As an announcer, McMahon was unabashedly behind the good guys — even if they used snakes

Those of who you remember Vince McMahon as the play-by-play announcer for WWF wrestling in the 1980s and beyond will no doubt recall his penchant for shamelessly cheering on the babyfaces and jeering the heels.

If a wrestler was an antagonist, McMahon pointed out his flaws during matches and begged the ref to catch any rulebreaking. However, if a competitor was a protagonist, he was golden in McMahon’s eyes and got the thorough support of Vince from the broadcasting table.

And McMahon’s attitude changed quickly if a wrestler turned  heel or babyface. The best example I can use to illustrate this is Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

When Roberts arrived in the WWF in 1986, he was a full-fledged heel who used his snake, Damien, to humiliate opponents. When Roberts dumped Damien out of the sack, McMahon’s comments went something like this:

“Oh no, he’s not gonna, he’s not gonna put that snake on him. Oh, he’s putting Damien in his face and his mouth, that big nasty snake. Oh, come on! Yecchhh!”

Then Roberts turned babyface in 1987, and the same wrestler and snake got different treatment from McMahon:

“Whoa, baby, here comes Damien! Can you imagine what it’s gonna feel like with that snake on you? Yeah, get him, Jake, get him!”

McMahon’s approach was simplistic, but it worked. His words sold you on the idea that babyfaces were good men that fans could stand behind, and that heels were mischievous fellas who weren’t to be trusted. No gray areas, no tweener wrestlers — you were a good guy or a bad guy, period.

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4 comments

  1. Joe Lowry

    Classic Pat Patterson line there. One thing that made that match so memorable was the fact that both Gorilla Monsoon and Pat Patterson were not expecting the crowd reaction to be so deafening. There have been memorable crowd “pops” since then, but on January 23rd 1984 there was no louder pop than when Hogan pinned the Sheik. If you watch the match closely (like I have several times) when the referees hand hits the mat the third time, you cannot even hear both Monsoon & Patterson. The microphones even get a bit distorted. I thought it was awesome.

  2. J.Cee

    Undoubtedly animated in his approach, there was a period earlier in his career when Vince was a more somber, serious-toned announcer back when his father was alive. He used the same cliches and demonstrated the same bias, but he carried himself more like a sports-announcer of that era. But all things be told, he was working for someone else back then and didn’t have as much creative control of his on-air personna.

  3. Joe Lowry

    Of course Vince’s announcing apporach was simplistic, he owned the company and was the voice as well as the face of the company even pre-Hogan days. When the explosion took place with Hogan, Vince was there every step of the way. My only quandry was when Hogan won the title from The Iron Shiek at New Yorks Madison Square Garden, why was’nt he involved with the tv announcing? Gorilla Monsoon and Pat Patterson got the call, but could you imagine Vince doing the play by play for that match?

    • bostongardenbalcony

      Yeah, I can imagine that Vince would have been memorable calling Hogan’s title win over the Sheik. Although Patterson had a great line when he said, “I’m so excited, I don’t want to talk. I want to watch the match!”

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