2022 was a remarkable year in the life of Vince McMahon for a whole list of incredible reasons.
The year began in pretty unremarkable fashion, but by SummerSlam he had competed at WrestleMania and left WWE in disgrace following allegations of sexual misconduct.
Prior to the allegations coming to the surface, McMahon gave a rare interview to Pat McAfee who was working as an announcer on SmacKDown at the time. During the interview, the Executive Chairman offered McAfee a match at WrestleMania 38.
This set up a clash between the former NFL star and Austin Theory before McMahon himself stepped into the ring to take on McAfee in one of the more surreal moments in modern wrestling history.
Speaking to Jimmy Traina for the SI Media Podcast, McAfee reflected on the interview and his relationship with McMahon. The star denied he was nervous ahead of the interview, and said that he saw McMahon was a teacher.
“No. When I was doing SmackDown, I started learning the business a little more. Obviously, as a fan my entire life, I understood and thought I knew what was going on, but once you start meeting people and kind of learn about people and the process of it all, I’m genuinely a curious person too, so I would just go ask Vince questions. ‘Why do you guys do it this way? Why do you do this?’ I feel like he’s naturally a teacher.
I feel if people approach him and ask him questions, he wants to tell people why he did what he did. The way he goes about telling people, we’ve all seen, certainly an interesting thing and he’s certainly made mistakes as a human, I think he would recognize that and we all recognize that,
McAfee explained that he didn’t get confirmation that the interview would be taking place until half an hour before the show.
“I just started asking questions about decisions I would have to make. I think he appreciated it, I think he respected the questions I was asking, and anytime you talk to anybody, I learned this with Peyton, I was very lucky to be teammates with Peyton Manning. These are humans, at the end of the day. You have to talk to them like they’re humans. Soon as you start treating them like they’re not humans, they’re going to not act like humans.
If you get showed up in front of somebody, they’re going to immediately shut down and not really talk to you. If you talk to people like they’re humans, they appreciate that. Him blessing us, he flew in for that. Didn’t know if it was going to happen. It was reported, it was talked about, day of though, before we went live, did not get a confirmation. I just assume he’s coming.
Then we get a text, ’30 minutes out, 15 minutes out.’ Plane, SUV, all by himself, no security, walks right in, sits down, does an hour and 15, hour and a half, comes out, takes a picture, says thank you to everyone, back on the plane, back home, probably had another 12 hour day after that.
I was pumped more than nervous. I knew that he doesn’t talk to a lot of people. I, being a wrestling fan for a long time, have obviously followed his trajectory business-wise on top of everything else. I felt pumped for the opportunity, for sure.”
Vince McMahon Making Changes To WWE Programming
Despite a scandal-hit 2022, Vince McMahon returned to WWE in January 2023 and it was confirmed in April that he is once again involved in creative. This is despite Triple H being Chief Content Officer, and the Chairman only attending one episode of Raw since WrestleMania.
It has become an open secret that McMahon is making changes to programming remotely and was recently instrumental in AJ Styles wrestling on the May 29th episode of Raw.
H/t to Fightful