When we learned last week that a multi-part documentary on Vince McMahon was being produced for Netflix, I wasn’t sure what to think.
Since it was WWE doing the announcing, you assume they’ll have a hand in producing. Which means another account of their version of wrestling history. The Network is full of those. They’re slick, entertaining, and you can even learn a lot from them. But they’re one-sided at best... and puff pieces at worst.
But with names like Bill Simmons attached as producer and Chris Smith as director, and since it was going to Netflix and not WWE Network, maybe it won’t just be a hagiography about the Chairman? Sure, it won’t be Dark Side of the Ring, but maybe somewhere in between?
Well, Vince’s daughter and WWE’s Chief Brand Officer was on the Barstool CEO - and newest WWE board member - Erika Nardini’s Token CEO podcast, and discussed the new project a bit.
“For the first time ever, there is going to be a four-part documentary on the life of my father Vince McMahon and it’s going to be on Netflix... It’s a really big deal.
“I’m totally nervous about it, because I want to protect my dad - not that he wants to be protected. Even though Bill Simmons is the Executive Producer, you know who also produced the Andre The Giant doc for HBO, and he’s had incredible success with the Andre The Giant doc. I think it was the number one rated documentary at HBO in the past 15 years. I think it’s gonna be incredible... like a feature film is only two hours long. Three at most, and three is getting a little long, you’re kind of ready - but you can only tell so much of a person’s life story in that amount of time... and it’s fantastical, right? Because you have to make it Hollywood and whatever. So I am really actually excited about this opportunity because there is no one like my father... He grew up in a trailer park in North Carolina, He didn’t meet his dad until he was 13 and had no running water until he was like 10. He jokes about the outhouse, and I realize this may be déclassé or whatever, but he says you never knew whether it was worse in the summer or in the winter - and draw your own conclusions from that.
“But, to have someone who truly lived the American dream, who believed in himself. who was willing to invest in himself. The things he had to do to even get into the business, let alone ultimately take over the business, which at the time was regional, right? There were regional territories and my dad had this vision to basically make one global brand. But at the time, some of those [regional] promotions had connections with the mafia and various other organizations. Death threats were a regular thing. And it’s funny because, I had heard these stories before, but I didn’t really understand it, the timing of it until I was a parent. Like he was going through all of that when we were kids... like that puts things in a whole different perspective, you know? The courage, and the guts, and you talk about take no prisoners attitude, right and giving people the bird? That was my dad making it happen. Just pure, driven ambition, and never looking back. And he has turned what was a regional wrestling promotion into this global media empire that is still growing, and hopefully will continue to grow for generations to come.
“His story deserves to be told... There’s a balance there too, because every very, very successful person has character traits that are interesting. So there’s lots of fun along the way... I really can’t wait to see what comes out.”
Other than a reminder that Steph is really good at her “WWE for outsiders” pitch, I’m still not sure what to think. Her concern about “protecting” Vince and the closing comment about his “interesting” character traits leads me to believe the family doesn’t have total control over the project. But everything else sounds like Vince is the babyface overcoming the heels of the territory era to protect his kids, and... what I know about WWE history isn’t that cut and dry.
Bonus points for setting up an outhouse story with the word “déclassé,” though.
So I still don’t know. Let us know what you think, and check out Stephanie McMahon’s entire chat with Erika Nardini here.