The Rise Of A Titan: Vince McMahon’s Purchase of the WWF

Brian Damage

Vincent Kennedy McMahon is without question the most successful wrestling promoter in the history of the business. He took a regional territory and grew it into a billion dollar empire. A third generation promoter, Vince McMahon Jr helped make household names of wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, The Rock and John Cena. He took risks and created events like Wrestlemania. He was often times ruthless in eating up smaller and weaker territories across the country and having exclusive deals with certain arenas that blocked out the competition. Vince went head to head with other billionaire owners like Ted Turner and came out victorious. Today, World Wrestling Entertainment is a world wide company that is traded on the stock exchange.

For Vince Jr, the path to his global success was not as easy as some may think. He wasn’t handed his father’s promotion. As a matter of fact, Vince McMahon Sr was against his son getting involved in the wrestling business. Vince Jr wanted to be a pro wrestler just like his idol Dr. Jerry Graham and was refused by the elder McMahon. He also wanted to be a promoter just like his father and again refused by Vince Sr. The younger McMahon was relentless and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Vince Sr sent his son up to Maine to promote small shows in the area, thinking that the mundaneness of working up there would discourage his son, but it did not.

By 1981, a sick and aging Vince Sr decided he had enough full time promoting and wanted to sell his share of the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (the Parent company of WWF) A few bidders emerged with the most notable reportedly being the inaugural WWWF champion ‘The Nature Boy’ Buddy Rogers. Apparently, the price tag was too high for Rogers and he had to bow out. With no serious bidders left in place, it was looking as if Vince Sr was going to sell his shares of the territory to his other business partners consisting of Gorilla Monsoon, Arnold Skaaland and a promoter from Pennsylvania named Phil Zacko. That is when Vince Jr swooped in with his offer.

Vince Jr had made himself a bit of money as a small time promoter in New England. With that, Vince Jr smartly built good relationships with banks up in the New England area who agreed to a grant him a series of loans. Vince Jr’s Titan Sports Incorporated (which he formed in 1980) offered to buy not only Vince Sr’s shares, but shares of all the other business partners for 100% ownership. Vince Sr went back to Monsoon, Skaaland and Zacko with his son’s offer and all agreed to sell. Vince Sr made it known that he would agree to sell the World Wrestling Federation to his son, but only if Vince Jr agreed to give both Gorilla Monsoon and Arnold Skaaland jobs with the company for their lifetimes. Vince Jr agreed, but Monsoon was a shrewd businessman himself.

Monsoon also negotiated that for his 18% share of the company, Vince Jr would agree to pay him around $3,000 per week from the house show gates. At the time, the WWF were running about house shows almost nightly with some towns doing two shows per night. Vince Jr was set to pay off his father and his business partners over a two year span. If he missed just one payment, the agreement was that Vince Jr would have to hand the company back to the business partners. All in all, Vince Jr agreed to all the stipulations and on Sunday, June 6th, 1982, the sale of the WWF to Vince McMahon Jr. was made official. Vince ended up paying an estimated 1.7 million dollars over a two year period.

Vince Sr died in 1984 and after his death, all handshake deals that his father had with various promoters across the country went out the window and Vince Jr’s plan for national expansion began. Vince would say years later in an interview with Sports Illustrated…. “Had my father known what I was going to do, he never would have sold his stock to me.” The face of the wrestling business was about to change forever.

7 thoughts on “The Rise Of A Titan: Vince McMahon’s Purchase of the WWF

  1. Some say it was for the better as it did make professional wrestling a big deal but the downside was that it lead to a monopoly for nearly 20 years as that company ended up becoming more about branding than putting on good TV and such that would eventually alienate its audience.

    Liked by 2 people

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