On Thursday night Vince McMahon spoke to the Oxford Union, one of his several publicity events in line for Britain's coming pay-per-view. The event was supposed to start at 6.30, but Vince did not appear until 6.50. He spoke for nearly an hour and then answered questions for 20 minutes. Also present were his wife Linda, his children Shane and Stephanie, and Shane's wife Marissa.
He started off his speech very much in character which was entertaining.
"That sort of ovation would be suitable for a prime minister... a leader of technology... but it's not good enough for Vince McMahon!" Then he spoke seriously about his life, growing up in a 8-foot long house-trailer in North Carolina. He was treated badly to his mother's second husband, but stood up to him, and it is from this he developed his life philosophy- that if you can stand up for what you think and live to tell the tale, then you have won. He suffered from dyslexia as a youth, and though excelling somewhat at sports, cultivated mainly the image of 'bad ass'. He outlined some of his antics at military school, before applying, with a 2.01 grade average, to East Carolina college where he meets his future wife Linda. He had to go to summer school each year to graduate at which time, Linda was pregnant with Shane.
After this he wanted to go into his real father's wrestling business (his father's father was also in it) but Vince Sr. was not too keen on the idea. Therefore Vince took a job first as a salesman, then as a worker in a rock quarry. Neither of these jobs excited Vince whose only love was wrestling and he would often come up with various matches and storylines in his head. His father decided to give him one shot, working a show at Bangor, Maine which was a success.
Vince McMahon Sr. at that time had a problem with Ray Morgan, his then commentator for TV Tapings in Hamburg, PA. Ray was demanding more money , but Vince Sr. held firm and showed him the door. Vince got the position and worked first with Arnold Skaaland, which was hard as he would only ever say to him 'Yes' and 'No'.
Vince Sr. worked the North-East area, and Vince Jr's work was a success, especially in New England. Vince Jr. always preferred the showbusiness aspect to the athleticism which went against the mood of the times and that of his father's. However, bankruptcy threatened the business and McMahon Sr. was thinking of selling out. His son did not want this, and so, with Cal Rudman as the frontman/moneyman bought it.
Vince then was the first to try to go national and so had to compete with the regional federations and move into their territory, but he was willing to pay the price. He said professional wrestling had never been a sport, always entertainment, so he coined the phrase sports-entertainment. He gave brief details on the idea behind Wrestlemania, and the company's divergence into publishing and the video market.
He said that he 'understood the masses', but whereas before the company directed the audience, now he says that they are directed by the fans. Characters are 'more contemporary' now, and cited (with a rather embarrassed tone) Val Venis. He gave brief details of the WWF's plans to move more into music and the movie industry, and mentioned the plans to create the WWF restaurant chain- the difference to the 'Planet Hollywood' type of restaurant will be that their interiors will change at regular intervals.
Then he took questions- "Now's where the fun really starts!", quips Vince.
No guessing what the first one was: [Please remember that the following are paraphrases to Vince's answers written by me- they are accurate (I made a lot of notes) but not exact. Transcripts of his talk may be available from the Oxford Union in a couple of weeks (or maybe not)]
Q: 'Bret screwed Bret- can you elaborate on this?'
VM: That was a situation where reality did creep into the proceedings. Bret Hart's salary/percentage had become too much and I wanted to take it down- Bret didn't agree to this so we orchestrated a 'steal' of Bret Hart by Ted Turner. And we did it well- Bret got a deal far better than that which we offered him. However, Bret was bitter and on the night in question at the survivor series he refused to cooperate, which was unlike Bret as he was always willing to in the past. He refused to cooperate and wanted to go with the title to Ted Turner. Now I have said on TV that I have 'testes the size of grapefruits' and this was not going to happen. So I made damn sure that when Shawn Micheals put the sharpshooter on Bret that the bell rang... It didn't please Bret, and it didn't please me. It would have been easy for me to have not been present when it happened, but I wanted to give him an explanation. I knew that a physical confrontation was probable and I was willing to accept that and give him one free shot. Backstage I approached him with Shane and others, but just before our confrontation, Gerald Brisco steped badly on my ankle, and so when the shot came I was off guard and I fell down with a concussion. We still hadn't finished taping in Canada and when I came out next I got a negative reception- and that's where the Mr McMahon character was born.
Q: Did Hogan leave because of the steroids scandal?
