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  July 11, 2000



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

The McMahon family moulds the WWF
Linda McMahon and WWF commissioner Mick Foley.
By TYLER MCLEOD -- Sun Media

PASADENA, California -- Linda McMahon doesn't let her children watch WWF wrestling. Not from the sidelines, anyway.

The president and CEO of World Wrestling Federation Entertainment has seen her daughter Stephanie and son Shane join their father Vince as integral characters in the show's storylines. Stephanie in particular has developed a sexy bad-girl image which often has her up to no good, both in and out of the ring.

"She's a very popular character right now. Stephanie is doing something she wanted to do her whole life: perform and entertain," her mother tells The Sun.

"Neither Shane or Stephanie were 'required' to be a part of the company, it was something they wanted to do. The one requirement if they wanted to work for WWF was they must graduate from college."

Both heirs worked for the mom-and-pop shop corporation between semesters.

"Shane has put up the ring, driven a truck around the country, taken jackets from the talent, put up posters, swept the warehouse. Stephanie has worked as a receptionist, she's been in our human resources department and in marketing. They have a real understanding of our company."

You know what they say - the family that hits people over the head with metal folding chairs together, stays together.

"God knows, our television persona is certainly that of America's most dysfunctional family but in spite of that persona, the McMahon family is certainly not like that. We are a very close-knit family," McMahon says. "We have had a great deal of fun and pride in building the World Wrestling Federation to the entertainment-media company that it is today."

Stephanie McMahon
Shane McMahon
Vince McMahon
The company is still growing. In addition to the seemingly endless parade of WWF merchandise and pay-per-view specials, the eight-team XFL football league is set to kick off this winter with matches on NBC, UPN and TNN.

"There are close to 6,000 football players who graduate from college every year, the NFL can only take about 600 of all of those players. The rest of them still want to play football," McMahon says. "There certainly is the talent."

There certainly is talent in the Canadian Football League, too. Many fans are worried Vince McMahon's deep pockets may lure away our flashy deep threats and legendary out-of-pocket passers.

"Well, the XFL will hold tryouts and draft the best players. They are not specifically recruiting from the CFL but they will hold open training camps," Linda replies.

McMahon is also unsure what will happen to WWF's broadcasts in Canada now that TNN has landed Raw is War, WWF Livewire and WWF Superstars. TSN still has a Raw deal with the WWF but neither network is likely too keen about audience fragmentation with both channels seen nationally and spilling over the border.

"We are negotiating now. There are some restrictions with TSN so we are working it out," McMahon says.

The WWF's other weekly series are SmackDown!, Jakked, Metal and Sunday Night HEAT.

Aggressively trying to boost ratings, TNN dumped ECW and used newfound strength created by the merger of Viacom (Paramount's parent) and CBS (TNN's parent) to steal Raw, the No. 1 show on U.S. cable, from a rival. WWF now also sees the possibility of wrestling events on CBS and access to the marketing muscle of MTV Networks.

Not that the WWF needs any help selling its brand. They can sell almost anything to their audience.

Almost.

"I did hear yesterday they're going to do an action figure of me," says the woman who brokered the WWF's first toy deal in the '80s. "I said, 'You've got to be kidding!' It's going to be so embarrassing because it's not going to sell."

One imagines Stone Cold Steve Austin merchandise has been a slow seller, too. Until being sidelined by injuries last year, Austin was the franchise's most popular grappler.

"He is recuperating nicely and I would look for him sometime in the early fall, knock on wood," McMahon says.

In the meantime, former Calgary Stampeders hopeful Dwayne Johnson became a phenomenon as The Rock - People's Champion, best-selling author, mainstream sex symbol.

"I think that was timing. The Rock came in a couple years ago and very quickly became the Intercontinental Champion. And it was a little too soon," says McMahon.

"We didn't develop a storyline well enough for him, so we backed off. With Steve being out it did kind of create a little bit of a slot. He really rose to the challenge.

"But we listen to the fans and we could see his momentum building, building, building to superstar."

NOTE: Sun TV critic Tyler McLeod has been marooned off the Pacific in the tropical region of Pasadena. For the next few days, he and the other members of the Television Critics Association will face the daily challenges of news conferences, buffets and tanned network execs.

Past McMahon stories

  • Aug. 3, 1999: Shane and Stephanie an interesting interview
  • July 28, 1999: Linda & Vince reveal little on TSN
  • July 27, 1999: McMahon answers critics on TSN


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