5 Stars Vince McMahon Fought Then Made Amends With

Vince McMahon - Has fought and made up with many of his stars
Vince McMahon - Has fought and made up with many of his stars
Paul Benson

Vince McMahon has reigned as the head supremo of WWE since 1982 when he took over the family business from his father, Vince McMahon Sr.

The junior McMahon had grand ideas for the company, far beyond what his father would ever have considered.

McMahon was not satisfied with running a regional promotion; WWE at that point had primarily promoted in the North East area with New York and Madison Square Garden being the hub of all its major shows.

Its main competitors at that time were the National Wrestling Alliance, which at one point WWE was a member of along with most regional promotions across the United States, but now was primarily a hotbed for Southern-based promotions, the mid-western, American Wrestling Association and Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling.

All suffered at the hands of McMahon's expansion as the WWE boss signed away all their top stars. AWA owner, Verne Gagne was so enraged by McMahon's signing of his star, Hulk Hogan that he offered then-WWE Champion, The Iron Sheik a large pay off if he broke Hogan's leg in their title match wherein Hogan was booked to become McMahon's World Champion and the face of his soon-to-be national promotion.

Sheik declined Gagne's offer and the title switch went ahead as planned. Hogan became the biggest star wrestling had ever seen and launched WWE into the consciousness of a worldwide mainstream audience.

With Hogan, McMahon had the template he wanted in a superstar. Tall, muscular and charismatic, the Hulkster was the embodiment of WWE.

However, the Hogan relationship would eventually turn sour which became a recurring pattern for McMahon and his major stars over the ensuing decades.

McMahon fell out with a large list of his stars, but inevitably made up with them, when there was money to be made.

SK looks at five such superstars that have fallen out with the WWE boss but later made amends.

#5 Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar - Was not on Vince McMahon's Christmas card list in 2004
Brock Lesnar - Was not on Vince McMahon's Christmas card list in 2004

Brock Lesnar was Vince McMahon's dream wrestler. He had the size, strength and legitimate wrestling skill to make McMahon lots and lots of money as his company's top star.

So high in regard was Lesnar held by McMahon, that a rocket was strapped to his back and he was pushed harder and faster than any star in company history.

Three months after his WWE debut, Lesnar was King of the Ring and five months after his debut, he was WWE Champion, defeating the promotion's biggest star, The Rock in the main event of SummerSlam 2002. Lesnar became the youngest World Champion in company history.

For the next two years, Lesnar was the number one star in the promotion. However, five days prior to WrestleMania XX on March 9, 2004, Lesnar stunned McMahon by handing in his notice. Following his WrestleMania bout with Goldberg on March 14, he was leaving, for good.

McMahon, understandably, was aghast. Five days notice was an insult. The only satisfaction the WWE boss could take was that Lesnar was leaving to attempt to make it as a professional Football player in the NFL. It was a pipe dream. However, Lesnar did come awful close to making his dream a reality but was cut by the Minnesota Vikings' preliminary squad, later that year.

Vince McMahon (c) and Brock Lesnar (r) - Friends once again
Vince McMahon (c) and Brock Lesnar (r) - Friends once again

In a bind, particularly as he had signed a 10 year no compete clause in order to get released from his WWE deal, Lesnar had little alternative source of income, other than to approach WWE for a job once more in 2005.

It didn't work out. Atypically, WWE announced it had held talks with Lesnar on its website, confident their former star would return. However, Lesnar wanted to work a part-time schedule and would not yield to WWE's demands that he work something akin to full time.

Lesnar instead approached lawyers who successfully overturned the no-compete clause deeming it unrealistic and unlawful. To McMahon's fury, Lesnar then penned a deal to work with top Japanese wrestling company, New Japan where he would reign as their Heavyweight Champion.

Much to McMahon's chagrin, Lesnar's fame increased further, when he joined UFC and became their Heavyweight Champion as well. For a man who yearned to be considered in the same high regard as other legitimate sports' promoters, it was nothing short of massive irritation to McMahon that the Lesnar celebrity athlete he had created was now the biggest draw in MMA history and making a competitor bucketloads of money.

Lesnar's betrayal as McMahon saw it, led to a change in WWE booking. WWE no longer strapped the rocket to young, unproven stars, fearful they would use the company to make their name and leave to earn more money elsewhere, leading to the 50/50 booking conundrum WWE fans are forced to endure today where few stars are more over than their peers as wrestlers repeatedly exchange wins, severely hindering star creation.

In 2012, McMahon was forced to swallow his pride and invite his former Champion back on Lesnar's own terms which was for even fewer dates than he had been demanding seven years earlier.

