Feature: Steve Anderson Marks a Decade of Mr. McMahon


A high-profile anniversary was marked recently. Twenty-four years ago, WWF head honcho Vince McMahon took over Georgia Championship Wrestling on the TBS airwaves.

Does anyone remember what Vince was doing ten years ago?

Thatâ<80><99>s right. We have marked a full decade of the â<80><9c>Mr. McMahonâ<80> character. While the seeds were being planted in late 1997, the spring and summer of 1998 would be when this character was fully realized. McMahonâ<80><99>s feud with â<80><9c>Stone Coldâ<80> Steve Austin helped to launch the Attitude era and allow Monday Night Raw to overcome WCW Monday Nitro in the Monday Night Wars.

One of the most reviled and entertaining wrestling heels was born.

Mr. McMahon.

Back then, it was more than just a novelty. It was the strangest of sights. Everyone knew â<80><9c>Announcer Vinceâ<80> was actually â<80><9c>Owner Vince.â<80> His on-screen persona was that of an enthusiastic broadcaster, telling the stories of the then-WWF wars. His indignation would show through at the actions of the heels when he cried, â<80><9c>Give me a break.â<80>

I would not even go so far to say that Vince was a babyface that turned heel in 1998. I would be hard-pressed to call him a wrestling character, per se. He was the Master of Ceremonies of WWF programming. Yeah, he owned the joint, but he was also its smiling face and its booming voice.

â<80><9c>Owner Vinceâ<80> and â<80><9c>Announcer Vinceâ<80> finally crossed paths at the Survivor Series in 1997. The Montreal Screwjob is perhaps one of the more memorable events, if not one of the most prominent terms in wrestling vernacular. I donâ<80><99>t have to rehash the oft-told story.

What would happen after was, pardon the pun, stunning.

Vince was no longer the genial TV host. Slowly, ever so slowly, he was becoming edgier and cockier. He was no longer hiding his ownership of the company. He was putting it on display. Vince was changing from the Vince we knew for so many years. He was becoming Mr. McMahon: Heel Boss.

The night that the Monday Night Wars shifted in the WWFâ<80><99>s favor was when Vince donned the tights in April of 1998. Mind you, he has wrestled many matches since and has been a feature attraction at Wrestlemania. He did wrestle before when he briefly won the WWF title in 1997, if you can call it that.

But that nightâ<80>¦indescribable.

Steve Austin challenged Mr. McMahon to a match. No way, I thought. This cannot be happening. Vince actually wrestle? Not unprecedented. After all, Gene Okerlund teamed with Hulk Hogan once. God, donâ<80><99>t get me started on that. Other non-wrestlers competed in matches. But this? Vince?

While he didnâ<80><99>t exactly wrestle that night, it was still an amazing sight. It was an exciting time to be a wrestling fan. The most high-profile personality in the business had become a heel wrestler/manager/owner.

Eric Bischoff can lay claim that he did it first with the NWO in 1997. But Vince did it better.

Now, here we are. Ten years later. Mr. McMahon has wrestled matches. Managed wrestlers. Even played the babyface for a brief time. He even won the Royal Rumble and held the ECW title. And how many times has someone tried to kill him?

Say what you will about him hogging the airwaves over the past decade, putting himself in main event matches and holding titles. His storyline successes are always a means to an end that include bitter defeats and humiliation. In the end, he will put his opponent over big. After all, this is a guy who pissed himself and had his head shaved.

Is the character getting old and stale? Maybe. Does the McMahon Family Saga sometimes overtake wrestling storylines? To borrow a phrase, oh, hell yeah! However, in fairness, it does reel in the ratings from time to time.

Seems that they are running out of ideas for Mr. McMahon after the last attempt on his life. But worse yet, Mr. McMahon is no longer a novelty. Heâ<80><99>s just another character on the vast WWE landscape. Vince as a smiling, yet indignant announcer seems so long ago. Looking at tapes make him seem absolutely bland and laughable, knowing what we know now.

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