Vince McMahon took part in what was promoted as his first live interview in 15 years when he appeared on the Pat McAfee Show on Thursday.
Here are some notes from the nearly hour-and-a-half long interview:
– McAfee asked McMahon if he ever envisioned being where he is today. McMahon responded that he “doesn’t believe in ceilings” and enjoys working toward milestones. He didn’t envision being where he is today — but he “didn’t not” envision it either.
– When asked about the launch of the WWE Network in 2014, McMahon mentioned they had a great deal lined up with Comcast but it limited them in terms of ownership and creative control. Doing the WWE Network themselves was all about controlling their own destiny.
– McMahon said he doesn’t listen to praise or negative feedback. He’s not about getting patted on the back or getting a thank you. He said if you listen to the positive feedback, then you have to listen to the negative and he doesn’t want to do that. He continued to say you can’t change what the media is going to say about you. McMahon said “you just can’t care” about people who say negative things about you.
– Regarding using the term “sports entertainment,” McMahon said he wanted to separate his company from everybody else. He compared it to his dad establishing his own branding separate from the NWA. McMahon joked that if his father knew what he was going to do with the company, he never would have sold it to him.
– McMahon announced that he will personally induct The Undertaker into the WWE Hall of Fame. He referred to it as one of the most difficult things he’ll ever have to do because he loves The Undertaker and they’ve had such a long relationship. McMahon called Undertaker an extraordinary human being and said Undertaker and him never had one conversation about Undertaker going to WCW.
– McAfee brought up the Monday Night Wars and AEW when asking McMahon about competition. McMahon said he enjoys confrontation. He doesn’t fear it because he learned a long time ago that if you live through a beating, then you’re the winner.
I’m probably one of the few people in the world who enjoys confrontation. I enjoy confrontation, it’s one of the things that really revs you up and one of the things that really puts you on your toes.
– Regarding the notion of success, McMahon said he doesn’t know how much money he has in the bank and he doesn’t care. He loves what he does and doesn’t consider it work. McMahon loves the people he does business with and the people within the organization.
– McMahon said he is always concerned about what’s best for business. If the audience wants a performer to come back, he would bring them back. McMahon said that’s why he brought back Hulk Hogan and other wrestlers who left him previously. McMahon said it’s not about ego, it’s about what’s best for business and the audience.
– The topic of WWE’s releases came up. McAfee spoke about seeing guys get cut in the NFL. McMahon said that taking the company public helped him be a better businessman. Prior to that, he was making decisions with his heart — but when you are responsible to stockholders, you have to make decisions based on what’s best for business.
Once I took the company public, it helped me be a better businessman. Because prior to that, I was running the business with my head but mostly with my heart as well and these decisions are so damn tough when you do that.
Once you are a public company, now you owe stockholders.
– When asked about a favorite WWE moment, McMahon mentioned WrestleMania I. He put all of his money into it and there was so much riding on its success.
– McMahon was asked about Saudi Arabia. McMahon said that Saudi fans are no different than any other WWE fans. WWE has had a presence over there for years. He said Western culture is loved all over the world and WWE fits in everywhere.
People love Western culture all over the world, they don’t love our government, but they love Western culture and our form of entertainment with WWE fits in with everything.
– Working out is McMahon’s only socially acceptable outlet for aggression. He does it for his head more than he does it for his body. It helps him handle the workload in his life.
– McMahon said he loves branding and marketing when talking about the use of “stupendous” for WrestleMania this year. He said it’s not a word you hear very much and it sounds good.
– McMahon talked about how performers in WWE learn how to treat people because they have to work with each other to both entertain and be safe.
– McAfee asked McMahon if he is going to live forever. McMahon mentioned that his mother was 101 when she passed away and that’s the benchmark. If he gets hit by a bus tomorrow, McMahon just hopes he has one moment to thank everyone.
– McMahon doesn’t think about what will happen with WWE after he’s gone. He said it doesn’t matter if a family member or a non-family member takes the company. You have to be objective and look at family just like other employees.
– McMahon said he knows McAfee loves WWE. McMahon praised McAfee and then offered him a chance to wrestle at WrestleMania. McMahon said he’d find a worthy opponent for McAfee.
– The reason McMahon calls wrestlers “Superstars” is because anyone can wrestle and he thinks WWE Superstar sounds better than being a professional wrestler.
– McMahon mentioned it’s important for a performer’s mental health to not be their character outside of the ring.
– McMahon said he was determined to never miss a show when COVID hit. The ThunderDome era took away the live focus group which would tell them if something was working or not. While speaking about getting feedback online, McMahon said that he knows a portion of the online audience is biased and he doesn’t listen to that feedback.
Sometimes the internet audience, a portion of it, can be relatively biased, a bit harsh, so I don’t listen to any of those, none of them.
– McMahon said he tries to give performers creative input because it’s important for them, but he needs to lead the creative process. Also noted that you can’t dictate to the audience what they are going to like.
– Speaking of Brock Lesnar, McMahon said he is an extraordinary human being. He continued to praise Lesnar for being intelligent.
– McAfee and McMahon spoke about the Attitude Era, and McMahon said it was really fun. It was the Wild West back then and they just ran with it.
– McMahon said live TV is exciting. He lives for the pressure and the moments when something really great goes down.
– McMahon jokingly referred to Michael Cole as a “horrible human being.”
– McMahon told a story about how he wasn’t going to graduate college because his grades weren’t good enough. He found out where his professors lived and visited their homes asking to have his grades bumped up from a B+ to an A-. One professor got really confrontational with him for doing so but ultimately changed his grade.
– McMahon said he related to Steve Austin because he grew up hating the boss and being the underdog.
– McMahon was asked about tearing both of his quads at Royal Rumble 2005. He said it takes talent to sever two tendons at the same time. Mentioned he had to learn to walk all over again. McMahon noted that he’s had neck surgery, tricep surgery, and back surgery. He said that the injuries were from a combination of things.
– McAfee called McMahon a good guy. They spoke briefly about when McAfee wore shorts to WrestleMania one year. Then they wrapped up their conversation and the show ended.