Premature and sudden death is not uncommon in the world of pro wrestling. Every Wednesday we run a column known as ‘Dead Wrestler Wednesday‘ to remember those we’ve lost. While violence is a huge aspect of the in-ring entertainment, it rarely escalates to death even in storyline. All that changed in June 2007. That brings us to this week’s What If…
“Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night” happened on the June 11th 2007 edition of Raw. The night was filled with wrestlers and celebrities sharing their thoughts on Vince McMahon. Most comments were less than flattering. At the end of the night, a visibly upset Mr. McMahon entered the ring to a chorus of boo’s. He said only thank you and departed. Cameras followed McMahon as he walked through the back stage area past all the wrestlers in the company. He reached his white limo, stepped inside and it exploded. Raw went off the air but WWE.com quickly had a photo with the headline: “Mr. McMahon Presumed Dead”
The storyline was halted 2 weeks later when Vince McMahon opened Raw in an empty arena to announce the death of Chris Benoit. At the time, very little was known about the circumstances of Benoit’s death so the three hour broadcast was a celebration of his life. As details emerged, Vince once again opened a WWE show to declare that Benoit would, in no uncertain terms, be erased from WWE history and never spoken of again. The Mr. McMahon Death storyline wasn’t abandoned entirely. Vince later explained that he faked his death to see what people would do. The interest and substance of the angle slowly fizzled out after that.
Mr. McMahon was the true face of the Attitude Era and beyond. His ‘death’ would have marked a distinct changing of the guard. Whether it was Stephanie, Shane or another character entirely, someone would have emerged as the new head honcho of WWE programing. The process of replacing McMahon would have been nothing compared to the who-done-it that would have unfolded over the course of the summer.
A mediocre heel gets heat by dissing the town they’re in. A good heel garners heat with their mic skills and actions against other wrestlers. Imagine the level of heat a homicidal heel would have received. He’d be remembered forever as the man who killed Mr. McMahon. That’s not a moniker one easily shakes and it’s certainly not something WWE booking would have bestowed upon just anyone. No, the person behind Vince’s death was in line for an unbelievable run as the most evil man in the company for a long time to come.
So who could it have been?