The WWE Chairman might not have a strong presence on-screen these days, but he still has the final say on major storyline developments and the career progression of his top Superstars.
With that being said, several big names throughout WWE history have risked the wrath of Vince McMahon by having verbal confrontations – or, in one famous case, even a physical altercation – with their boss.
In this article, let’s take a look at five WWE Superstars who made the bold decision to confront Vince McMahon, as well as the reasons why.
#5 CM Punk confronted Vince McMahon
As if any proof was needed, that comment shows that “The Best in the World” must have had numerous confrontations with Vince McMahon during their nine years working together in WWE.
Speaking on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast in 2014, Punk recalled some of the heated conversations that he had with the WWE Chairman over storyline decisions towards the end of his time with the company.
While the most famous backstage disagreement occurred on the night that Punk walked out of WWE, he also confronted Vince McMahon in 2013 due to his series of losses against part-time Superstars – The Rock, The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar – throughout the year.
When Punk questioned what he needed to do to limit his schedule and become an attraction like the aforementioned trio, Vince McMahon said that could not happen because the former WWE Champion was required on live events.
“And Vince is like, 'Well, no, I need you, the talent pool is really thin right now.' And I went, 'Tell Brock to work the f***ing house shows.'”
Punk clarified that he gets along well with Lesnar but he wanted to stress to Vince McMahon that WWE's business model was flawed.
#4 Jon Moxley confronted Vince McMahon
The former Shield member recalled that he confronted Vince McMahon about a line that the WWE Chairman wanted his heel character to say about Roman Reigns’ leukemia diagnosis. According to Moxley, he refused to say the line because it could have got him fired and WWE would likely have lost sponsors.
"It is the worst line. I'm not going to say it on the air, I'll tell you after we're done. It would have been like a thing where someone would had to get fired, maybe me. They [WWE and Vince McMahon] might have lost sponsors, like the Susan G. Komen and all of that." [H/T Wrestling Inc.]
Moxley, who did not end up saying the line about Reigns, also said on the podcast that he told Vince McMahon that WWE’s creative process “s***ed” and it needed to be changed.
Since then, Moxley has joined AEW and worked for NJPW, while WWE has altered its creative direction multiple times, with Bruce Prichard now working as the Executive Director of both RAW and SmackDown.
#3 Bret Hart confronted Vince McMahon
While the other WWE Superstars in this list only had a verbal confrontation with Vince McMahon, Bret Hart went one step further by knocking the WWE Chairman out cold during a backstage altercation at Survivor Series 1997.
This, of course, was the infamous night when WCW-bound Hart lost the WWE Championship to Shawn Michaels in Montreal, Canada, with referee Earl Hebner going along with Vince McMahon’s instruction to signal for the end of the match after Michaels locked in the sharpshooter.
Heading into the match, Hart agreed to drop the WWE Championship to Michaels on his way out of the company. However, he changed his mind when his long-term rival told him that he would not be prepared to do the same thing if the roles were reversed.
As Hart recalled on WWE Network show Broken Skull Sessions, he hit Vince McMahon with an uppercut when he saw his boss backstage.
“Then I remember sitting there in the dressing room. Everyone’s just sitting there. We’re all looking and it’s like stunned, including me, I’m going, ‘I can’t believe I just knocked out Vince McMahon. I would’ve done anything for this guy.’”
Hart admitted on WWE Backstage in 2020 that he should have figured out a way to stay with WWE instead of joining WCW.
#2 The Undertaker confronted Vince McMahon
On the subject of the incident in Montreal, The Undertaker revealed during his appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast in May 2020 that he confronted Vince McMahon about the decision to take the WWE Championship off Bret Hart in the way that he did.
‘Taker, who is friends with Hart, was supposed to show up to the RAW television taping at noon the next day. However, he was “so p***ed” about the situation that he decided to turn up five hours late.
The WWE icon said he spoke to Vince McMahon about the Survivor Series finish and told him that he should be involved in discussions if Superstars cannot agree on match outcomes in the future.
“'If this kind of s*** happens again, you've got to involve me here, because it doesn't have to go down like this.' And he [Vince McMahon] agreed. I guess it all worked out. It was sad. I'm really tight with Bret. Bret could've done some things differently; Shawn could've done things differently; Vince could've done things differently.” (H/T New York Post)
Vince McMahon and The Undertaker also briefly fell out and stopped talking to each other in 2019 due to a disagreement over “The Phenom” accepting a Starrcast booking.
#1 Kevin Owens confronted Vince McMahon
Vince McMahon’s “show must go on” mindset meant that WWE’s weekly shows and pay-per-views continued as planned during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At first, shows were held without any fans in attendance at the Performance Center. WWE then decided to introduce small audiences by using Performance Center recruits as ‘fans’ behind screens at ringside, but they were not initially instructed to wear masks.
WWE French-language commentator Pat Laprade said on the Les anti-pods de la Lutte podcast that Kevin Owens confronted Vince McMahon about the lack of masks being worn and told him that he was going home.
Owens, whose wife’s grandfather died due to COVID-19, confirmed in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso that he was the person who convinced Vince McMahon and WWE’s higher-ups to implement a new mask policy.
"Eventually, a fine system was implemented to make sure people took it seriously. That came from me. I thought that the masks weren’t being worn seriously enough, so I went and talked to the people in charge. They immediately did what they could to remedy the situation."
PW Insider reported that WWE began fining Superstars $500 for not wearing masks at ringside, with another $1,000 fine for repeat offenders.