Find the average person on the street and ask them about professional wrestlers. The answers you get will likely be defined by age, region, and experiences, ranging from Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair to John Cena and The Rock. If you ask them “Who runs professional wrestling?” the answer will likely be unanimously “Vince McMahon.” Vince’s name is out there on the street and that’s despite his attempts to keep it otherwise. So, it was a little disappointing to see so little new information being presented by Viceland in The 9 Lives of Vince McMahon.
Much of the documentary’s two hours was made up of previously aired material from Vice’s acclaimed series Dark Side of the Ring and the clips were always accompanied by the series and episode credits in the corner of the screen. Outside of interviews done by Dark Side, no new interviews appear to have been done except possibly some wrestling journalists such as Bryan Alvarez and John Arezzi although these may have been unused comments from previous interviews.
This is a shame as McMahon’s most recent (consensual) romantic dalliances, in addition to prompting him from stepping down from his position as high chief and master of World Wrestling Entertainment, have also prompted previous stories of harassment and sexual assault to surface or resurface and given the alleged victims a chance to have their voices amplified.
With a little more effort, Viceland could have shed some more light on the stock dip after McMahon overhyped the estimates for the WWE streaming service, the failures of the XFL and the World Bodybuilding Federation, his disastrous interview with Bob Costas, and the infamous “Ring Boy” scandal that has yet to be made into a Dark Side episode. Instead, we saw different opinions from Dark Side topics magnified and arguably out of context. To anyone unfamiliar to the subject matter, it could certainly appear that Vince McMahon “briefcasing” Jimmy Sunka out of murder charges, that Hulk Hogan lied about McMahon not being an illegal steroid dealer, and that the Benoit murder-suicide being caused by “roid rage” to which McMahon’s demand for muscularity contributed, were being presented as consensus opinion if not outright fact.
Maybe there is no good “middle” way to look at Vince McMahon. He’s a Jeffersonian figure in professional wrestling with many content to see him as an alpha lion with immeasurable influence throughout an art form they love and others set on viewing them through the lens tinted by unscrupulous acts and attitudes both business and personal. With the planned Netflix docu-series on Vince McMahon to be made with his pending cooperation, fans and other interested parties could use a more direct and objective look at his history. Unfortunately, this one seems to miss the mark (no pun intended) as often as not.