I’ve been kicked off my own show too many times to count.
It seems like it’s a yearly occurrence that some force seals me away. Austin won a match to keep me off TV. My daughter took over my company. Donald Trump tried to buy Raw. Goldberg blew up my limo. The Nexus put me in a coma. HHH has now thrice exiled me. It reminds me of that line in the third Pirates movie: “Four of you have tried to kill me in the past. One of you succeeded.”
I’ve been through a lot, okay.
Every time I’ve been shown the door, it’s been through an act of ruthless aggression. It’s the kind of thing I’ve fostered in my employees over the years. Fight over the stapler. Kick a guy to beat him to the copy machine. Put your secretary through the board room table if she tries to take a day off. It’s worked well for us.
But last night, when my son in law finally debuted as his proper, real self, he stripped me of my CEO and Chairman duties without so much a kick to the solar plexus.
My long stare was foreshadowing, it seems. Nobody else knew it, but I felt it. The end. There it was. No explosion. No rising phoenix taking me down. No convoluted explanation. No higher power. Just my son in law, taking the place of my son, with the help of my daughter. My wife nowhere in sight.
I heard the crowd. The “Na na na na, hey hey, goodbye,” chant that started up. It quieted way faster than usual. In its place, something I’ve never heard before.
Thank you Vince.
Thank you Vince.
Thank you Vince.
After I composed myself in the back, I listened to the tape. I asked Patterson if he piped those in. He insisted it was real. I thought, why? Even if I was leaving in real life, even if it was all true, why would the audience ever chant anything appreciative at me? I’m the devil. I’m the guy who ruined wrestling, replaced it with sports entertainment. I’m the guy who took Bret Hart’s blood and built an empire. I’m the guy who told guys to bulk up and then fired them for taking steroids. I’m the guy who hired great wrestling artists and made them wear silly outfits and dance for my amusement.
Perhaps it’s just habit. So many people have left in the last two years, the audience just reflexed. Muscle memory. So much wrestling is habitual. Maybe they’ve just gotten used to saying goodbye. Maybe they think the right thing to do is, when a guy leaves, good or bad, you say Thank You. Even if he’s the devil. Even if he’s me.
But perhaps it’s trust. God knows we’ve been building that up lately. We teased Punk leaving with the WWE Championship, and by God we let it happen. The most historic title in our entire company was sitting in Punk’s fridge yesterday. We went through with it. That bought us an untold amount of trust. If we let that happen, anything can happen.
Those are three words you haven’t heard from us in a long time. Anything. Can. Happen. Welcome back.
So maybe if Punk can leave with the WWE Championship, maybe Vince can walk away. Maybe Hunter really is in charge. Maybe Bridey will be World Heavyweight Champion this year. Maybe Alberto Del Rio will get that chest cut looked at. Maybe Jennifer in Makeup will marry Goeff in accounting. They would make a great couple.
Of course, the million dollar question about my firing: was it real?
Weren’t you all asking that a month ago, when Punk screamed into the silence?
Weren’t you all asking that ten years ago, when Paul Heyman threw his hat at me?
Weren’t you all asking that fourteen years ago, when I screwed Bret?
Weren’t you all asking that sixteen years ago, when the clique hugged in the steel cage?
My job is to make you ask that question. That’s all my job has ever been. And you know what? I’m the best. I’m the best in the world at what I do. And you are all going to miss me when I’m really gone.