For someone that has done plenty of research on the man trust me when I say WWE CEO Vince McMahon is madder than a box of frogs. Stories about his characteristics and escapades over the years are madness and would need an article of their own just to scratch the surface of them. He is someone that handles sensitive issues with as much grace and delicacy as a kick to the balls. He gets the final say on what goes on his television shows and it sometimes can make for some very uncomfortable viewing. McMahon green lit a character called Eugene in 2004 who suffered with mental disabilities and it was a disgusting portrayal of someone with learning difficulties, a character called Kerwin White who was played by Hispanic wrestler Chavo Guerrero who denounced his heritage and took up the persona of a stereotypical middle class, conservative white man who used the catchphrase “If it’s not white its not right” in bloody 2005. Over the years storylines that include miscarriages, incest, acts of terrorism, using the real death of their employees as a plot device in a story, racism and stereotyping and implied sexual assault all made their way on to WWE programming. That is just the start of a long list and more shocking stories will be mentioned further into this article and trust me yes it gets worse.
So, with that all that horrendous content getting the go ahead by Vince McMahon surly nothing is off the table. Well one failed pitch is out there that left the CEO speechless for the first time ever back in 2004. Imagine how bad it could be for it to leave McMahon speechless after all he’s the man that pitched an incest and pregnancy storyline including him and his own daughter Stephanie for national television.
To start our story today non wrestling fans must know that the trope of the foreign bad guy has always been a staple of the North American wrestling scene even outside of the walls of WWE. The Iron Sheik, Ivan Koloff, Nikolai Volkoff, Mohammad Hassan and Yokozuna all played this role in WWE throughout the decades and played off the paranoia of the citizens of the good old US of A during and after times of war and terror. Even a character called Baron von Raschke was around the American wrestling scene in the 60s, 70s and 80s. He was a goose stepping and cutthroat villain with a German accent who drew up images of a Nazi to play on this previously mentioned fear of the American audience during the post-World War II period. Von Raschke even made his way to the then WWWF in the 70s where he became one of the most infamous and hated villains in the wrestling industry during a time when the secrets of the industry weren’t public knowledge. These tropes were all a produce of their time and took place during a period where social standards were much more different then they are today.
A character like Baron von Raschke just wouldn’t be accepted today and would be controversial for all the wrong reasons. This has been proving as in 2018 an independent wrestler called Blitzkrieg was investigated by his other employers for the use of such a gross character a stupid decision by the full-time teacher and part time wrestler all things considered. It’s a character that simply doesn’t work in the 21st Century with nobody wanting to turn on their television to see any sort of Nazi based characters on their weekly show of choice.
Well somebody should have told this to former member of the WWE creative team Dan Madigan who was a part of the team that writes the storylines for WWE television. Madigan had an idea for a wrestler that was on the WWE roster at the time called Heidenreich. Heidenreich was set to make his return to television in 2004 with a repackaged character after his original run fizzled out like all his later runs. Unfortunately for him during his time with WWE he was given poor story after poor story to work with. His highlights if you can call them that include a slow plodding feud with the Undertaker, dragged WWE commentator Michael Cole into a bathroom and it was implied he sexual assaulted him and teamed up with Road Warrior Animal to become the hated Legion of Doom 2005 after the death of Road Warrior Hawk. Heidenreich was simply too inexperienced and not ready as a performer to wipe of the bad stink of these incidents. He is now looked back on as a laughingstock by wrestling fans who just made it on to television due to his size. As bad as this all was nothing was as bad as original pitch given by Dan Madigan.
Madigan suggested that Heidenreich returned under the name Baron von Bava and I’m not making the next sentence up. He was going to be a Nazi Stormtrooper who was cryogenically frozen in Antarctica in the 40s towards the end of the second World War by the Germans. This was to keep their legacy going and continue to spread the message and terror of fascism to a whole new generation. This isn’t a fever dream you did just read that as a pitch for a television program in 2004. That’s not even the worst part that comes with the choice of manager to accompany Baron von Bava to WWE television.
The man they wanted to use to unfreeze Mr. von Bava and help him carry out his dastardly deeds in the WWE was Paul Heyman. Now normally that’s a great choice Heyman is hailed as one of the best wrestling managers of all time and one of the best talkers of all time. However, Paul Heyman is Jewish, and his father was a Holocaust survivor. I think I need a shower after even typing that sentence. Madigan honestly taught that having Jewish man and son of Holocaust survivor Paul Heyman parade around with a cryogenically frozen Nazi was a good idea. During an interview in 2008 talking about his pitch Madigan even boasted about this idea saying “To make the story more insane I wanted to make Heyman a Jewish New Yorker to be the one to revive the Baron and bring him to Smackdown I though it would have been a scream.” A scream I still can’t believe he said all of that would be a scream.
Look as poor of a judgement as this was maybe it would have worked with major tweaks you could make some subtle hints about the characters background on television. Of course, no that’s not what Madigan wanted he wanted to whole nine yards. He wanted Baron von Bava to goose step to the ring head to toe in Nazi attire with the famous red band with the swastika on his arm giving no doubt about the characters background.
Madigan was so proud of his idea he took it into a group writer meeting with Vince McMahon himself thinking he would love it. You see the moral compass of the company is so awful he was right to think McMahon would give it his stamp of approval. A storyline called the Katie Vick storyline took place two years before this. It is now looked back on as one of if not the worst storyline in WWE history. It seen wrestler Triple H accused fellow wrestler Kane of killing his girlfriend Katie Vick in a drink driving incident many years ago. The following week Triple H taped himself breaking into a funeral home wearing a Kane mask during Katie Vicks “funeral” he then jumped into a coffin with a fake dummy and had sex with it implying Kane done the very same at the time of her death. Yay necrophilia with your weekly television program if only my poor Ma knew what her sweet innocent boy was watching as a child. Anyway, back to our story Madigan believed that if the Katie Vick story got approved two years ago surly his would too.
So, Madigan went to pitch his story in this meeting he went into every detail he had in mind for the story and reportedly even goose stepped around the room for good measure nice one Dan. After the pitch Madigan stood waiting for McMahon to respond after he spent the whole pitch silent with his jaw on the floor. McMahon simply calmly got up from his chair, left the room and wasn’t seen for the rest of the day. Madigan joked with the rest of the room that he never seen that reaction before and bragged how he actual managed to shock Vince McMahon. But he shouldn’t have been to impressed Madigan’s was on borrowed time with WWE from that point on and was gone from the company in the space of a few months thankfully his plans for Heidenreich going with him.
In his defence McMahon was never shy of putting on controversial angles on his shows. He once even exploited the real-life drug and alcohol addicted that one of his stars Road Warrior Hawk found himself really going through at the time. He had Hawk show up drunk and out of it in storyline on Raw and even had him attempt to commit suicide as part of the angle. Hawk would pass away six years after this story line due to a heart attack at aged 46 with his heavy drug use being speculated by many as a contributing factor. Madigan’s pitch would have been another disaster in a long list of gross angles put on by WWE. It wouldn’t have served anyone well at all. Heidenreich left the company after a disaster run in 2006 as previously mentioned but if this story went ahead, he would have left in much more controversial fashion and would have dragged the low bar of WWE to far lower depths.
So, that’s the one story that was even too much for Vince McMahon. I know it’s a lot to take in for people unfamiliar to wrestling or people who remember wrestling with rose tinted glasses on from their childhood. These sorts of things have always gone on in wrestling and we will cover more dark stories from the wrestling industry over the years in other articles. For now, anyway after all that I’m going for a lie down.