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9 Real-life feuds between Vince McMahon and WWE legends

Vince McMahon
Vince McMahon
Nishant Jayaram

To be a success in WWE, talent, and perseverance are not the only things that matter; a good relationship - or even friendship - with the Chairman, Vince McMahon is key. McMahon, a self-made billionaire, has a shrewd business mind that has helped him become the man that he is now and grow WWE.

But, there have been some Superstars that he has not gotten along with, perhaps due to how he treated them financially or Superstars being unhappy at how they were used in WWE.

Here, we take a look at nine real-life feuds between Vince McMahon and WWE legends:


#9 Ultimate Warrior

Vince McMahon and Ultimate Warrior at the latter's Hall of Fame induction ceremony
Vince McMahon and Ultimate Warrior at the latter's Hall of Fame induction ceremony

The Ultimate Warrior, like Hulk Hogan, helped build brand WWE in the late 80s and early 90s. Like Hogan, he too left the company on bad terms, as he was unhappy at how much he was paid following WrestleMania VII.

"I meant as much or more to that show as Hulk - I deserve to be paid the same," said Warrior.

He returned but left once again after WWE were under the scanner by federal authorities for the use of steroids.

He returned once again in 1996 and was involved in a few feuds, but was let go by WWE again for missing live events. He was once again offered a new deal by WWE but Warrior declined it and had a brief run with WCW before retiring for good.

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Warrior returned to WWE in 2013, having patched things up with Vince McMahon. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and then appeared on the RAW after WrestleMania. But, the very next day he died, having suffered a major heart attack.

WWE instituted the Warrior Award in 2015 in honor of Ultimate Warrior.

#8 Bruno Sammartino

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Bruno Sammartino was a former WWWF Champion and an icon in the promotion in the 70s and 80s under Vince McMahon Sr., the current WWE Chairman's father. Sammartino retired in the early 80s before learning that McMahon Sr. had not given him some payout that he was supposed to receive.

He filed a lawsuit against McMahon Sr., and after the lawsuit was settled by McMahon's son when he returned to WWE as a commentator.

But a few years down the line, Sammartino quit, because of the widespread use of steroids in the company. This is what he said:

“I’m hoping some wrestling-minded people will come back into the scene and perhaps start back from basics, get some good-looking athletes, get away from the steroid crap and painted faces."

But, he returned to the WWE family in 2013 after being persuaded by Triple H to return and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He had a conversation with Vince McMahon and the two buried the hatchet. Vince convinced Sammartino that the product had changed and praised him for his contribution to the growth of the company.

#7 Jeff Jarrett

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Jeff Jarrett has had a tumultuous relationship with WWE and Vince McMahon. Jarrett wrestled with WWE in the early 90s before briefly working with WCW and then returning in 1997. Two years later in 1999, Vince McMahon and Jarrett tussled over the latter's contract payoffs and he eventually left, and once again joined WCW.

But, unfortunately for Jarrett, WCW was bought by WWE two years later in 2001, and Jarrett was publicly fired by Vince McMahon on RAW.

Jarrett then went on to establish his own promotion, TNA, which went on to become WWE's major rival for the next decade or so. He surprisingly returned to WWE in 2018, got inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and in 2019 was added as a backstage producer.

Jarrett spoke about the contract issues that he had with WWE in the 90s, which led to his exit from the company:

“Here’s what everybody misses. The real crux of the story is that I was a talent in 1999 and, quote-en-quote, I held Vince [McMahon] up for money, is that what you’re alluding to? But when you really drill that down and you really think about this – employee and employer. If he didn’t want to pay me, he didn’t have to pay me a cent."

Jarrett revealed that his relationship with McMahon is now mended:

"For me to connect with him on the stage where I got to do the speech -- it was surreal. It was quick, but a real special conversation... a real personal conversation we had."

#6 Jesse Ventura

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Jesse Ventura was first a wrestler who later transitioned to the commentary booth in WWE, commentating alongside current WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. But, it was not always hunky-dory between the two.

Jesse Ventura and Vince McMahon were at loggerheads in WWE in the late 80s as Ventura was unhappy at not being paid royalties. Ventura famously sued WWE and won the case, with the federal court awarding him $801,333 in that case.

He had also tried to unionize the WWE locker room, which didn't go down well with Vince, who threatened to fire Ventura. Here's what Ventura said about why he sued McMahon:

Vince wasn't truthful, because I would ask and Barry Bloom would always ask about videotape royalties, because I got paid for them in Hollywood. Vince kept saying he didn't pay royalties. Had that been true, he'd have won. Nobody requires him to pay them. During discovery, we found out that Hogan, Cyndi Lauper, Mr T. got royalties. Certain people were getting them, then they would lie to everyone else.

The duo have now mended their relationship, with Ventura appearing a few times on WWE television over the last 20 years and was even inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

#5 Kurt Angle

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Kurt Angle is regarded as one of the greatest to ever step foot in a WWE ring, as the Olympic gold medallist made a fantastic transition from amateur wrestling to the world of pro wrestling.

In the mid-2000s, Angle had gotten addicted to painkillers which Vince McMahon and WWE did not know as WWE had not added the Wellness Policy yet. Angle revealed that his relationship with Vince McMahon, whom he considered a father figure, deteriorated after McMahon revealed the messages that Angle sent him.

Angle, who had gone to meet McMahon about his injuries, was shown text messages about him telling the WWE Chairman that he physically beat him. He revealed that he had no recollection of sending these messages. WWE wanted him to go to rehab to get well, but Angle declined and was released by WWE.

Angle recently revealed how his relationship with the person whom he considered his father figure ended and that he did not speak to Vince McMahon until he returned in 2017.

