The Chairman of WWE, Vince McMahon, has done his best to put himself out to the public openly and candidly. Though he may beat around the bush and deflect questions in interviews, the man is most definitely under a tremendous amount of pressure on a daily basis.

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While promoting SummerSlam 2004 in Toronto, Canada, Vince McMahon conducted an interview on the Canadian sports talk show television program TSN’s Off The Record with Michael Landsberg. It is very interesting to look back on McMahon addressing his company in June of 2004.


10
Why “Stone Cold” Steve Austin Left WWE In 2004

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Right off the bat, Vince was hit with a big question; though the first question was jokingly why did Vince screw Bret Hart? Landsberg asked Vince why one of his biggest stars of all-time “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was no longer under a WWE contract, coming shortly after a role at WrestleMania 20. Though not giving a direct answer Vince stated that Austin was no longer able to compete in-ring anymore and that there was a legal dispute over the prefix name “Stone Cold” which WWE owned.

McMahon also said that fans were wanting the Steve Austin of the past but they would not want the Austin of the present. Vince indirectly said Austin was not as much as a money generator due to not being at live events and PPVs and at that point was taking a younger talent’s space but re-iterated that Austin is still and always will be valuable. Vince also said he gave Steve a tremendous contract renewal offer including a role in the WWE Studios film The Marine that was rejected. He saw Austin’s future being in films which Steve did not agree with.

9
Why Certain Canadian Wrestlers Are Billed From The United States

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OTR being a Canadian program, Landsberg pointed out for his Canadian viewers that Canadians on the WWE roster are announced as being from the United States and asked why that is. Although Canadians like Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho were from Edmonton, Alberta, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, were now being announced residing in Atlanta, Georgia, and Manhasset, New York respectively.

McMahon answered that the wrestlers were legitimately living in those American cities but honestly admitted, “I was using that as a way to increase their popularity in the States… It’s about the popularity of the performer. There’s a bias in the United States in terms of Canadians.” Michael asked why was Christian still being billed from Toronto. That was because Christian was a heel.

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8
Bret Hart Delayed A Meeting With Vince To Watch Hockey

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Of course, the topic of Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Montreal was going to be brought up in an interview with Vince McMahon, let alone one broadcasted in Canada. Landsberg asked about a recent meeting Vince had with “The Hitman.” Vince said that he and his son Shane went out to Calgary, Alberta and that it was a nice visit. Stating that it was “Bret’s style,” Vince said Hart was an hour late for their meeting by intention. Bret was late for the meeting because he decided to watch the Calgary Flames NHL game but lied that he was in traffic before coming clean.

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With a smirk, Vince said that they were also watching the game while waiting for Hart. To be fair to Bret, the Flames were in the Stanley Cup playoffs in the midst of a run to the finals where they would, unfortunately, lose to Tampa Bay. McMahon did reveal that the WWE was working on an appreciation night and DVD release of Hart which came out a year later titled Bret “Hit Man” Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, And The Best There Ever Will Be.

7
His Business Sense At The Time

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Switching gears to WWE’s corporate standpoint, McMahon was asked about the changes that he and WWE were going through as a business and if he liked them. Vince answered that he wanted to be taken seriously as an entertainment company and that they were the only entertainment company of its kind and flourishing. Vince also said it will always be a serious and fun business and one to work in with passion.

Michael then asked about the association people had with WWE being dirty and valued less because it’s wrestling. Vince responded that those who felt that way are narrow-minded and that WWE’s goal was to be as good as they can be in all respects, concerned with their image, product, and fans, also stating that WWE is closer with their fans than any other company and that they listen to the fans on a nightly basis.

6
Who Would Run WWE After Vince Leaves

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Landsberg told Vince that if he was a [WWE] shareholder one of the biggest concerns he would have is Vince’s health and longevity, the question then came up of how the company would survive without him. Vince implied that his children Shane and Stephanie and his son-in-law Triple H and his corporate staff would instate a built-in succession plan. The next question was who would run the company after Vince.

