On the premiere episode of SPORTNET’s Top Of Her Game, host Tara Slone welcomed WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon and 10-time WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair to the program. Among many things, McMahon talked about what she most admires about Flair, when she told her father Vince that she wanted to be a part of the family business, how the women’s revolution has benefited WWE, and why women’s sports are under-promoted and consequently under appreciated.
According to McMahon, she admires that Flair has always remained herself and has a big heart. Stephanie went on to say that Flair has come a long way since she first came to be known as, ‘The Queen’.
“I’ve known Charlotte for a very, very, very long time and long before she ever got into WWE,” McMahon prefaced. “And I think what I admire most about her is that she is truly herself. She is so strong, not just physically, but emotionally. She is, even though I know she’s thinking right now, ‘Oh my God – I have no confidence! I can’t believe she’s saying these things,’ but she does. I think Charlotte, when she comes into a room, you can’t help but notice her.
“She just is who she is and I couldn’t be more proud of the woman that she [has] become since I’ve known her since she was a lot younger,” Stephanie continued. “She’s just so proud, and true, and an incredibly gifted athlete with this huge heart. And she just loves unconditionally, and I have so much respect for her and who she is, and everything she [has] been through. She is a remarkable human being and I’m proud to know her.”
Apparently, when McMahon was 16 years of age, she told her father that she wanted to get involved in WWE as a career. The younger McMahon was surprised that her father failed to notice before.
“It was funny,” McMahon recalled. “When I was about 16, he pulled me aside and we were taking a walk. And he said, ‘So, what do you think you want to study? What do you want to do?’ And I was like, ‘Dad, I want to be in the business [of pro wrestling]!’ And he looked at me so shocked because I think he assumed that about my brother, but he didn’t think that about me. And I was like, ‘Dad, why do you think I sat in all of your creative meetings?’
“He would always work from the house on the weekends and I would just sit and listen. I wouldn’t really ask any questions because that wasn’t really my place and I was pretty young, but I was like, ‘Why do you think I’m constantly sitting out here and listening, and all of the dinner conversations, and everything?'” Steph continued. “And I had interned with the company since I was 14. And when I was in high school, I was working reception – and after high school, so it’s just always what I wanted to do. I was so surprised that he didn’t see that. And as soon as I said it, it was like an ‘ah ha’ moment to him.”
McMahon said she had never been intimidated by men, possibly because she was brought up in this male dominated industry. Moreover, knowing her father believed in her made her more confident.
“It was later in my career that [Vince McMahon] talked to me [about] women having an advantage, especially in the rooms that I was in, because, for whatever reason, I’ve always been very comfortable around men. Maybe even because I grew up in that world, but I was never intimidated by men just because they were men,” Stephanie said.
“So even though I was the only woman in a room full of men a lot of times, especially when we were at our television tapings and a lot of that has changed, but I was never intimidated by it and I think part of the reason is because I had his support, not only as the boss and not only as my father, but just knowing that he believed in me. And that I had a voice in the room.” McMahon noted, “and it really did give me that confidence.”
When asked by Slone how the women’s revolution has effected the business of WWE, McMahon indicated that the move has been important because WWE now better reflects the sports entertainment juggernaut’s audience.
“Well, it’s everything,” McMahon admitted. “It’s everything to me, personally, as a woman and a mother of girls. I think from a business standpoint, the more equality we have across the board, the better off we’re going to be. We have to be reflective of our audience. 40% of our audience is female, and that’s families. From a business standpoint, it has only helped to grow our business. From a content perspective, across all of our different lines of business, but I think it’s also the representation.”
McMahon, who recently had high praise for WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil for his positive conversation with Tampa police, told Slone that women’s sports is underrepresented as a whole.
“In the [United] States, only 4% of media representation of sports is female sports. So when you look at top-10 highlight reels and you think about that – think of the clips you see on a top-10 highlight reel, how many of those highlights are women’s sports?” Steph asked. “Not very many. And let me tell you these women are delivering incredible plays and incredible athleticism. If the audience was more aware? the biggest problem is promotion.
“I don’t think people know when the playoffs are. I don’t think they know when games are. And that’s across the board with sports and leagues in general. Women’s sports does not get the spotlight. Therefore, sure, how can I tune into something if I don’t know when it’s on? How can I go see a game or a show then I don’t know when it is? So I think promotion is a huge needed piece.” McMahon added, “when you come and watch and spend your hard-earned money on a ticket, women deliver probably at least on par and often probably better than the guys. Their passion, what they have to do to prove themselves, you feel it. You feel a part of it when you’re watching it when you’re there.”
Check out the show here or in the video above.
If you use any of the quotations from this article, please credit Top Of Her Game with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.