.
Mike Wilson is the editor of Midwestern Newspapers. He is a life-long fan of professional wrestling and considers WrestleMania weekend a holiday. Comments and feedback are welcome at email@example.com.