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Cleaning the Canvas: Scrubbing Vince McMahon from wrestling history

Allegations against McMahon should prompt WWE and the wrestling industry to remove his stain from its history.

Following the unsettling allegations made against Vince McMahon in a lawsuit brought on by former WWE employee Janel Grant, WWE and its parent company, TKO Group Holdings, are working to distance themselves from McMahon, and rightfully so. That includes accepting and announcing his swift resignation from his positions as Executive Chair and as a member of the Board of Directors. As WWE and TKO attempt to move in the right direction — which hopefully includes cleaning up a historically toxic work culture — an additional step needs to be taken.

Vince McMahon must be erased from WWE history.

It would be wonderful if somehow WWE could scrub McMahon’s presence from everything related to the company. But that is an unrealistic endeavor. Instead, WWE must take the same approach with McMahon as it did with Chris Benoit and Jimmy Snuka.

Following the 2007 double murder-suicide where wrestler Chris Benoit murdered his wife, Nancy, and their seven-year-old son, Daniel, before hanging himself, all mentions of Benoit by WWE ceased. Outside of his appearance in past events for WWE, World Championship Wrestling, and Extreme Championship Wrestling, Benoit was rarely, if ever, featured again in “best of” videos, documentaries, and tributes. When WWE references Randy Orton’s first World title win, which was over Benoit at SummerSlam in 2004, only a victorious Orton holding the belt in celebration is featured.

Concerning Benoit’s championship accomplishments, they remain intact on WWE’s title history webpage. However, upon clicking on his name, a blank field appears with no mention of how he won a particular title to perhaps avoid giving the impression of honoring his memory.

And that’s what WWE must do with McMahon. His likeness should remain untouched in depictions of past events for historical accuracy only. However, future references to WWE’s past should exclude any mentions of McMahon. His title history, which includes a brief stretch as the WWE Champion and ECW Champion, should read his name only, à la Benoit. Currently, McMahon’s achievements still feature a description of how he attained each title.

Regarding the WWE Hall of Fame, it’s been said that Vince McMahon would never have inducted himself into the hall while he was alive. After the sickening charges brought against him, he’ll likely get his wish even after his time on this Earth has passed. And if that’s the case, he won’t be alone as he stands on the outside looking in.

In 2015, after being charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter over the 1983 death of his girlfriend, Nancy Argentino, Jimmy Snuka was removed from the WWE Hall of Fame. Despite being declared mentally unfit to stand trial in 2016, Snuka was never reinstated to the Hall of Fame, not even after he died in 2017.

While the allegations against McMahon are just that, allegations, the disgrace he has brought to WWE, let alone the pro wrestling industry, is enough to warrant his dismissal from past and future accolades, even to those of the company he helped build. Yet inevitably, the day will come when a conversation regarding Vince McMahon’s legacy becomes unavoidable. But any recognition beyond a concise historical mention, now and forever, is no longer warranted.

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