In an interview with Lucha Libre Online, the musical mastermind behind WWE's most popular theme songs went into detail on various aspects of his WWE career. Naturally, he reflected on his relationship with his boss.
While Johnston said Vince McMahon could be a bully, he also said that McMahon let Johnston have some creative license.
"He’s a really intriguing guy, he’s an incredibly charismatic guy. He can be real tough, he can be a real bully."
"But one thing I always loved about him was that he loves to be creatively surprised. Even though, when he gives you something to do, he’s always very specific. He hears something in his head or he has a feeling. Fortunately for me, he learned that he didn’t have to spell that out musically, if he just needed to tell me how he wanted to feel with that character. I also learned over the years, with Vince, you have to be respectful enough to give him something that he asks for. For example, “Here’s something you asked for” [Strums out a tune on guitar] “But, I’ve got something else for you to listen to, because I had a whole different idea.”... Most of the time, when I went far afield and if I believed in it enough to be brave enough to play it for him, he would say “Damn, I never thought of that, but it works! Let’s go with it!”"
Vince McMahon is often known for being stubborn, and various former employees have criticized his nature as a leader. Johnston acknowledged this perspective, but he made it clear that McMahon was willing to take some chances, at least when it came to WWE's music.
Johnston also pointed out that Vince McMahon tended to become more of a bully when he was frustrated with his staff for failing to execute his creative vision:
"When I said he was stubborn, he’s stubborn in the sense that he has a vision and he wants to get to that vision."
"A lot of times, when I say he’s a bully, when he gets frustrated with his creative people when, in his opinion, they’re not delivering that feeling he’s trying to get to, he can really get hard-a**ed about it and come down on people really, really hard."
Johnston spent 32 years with WWE before he was released in 2017. The composer said he considers Vince McMahon a friend, and he would be open to writing wrestling themes again in the future. In 2019, Johnson composed a new theme for Ring of Honor star PCO, so he's still involved in the wrestling world.