Sammartino: Vince McMahon didn’t know the moves as a WWF announcer

The memories of Bruno Sammartino – you know, that guy who isn’t in the WWE Hall of Fame – cracked me up recently.

Sammartino gave a great interview on Wrestling Observer Radio on November 3, during which he brought up a sore spot that anyone who listened to Vince McMahon as play-by-play announcer could relate to: McMahon never knew the names of wrestling moves.

This lapse was always a problem with McMahon’s announcing in the 1970s and ‘80s, Sammartino said. Many of us remember Vince’s old stand-by line when he didn’t recognize a hold: “What a maneuver!”

Don’t get me wrong, McMahon had other parts of the announcing job down solid. He knew how to sell stories, he got indignant when the heels broke the rules, and he shamelessly cheered on the babyfaces.

But it has always stuck in my memory that Vince knew nothing more complicated than a vertical suplex.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that current WWE announcer Michael Cole doesn’t know so many moves, because I can remember Cole saying something long the lines of “What a maneuver” in the past. Cole literally has McMahon in his ear as Vince barks directions to his crew over their earpieces during Monday Night Raw.

The names of pro wrestling holds are important. If fans identify with the name of a finishing move, it can get a wrestler over more. Think of how many newer fans don’t know what a Boston Crab is, unless it’s called the Walls of Jericho.


  1. Pingback: “What a maneuver” and other great lines from McMahon’s commentary days « Boston Garden Balcony
  2. J. Cee

    Vince Jr. was more knowledgeable about the manuevers than Bruno will ever give him credit for. It’s no secret that there was a personality clash between the 2 when they worked the broadcast booth; Bruno resented being told what to say by the boss’s son. Bruno had worked for Vince’s dad, when Sr served as promoter for all his epic title matches in Madison Square Garden. Observe the 70s & early 80s matches, and you’ll see that Vince Jr didn’t stumble on his terminology (though he uses cliches). Bruno never did seem to acknowledge the boss’s son, then a straight TV commentator, in the transfer of ownership as the new boisterous boss. In return, this would acount for Bruno’s flagrant omission in the WWF HoF, while inducting Verne Gagne of the then-rival AWA.
    Not fair, but a typical business move. The passage of time works to Vince’s advantage since his new generation of fans don’t know of any other champions preceding Hogan, when such isn’t the case for those beyond age 40.

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