As the taxi pulled up to the huge, twin towers I had to remind myself to breath. I have interviewed some famous people over the years, but Vince McMahon is not your typical famous person. He's a billionaire. He's a pioneer in his industry. He is the greatest wrestling promoter to ever live. Above all, he is a volatile personality, and I had to always be aware of this when asking him questions. The last thing I wanted was to get into a confrontation with an old dude who could whip my ass.
I walked into through the door and was greeted by Connie, a kind, middle aged black woman who served as the receptionist at WWE Towers. I informed her that I was there to interview Mr. McMahon and instantly her warm smile melted away into a look of skepticism.
"I see. You are aware that Mr. McMahon rarely grants interviews, right?" She asks, with her head cocked to one side.
"I am indeed aware of that. That's what makes this all the more special for me."
"Uh huh," Connie replied, chewing her gum. "What publication are you with?"
"You're an internet writer?" she asked.
"Look pal, we get dozens of you internet hacks in here each week, all claiming Mr. McMahon is expecting you. I'm going to give you one chance to turn around and walk out that door right now. If I call up to Mr. McMahon's office and find out that he's not expecting you, I'm going to have security throw you out of here on your ass. You got that?"
"Yes ma'am. Go ahead and make that call."
She rolled her eyes and picked up the phone. "Mr. McMahon, I have a Mike Garza from Cageside Seats.com here, CLAIMING that he has an interview scheduled with you... Oh... I see. I'll send him right up." Connie looked sheepishly at me for a moment before offering an apology. "You'll have to forgive me, Mr. Garza. I've worked here for 9 years and have never seen Mr. McMahon grant an interview to an internet outfit. I am sorry for being so gruff with you."
"Think nothing of it, Connie. You were just doing your job."
"Here's your visitors pass. Please wear this lanyard around your neck at all times during your visit. The elevator is over there to your right. Please take it up to the top floor. Mr. McMahon is eagerly awaiting you." I nodded to Connie and made my way to the elevator. During the ride up I couldn't help but be in awe of the cherry wood lined interior and the highly polished brass railing without so much as a finger print on it. When I reached the top floor the door slid open. There, seated no less than 20 feet away at a mahogany desk, sat Mr. McMahon.
"Hello Mike. Welcome to my humble abode. Have a seat. Can I get you anything?"
"Some water would be great, thank you." This was certainly not the reception I was expecting. Things were off to a good start. Mr. McMahon tossed me a bottle of Fiji water and sat down, putting his feet up on his desk.
"Let's get started, shall we?" he asked.
"By all means. Tell me a little bit about WWE NXT, if you please."
"WWE NXT is going to be HUGE. Just HUGE! We have tapped into the pulse of mainstream America. He have spent millions and millions of dollars on marketing and focus groups and have come to the conclusion that America wants something different from its sports entertainment. For too long the dynamic of our product has been GOOD GUY-A vs BAD GUY-A and they are feuding over X, Y and Z. WWE NXT is going to be the next step in the natural evolution of sports entertainment. The fans are going to love it."
"What exactly does this new dynamic entail?"
"What is the biggest draw on prime time television right now? What shows are doing the biggest numbers rating wise?"
"Precisely. What sports entertainment is lacking is a sense of reality. Over the years it has become harder and harder for the viewer to suspend disbelief. You can only watch John Cena get hit with a chair so many times before you stop believing. You can only see CM Punk turn on someone a certain amount of times before you just stop giving a damn. We have decided to take the fan, who is used to simply sitting back and watching the show, and putting them IN CHARGE. Each week the fans will be given a list of potential matchups for next week's show and will be allowed to call a 1-800 number and cast their vote for the match they want to see! The next week, the winning matches will take place! Isn't that a great idea." I was a bit underwhelmed by this, but I had to watch my response, lest I make Mount McMahon erupt.
"That is very... unique. It sounds sort of similar to the Cyber Sunday format."
"What's that? Cyber Sunday? I've never heard of that. Isn't that a Christmas shopping thing? Like Black Friday?"
"No sir, it's a pay per view event your company originated. I think it was originally called Taboo Tuesday." Mr. McMahon seemed to be genuinely shocked. "He pushed a button on his phone and picked up the receiver.
"Steph, did we ever do a show called Cyber Sunday? ...we did? Why the hell didn't anyone tell me that when I announced the new format for NXT? No... It's not going to be different. It's the same damned thing! I'm going to do some thinking and come up with something better... I don't care if we only have 2 weeks to prepare... I'll think of something!" Vince slammed the phone down in frustration. He reached into his mini fridge, pulled out a tupperware container of baby carrots and shoved a handful of them into his mouth. He took a sip of his Fiji water, straightened his tie and collected himself. "Mr. Garza, I apologize for that display there. Sometimes business gets a little ugly around here, and I truly regret you having to see that."
