Vince McMahon is a popular choice as the most controversial figure in wrestling history for good reason. No one has held more power in the industry for as long a time as McMahon. The move taking over WWE for his father Vince McMahon Sr. would see him make drastic changes to make the company a bigger success. WWE grew to huge levels no one could have expected back in the 70s when it was a regional attraction.
The success and power of McMahon has seen him make many controversial choices both in and outside of the ring. Fans are left scratching their heads over some of the ideas and projects to come from the mind of a mad genius. We will look at the most polarizing or criticized moments regarding the man responsible for most of WWE’s success. These are the ten most controversial things to come from Vince McMahon in wrestling.
10 Killed the territories
The old territory system of wrestling would see certain wrestlers working for specific markets. Wrestlers like Ric Flair, Terry Funk and Jerry Lawler became huge stars thanks to the territories. The market had promotions in each location representing the shows in each area.
Vince McMahon taking over WWE from his father completely changed the game. His desire to become a national success would see WWE move from just a New York promotion to one that had a fan base in all states. McMahon signed all the top stars and put many other companies out of business to end that chapter of wrestling.
9 Changed the term “wrestling” to “sports entertainment”
The growth of WWE allowed Vince McMahon to dictate many things within the wrestling business. One of them was his desire to end the term wrestling altogether. McMahon wanted to separate the success of WWE from the rest of the industry to truly get the success of his vision.
A change in the 90s to 2000s would see WWE adopt the term “sports entertainment” in place of wrestling for branding and marketing purposes. At one point, WWE personalities were banned from using the terms wrestler and wrestling altogether, but the rules have been relaxed in recent years.
8 Montreal Screwjob
One of the most controversial moments in the entire history of wrestling to get televised was the Montreal Screwjob. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels having such personal issues led to Hart refusing to lose to Michaels on his final night in WWE.
Vince McMahon told Bret their highly anticipated Survivor Series 1997 match would end in a DQ. However, Michaels won when putting Hart into the Sharpshooter as McMahon demanded the bell ring to end the match. Hart knocked out Vince backstage after the incident to show just how wild the night was.
7 Faking his own death
Vince McMahon has gone to drastic extremes to improve the ratings of WWE television. The company was struggling when he came up with the idea to fake his own death as a storyline. McMahon would walk into his limo at the end of the show before it exploded to leave the viewers wondering his fate.
The website claimed McMahon had passed away and was controversial enough to get many calls into the police station regarding the incident. McMahon would cancel the angle after a week due to the Chris Benoit tragedy striking at the same time, but it remains a polarizing moment.
6 Booked himself to win WWE Championship
The Mr. McMahon character found success for WWE when Vince started appearing on the show opposing wrestlers. Steve Austin was the one to benefit most, but Triple H also had a memorable feud with McMahon in 1999.
McMahon defeated Triple H at one point to win the WWE Championship. It was viewed as a controversial moment to see the owner win the biggest prize as a non-wrestler. Vince did vacate the title right away which speared WWE the embarrassment WCW would get from Vince Russo and David Arquette winning gold.
5 The “independent contractor” loophole
WWE has been criticized for many years regarding the independent contractor status for employers. That label would mean wrestlers had the freedom to wrestle anywhere since they were not employees of WWE. The company however provides restrictions and works them like employees.
Ryback has called out WWE for not providing financial compensation for travel, hotel and other accommodations due to the loophole. Raven tried suing the company for the confusion over the role. Vince McMahon is the one to come up with this concept and has refused to change it as the company grows.
4 Match against “God”
Vince McMahon’s feud with Shawn Michaels in 2006 featured some controversial moments along the way. One specific strange idea came when McMahon wanted to mock Michaels’ newfound religion for changing him as Michaels believed it was the motivator in cleaning up his life.
A match was booked with Vince and Shane teaming up to face Michaels and his partner God. The joke was that God would no-show as Michaels lost the match against both McMahon family members. Triple H ultimately saved Michaels months later, but the God angle was another controversial moment for Vince.
3 Faxed CM Punk termination papers on his wedding day
CM Punk will always have a strong legacy in wrestling thanks to his incredible success in WWE. The last few years of Punk’s run for WWE saw him rise to the top with the Summer of Punk making him a top tier superstar right behind John Cena in the drawing power.
Punk felt disrespected by the WWE landscape and decided to leave the company after a falling out. Vince McMahon would petty when sending the official termination papers ending his time in the company on the day of his wedding with AJ Lee. A future interview featured McMahon claiming it was a mistake, but the timing was too fitting.
2 Booked himself to date divas
Vince McMahon has been criticized since the end of the Attitude Era for constantly booking his way into romantic moments with the female performers. Trish Stratus was the first to enter a relationship with him culminating in many embarrassing moments that still haunt WWE today.
Other ladies to have romantic moments with Vince on television include Torrie Wilson, Sable, Candice Michelle and Stacy Keibler. McMahon having complete control over the show basically confirmed he was the one booking his way into these moments which made it even more controversial.
1 Purchased WCW and buried them in Invasion angle
The Monday Night Wars between WWE and WCW created the most successful time in wrestling history. Fans always dreamed of the two companies facing off in an event that would be considered the equivalent of the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup of wrestling.
Vince McMahon had other plans after purchasing the rights to WCW in 2001. The Invasion storyline started a few months later with mostly WWE names like Steve Austin and Kurt Angle jumping ship to WCW. Real former WCW beloved acts like Diamond Dallas Page and Kronik were buried. WWE destroyed WCW and ECW to win the war within a few months and that was the end of the highly anticipated angle.
NEXT: 10 WCW Mistakes That AEW Cannot Afford To Repeat