Vince McMahon returned to SmackDown last week to slap AJ Styles in the face saying that he wanted to see the "real" AJ Styles with a black hole in his heart. Although Mr. McMahon has stayed off television for most of the past 6 years, he has had many epic feuds inside and outside the ring. Notably with Eric Bischoff, Ted Turner, Phil Mushnick, Bob Costas, The US Government, Verne Gagne, Kevin Owens, CM Punk, Jesse Ventura, God, Bobby Lashley, Mick Foley, The Rock, and Hulk Hogan. Some of his in-ring feuds have worked better than others. Each feud raised the profile of the wrestler he faced-off against.
A majority of these feuds featured Vince McMahon as a heel. More often than not, each of these feuds start with Vince minding his own business until someone challenges him. Vince escalates to a level of retaliation and vindictiveness that rivals the most evil villains in literature, film, and television. Vince McMahon has many enemies, but this list of his top 5 feuds weighed in-ring performance, payoff, drama, and overall effect on the wrestling business as a whole. Here are Vince McMahon's top 5 feuds of all time.
5. Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels was Vince McMahon's golden boy. As a commentator and interviewer, Vince fawned over Shawn Michaels' athleticism, resilience, and charisma. Shawn and Mr. McMahon's relationship soured on screen as Shawn formed Degeneration X aligning with Mike Tyson before WrestleMania 14. Their relationship became even worse after Shawn became commissioner of the WWE, often butting heads with Mr. McMahon's authoritarian ways. The major feud between the two started on the December 26th, 2005 episode of RAW when Shawn told Mr. McMahon to stop reliving the Montreal Screwjob and grow up. Mr. McMahon hates being told what to do, so he threatened to screw Shawn Michaels just like he did Bret Hart. This led to Vince & Shane eliminating Shawn from the 2006 Royal Rumble starting a feud that would last into 2007. This feud headlined the re-launch of Saturday Night's Main Event on NBC, it led to Vince's greatest in-ring performance at WrestleMania 22, it debuted Dolph Ziggler in the Spirit Squad and God as an in-ring performer at Backlash 2006, and led to the reformation of Degeneration X as well. Mr. McMahon's relationship with Michaels highlights his volatility and untrustworthiness while carrying the WWE through a transitional period where younger stars weren't able to step up and shine.
4. Bret Hart
The wrestling business was changing in 1996. People were cheering characters with an edge like Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Razor Ramon, and the Undertaker while classic good guys like Bret Hart started to see their stars fade a bit. After losing the iron man match for the WWE title at WrestleMania XII to Shawn Michaels, Bret started to show signs of frustration. In his return feud against Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret's frustration carried over towards play-by-play announcer, Vince McMahon. It was the first time that Vince was acknowledged as the owner of the WWE on camera and not just as a commentator. This pulling back of the curtain made the WWE unpredictable for the first time in a long time. Bret spent the rest of 1997 feuding with characters in WWE that he felt didn't exemplify family values and good wrestling leading to a much more complex character than wrestling fans were used to at the time. "Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows" documented much of the behind-the-scenes drama of Bret's contract negotiations with Vince & WCW leading to Bret's eventual exit from the WWE with the famous Montreal Screw Job. This extra layer of behind-the-scenes drama changed the way that wrestling fans consumed the product and led to the creation of the Mr. McMahon character. Without Bret Hart, we may never have gotten wrestling's greatest villain. Bret Hart fans got the satisfaction of knowing that Bret gave Vince a black eye on his way out of the company, but we never got to see the two get physical until Bret was way past his prime at WrestleMania 26. In spite of the lackluster blow-off match to end their feud, Bret Hart brought Mr. McMahon into the spotlight and changed the wrestling business forever.