VM: I haven't heard that one before. In the late 70 steroids were not illegal. I had no experience of steroids until Hogan one day offered me a shot. I was reluctant but agreed and, well, they make your muscle mass expand, they improve your endurance. The dangers have been over-exaggerated, much to the chagrin of the sports-writers- nobody has died, to my knowledge, from taking steroids. The authorities tried to nail me on distribution- they failed. But my family and I were an easy target and the federal Government tried to get a plea from me- they failed. So they investigated me on eveything from Mafia links to child pornography- every count not guilty. But, to answer your question, Hogan had really lost a lot of pulling power at that stage and it was a mutual decision that he should leave. He asked for the rights to the name 'Hulk Hogan' and I gave them to him as he said that we'd never be in opposition - then what happens! But his career is over, those guys don't want him anymore...
Those were the main two question- in other stuff:
He praised Austin for coming up with his character, and says that he has far exceeded anything that Hogan achieved, he said that Laurence Taylor's problems are caused by the fact that he's always pumped up, even when not competing. He said he was surprised by the fans reaction to Val Venis- he thought him a typical heel. They have not given up just yet on Jeff Jarrett, but admitted nothing had really worked so far to get him onto the higher platform of superstars. He said it was a shame that he left behind the Double J character but Jeff had some problems with where the character was headed. On being asked how he felt about WCW taking all his stars, he said that Nash had really bad knees and that both Nash and Hall would be unable to compete to the standards that the WWF requires at the moment. He said that Mick Foley was 'a wonderful human being' and said that the Mr. McMahon character may get his come-uppance from Mankind soon. He is very proud of the Undertaker character, its durability, and said it was moving to even more demonic depths. He has no qualms about the increase in violence in the WWF, and said that if you compare it to Hollywood, the WWF has less sexual content, swearing and violence.
All in all, Vince had a very strong presence, was very affable and answered the questions eloquently. Behind this though, as hinted at in his talk, is the fact that this man is prepared to do anything for his business, even if it involves treating people badly.
Tom Mayne is a 20 year old student from Manchester, England, who is studying Russian at Oxford University. He became interested in wrestling when he was about 12, taping WCW's weekly show which was used then as a late-night filler on England's ITV channel.
Nitro is live from Houston, Texas. At the top of the program, Mike Tenay announces that the Executive Committee has made a ruling that Goldberg will face Bam Bam Bigalow in a non-Title match tonight. We cut to video of Scott Steiner beating up on the WCW mascot, Wildcat Willie, earlier tonight, then we cut to the Hogan tribute video that was shown on Thunder last week. We come back to the Nitro Grrrrls in the ring as Tony hypes the main event again. Cut to commercial.
We return for the trials and tribulations of Scott Hall over the last couple of weeks. I still think this is all leading back to Hall reverting to the nWo and displacing Scott Steiner as the leader of the group. Bischoff can't possibly be so dumb as to think that this turkey can replace Hulk Hogan as the focus of fan hatred in WCW... can he?
Scott Steiner (w/the nWo referee) runs down the local crowd then makes his usual overt sexual suggestion (sigh...) He gets no reaction fromn the crowd. He orders a standing ovation for Hogan, still no reaction - tells everyone to bow before him...give it up goofball! They don't care about you either way! He starts to rant on Scott Hall and finally gets a reaction - a "Goldberg" chant. He calls Scott Hall out again for the second week in a row. (yawn...) Cut to commercial...please!
We get a Nitro Party tape as we return from the break then cut to the Nitro Grrrrls on the ramp as the announcers discuss the brawl between Goldberg and Bigalow out in the parking lot during the Nitro broadcast last week.
Kendall Windham vs. Diamond Dallas Page - this should be good, Windham has about the same experience as his older opponent and considerable size on him as well. He wins the first exchange but stops to showboat. They get into fisticuffs right away and roll around the ring. Windham turns his back on DDP then delivers a lowblow from behind to turn the tables. He has a kind of graceless flurry and dominates for a minute or so - then DDP surprises him by turning a bulldog into a Diamond Cutter. 'Nuff said... Cut to a video for Tigress - one of the Nitro Grrrrrls. It is a fairly in-depth look at her life in and out of WCW - she gave up a career as an accountant to be a dancer - nicely done. Cut to commercial.
More footage of the clashes between Goldberg and Bam Bam.
Norman Smiley vs. Prince Iaukea - I just don't get Smiley. He's a little too perfect I guess. He minces too the immediate attack - out flanking his opponent. He is a good wrestler but I can't work up any feelings about him. He does a little "ride'm cowboy" move to show off for the crowd. The Prince takes it for a while then starts to make a comeback. Suddenly Smiley grabs a headlock submission hold that stops Iukea in his tracks. Cut to video of Eddie Guerrero harranguing Rey Misterio then finding out that Rey has a Cruiserweight contender match already signed for tonight. Eddie is sounding like a character out of Animal Farm as denounces Misterio. He holds a conference in Spanish with Silver King then we cut to commercial.
