Vince McMahon is the brains behind the WWE, and he makes all of the major decisions. He’s the most important guy in the organization, and if you’re a professional wrestler, it really matters that he likes you. If he doesn’t, you’ll never see your way out of midcard fights. Just like he can bring people in, he can also take people out . . . and he has, on numerous occasions.
The CEO of WWE can be a very intimidating person, as many wrestlers have attested to, because he is the lifeline to their success. If a wrestler can prove his or her worth to the company, then they’ll be sitting pretty and can basically coast to superstardom.
Vince is 73 years old, but he still travels on the road with the WWE nearly full-time. He’s dedicated and is very much in control of the shows. Let’s take a look at 15 wrestlers he doesn’t like, and 3 he adores.
Rumor has it that Vince McMahon doesn’t think very highly of Rusev, or “Rusev Day," or the “Bulgarian Brute.” When it hit social media that Rusev had become engaged to fellow WWE star Lana, one of Vince’s favorites, Vince was reportedly angry. The head honcho of the WWE didn’t think that Rusev was good enough for Lana, and he broke them up on-screen in an attempt to do the same in real life, but his scheme didn’t work.
17 Sasha Banks
For a while “The Boss” Sasha Banks was one of the biggest female WWE stars, but she has fallen quite a ways since her heyday, and there isn’t any clear path back up the mountain. After she was injured in a bout, Vince believed she was permanently injury prone, and she’s been relegated to midcard events for the foreseeable future. She’s lost every single match against Charlotte Flair, which shows clear favoritism on Vince’s part.
Another female wrestler who is on the out-and-out is Bayley, even though she was a big part of viewers starting to watch female wrestling again, in NXT. At NXT: TakeOver, Bayley and Sasha Banks had one of the greatest female matches in WWE history, but it means nothing now. Bayley was given a title reign within a month of her call-up, but she was quickly squashed by Alexa Bliss, who is one of Vince’s favorites and is pushed heavily.
15 Finn Balor
Finn Balor was once a rising star, but he’s been seen as a disappointment for a while now. He was the biggest name in NXT, but an injury forced Finn to relinquish his title just one night after getting it. Vince lost all faith in him, and also thought he was too small to be credible against people like Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman. Even though Triple H groomed him and likes him, Finn Balor is a clear example of Vince McMahon not listening to everything that Triple H pushes.
14 Bret Hart
The animosity between Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Vince McMahon is the stuff of legends. Hart is one of the best to ever step into the ring, and only a handful of stars can claim to have been as popular as he was during his heyday. But he was victim of the infamous Montreal Screwjob, and since then he’s had a bitter rivalry with Vince. He’s also made some controversial comments about other superstars, which put him on thin ice.
13 Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam, or RVD, is one of the most underrated talents in WWE, and he’s massively popular outside of the ring, too. The Whole F’N Show knows how to turn the crowd, but he never saw eye to eye with Vince McMahon. The two have almost gotten into a fight over their disagreements, and after RVD was caught with possession of marijuana, he really landed in hot water. Now he is a semi-retired mid-lister.
12 Stone Cold Steve Austin
Although Stone Cold and Vince McMahon have patched things up recently, with Vince even going onto Austin’s podcast, things were tense between them for quite a while. The Texas Rattlesnake never held back letting people know what he thought, and after he refused to lose to Brock Lesnar in 2003 during SmackDown, that was the end of the line. He wasn’t treated very well for being the most popular wrestler of his time.
11 CM Punk
There probably isn’t a wrestler that Vince McMahon hates more than CM Punk. Vince has publicly bashed Punk on multiple occasions, and even fired him on his wedding day. He’s also been used as a tool to enrage fans by Stephanie, and it doesn’t seem like he’ll be returning anytime soon. He made an MMA debut and lost to Mickey Gall at UFC 203, and Vince was probably thinking, “Good riddance.”
10 Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels is another one of the most beloved figures in wrestling, but he used to anger a lot of people in his early days. He had a bad drug problem, a poor attitude, and thought that he was the star of the show, all the time. After taking off four years due to severe back injury, he became a born-again Christian and returned to business, to embark on a legendary eight-year run. He’s now happily retired, but Vince will probably never forgive him for his early shenanigans.
9 Lex Luger
Lex Luger was once being groomed as the next Hulk Hogan, by Vince, but he never gained enough momentum to give him a full-time position on the WWE roster. Vince didn’t trust the Lex Express to carry the WWF Championship, and things broke down for the “American Hero.” Then he betrayed the company by jumping over to WCW’s Monday Nitro, which of course Vince never forgave him for.
Ryback was similar to Lex Luger in that he was groomed for success, but never really obtained it. His huge build was exactly what Vince McMahon was looking for in a wrestler, and in 2012 he looked like the next big thing. Then he left WWE in 2016 and decided to talk trash about everyone in the organization on his contentious podcast. We’re pretty sure he doesn’t stand another chance at a title belt after all of that.
7 Hulk Hogan
Arguably the biggest name in all of wrestling, Hulk Hogan stands alone at the top of the superstar podium. His dramatic fall from grace has been well documented, and it started in the ‘90s when Hulk left for WCW. That pissed Vince off, and the two didn’t speak for years. They reconciled at one point, and were seen shaking hands, but when Hogan’s sex tape was leaked—and also showed him making questionable comments—he was barred from the company.
There was a time when Goldberg was the biggest name in wrestling, and he had the most legendary streak of all time, and 173-0, before finally losing to Kevin Nash. He is one of the only WVW-grown talents who came over to WWE successfully, and people loved him. It’s public knowledge that Goldberg believed Triple H and Vince McMahon hated him, but he was recently invited back and became the WWE Universal Champion, so who really knows?
Cesaro was once viewed as someone who was worthy of stardom, but Vince never liked him. He had some high profile matches in 2014, but it didn’t matter. Steve Austin even asked Vince about Cesaro a few years ago on his podcast, and Vince said that Cesaro would never grab the brass ring. So, now we see where he stands! His ability to garner fans’ attention is why he’s still under contract today.
4 Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan is an interesting wrestler—he doesn’t seem like he fits the mold, but people absolutely love him. That being said, Vince McMahon never really saw his gimmick—a plant-eating wrestler and leader of the Yes Movement. Bryan claimed he overheard a conversation in which Vince said, “Him? He doesn’t even eat meat!” But he still became the WWE Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania XXX, and he’s currently the SD Live General Manager.
3 Adores: John Cena
It’s no secret that Vince McMahon absolutely loves John Cena, just like the audiences do. He was undoubtedly the company’s superstar before the “Roman Empire” took over WWE. He’s also one of Vince’s closest backstage buddies, and frequently flies on his plane. Vince saw raw potential in Cena right from the get-go, and fast-forwarding 15 years later, he’s destined to go down as one of the titans of the industry.
2 Adores: The Undertaker
One word that can be used to describe The Undertaker, which Vince appreciates very much, is “loyalty.” He’s one of Vince’s best friends, and has stayed around since 1990. He not only spent three years performing at a very high level, but fans love him, and he remained loyal to the WWE even during its toughest periods. He never turned tail and jumped to WCW, and The Deadman is also close with Vince’s kids Shane, Stephanie, and son-in-law Triple H.
1 Adores: Triple H
Of course Vince loves Triple H like a son—he became his son-in-law, after all! After his wrestling career ended, Triple H basically runs the show now, at Vince’s side, and makes a lot of major decisions (though the final decisions remain with Vince). They have differing philosophies on how to run things, but it’s clear that Vince thinks very highly of him, and would sorely miss his presence if he were to ever leave.
References: sportskeeda.com, fact5.com, wwe.com