"I was really screwed up-psychically, mentally, psychologically, and I had to leave. When I did leave, Vince and I never spoke again, until I came back, two years ago. The first time we saw each other, we hugged each other. I apologized to him for the things I did and said, and he said, 'Don't worry about it.' So, we're back to normal. Vince has always been a father figure to me. I never wanted to intentionally hurt him."

#4 Stone Cold Steve Austin

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Like Hulk Hogan in the 80s, Stone Cold Steve Austin helped WWE reach a wider audience in the late 90s. The Attitude Era was built upon The Texas Rattlesnake and eventually helped WWE beat WCW in the Monday Night Wars.

In the early 2000s, Austin had to make way for a young and promising talent in Brock Lesnar, who was ready to rule the world. WWE wanted Austin to put over Lesnar on RAW but the WWE Hall of Famer felt that it wasn't a good idea and walked out on the WWE.

This hurt Vince McMahon professionally and personally as he had developed a good personal friendship with Austin, while the latter was also one of his most prized assets.

Shane McMahon, Vince McMahon's son, revealed how Vince felt after Austin walked out on the WWE.

"The guy (Austin) that was drawing the houses and everything was built around. So when you have that much equity at stake and you have your number one player in there and that's the one who draws money all of a sudden say, 'I'm out,' well, it's very devastating, obviously, to everyone else underneath and everyone felt it, just like, 'wow', so specifically, you let a lot of people down."
"Vince was hurt professionally and personally because you guys had been building a good relationship. If you guys did have a disagreement, you'd settle it quickly and talk about it."

He returned to the WWE the next year but had just a few matches before retiring for good. His differences with McMahon were resolved and Austin makes occasional appearances in WWE.

#3 Hulk Hogan

Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan
Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan put pro wrestling and WWE on the map in the 80s and Hulkamania ran wild all around the world! But, his relationship with Vince McMahon and WWE began to sour in the early 90s.

Hogan revealed in an interview that he and McMahon had differing opinions on where to go with the Hogan character.

Vince [McMahon] and I had parted ways a couple of years before, he had an opinion about Hulk Hogan and his longevity and I had a totally different opinion.

Bruce Prichard, who was backstage then, revealed that the relationship became strained when Hogan decided to do the TV show Thunder in Paradise and used WCW talent for it.

"I don't think there was much of a relationship at that point.I think the end of 1993 when Vince McMahon had resigned himself that Hogan wanted to go off and do Thunder in Paradise. The fact that Hulk was using talent from WCW that was doing tapings I believe in Disney in Orlando, Florida, that was kind of a statement by Hulk Hogan. He didn't reach out from anybody at the WWF side to say that he would like to use some of our guys to get some exposure from the show, so the writing was on the wall pretty much and that relationship between Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan was strained."

Hogan then joined WCW, playing a prominent role in the company till its very end. He returned to WWE in 2002 but left a year later due to some disputes regarding payoffs.

#2 CM Punk

CM Punk and Vince McMahon
CM Punk and Vince McMahon

CM Punk is one wrestler who is still fondly talked about by WWE fans who want to see him return to the WWE since he left the company in 2014. Punk left WWE mainly because of health reasons and criticized WWE doctor Christopher Amann's methods.

He was also unhappy at not main-eventing WrestleMania despite being one of the most popular Superstars on the roster, as well as not earning as much as others.

He was particularly miffed at how WWE handled his exit from the company, sending a termination letter on the day of his wedding.

In a podcast with Colt Cobana soon after his WWE exit, Punk criticized WWE and Vince McMahon:

“If the apology was sincere, you (Vince McMahon) wouldn’t use it as a publicity stunt on Austin’s podcast. You have my phone number, you have my address. You could text, you could call, you could show up when you’re 10-minute drive from my house and apologize to me like a man.”
“WWE doesn’t do anything to protect the wrestlers, they do things to protect themselves… They don’t let everybody know that they’re doing all these fantastic things for concussions for ‘the boys’. They do it so it looks good on them in the public.”

Punk hasn't returned to WWE television yet but is sort of part of WWE programming as he is employed by FOX to work as an analyst for their WWE Backstage show.

#1 Bret Hart

Vince McMahon and Bret Hart
Vince McMahon and Bret Hart

Bret Hart was one of the most popular babyfaces in WWE in the 90s, becoming the face of the company. He had an on-screen and off-screen rivalry with Shawn Michaels, with the two fighting for top-dog status in the 90s in WWE.

Hart, who was very happy in WWE, was forced to leave the company as Vince McMahon could not pay Hart's wages a year after The Hitman had signed a 20-year deal with the company, rejecting WCW's offer.

Hart decided to leave the company and join WCW but he had to drop the WWE Championship to Michaels. The Hitman agreed but said that he wouldn't do it at Survivor Series in front of his home fans in Canada.

But, we know what transpired and eventually came to be known as the Montreal Screwjob and there was a legitimate fight backstage after that match.

The WWE Hall of Famer spoke about the moment he sucker-punched Vince McMahon after the Montreal Screwjob.

"In some ways, I'm not so proud of that moment but in a lot of ways, I think it was the single defining moment of my lifetime. It kinda stings when I think of how much I gave to WWF and how they just wanted to stab me in the back that day and sweep me out the back door and have nobody ever hear from me again. All that I did meant nothing, all those years taping up injuries and working sick and I'd worked for WWF for at least three hundred days a year for at least sixteen years and it meant nothing to them in the end."

This was where the Mr. McMahon character began and the WWE Chairman did not feel remorseful about his actions and had this to say:

"Vince McMahon didn't screw Bret Hart. I truly believe that Bret Hart... screwed Bret Hart."

It seems that their relationship has somewhat mended, with Hart inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame twice.

Edited by Zaid Khan

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