It's no secret that first impressions are priceless. But when a wrestler meets Vince McMahon for the first time it's nearly an out of body experience.
When a young wrestler shakes Vince's hand for the first time, they are interacting with the gatekeeper of riches and fame. There isn't a WWE superstar on this planet that didn't make it without the approval of Vince McMahon.
Needless to say, the pressure to impress and the expectations on what that moment will actually look like make for an original story. WWE.com asked Superstars what that fateful instance was like.
Here are some of their takes:
Vince Was Repulsed by Young John Cena
"I didn't have time to be nervous. It was in Chicago, on the day I had my debut match against Kurt Angle. I wasn't supposed to have a match that night, but in the final moments, it was decided that I would debut on television against an Olympic Gold Medalist. Higher-ups said, 'If we're going to put the kid on TV, he's gotta meet Vince! They literally dragged me by the arm to Vince's office, threw me in and asked him, 'What do you think?' I had ridiculously ugly, long, super-dyed blond hair that was shaved bald on the sides"
"He turned around and with a disgusted look on his face, he said, 'Cut his hair,' and I was whisked away from Vince like an assembly line. That was the first time I met Vince McMahon and he was disgusted to look at me. They shipped me out and I immediately got a haircut, which was not dyed blond, but equally as horrible"prevnext
Mark Henry Hangs Up on Vince
"I picked up the phone and he said, 'I heard you like wrestling. This is Vince McMahon.' I hung up on him because I thought it was one of my wrestling buddies playing a joke on me. I got another call from Terry Todd and he asked me, 'Did you hang up on Vince McMahon?' And I said, 'That was Vince McMahon for real?' Vince called me back and we got a laugh out of it"
"When I went to Stamford, Vince asked me about my future and what I was thinking about doing after the Olympics. I told him I had a couple of invitations to NFL camps. I was a pretty decent offensive guard and defensive tackle. And he said, 'Well I want you to think about pro wrestling.' I was just in shock. I didn't think it was even possible. I didn't know how it worked. That's when we created the first developmental system. It was me and The Rock "He was a great salesman. Anybody that's met him knows he has a presence. You automatically step back and say, 'Wow, this dude is somebody.'prevnext
Vince Seeks Out James Ellsworth
In an AMA from Reddit, James Ellsworth talked about his first moment with Vince:
"I have seen Vince numerous times. The first time I talked to him was after the Strowman match. One of the agents told me he wanted to see me. He extended his hand and said, "you killed it, kid." Meant a lot to me. I've also meant HHH numerous times. I got lucky that the fans made me so popular, and when I saw Vince at Backlash he said, "Hey Ellsworth!" Growing up I idolized him, so this whole experience has just been so cool"prevnext
Daniel Bryan Buys a Cheap Suit
"Vince called me in 2008 when I was at a Ring of Honor show. It was a blocked number, but I answered it and he said, 'Hi, this is Vince McMahon.' I thought, 'What? Come on. This is a joke.' But I didn't say that. Instead I said, 'Oh, hello, sir.' He said, 'I talked to Shawn Michaels. He speaks very highly of you and I'd like to bring you in to have a meeting with you.' I specifically remember being in Hartford at this Ring of Honor show, so I told him I could come to Stamford. But he said to come to Oakland where they were filming Raw. I'd heard from William Regal and other people that Vince is impressed by the way people dress, so I flew home, spent big money on a suit and went to the building the next day. I waited and waited and waited and waited and was finally told that I might not have a chance to meet with Vince. But I wrestled Lance Cade in a untelevised match and got a tremendous reaction from the Ring of Honor fans in Oakland. The match went really well, then I had the meeting with Vince"
"I didn't even know how to sit in a suit. He asked me things like, 'What would you like to see happen?' I told him that I'd like to come in and be a top guy, but I had concerns about not being very big. I have a very self-deprecating sense of humor and think of myself as a humble person, so it's hard for me to say that I'm good at something. Vince said, 'Shawn tells me you're very good.' And I just said, 'Well, I'm okay.' And I could tell instantly he disliked that. It was very awkward and very uncomfortable. Vince takes these very long pauses after he asks you a question and you answer him. He'll just look at you. Some will start talking, which I think he likes because it shows they're uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable, but I just looked at him. I was waiting for him to talk and he was waiting for me to talk. It was surreal. I was very nervous and even in my $500 suit — which I thought was the most expensive suit in the world — I knew I was inadequately dressed. This guy has the power to control your destiny."prevnext
Vince and Big Show Share a Steak
"The first time I met Vince McMahon was in 1997 at the Consumer Electronics Show in New Orleans. I went by the WWE booth and he was standing out in front with a suit on, shaking hands. I was The Giant in WCW and I walked by and introduced myself, but Vince knew who I was already. I said, 'It's a pleasure to meet you.' I remember he had a firm handshake, a big smile on his face and looked me in the eye. A little more than a year later, I met with him at his house in Boca [Raton, Fla.], and worked out a deal to come to WWE. The meeting was awesome. He had great energy and welcomed me into his home. We sat down, ate and talked about some plans of what I could do in WWE. If it's Vince, I'm pretty sure we ate steak and some kind of starch. It's man food. I'm okay with that"
Big Show explains that Vince is more than just a boss:
"Vince is one of those types of people that inspire you. As intimidating of a reputation he has, Vince wouldn't be as successful as he is if he wasn't able to inspire people and find the little things that motivate people to be the best they can be. Whether it's [ticking] people off or making them feel special, it motivates them either way and everybody wins. That [first] meeting in Boca was all about maximizing my potential as an athletic giant who could talk on the microphone and as an all-around asset to WWE and having a long-term career here. Seventeen years later, he's true to his word."prevnext
Finn Balor had to Give Vince The Slip
"The first official meeting I had with Vince McMahon was in San Jose two days before WrestleMania. I was wrestling against Neville in the main for NXT San Jose. Neville had just got to the ring, and I was standing behind the curtain ready to make my entrance. I could hear Neville's music tapering off, and I heard a call, 'Finn! Finn!' I turned around and it was Hunter. He said, 'Have you met Vince?'0comments
"So I went over and Vince's head popped out from behind the curtain and said, 'How are you doing, son?' I said, 'Hello, sir,' and shook his hand. As I shook his hand, the heartbeat of my music started and I started, 'That's my cue, gotta go.'"prev