Vince Kennedy McMahon was taught about the professional wrestling business by his own father Vincent James McMahon who at the time owned the WWF as it had been called. Vince fell in love with his father’s company and he was fascinated by these larger than life personas which were the wrestlers. He showed from a young age that there was a passion for what his family had built in their territory which covered the Northeastern United States region. During the 1970’s, a young Vince McMahon would be seen on camera interviewing the talent and he would be featured doing play-by-play commentary for his Dad’s promotion. Vince definitely inherited a love for the business from his father and grandfather; it was in the McMahon family DNA, their genetics.
By Vince Sr having Vince Jr. there with him were able to bond and build on their personal relationship during this time. Vince talks very fondly about his Dad even going as far to call him a saint. Vincent J. McMahon always wanted to keep the company more of a territorial operation, but Vince Sr. decided to sell the parent company of the World Wrestling Federation his son Vincent K. McMahon and his company Titan Sports Inc, in 1982. Vince Jr. had other ideas of wanting to take the territory and expand it nationally and also eventually internationally.
McMahon started his national expansion by advertising and promoting the product throughout various markets within the United States. Vince was not going to be satisfied with WWF only being a regional territory. Vince Jr. went against his father’s wishes and he wanted to compete against the different territories even if that meant McMahon would drive those promotions out of business. McMahon had offered to buy out other wrestling promoters that were failing, but eventually he would be successful with his own dealings depending on which territory. Vince McMahon recruited their top talent and would quickly make them superstars.
It was the 1980’s and Vince wanted to change the overall presentation and perception of what pro-wrestling had been like and he was marketing more toward kids and their families by having a variety of unique and interesting gimmicks that his talent gave their audience. McMahon lacked that big star who would fit into his vision of sports-entertainment and the one man who could help bring the WWF to the forefront of wrestling stardom and take it to new heights. McMahon had been aware of a big guy who used to work for his father by the name of Hulk Hogan. He wanted a type of gimmick that would allow fans to compare him to a modern day superhero at the time. Vince also had talent, however he was always looking. Vince had a concept and idea, and he capitalized on it by signing Hogan and others. A pivotal year for Vince and his staff and the WWF transpired in 1985, when McMahon took a risk and was dependent on an event that would transcend not just wrestling but entertainment as a whole, due to him combining those two elements. March, 31st 1985 will go down as a historical date in time. Why may you ask, that’s when the first ever WrestleMania premiered on pay-per-view. WrestleMania I was born and came from a place that the McMahon family helped build, Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
It proved to be a very calculated risk on Vince’s part. If this experiment failed that could possibly be the end of it all. He was betting on this first WrestleMania to be a success. Fortunately for him it was more than just successful, I personally feel that one could say that he was box-office caliber great, especially considering this was wrestling. Think about what an enticing main-event for such a card. You had a tag-team match featuring Hulk Hogan, Mr. T and Jimmy Snuka vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff, and Bob Orton. It saw Hogan, Mr. T and Snuka win. Listen to who your guest referees assigned for this special matchup – Pat Patterson, Muhammad Ali, and Billy Martin the Manager of the New York Yankees. He also had been a player for the Yankees and other teams served as a guest ring-announcer while Liberace was the guest time-keeper and singer Cyndi Lauper managed Wendi Richter in her match against Leilani Kai with the Fabulous Moolah, where Richter won. Andre The Giant defeated Big John Studd with Bobby Heenan with a stipulation of Career vs. $ 15,000 Body Slam Challenge. Based on this alone, Vince capitalized combining celebrity with his stars of the wrestling ring. McMahon knew if he could utilize entertainment stars by helping the WWF attract that much more mainstream attention. Vince also had value with all his big names involved as well.
Vince McMahon had a vision of where wrestling could go and what it could be. McMahon was looking at the bigger picture and he was thinking outside the box so to speak. Vince ended up doing what many felt might not be possible. He’s responsible for bringing professional wrestling into the big time which is often referred to as Wrestling’s golden era. Vince saw potential in bringing storylines that would captivate not just his loyal wrestling fans, but for people who were new to the brand. You might question his methods and how he went about it. For me it’s brilliant and ingenious. McMahon grew to be a respectable and strategic businessman. Yes he did raid all those territories for their talent but that ended up being a greater opportunity to make more money and become even more recognizable than before. Bruce Prichard also brought up this point about how the wrestling territorial system had already been dying before Vince inherited all those top stars.
Like it or not, there’s one thing we have to remember: one can’t argue with the success and its results and that credit has to go to one Vincent Kennedy McMahon, a visionary if there ever was one. He along with all who worked at WWF were responsible for changing professional wrestling or as they call it sports-entertainment forever and making the profession main-stream.