Silver King vs. Rey Misterio, Jr. - does this mean that Rey has to wrestle twice tonight? SK has the size advantage and is quite a flyer as well. Rey dominates the first few exchanges then Silver King grounds him for quite a while. Rey keeps breaking free but then being halted - usally in mid-air! Eventually, Rey works around his opponent's defenses and starts to dominate him. He hits a spectacular flying bulldog to win.
Goldberg shows up flanked by officials and security. Kevin Nash says he won't allow a match with Bigalow to happen tonight. Goldberg makes the speech of his career (about three lines ;-), telling Nash he never stops dreaming about destroying him. It's a classic moment (not!!!) Bigalow better watch his back... Cut to commercial.
Wrath vs. The Renegade - sheesh!!! This guy doesn't even pretend to wrestle (either one of them actually). There is no contest from the get-go in this one. Wrath just steamrolls right over this half-wit. Renegde's one instant of offense takes place after he is tossed from the ring and the referee distracts his opponent long enough for him to get in a shot. Wrath takes way too long to put this dufus away...cut to replay of the Goldberg/Nash confrontation from before the last break, then cut to commercial.
Chavo Guerrero, Jr. (w/Pepe)/Disco Inferno vs. Horace/Stevie Rey - Disco brings out Konnan before he goes to the ring and wants him to make his big "blockbuster announcement". Konnan doesn't know what he's talking about. Disco says that Kevin Nash has named him as the newest member on nWo Wolf Pack! Uh...yeah...right... Konnan disagrees but Disco has to get to his match now... Horace starts the match against Chavo and dominates him during the early going. But Chavo comes back strong and then tags Disco in. Disco is decimated immediately then Stevie is tagged in. Surprisingly, Disco then succeeds in turning the tables...for about 5 seconds, then Stevie demolishes him. The nWo guys are isolating Disco until Horace misses a splash. Chavo comes back in and is all over Horace. He gets the Tornado DDT but Stevie drags him off before he can get the pin. Disco is tagged in and he and Horace battle while Chavo and Stevie brawl on the apron. The referee moves to restrain Chavo, meanwhile Horace and Stevie are cooperating on a spiked piledriver on Disco which ends the match.
Kevin Nash stalks to the ring in his street clothes. He says that Goldberg is not running the show, that he signed to face Nash and that's the only match he's going to have. He says he plans put on his gear and to be in the ring if Goldberg and Bigalow try and have a match. Cut to commercial.
We see scenes from the Burt Reynolds movie on TNT this coming weekend. Roddy Piper has a part in the film.
Nitro Grrrrrls dance on the platform.
Glacier vs. Saturn - here we go. Assuming nothing happens to spoil this match... I suppose we can expect to see Ernest Miller...speak of the devil...there he is on the platform claiming that he has to forego "beating the crap" out of him (Saturn) because he has an injury. Saturn is distracted allowing Gllacier to start the match early and take the advantage. Glacier stops to showboat and then is caught coming in fr his next attack. He recovers quickly and retakes the initiative. Saturn takes it for a while then makes a comeback. The match is see-sawing now. As it progresses, the advantage swings over to Saturn. It is all Saturn when Sonny Oono pops up on the apron. The referee is distracted allowing Miller to grab Saturn from the outside s Glacier can tie him up. Miller enters the ring and throws a kick at Saturn, who ducks away so that Glacier takes the shot. Saturn clears the ring. The referee, who saw Miller in the ring, DQ's Saturn! Saturn is outraged (as am I) and puts the DDD on him before we cut to commercial.
Les Luger vs. Emery Hale (who?) - this is a very strange match-up for a Nitro program. Hale is a non-entity, though physically bigger then Luger (looks like a young Nikolai Volkoff) He lures Luger out to the floor in order to turn the tables then continues his assault in the ring. Luger is selling up a storm and making this guy look too good. Hale finally takes a header into the mat attempting a splash and the contest is over in moments via Torture Rack.
Chris Jericho (w/Ralphus) vs. Bobby Duncum, Jr. - Jericho has had another bad hair day. He embarks on an "I hate cowboys" rant against his opponent (he mispronounces the name of course). Duncum dominates the opening moments despite Jericho's best efforts to escape. Jericho finally gets a belly-to-back suplex to turn the tables. He mounts the corner with his back turned and gets shoved out to the floor then splashed on by his 6' 6", 270lbs. opponent. Back in the ring, Jericho takes the initiative back but only briefly. Duncum is right back on him. Duncum then makes the same mistake that Jericho made earlier - not paying attention to his opponent as he climbs the corner. Jericho upsets his balance. But Duncum isn't done - he roars back and seems to have things well in hand until Jericho reverses a powerbomb attempt into a roll up then uses the ropes for leverage to get the pin. Cut to commercial.