3. Triple H
In 1999, the WWF was more popular than ever but its two top stars, Stone Cold Steve Austin & The Rock were dealing with injuries and movie deals outside WWF. A new star needed to be built and everyone who feuded with Mr. McMahon became a star. It's well known now that Triple H was originally supposed to win the 1996 King of The Ring and get pushed as a top star before the famous curtain call at Madison Square Garden. Mr. McMahon's feud started with Triple H butting heads with Linda McMahon while avoiding obvious contenders for his WWF title and naming Vince McMahon the number one contender on the September 16th episode of Smackdown in 1999. Due to interference from Austin, Shane, & Linda, Mr. McMahon became WWF Champion and Triple H became the new #1 heel in the company. Triple H regained his title at Unforgiven but was screwed out of his title at Survivor Series by Mr. McMahon. Triple H then drugged and married Stephanie McMahon to get revenge on Vince. Mr. McMahon and Triple H clashed in the ring at Armageddon 1999 but Stephanie betrayed her father, revealing that she and Triple H were in cahoots starting the McMahon-Helmsley era. This cemented Triple H as a top star and constant in WWE. Their feud reignited in 2002 as Triple H reformed DX with Shawn Michaels and then again in 2006 when they reformed again. Now Triple H is COO of WWE and looks to be the heir-apparent to Vince McMahon as the true authority in WWE. Their competitiveness still shines behind the scenes as Triple H builds his NXT brand as a contrast to Vince's RAW & SmackDown. Although they're no longer rivals on camera, Vince McMahon and Triple H continue to push each other as they are the two most powerful men in wrestling today.
2. Shane McMahon
Shane McMahon had been groomed by his father since the 1980s to eventually take over WWE. Starting as a ringboy before working his way up to referee, then commentator, to in-ring performer it was clear that Shane was destined to butt heads with Mr. McMahon at some point. Their feud really began when Mr. McMahon revealed to his family that he was having an extramarital affair with Trish Stratus. This put Linda McMahon in a catatonic state and Shane was unable to forgive his father. In an act of rebellion, Shane purchased WCW from Time Warner and vowed to put Mr. McMahon out of business. The two would face off in a match at WrestleMania 17 with the emotional conclusion of Linda waking from her catatonic state to deliver a low blow to Vince and seal Shane's victory over his father. Shane then joined forces with Paul Heyman and Stephanie McMahon to lead an invasion of ECW & WCW stars in the WWE. The emotion of Shane's feud with his father coupled with WWE buying out its competition and finally ending the Monday Night Wars make Shane one of Vince's greatest rivals and delivered compelling storytelling throughout the year 2001.
1. Stone Cold Steve Austin
After getting his neck broken by Owen Hart at Summerslam 1997, Stone Cold Steve Austin refused to stay off TV and heal. Everything changed on September 22nd 1997 in Madison Square Garden when he gave Vince McMahon a stunner after Vince implored Austin not to injure himself by competing. This feud lasted 2 years until Austin had to finally take time off to heal his neck while Triple H took his place as Vince's rival. In those two years, Austin and McMahon created some of the most beloved moments in WWE history. From the various vehicles Austin would drive into arenas to assault the McMahons to ambushing Vince in the hospital to building new top stars around the feud in McMahon's corporation such as Mankind, The Rock, Shane McMahon, The Big Show, and Triple H. This was also the first feud that got Vince McMahon to become an in-ring competitor by entering and winning the 1999 Royal Rumble. Austin would eventually align with Vince at WrestleMania 17 to win the WWE Title. After several months, Austin betrayed Vince by joining Shane & Stephanie's WCW/ECW Alliance in the Invasion storyline eventually leading to Austin's exit from the company after WrestleMania 19. In spite of their feud fizzling out at the end, the Austin/McMahon rivalry carried the WWE as it finally won the Monday Night Wars and put WCW and ECW out of business. No storyline in wrestling has been more compelling and created more top stars.
When Vince McMahon is on camera, something important is about to happen. Although his days of in-ring competition are behind him, one has to wonder if Vince has one more feud left. What was your favorite Vince McMahon feud and why?