AEW World Champion Chris Jericho was joined by former WWE writer and the founder of MLW, Court Bauer, just ahead of MLW Saturday Night SuperFight. As Bauer talked about working on the Umaga character in WWE, the conversation turned to the memorable 'Battle Of The Billionaires' hair versus hair match at WrestleMania 23 between then WWE Intercontinental Champion Umaga, with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon by his side, and then ECW World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Lashley with the notorious President Of The United States Donald Trump in his corner.
When Bauer reflected back on his time with WWE, he noted that his favorite work with the sports entertainment juggernaut was developing the Umaga character.
"Ekkie and I got on the phone and we just figured out the Umaga character, kind of tipping our hat towards the past, but very forward, future centered, and that to me was probably the highlight," Bauer considered. "He was just an awesome guy. It was awesome to see him breakout. And what a big first splash with [Ric] Flair, and he did stuff with [John] Cena, and we needed a big main event attraction. I also was involved with creating other monsters like The Great Khali and guys like that."
According to Jericho, McMahon was very upset from Umaga's untimely passing as McMahon tried to get the former member of 3-Minute Warning to go to drug rehabilitation.
"I vividly remember when [Umaga] passed away," Jericho said. "We were in Saudi Arabia. Not Saudi Arabia, sorry, Iraq, doing the Tribute To The Troops. And I remember how legit sad Vince was about it because, at the time, I think they had let [Umaga] go because he wouldn't go to rehab and I remember Vince really saying, like, 'I tried. I did not want this to happen. I couldn't do anything. Like, if you're not going to do it on your own, there's nothing we can do.' But, he was, like, legit torn up about it because I think Ekkie, in [McMahon's] mind, had so much more he could have done if he hadn't fallen into those traps that happen to so many of the brothers over the years."
During the interview, Bauer said that 'The Battle Of The Billionaires' was originally supposed to feature Umaga taking on lucha legend Rey Mysterio, but that idea was nixed on the grounds that Trump would pick someone big and strong rather than the diminutive Mysterio.
"Originally, it was supposed to be, instead of Bobby Lashley, we had Rey Mysterio in there. And then, the thought was [imitating McMahon], 'well, why would Donald pick him? He'd want someone big!'" Bauer continued, "and that's why Bobby got it, and, unfortunately, Rey didn't get that big WrestleMania payday."
Bauer mentioned that Trump probably learned a lot from professional wrestling that prepared him for for his political run.
"It was interesting [to work with Trump] because the crowds were kind of hostile towards him to the point where I remember that we would have money fall from the ceiling once as a babyface move to get the crowd behind him and stuff. He never sold it if they were hostile because I think wrestling fans, it wasn't political at that time - he was just a reality [TV] guy from The Apprentice who was cross-promoting the NBC properties - and I think more or less, I think the fans were just like, 'we want to see wrestling - we don't want to have a 20-minute promo from this guy.' And I think that's what they were rejecting at the moment. But I think it kind of groomed him for political aspirations because it's the same thing as [pro] wrestling. You're just trying to take the fanbase and whip them into a frenzy and convert them into buying tickets. He's just trying to convert them into voters here. And you've got to do your catchphrases and ways to heel on your opponent." Bauer explained, "same thing there, so you look back and it's like, 'this was probably his breeding ground to do something else similar like a lot of people from wrestling get into politics whether it's here or Japan."
Jericho shared that McMahon once told 'Le Champion' that McMahon sparked up a joint during an event with Trump at a Trump property and Trump tried to make him put it out.
"I remember one time Vince told me that they were watching some concert or something at Trump New Jersey, whatever it was called. Whatever the arena was called, Trump Arena. And Vince was sitting there with Linda, Donald, and all the heads of state, and Vince lit up a joint and Trump was like, 'you can't smoke that joint in here!' And Vince goes, 'I just did!'"
Bauer told a funny story of McMahon being very upset when Trump pointed out that McMahon's jet was smaller than Trump's own.
"It's interesting to see the Vince/Donald dynamic and just seeing the measuring kind of going on." Bauer recalled, "Vince was right next to Donald's limo and Donald, his window goes down. Vince goes, 'he wants to say something - open our window.' And Trump goes to Vince, 'hey Vince, your jet looks a little smaller than mine. If you guys are going to be squished, I could definitely get a few of your guys in mine. Mine is a lot bigger, obviously.' And Vince goes, 'hahaha! No, we're fine. Have a great trip home.' The window closes and he starts turning purple. He's like, 'that son of a b---h!' He got so hot over that! It truly was a battle of the billionaires."
Check out the show here or via the embedded player below. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.