McMahon, in 2018 is content with this of course. Lesnar brings him lots of money and greater mainstream credibility. McMahon loves to do business with Lesnar, now the commodity is once more his.


#4 Bruno Sammartino

Vince McMahon and Bruno Sammartino - Buried 25 years of bad blood in 2013
Vince McMahon and Bruno Sammartino - Buried 25 years of bad blood in 2013

The feud between Vince McMahon and Bruno Sammartino was one that no-one ever expected to be resolved.

The pair were at loggerheads for more than two decades following Sammartino's departure from the company in 1988 until he finally agreed to be brought back into the fold with a Hall of Fame induction in 2013.

Their animosity stemmed from the fact that Sammartino disapproved of the direction McMahon had taken wrestling and was particularly dismayed by what he regarded as distasteful storylines and the unnatural, enhanced physiques sported by many of the promotion's biggest stars.

McMahon, for his part, was enraged by how Sammartino repeatedly rejected any invitations to work for his company again.

Finally, after Triple H intervened and showed Sammartino the current WWE product that the legend approved of, his stance softened and he agreed to meet with McMahon prior to his Hall of Fame induction and the pair became friends.

McMahon and Sammartino remained cordial and continued to work together until the veteran's death earlier this year.


#3 Hulk Hogan

Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan feuded in storyline as well as real life
Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan feuded in storyline as well as real life

Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan have fallen out and made up so many times, that one could forgive mistaking them for an old married couple.

Their initial relationship was a prosperous one. Together, they turned McMahon's promotion into a national powerhouse, destroying the regional territory system that had existed for decades.

Hogan was McMahon's top star; the then biggest drawing card in wrestling history and his unmatched charisma turned WWE into a mainstream sensation. The pair were so close that they actually worked out together and their families spent most of their free time in each other's company.

However, the first big rift between the two men occurred in late 1991, when Hogan against McMahon's wishes lied about his steroid use on national television during an appearance on the Arsenio Hall show.

The appearance angered so many in wrestling that they went public about Hogan's dishonesty, which made McMahon's company a sitting duck for a government investigation into steroid use and distribution in WWE.

The heat was such that McMahon told Hogan to take an indefinite leave of absence from WWE several months later.

It was only when business went down markedly, that McMahon invited Hogan back in time for WrestleMania IX in 1993. Hogan won the WWE Championship for a then-record fifth time in an impromptu match following the main event.

However, Hogan was not interested in a Champion's schedule and rarely appeared on WWE programming; the pair had a mutual parting of the ways that summer with McMahon of the belief that Hogan had no interest in wrestling any longer.

McMahon was soon in for a colossal shock. One year later, in summer 1994, Hogan resurfaced in rival promotion, WCW. The WWE boss was upset that Hogan had not informed him of his plans and given him the opportunity to pitch a counter offer.

With Hogan as its top star, WCW would supplant WWE as the most successful wrestling company in the world and come within a whisker of putting WWE out of business. McMahon never forgot that.

In early 2002, a full year after McMahon's WCW buyout, the WWE Chairman did bring Hogan back into the fold. However, this was due more to necessity than anything else. The past 12 months had seen WWE's ratings and pay per view buys decline massively and a Hogan return was a quick fix.

As is typical with Hogan, it was a short-lived reunion. Hogan wanted to continue to be portrayed as a main eventer. McMahon felt that Hogan at 48 years of age, was not believable in that role any longer. This difference of opinion led to another split. The dawn of 2003 saw this exact same scenario play out once more.

Hogan was finally inducted into WWE's Hall of Fame in 2005 and the pair worked amicably together for the better part of the next decade.

However, another almighty storm would soon brew.

Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan - Made peace with each other
Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan - Made peace with each other

Hogan's unfortunate racist tirade that was recorded on a sex tape and sent viral by The National Enquirer in July 2015 led WWE to sever ties with him until the storm brewed over. The company also announced that it had removed him from the WWE Hall of Fame and did not mention him on television broadcasts or its website.

In July 2018, after a period of three years, WWE announced that it had reinstated Hogan into the Hall of Fame. Penance served, Hogan is once more part of the WWE family.


#2 The Ultimate Warrior

Ultimate Warrior and Vince McMahon - Fell out repeatedly in the 1990s
Ultimate Warrior and Vince McMahon - Fell out repeatedly in the 1990s

Vince McMahon had a love-hate relationship with The Ultimate Warrior; one of his biggest ever stars.