Scott the Putz vs. the Giant - another one of those supposed "power vs power" matches for the Putz. Putski ducks one blow then walks into a chokeslam and is pinned. The Giant then rants against Diamond Dallas Page, letting him know that he intends to take DDP out at Starrcade. They have a match for the PPV. In the back, Konnan is being taped by a trainer while the nWo referee stands by. Konnan offers to tape him up "Wolf Pack style". Cut to commercial.
Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko (w/AA) vs. Kanyon/Raven - backstage, Kanyon is trying to convince his partner to come to the ring. Raven refuses so Kanyon heads to the ring alone ranting all the way, sounding rather like his erstwhile partner actually. He says he won't wrestle tonight because the odds are against him (he insults Arn while he's at it) He offers to wrestle any one of them on Thursday. Arn cuts off his retreat from the ring area by brandishing a crowbar. Kanyon is chased into the ring where malenko and Benoit chop him down then Arn threatens him with the crowbar again. Kanyon splits and we go to a video outlining the Flair/Bischoff feud.
Cut back to the ring where the Horsemen are still assembled. Mean Gene is with them and introduces Ric Flair. Flair comes to the ring accompanied by Steve McMichael. Flair rants at Bischoff saying that Eric's "dictatorship is about to end..." He cites the wrestling history of the State of Texas mentioning figures such as the Funks, Jose Lothario, Dusty Rhodes and others then tells Bischoff he's going to destroy him at Starrcade. He seems to be under the impression that Bischoff is going to give over control of the promotion to Flair if he (Bischoff) loses the match. We haven't heard Bischoff agree to this stip as far as I can remember. Cut to commercial.
Yet another airing of the Konnan music video. What's funny is that I could duplicate that audio track with my little Casio keyboard.
Konnan vs. Booker T - TV Title match - this should be good - both these guys are excellent grapplers - Booker is a phenomenon, of course. The match starts out pretty even but Booker soon asserts his authority. He dominates for a minute or so then Konnan comes back with a clothesline followed quickly by a drop-kick to the chest of his seated opponent. The fight goes to the floor where Booker gets some back but then succombs again to Konnan's attack. Back in the ring, Konnan attempts to ground his opponent with an armbar. Booker fights to his feet but Konnan is still in charge and bulldogs him to the mat. He gets a two count then grabs a reverse chinlock. Booker escapes again and turns the tables with a scissors kick. Here somes Stevie Ray, to make trouble no doubt. In the ring, Booker is about ready to end the match when Stevie enters the ring and uses his weapon on Konnan. Booker is livid but refuses to hit his brother. Stevie tries to recruit him for the nWo. Booker isn't buying. Cut to commercial.
Scott Hall vs. Scott Steiner - Steiner can't find his referee (I wonder what happened to him..??) Looks like there won't be a ref for this match. Steiner accuses Hall of doing something to him, then we see the referee, all taped up head to toe (his whistle is taped to his lips...) on the platform. Mickey Jay runs in to officiate the match. Hall gets a two count then nWo thugs swarm into the ring. Horace, Vincent and Stevie ray are whaling on Hall until Luger and Konnan run in to even the oods. They are still outnumbered and then the Giant shows up. The Wolf Pack and Hall are getting punked until DDP runs in with a chair and clears the ring. Cut to commercial.
More Nitro Grrrrrls in the aisle this time. Then we are shown the Nash/Goldberg confrontation for the third of fourth time tonight. Each time they replay Goldberg's entire speech (all three lines of it...)
Mean Gene is in the ring as we return and invites Bret Hart to the ring for an interview. Hart struggles to keep a straight face as Okerlund pushes Harts arm off his shoulder. Gene wants to know what Hart thinks of the Giant/Page match - Hart contends that Page is ducking him. Okerlund mentions the documentary film in his closing remarks. Cut to commercial.
Michael Buffer introduces the main event.
Goldberg vs. Bam Bam Bigalow - non-Title match - Goldberg is fighting to preserve his winning streak in this one - assuming there will be a match (which I don't think is a good bet). Bigalow runs down and slides into the ring before Buffr can introduce him. Nash runs in and attacks Bigalow. Here comes Goldberg on the run as well. He attacks Nash and downs him then is attacked by Bigalow. We have a curious three-way battle until all officialdom swarms in to separate them.
Disappointing but not unexpected...
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
This page is a personal tribute and is in no way connected to any of the wrestling promotions mentioned on it. It is dedicated to the Dean of Wrestling announcers, Gordon Solie. Copyright 1998 - Jump City Productions