WWE is Vince McMahon’s world. Everyone else is just living in it. As the majority owner, CEO and Chairman of WWE, he is the big cheese, ruthlessly guiding the course of his sports-entertainment empire.
Vince McMahon Really Doesn’t Know What A Burrito Is ▸
It’s always interesting when ex-WWE employees shoot on the backstage meetings and decision-making process they were involved in during their time in the entertainment organization . . .
Vince McMahon did not meet his biological father until the age of 12, an event that would forever change the direction of his life. From that day he became enamored with professional wrestling. However, the elder McMahon wanted his son to become either a physician or attorney and sent a protesting Vince McMahon to military school. As Vince grew up, major career influences continued to be the wrestling kind. He even patterned himself after the extravagant Superstar, Dr. Jerry Graham and at one point bleached his hair blond to duplicate the looks of the good doctor. After graduating from college, he married the love of his life and entrepreneurial muse Linda Marie Edwards. Vince’s unwavering ambition propelled him to do everything he could to get into the business he prized above all else. His father did everything he could to keep him out. After a few years as a reluctant traveling salesman, Vince’s dream finally came true.
In 1971, Vince McMahon had one chance to prove himself in the arena he longed to enter. Failure would put him out of the business forever; success meant a ticket to the main event. Thankfully, his effort in Bangor, Maine was a huge success, and Vince became the third-generation McMahon promoter. As he learned the ropes of the business, another opportunity came his way in 1972. Right before a show was to go on the air, then-announcer Ray Morgan tried to hold up the McMahons for more money. The elder McMahon promptly showed Ray out the door. As the door closed for Mr. Morgan, it opened for the young Vince McMahon, and he became the new voice of WWE. As hundreds to thousands of fans watched every week on television, few people knew the major role Vince was playing behind the scenes. For the remainder of the 1970s he was a driving force behind the company’s success, responsible for an almost quadruple increase in its television syndication. Vince’s innovative implementation of his father’s business formula prepared him to turn the corner, and the catapult the company into the era of sports-entertainment.
In 1980, the entrepreneurial Vince McMahon edged toward the pinnacle as he incorporated Titan Sports. In 1982, he and his wife, Linda, acquired Capital Wrestling Company shares, taking control of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), and ultimately changing the model of the professional wrestling industry. Vince adopted the formula his father created for dominance in the Northeast section of the United States and began implementing key initiatives to expand the company’s reach. As he took the first steps through expansion, Vince approached many of the members of the old wrestling territory fiefdoms and offered them buy-outs. Set in their ways and resting on past laurels, they laughed him out of their offices. They didn’t see that the great moments in the ring being confined to a specific geographic area were quickly coming to an end.
In a classic example of he “He who laughs last, laughs loudest,” Vince flexed his entrepreneurial muscle and assembled a world-class roster of professional wrestlers. His vision of global expansion was complete when he orchestrated the return of the 6’7″, 303 pound Hulk Hogan. Audiences were captivated by “The Hulkster,” and with McMahon as the brains, and Hogan providing the brawn, the two made an unstoppable team. As every ring of the bell brought an amazing match, the World Wrestling Federation steamrolled through the United States, breaking down the imaginary walls that had protected the territory system against legitimate competition for decades.
It’s always interesting when former WWE employees shoot on the backstage meetings and decision-making process they were involved in during their time in the sports-entertainment organization.
The writer of the 2006 WWE Studios film See No Evil, Dan Madigan, wrote for SmackDown for a while as well. During an interview with Wade Keller on the PWTorch Livecast in 2013, he recalled the creative team considering various scenarios for an angle involving Big Show, and the staff on hand spitballing ideas as to how on earth the opponent for a man so large and intimidating can possibly get over on him. What do you do to secure an advantage against a giant? One idea was poisoning: it was suggested that “The World’s Largest Athlete”‘s burrito be spiked, leaving him passed out in the ring after eating it.
Madigan said, “It’s one of these stories that always repeats itself. I think the idea was they were trying to work an angle with Big Show and — like Andre (the Giant), here’s a guy who is so physically big and physically imposing — what can you do to get over on Big Show? And how are you going to do it?
“I think they were going to poison Big Show and give him a spiked burrito. The whole concept was: ‘We’re going to spike his food, spike the burrito, you cut to a vignette before that showing him eating it, and then he passes out in the ring.'”
Vince McMahon balked at this: not at the spiking angle (this is the man who greenlit Mae Young giving birth to a hand and the infamous Katie Vick storyline), but at the food item being mentioned, claiming that no one in the audience or at home would know what on earth a ‘burrito’ was. There was a moment of silence, and then the rest of the writers in the room nervously spoke up, one by one confirming that they all knew what a burrito was.
Madigan continues, “So, Vince goes, burrito?! Who the hell knows what a burrito is?’ It was such a far concept. And everyone in the room goes, ‘Well, we know what a burrito is.’ And Vince goes, ‘Well, where the hell have I been?'”
It was amusing enough that the firebrand who invented the World Bodybuilding Federation was so insulated from the outside world that not only did he not know what a burrito was, but that he assumed that anything he hadn;t heard of would be alien to anyone else, too. That, combined with the fact that rarely ever does anyone say ‘no’ to him, leaves us with a strange guy with some weird ideas and little in the way of a filter.
When you think about it, this explains a lot about some of the more peculiar segments and toilet humour on WWE television over the years. Anyone remember a pre-taped Sunny vignette where she had sex with a a life-size Elmo from Sesame Street? Or The Boogeyman eating Jillian Hall’s facial growth? Or Val Venis nearly having his ‘venis’ amputated by a katana? Or Big Bossman kidnapping Al Snow’s chihuahua . . . and feeding it to him?
Yeah. Let’s move on.
Oh, and the real reason for the writing staff’s utter bafflement? Vince never let anyone break for food during these massive brainstorming sessions, but would regularly have the same food delivered to him at lunchtime by his assistant, eating it in front of his half-starved writing staff. The meal in question?
A steak wrap with sauce, cut in half. You know . . . a burrito.
Madigan said, “But, the funny thing is, Wade, every day at noon, Vince’s secretary would walk into the office — the writing room — with a burrito. It was a steak-wrap cut in half. And he would put ketchup on it. Every day, he was eating a burrito and not knowing what it was. But, that’s the idea – when you’re in a bubble and in a business where you’re ostracized from society, it’s you and them, that’s it. Everyone else is an outsider, so things like that do make sense in the confines of the wrestling world.”