WWE has produced some of the finest wrestling talent in the industry, and some of these Superstars have paid back the company in a big way. WWE Hall of Famers and legends such as The Undertaker, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Hulk Hogan, and John Cena have helped the company reach new heights after gaining fame outside of the squared circle.
While many of these legends are continuing to help spread WWE’s name and product all over the globe, there are a few surprising names Vince McMahon was not initially a fan of. While Vince has put his weight behind many top Superstars, there are some men and women who weren’t always in his good books.
Many managed to prove the Chairman of WWE wrong, others worked hard but faded away. In this article, we will look at 5 WWE legends Vince McMahon was initially not a fan of.
While many of Christian’s successes came alongside Edge in WWE, the Superstar managed to win the ECW Championship and WWE World Heavyweight Championship twice during his career. Christian had a relatively big fan following, but several accounts have suggested that the Chairman of WWE didn’t see him as someone who connected in a big way with the WWE Universe.
Speaking on Something to Wrestle With, Bruce Prichard spoke about how Vince McMahon was fond of larger than life characters, such as The Undertaker and The Rock. However, Christian wasn’t someone who was in Vince’s good books when it came to being on top in WWE.
"[Vince] didn’t feel that [Christian] had the personality to connect with the audience in a big way.
"Every time you would come up with an idea for Edge or Christian it would be like okay, there is a lot excitement there with Edge.
"‘Oh by god, we could do this with him. We could do this with him, a big good-looking b****** and then we’d get to Christian and it would just be, ‘Ugh, godd***, do we have to shoot him? Do we have to see that face? The f***’s he gonna say?!’
"Vince felt Edge was the star of the team and while Christian had the tools, best damn worker on the card, and he would always say that and loved him personally. (He) Just didn’t think that personality transcended and got to the audience.”
While Vince did not think Christian could make it as big as Edge on his own, Captain Charisma did prove the Chairman wrong by winning several individual titles and making a rather big fanbase for himself.
#4. Mick Foley
Mick Foley brought some of the best wrestling characters to life in WWE. No one could have used Mr Socko the way Foley did, and even today several big Superstars such as Bray Wyatt draw inspiration from Foley’s work.
Foley still has a huge fanbase and is a hit amongst the WWE Universe for his services in and out of the ring. However, the Superstar himself has revealed that Vince McMahon was not a big fan of him before he entered the company.
During an interview with Inside The Ropes, the Hall of Famer spoke about his WWE debut in 1996. He revealed that he had heard from people that Vince was not a fan of his and that WWE had caved in and signed him.
"I was not supposed to be a star in WWE," Foley said. "I heard in good faith that Mr. McMahon was not a fan of mine, at all. The direct quote was, 'Cactus Jack will never step foot inside of a WWE ring'. As Mick Foley, I stepped inside as Mankind."
"Even then it was just a concession to Jim Ross, he would bring up my name at every booking meeting as potential talent. Finally Mr. McMahon in the fall of 1995 slammed his hand down on a table and said, 'Alright, I'll bring him in but I'm covering up his face."
Foley became one of Vince’s closest friends in the years that followed and helped him take WWE to new heights by putting his body on the line during every match.
#3. John Cena
Currently, John Cena is one of the top names who has helped spread WWE's products to a younger and newer crowd. Thanks to the 16-time World Champion’s services, the company has managed to spread its wings to an even greater audience.
While Cena seems like the prototype for those who should be competing in the company, it’ll come as a shock to many fans that Vince McMahon wasn’t a fan of Cena during his initial early days.
In an episode of Something Else to Wrestle With, Bruce Prichard spoke about the time Vince saw Cena for the first time. The viewing did not go as planned even though Bruce believed that he was going to introduce Cena as the next big star in the company.
"I'll give you Vince's exact quote the first time he saw John Cena, which was backstage, I believe at Staples Center... and Vince came up to me and said 'Get the walking billboard for steroids out of my backstage area' and pointed at John."
That’s not all, as former WWE Superstar Rico sat down with Sportskeeda and spoke about the time WWE came close to releasing Cena from his contract. Rico opened up about the fact that Vince did not understand or like Cena’s character at all.
“To tell you the truth, he didn't understand Cena's character at all, was going to cut him. He didn't understand... he said 'I don't get it, I don't get it' and he let him run with him for a little bit and look what happened, face of the company.”
Luckily, Vince gave Cena enough time to grow and push his gimmick to the WWE Universe that turned out to be extremely fruitful for the company.
#2. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
Steve Austin went through a couple of gimmicks during his WWE career, but his iconic “Stone Cold” gimmick is one that made him one of the company's biggest hits. The 6-time WWE Champion had his career cut short by injuries, but there was a chance he would have never made it to WWE. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts told Premier Live TV during an interview that Vince McMahon never saw Austin as a main-eventer.
“When Steve Austin came to WWF, I was helping write television, and I watched him, and I said, ‘This motherf***er got it, man. He’s got that ‘it’ factor and he don’t even know he’s got it. I’m starting to scoot him into places. Sort of as an afterthought so nobody was watching."
“Well then one day I told Vince [McMahon], I said, ‘That guy right there is gonna be your next super, superstar.’ ‘You kidding me Jake?’”
“He [Vince] said, ‘That guy, he’ll never make it past fifth, sixth match. He’s not a main-eventer.’ I [Jake] said, ‘The **** he ain’t.’ He said, ‘Do you think so?’ I said, ‘Yeah I think so,’ and we tried the thing and I guess it might’ve worked huh?”
Even though Vince wasn’t a fan of Stone Cold at first, he grew fond of his character and pushed him to the moon. The decision proved to be the correct one as Austin helped WWE garner millions of new fans and was undoubtedly the biggest star of his era.
#1. The Undertaker
It’s impossible to think of a WWE legend more iconic than The Undertaker. Everything The Deadman touched turned to gold during his illustrious career, and he will be getting his Final Farewell at the 2020 Survivor Series. Even though The Undertaker became one of Vince McMahon’s greatest assets and closest friends in WWE, Bruce Prichard has revealed that Vince wasn’t a fan of the big man at first.
During the Something to Wrestle podcast, Prichard told the story about the first time Taker was set to meet Mr. McMahon.
“Taker was due to meet McMahon the following day after he had wrestled Lex Luger at the Great American Bash, however, McMahon canceled the meeting. Taker had a dislocated hip, but he worked the match anyway because the next day he was supposed to meet with Vince.”
“That didn’t happen and it didn’t happen because Vince looked at The Undertaker and thought, ‘Ah, he’s just another tall basketball player with red hair, I don’t see anything special in him.'"
Prichard continued to reveal:
“I begged Vince to please meet with Mark Calaway because they were in a show in the New Jersey-based Meadowlands and I offered to get The Undertaker there.”
The Undertaker is one of the biggest Superstars WWE has ever produced, and he has inspired an entire generation of wrestling professionals. While Vince wasn’t too big on Taker at first, he made the right call by giving the big man a big chance.