Monday, October 6, 2014

Vinnie's Past

Reading about little Vinnie’s life growing up (from the book Sex, Lies, and Headlocks) was intriguing and insightful into the way Vince Jr. would eventually run his father’s company.  As a young child, Vince and his brother did not know their biological father, but instead lived with their mother and a few stepfathers.  In an interview, Vince said of his stepfather "It is unfortunate that he died before I could kill him. I would have enjoyed that."  Vincent McMahon Sr. was introduced to the boys when they were preteens, at which point Vinnie caught his first glimpse into the carny-style life of professional wrestling, and immediately fell in love with it.  Despite Vince Sr.’s efforts to keep his sons away from wrestling, Vinnie stuck around as a stage hand, learning the ins and outs of the business.  I love the story of how he eventually became an announcer for the promotion (according to this book).  Apparently, the old unionized announcer was complaining that he wanted the standard pay rate, and was threatening to go to the union.  Vince Sr. found out that union standards didn’t apply to family, so he fired the old announcer and told Vinnie that he was the new guy.  Overnight, Vinnie went from a lowly stagehand to the flashy man on television every week who spoke with the wrestlers.  From there, Vince Jr. started gaining more and more control, until he finally bought his father’s wrestling promotion.  Vince started taking superstars from other territories and going behind the backs of other promoters to claim slots on cable to air his show.  Slowly, Vince killed off all the local wrestling promotions and began to dominate the wrestling world (we have seen how devastating that is to the losing party).  How might this have changed if Vince’s young life had been different?

Not to claim that I understand all of Vinnie’s thoughts, actions, and motives, but I think Vince’s home life definitely shaped the way he viewed the world.  If he had grown up in a loving nuclear family— with both of his biological parents— would he have behaved differently in the long run?  If his home had been a place where he always felt safe, would he have developed the same back-handed, cut-throat attitudes and methods that he used to manipulate people into carrying out his will?  Would he have been more compassionate?  If he had grown up with wrestling all his life, would he have fostered the same fervor for running the business?  What might have happened if Vinnie had decided to follow some other career path?  Would small-time, local promotions still reign supreme, or would it be someone else who would fill the role that Vince has filled?  It’s hard to say, yet I think Vince would have been a very different man had he grown up in a different situation.  That is a big reason why I so enjoyed reading about his past.


Timothy S. Rich said...

I think the Vince backstory, which he doesn't seem to address publicly very often, makes him a much more admirable person. Perhaps he doesn't want to address this as he's often done a strong job playing the heel authority figure. You can't easily be a heel authority figure and sympathetic.

Sam Ford said...

I'll say this about Vince...He certainly doesn't want to be a figure of empathy and even more so not of sympathy. Read about his quad tear injury sometime. It's insane. But a few things about Vinnie--it's important to his story, I think, that he both spent many of his formative years NOT KNOWING he was the heir to New York wrestling...and that he also spent many years in the WWWF before he was able to take it over. That means Vince both comes from "outside the wrestling dynasty" but also spent many years within it before taking it over.

I'd also suggest two other things that strike me when reading this: you can, as many have, start to ponder how the storylines WWF has portrayed over the years has involved Vince working through issues he's faced in his own life, and his weird feud with "southern 'rasslin'" may very much be tied up in his upbringing in North Carolina.