"No problem, sir."
"This is a good thing! Now you get to see something rarely seen by people outside of my inter circle. You're going to get a front row seat to the Vincent Kennedy McMahon Creative Process! Right here and now, you are going to watch me come up with the new, revolutionary concept that will be the driving force behind WWE NXT. Let's see... what's that big movie right now that everyone is talking about? The one with the giant blue cats jumping all around?"
"No. This one is directed by the guy who did Titanic. What's his name?"
"No, that's the guy who did Terminator 2."
"Yes, Mr. McMahon. He also did Titanic and the movie you're thinking of, Avatar." Mr. McMahon's head snapped around and he stared me directly in the eye.
"It's not AVATAR, you idiot. You don't think I know the difference between a movie about jumping blue cats and a movie about Howard Hughes? You're wasting my time!" Mr. McMahon reached for his phone. I had to act fast.
"Sir, please! You're thinking of Aviator, the biopic about Howard Hughes, " I blurted out rapidly. Mr. McMahon's hand stopped inches from the phone and his look of consternation melted away. He sat there for a moment before bursting out in a loud belly laugh. The tension in the room instantly cleared.
"Sorry about that, Mike. I can't believe I got those two movies confused! You'll have to forgive me. Now, how can I take what made Avatar a hit and translate that into something the WWE Universe would like?" Mr. McMahon got up and paced back and forth for about 20 minutes, mumbling to himself. Then he laid a pillow out onto the middle of the floor and took a nap. After 10 minutes of this I grew highly uncomfortable with this and got up to leave. Just as I got to the elevator door I heard a loud "Where the hell are you going? Sit your ass down, we got a show to write!" I meekly made my way back to my chair and sat down. "Mr. Garza, I'm a busy man. I don't have enough time to sleep at night. As a result I take a dozen or so power naps each day. That's what you just witnessed. Nothing more. Not only do power naps free up valuable time that I use to run my empire, they also get the creative juices flowing. During that 10 minute power nap I came up with the new concept behind WWE NXT. Would you like to hear it?"
"Yes sir." I had literally no idea what to expect was coming out of his mouth next.
"How old are you, Mr. Garza? Early 30's?"
"Who was your favorite WWE Superstar as a child?"
"Hmmmmm. Hulk Hogan." Mr. McMahon rolled his eyes.
"BESIDES him, who was your favorite Superstar?"
"Junkyard Dog." Mr. McMahon's eyes lit up.
"That's good! JYD's gimmick was specifically designed to appeal to children like you! That's good! Now, who is your favorite current WWE Superstar?"
"Uhhhh, I'd say... CM Punk."
"Really? Huh... anyway, what if I told you that on WWE NXT I could book a main event of JYD vs CM Punk? Would that do anything for ya?" Mr. McMahon had a huge grin on his face as he asked me this.
"Sure, I guess. If it were possible. You are aware that JYD is no longer with us, right?"
"Of COURSE I know he's dead! That's the beauty of this show! I can matchup any Superstars from any era, dead or alive! You wanna know how?"
"Sure." Mr. McMahon leaned in close and whispered into my ear.
"C.G.I. Computer Generated Imagery. Think about THAT." Mr. McMahon sat back in his chair and put his feet up on his desk again, smiling. "Pretty brilliant, right?"
"Are you saying that you're going to do a weekly show featuring an hour of CGI Superstars? What about the live crowd? How is this show going to make you money if you don't have a live gate? How are people going to suspend disbelief while viewing this?"
"Look at the box office numbers, Garza. They don't lie. People want fake looking entertainment. This thing is going to be huge. I can pit Mr. Perfect against John Cena. I can have The Road Warriors brawl with DX. The possibilities are endless. I can create NEW Superstars who will never get old. They'll never get injured. They'll never hold me up for more money. They'll never get arrested or trash a hotel room. They'll never fail drug tests. They'll never die. I have just discovered the sports entertainment fountain of youth! You're going to want to remember this day, Mike. Today, you witnessed the next big thing in my industry. You'll tell your grandkids about this someday! I'm Vincent Kennedy McMahon and I'M A GENIUS!" Mr. McMahon reached into his desk and pulled out a buck knife and began stabbing himself repeatedly in the leg. Clearly, the time for my departure was at hand.
"Thanks for your hospitality, I'll show myself out." I got up and sprinted to the elevator as Mr. McMahon sat in his leather chair, laughing as his leg sprayed a geyser of blood over his desk. When I got to the bottom floor I told Connie that Mr. McMahon had stabbed himself and she just smiled and shook her head as she dialed 911. Apparently this happens quite a bit. I ran out to the parking lot, jumped into my waiting cab and headed straight to the airport. I have no clue whether or not WWE NXT will be the revolutionary program that Mr. McMahon wants it to be, but I do know this: Vince McMahon is bat shit insane.