There’s no secret I’m a WWE fan. I’m literally part of the WWE Universe, I’m subscribed to the WWE Network, I listen to a bunch of podcast and last but absolutely not the least I keep up with its weekly programming. If you’re asking, I prefer SmackDown to Raw, and not only because of AJ Styles. And, of course, I’m super duper excited for WrestleMania.
Anyways, as a filmmaker who happens to like writing script (and I consider myself good enough to say so), I could not avoid thinking how to handle a Vincent Kennedy McMahon biopic.
First of all, it’s impossible to think that’s never going to happen. The guy is one of the most successful business man in America, he is a fairly close friend of Donald Trump, his brand is more recognized all over ther world than the NFL (mostly because NFL popularity outside US is almost none), he had the guts to challenge the NFL, he survived a steroid scandal, he saved the company reputation after Chris Benoit’s death, his shows are sold out more often than not (and when they are not you probably can’t notice), with WrestleMania selling out stadium (last year’s had more than 100 thousand fan in attendance), and lastly the WWE Network, according to ParkAssociates.com, is the number 5 subscription service in the US (which is a good feat considering how narrow is the programming offered), de facto launching a self-distribution model brands like the NBA and NFL will soon follow.
As you see, he is a pioneer, a maverick, a mediatic egomaniac who has the balls to keep going and push as far as he can to not let his company down. I mean, let’s give him credit where it’s due.
While I was thinking about how to handle his biopic, I had some certainties and some doubts.
First off, I’m not sure if it can fit into a movie or it needs to be a TV Series to be exhaustive. While I know Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs is actually focusing on 3 moments of Steve’s life intercutting with as many, I could make an argument that Vince McMahon life has been way more dramatic than Apple’s founder because of the various scandals and risky bet he took. The only more dramatic thing from Jobs’ life is he has been fired by his own company.
That said, in either case the projects needs Aaron Sorkin in some form (best as writer, but at very least as consultant), because he in fact nailed Steve Jobs, which is a narrative model that anyways could fit. He also wrote The Newsroom, and the first season narrative model could easily be applied to the Tv Series. And, yeah, I think both those works follow the same narrative model as you could guess, just one is declined for film and the other for TV.
Anyways, I boned down what the story could be, for movie, and for film, both following the models I suggested in the previous paragraph. Of course, the segments I want in the movie will also be single episode in a potential TV Series.
In either case, the name of the project should be either Vincent K. or VKM. Avoiding to put the last name in the title adds to the artistic aura of the project, much like Oliver Stone did with George W. Bush biopic W.
This version as I said will follow the Steve Jobs model. Hence, will consist of three very important moments of Vince McMahon career. Here they are.
1 – The 1994 Steroid Trial intercut with the day before the first WrestleMania
If you don’t know, in 1993 Vince McMahon was accused of selling steroid to talent, and that he was encouraged to take them. This scandal became so big that he had to leave the company presidency to his wife Linda. The charges were made by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, so it was a federal accusation.
This would eventually go to Trial, which eventually fell because the prosecution’s star witness Hulk Hogan would deny any of the accusation made to Vince, as well as many other wrestlers. There were also some mistakes made in managing the evidence apparently, and in the end everything fell off on the favorite Urologist of the superstars (he was the one to sell the drugs). However, in the trial Vince himself admitted to have taken steroid in the past, which were supplied by that same exact doctor.
This should happen during one of Vince hearings, and intercut it with the night before the first WrestleMania, highlighting how in both cases he was about to “die”, yet in both cases he survived and launched the company to higher heights than before (even though after the trial it took him around 3 years to start beating WCW again).
2 – The Montreal Screwjob
If you think in wrestling everything is scripted, think again. While 99% of what you see is written beforehand (sometimes even rehearsed), there are times that because of various reasons that’s not the case. Could be an injury, could be to offend another talent.
In this case, is more than just offending.
In 1997, Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart was the WWE Champion (then WWF Champion), and his contract was expiring. The negotiations between Bret and Vince went back and forth but ultimately stopped since Bret accepted a WCW offer (then the WWE competitor) which the Stamford company couldn’t match.
Bret is still the champ until the very last day of his contract. A title match between him and Shawn Michaels was going down at Survivor Series, the annual PPV event the then World Wrestling Federation held (and still holds nowadays) around Thanksgiving time. Logic would say The Hitman would accept to drop the title at the event, but he refused due to the fact the show was held in Toronto, Canada, his home country.
To add to the mix a couple of years earlier the then WWF Women’s Champion Madusa jumped to WCW without dropping the title, and she would show up on the competition flagship program Monday Night Nitro putting the title in the trash. Obviously, Vince didn’t want the same situation presenting itself.
While Bret proposed to drop the title the following night on Raw, by either vacating it or losing it in a rematch with Shawn, that didn’t happen.
What happen is Shawn putting Bret in a Sharpshooter and the referee calling the match won by HBK via tap out. Thing is Bret didn’t tap, and was Vince telling the ref to ring the bell. Hart went crazy: spit on Vince face, destroy the commentators set, and had a violent confrontation with Vince backstage.
That violent confrontation should be the focus of this segment, intercut with moments of friendship between the two. it would give an extremely beautiful dramatic moment as well as a window to one of the most controversial moments in pro-wrestling history.
3 – Chris Benoit’s death revealing itself intercut with Vince watching Chris winning the main event of WrestleMania XX
The Chris Benoit tragedy is something that is already being visited in Crossface, which is suppose to be an adaptation of what happened that night.
To the few who don’t know, on Monday, June 25th, 2007 Chris Benoit, his wife, and his son were found dead in Benoit’s residency in Atlanta. While Vince McMahon was dead in a Raw storyline, the story was obviously dropped as the show opening was the WWE chairman standing in the middle of the ring in an empty arena, communicating the death of the Canadian wrestler and that the show would serve as a tribute to the life and career of the star.
Unfortunately, while the show was airing, what happen was slowly revealing itself: Chris killed both his son and his wife and then hanged himself.
The show still aired live, but was consequently pulled from international market and Benoit was not to be mentioned on TV anymore. On the WWE Network, that tribute is nowhere to be found, however, is possible to be found on YouTube.
This had quite a backlash towards the industry and Vince McMahon as less than two years earlier the great Eddie Guererro died of heart failure. Once again, the WWE was under a dark spotlight, as well as uncovering a new steroid scandal.
This segment should focus on Vince McMahon in his office, watching the show, while reading what Chris did, intercut to him reacting to Chris victory in the WrestleMania XX main event, which is arguably one of the best matches’s ever in the show legacy.
To me this is extremely important to be in it, because it shows once again how Vince and his company endured and still comeback on top.
4 – Epilogue: Vince McMahon looking at the empty WrestleMania 32 arena knowing it will be sold out the day after
Do I think I need to explain that? To me, enough said. Doesn’t need to be long, even just 5 minutes.
The credits montage should reprise the style of what we saw in Straight Outta Compton, where the biggest personalities in WWE comment on Vince McMahon influence in their life and pop-culture. With some focus obviously on The Rock, Undertaker, Triple H, John Cena, Batista.
As I said, the Mini-Series will take advantage of the model set with The Newsroom.
Each episode will visit a particular moment in Vincent K. career. This time the intercuts shouldn’t be as often as the film, with some episode not intercutting at all.
The series should focus more on the relationship he had with the wrestlers, which might be overlooked in the other form.
Of course, it could be done only on Netflix, HBO or Showtime, at tops FX.
Episode 1 – The first WrestleMania
Like I said before, to make the first WrestleMania a reality, Vince McMahon mortgaged his house and put every money he had in it. Would he fail to succeed, his life is done.
This time it should go from the night before to the end of the show. Should state the rise of Vince as a billionaire.
Episode 2 – WrestleMania III
This episode should focus on Vince McMahon organizing the biggest event ever yet and its blockbuster main event: Andrè The Giant vs Hulk Hogan for the then WWF Championship.
This is perhaps the most lighthearted episode in the series since everything went right and would highlight the creative ideas of the chairman.
Episode 3 – The 1994 Steroid Trial
Like for the movie, except that it would span through the whole trial, without intercuts.
Episode 4 – The NWO formation
This is a bit that should be interesting, because, you know, it was never shown.
In 1996, both Scott Hall and Kevin Nash jumped to WCW from the then WWF, and they were presented on Nitro as rogue villainous characters in an invasion angle.
They kept teasing about a third member. At Bash at The Beach of that same exact year, the third member is revealed: the fan favorite Hulk Hogan, in what went down to be one of the best turn heels of all time, found the New World Order, NWO.
This is pro-wrestling history, and it would be really interesting watching how Vince McMahon reacted, as it was the reason why WCW started to beat WWF week after week in TV ratings.
Episode 5 – The 1997 Montreal Screwjob
Same exact as the movie. No intercuts, just what happens after, with more involvement of other wrestlers.
Episode 6 – 1998: WrestleMania XIV
In 1998, Shawn Michaels suffered a back injury at the Royal Rumble in a match against The Undertaker. It was a casket match and he hit his lower back on the casket border. It was pretty rough, and if you find it on YouTube, you can fill the pain.
The results were Shawn worsening his alcoholic habitudes, taking more painkiller and other drugs, and locker room stories say that he needed help to even dress or stand up.
He became less nice than before (he was described as an asshole during this period), but he hanged ’til Wrestlemania XIV where he dropped the title to Steve Austin enforced by Mike Tyson. He wouldn’t come back until 4 years later in 2002.
I think this would be an important episode as it would once again highlight his relationship with the talent, and their dedication to the business.
Episode 7 – Vince McMahon buys WCW
Not much to say really, but needed: he buys his competition and basically makes a monopoly.
It could go through the talk with Time Warner and end with sending his son Shane to Palm Beach at the last Monday Nitro ever, highlighting this cross-network stunt.
Episode 8 – The XFL
This is the only story in Vince McMahon’s career to be totally unrelated to pro-wrestling.
It’s needed because it shows off the balls this guy has to go challenge the NFL. The XFL presentation also partially revolutionize the Football presentation itself, so it’s another testament to Vince’s creative ideas.
Episode 9 – The Chris Benoit’s Tragedy
As much as for the movie version. Nothing more to add.
Episode 10 – CM Punk walking out
So far the only episode needing intercutting. Despite everything that has been said, it was a crucial moment for the industry.
CM Punk became a huge star after the pipebomb above, in which he insulted the company management defining them not suitable to run the company to the heights it could reach.
As a consequence, Punk had the chance to hold the world title for 434 straight days, the longest record in the last 20 years.
In 2014, after the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, Punk walked out as he didn’t feel he was considered the right way. It would offer another shot for drama as the heated discussion Vince, Punk and Triple H had behind the scenes could offer great performance.
Of course it would be intercut with the pipebomb, and Vince reaction listening to it. It’s an already written episode.
Episode 11 – WrestleMania XXX: The end of The Streak
If you’re a fan, you probably didn’t need as many descriptions as I did, and obviously, you’d know what I’m talking about right now.
If you don’t know, The Undertaker went 21-0 at the various WrestleMania events, the biggest annual PPV of the company. To build it that it took over 21 years, so by the time WrestleMania XXX arrived it was pretty obvious he would win. He didn’t, and the silence of the over 80 thousand people at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans is still deafening to me.
What’s interesting in this episode would be the decision of doing it, and why Brock Lesnar. Better, as the series finale, it could be mixed with reality when Paul Heyman, friend and on-screen advocate of Brock Lesnar, narrates its version of what most likely went down (the decision) or what people might not consider (Brock hurting ‘Taker so much he couldn’t kick out). It would add a mystery atmosphere to the series.
This is the ideas I have. Surely not perfect, but it’s something I would start from for either form of projects.