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McMahon answered that he does a lot of jobs and wears a lot of hats and with that workload along with the extent the company had grown to, it would be impossible for one individual to fill the role. Landsberg asked about Triple H’s role in that plan and McMahon answered that he could be a huge asset on the production side making new stars. 17 years later Vince is still in control and his vision for Triple H came to life with NXT.

5
His Thoughts On Kurt Angle Wrestling Injured At WrestleMania 19

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One of the biggest stories going into WrestleMania 19 in 2003 behind the scenes was the WWE Champion Kurt Angle having a broken neck with an upcoming main event title defense against Brock Lesnar and needing surgery. Michael asked Vince what his thoughts were on Angle telling him he wanted to still compete despite his serious, sidelining, and potentially life-threatening injury.

Vince said that Kurt was not always honest with reporting injuries and that it was a habit of his, an old-school habit, of concealing injuries. Vince said the process of Kurt’s request is for it to be discussed with him and his doctor and to rule out certain moves in the ring. McMahon generally stated that what they do takes a toll on the body and that WWE is worried about concussions and physical injuries, risks that have to be accepted going in.

4
Why Brock Lesnar Left WWE In 2004

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Having an incredible initial 2-year run in WWE from 2002-2004, “The Next Big Thing” Brock Lesnar ended his tenure at WrestleMania 20 months before the interview. Landsberg said that Lesnar was the prototypical next big one, someone made by a computer. Michael said Brock’s departure was partly because he did not like the WWE lifestyle. Vince admitted that Brock did not like the travel and did not like being around people, that he is an introvert and that his verbal skills were tough to work with.

The two agreed that it was rather crazy and wild and Lesnar was leaving the world of sports entertainment for life in professional football as he was invited to a tryout for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. McMahon also admitted that Lesnar was on his way to becoming a box office attraction and that he was taken back by Brock’s request to leave WWE. Vince also said that Brock’s departure was hurtful to the company.

3
If He Wished WCW Was Still Alive

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Coming 3 years after Vince McMahon purchased WCW, McMahon talked about future stars with names such as Steve Austin and Brock Lesnar now being gone from WWE. Vince said it is always important for WWE to have emerging stars, mentioning names like John Cena, Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Benoit, the latter two being the WWE Champion and World Heavyweight Champion respectively at the time.

With Guerrero and Benoit both coming to WWE from WCW, the topic of WCW was talked about. McMahon said he always thought Ted Turner was going to be a competitor and that they were good competitors when they were good. When asked if he wished WCW was still alive Vince replied, “Yes I do.” He also admitted that business was more difficult without WCW in reference to finding new talent and building two teams with Raw and SmackDown.

2
Why The WWE Stopped Testing For Steroids

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The linkage between WWE and professional baseball was made by Michael Landsberg through steroids, asking Vince what he would do with MLB star Barry Bonds with the steroid scandal surrounding the slugger if he was league commissioner. McMahon said he would call Bonds to the stand and testing facility, taking action if the player refused or failed. The transition was then made to steroids in WWE, specifically testing for performance enhancers.

McMahon admitted that for his roster they stopped testing for steroids. He noted the cost of the tests being expensive though he could afford it. Vince also said the stoppage was because WWE superstars are performers and entertainers and are not cheating anyone but themselves by taking steroids.

1
His Harsh Feelings Of Scott Hall

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Towards the end of the interview, Michael Landsberg played some word association with Vince McMahon. Names brought up included Lex Luger (egotist), Sting (nothing could be said as Vince did not know Sting well at the time), Paul Heyman (clever), and Kevin Nash (good guy, sense of humor).

One of the names thrown at Vince was Scott Hall and it received a rather harsh reaction from McMahon, “The thing that comes to–Scott–when you first meet him is ‘drugs’ and that’s unfortunate because he kind of threw his career away and his life away because of drugs.” Years later Hall would get sober and clean up his life and in 2014 received an invitation to join the WWE Hall of Fame.

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