Their first big falling out occurred prior to the SummerSlam 1991 main event, in which Warrior was due to team with Hulk Hogan versus the team of Sergeant Slaughter, Colonel Mustafa (The Iron Sheik) and General Adnan.

Warrior allegedly held McMahon up for a six-figure sum, refusing to compete in the match if he was not given the money up front. McMahon acquiesced but fired Warrior immediately after the bout.

However, when business fell markedly over the next few months, McMahon invited Warrior back in spring 1992 but he was gone once again before the end of the year. Warrior's final in-ring comeback was even shorter and began nearly two decades of acrimony between the two men. The Warrior comeback lasted just four months.

McMahon fired Warrior for missing several dates which Warrior had explained was due to the death of his father. However, McMahon did not believe his superstar as Warrior was estranged from his father and he was not convinced that he would be upset by his passing.

Warrior was also angry at McMahon as he believed he was not receiving royalty payments on merchandise bearing his likeness that he believed he was entitled to.

Clearly, there were two sides to this story but each man was only interested in their own.

McMahon and Warrior made up prior to the latter's premature death
McMahon and Warrior made up prior to the latter's premature death

The animosity was further inflamed in the 21st Century when McMahon sanctioned the release of the curious DVD entitled The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior in 2005.

An incredible burial of a former superstar, it featured interviews from a myriad of WWE contracted staff dissing Warrior as a person, as a wrestler and belittling his career achievements.

Warrior understandably was so upset by this production that he refused to have anything to do with WWE for close to another decade and refused induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010, querying why if WWE felt so little of him they could produce a burial of a DVD, then why would they want him in their Hall of Fame.

It was a fair point and it wasn't until Triple H played peacemaker between Warrior and McMahon that the former WWE Champion returned to the fold for a WWE Hall of Fame induction in 2014. McMahon also offered Warrior an ambassador position in the company, however, sadly he did not live long enough to begin his new role.

Warrior died three days after his Hall of Fame Induction from a heart attack but happily he was able to pass away with none of the animosity that had plagued him for many years.


#1 Bret 'Hitman' Hart

Vince McMahon and Bret Hart prior to the Montreal Screwjob
Vince McMahon and Bret Hart prior to the Montreal Screwjob

Every wrestling fan knows the reasons for Vince McMahon's eight-year falling out with one of his longest tenured superstars ever, Bret 'Hitman' Hart.

Prior to the 1997 edition of Survivor Series, from Montreal, Quebec, Hart and McMahon had been at loggerheads as to how WWE Champion Hart would lose the Championship before he left the company for rivals, WCW.

Hart had never wanted to leave and one year earlier had signed a 20-year contract extension. However, McMahon cited financial pressure as a reason he could not afford to pay Hart any longer and encouraged him to secure a deal with WCW.

Hart reluctantly acquiesced but requested that he lose the title somewhere else other than Canada, given his hero status in his homeland.

Unbeknownst to Hart, McMahon was privately seething that one of his employees was dictating to him, how and when he would lose his own Championship.

Bret Hart and Vince McMahon bury the hatchet in 2005
Bret Hart and Vince McMahon bury the hatchet in 2005

At the urging of Shawn Michaels and Triple H, McMahon decided to screw Hart out of the title for real at the Survivor Series event. Michaels and Triple H convinced McMahon that Hart may show up in WCW with the WWE Championship, forcing him to panic at the thought of his Champion denigrating the title on the opposition's television show as his former Women's Champion, Alundra Blayze/Madusa had done.

However, the situations were completely different. McMahon had fired Blayze and had no interest in the Women's division, scrapping it on terminating Blayze's contract. He was so unconcerned that he didn't even bother to take the title belt back off her before she was released. Hart had been a loyal member of team McMahon since the early 1980s. He was not going to burn his bridges in that manner.

Despite that fact, even if Hart did want to stick it to McMahon, legally he couldn't. Hart's contract lasted through November. The Survivor Series event took place on November 9. It was never going to happen.

However, McMahon had convinced himself it would. So, at the Survivor Series, Hart entered the main event, believing he would retain the belt via a Double Disqualification but unbeknownst to him, McMahon and his inner circle had plotted to screw Hart at a point in the match when Michaels had him locked in a Sharpshooter submission.

The rest, as they say, is history. Hart left and he and McMahon did not speak again until Hart's younger brother, Owen's funeral in mid-1999.

The hatchet was finally buried in 2005, when McMahon invited Hart back to the company to record an interview and select matches for a "Best of" DVD.

Five years later, the pair played out their former feud on television where Hart gained onscreen revenge, defeating McMahon in a featured match at WrestleMania XXVI.

Edited by Arvind Sriram


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