Linda and Vince McMahon Take Prideful Pens in Hand

Vince McMahon Talks to Hearst
July 26, 2010
More on Dawn Marie … And Then Back to the Über Carnies
July 27, 2010

The other day, after columnists Chris Powell and Keith Burris separately slammed her, the Manchester Journal Inquirer gave Linda McMahon space for a rebuttal column. Whatever she is paying Jodi Latina, or whoever ghostwrote the piece, it is too much. The punch line was that, no matter what anyone else might think, Linda is “remarkably proud”  of her work at World Wrestling Entertainment.

In what way is one’s pride “remarkable” rather than natural? Does Linda, no less than her critics, find the very concept counterintuitive? This exercise reminds us that perhaps the best argument against McMahon is not a list of WWE crimes against humanity, but simply the stupefying banality of her corporate persona.

As usual, the whole episode reminded me of a story from long ago involving Linda’s mercurial husband Vince.

In July 1991, after then-World Wrestling Federation ring doctor George Zahorian was convicted of pushing steroids to wrestlers (including Hulk Hogan and Vince himself), I wrote a guest column for the Sunday New York Times sports section, which was headlined “Is Pro Wrestling Down for the Count?” (Because of rights issues, freelance articles are not routinely available in the Times online archive, but the piece was republished in my 2007 book Wrestling Babylon.)

The next Sunday it was Vince’s turn, in a guest column headlined “World Wrestling Federation Answers Bodyslams.”

Like Linda in 2010, Vince in 1991 took up almost all of his precious editorial real estate reiterating his pride. His grandfather-promoter, Jess McMahon, “was a proud man.” Jess’s son-promoter, Vincent J. McMahon, was “a proud man, too.” Like his father and grandfather before him, “I, too, am a proud man,” Vincent K. McMahon concluded. He said he was “determined to leave to the fourth generation McMahon, my son, a legacy of which he too can be proud.”

(Son Shane left the company last year. I am not suggesting that there was an estrangement or that it is a Linda McMahon campaign story. Daughter Stephanie, who is also a WWE executive and married to wrestler Paul “Triple H” Levesque, seems to be next in line to run the business.)

To the extent that Vince’s New York Times column had any substance at all, it was in reinforcing the WWF announcement during the week that the  company was beginning steroid testing. Vince wrote that he was taking this step “with the public trust in mind…. We feel this new program will be so comprehensive as to be the standard for all professional athletes, leagues and sports. None of you would accept anything less from us.”

The next week The Times ran a letter from a reader in Massachusetts, who panned McMahon’s “saccharine” essay for not dealing with the Zahorian trial information confirming widespread steroid use in WWF. The reader also wanted to know why McMahon didn’t say anything about how both he and Hulk Hogan got out of testifying.

Irv Muchnick

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick