As noted earlier here on the website, WWE.com has a new article in which WWE superstars talk about their first meeting with Vince McMahon. Here are highlights:
John Cena: “I didn’t have time to be nervous. It was in Chicago, Ill., on the day I had my debut match against Kurt Angle. I wasn’t supposed to have a match that night, but in the final moments, it was decided that I would debut on television against an Olympic Gold Medalist. Higher-ups said, ‘If we’re going to put the kid on TV, he’s gotta meet Vince!’ They literally dragged me by the arm to Vince’s office, threw me in and asked him, ‘What do you think?’ I had ridiculously ugly, long, super-dyed blond hair that was shaved bald on the sides. He turned around and with a disgusted look on his face, he said, ‘Cut his hair,’ and I was whisked away from Vince like an assembly line. That was the first time I met Vince McMahon and he was disgusted to look at me. They shipped me out and I immediately got a haircut, which was not dyed blond, but equally as horrible.”
Daniel Bryan: “Vince called me in 2008 when I was at a Ring of Honor show. It was a blocked number, but I answered it and he said, ‘Hi, this is Vince McMahon.’ I thought, ‘What? Come on. This is a joke.’ But I didn’t say that. Instead I said, ‘Oh, hello, sir.’ He said, ‘I talked to Shawn Michaels. He speaks very highly of you and I’d like to bring you in to have a meeting with you.’ I specifically remember being in Hartford at this Ring of Honor show, so I told him I could come to Stamford. But he said to come to Oakland where they were filming Raw. I’d heard from William Regal and other people that Vince is impressed by the way people dress, so I flew home, spent big money on a suit and went to the building the next day. I waited and waited and waited and waited and was finally told that I might not have a chance to meet with Vince. But I wrestled Lance Cade in an untelevised match and got a tremendous reaction from the Ring of Honor fans in Oakland. The match went really well, then I had the meeting with Vince.
I didn’t even know how to sit in a suit. He asked me things like, ‘What would you like to see happen?’ I told him that I’d like to come in and be a top guy, but I had concerns about not being very big. I have a very self-deprecating sense of humor and think of myself as a humble person, so it’s hard for me to say that I’m good at something. Vince said, ‘Shawn tells me you’re very good.’ And I just said, ‘Well, I’m okay.’ And I could tell instantly he disliked that. It was very awkward and very uncomfortable. Vince takes these very long pauses after he asks you a question and you answer him. He’ll just look at you. Some will start talking, which I think he likes because it shows they’re uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable, but I just looked at him. I was waiting for him to talk and he was waiting for me to talk. It was surreal. I was very nervous and even in in my $500 suit — which I thought was the most expensive suit in the world — I knew I was inadequately dressed. This guy has the power to control your destiny.”
JBL: “I’d been in Europe for a couple years and I’d come back to have a tryout match with WWE, but I was supposed to go to WCW the next day. They had offered me a tentative contract. I did a tryout match with Savio Vega and right afterwards, Gerald Brisco and JJ Dillon pulled me aside and said, ‘We want to offer you a contract, but we know you’re going to WCW.’ I told them, ‘Well, that’s the plan, but I want to come here.’ They said, ‘You have our word. Do we have your word that you’re not going to WCW?’ I said ‘Yup, deal.’ I shook hands with Jerry Brisco and that’s how I got hired. I had to go up to Stamford to meet Vince for the first time. I walked in the room and it was JJ Dillon, [Human Resources executive] Lisa Wolfe and Vince. He sat me down, and with a complete straight face he said, ‘We’re going to make you a bad guy ballerina.’ I’d always been a cowboy and I’d already told WCW I wasn’t coming. I looked at him and thought, ‘Oh god, I’ve made the worst decision of my life.’ I said to him, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, it’ll be great. You’re going to be a ballerina that’s a real bad guy.’ Then he started laughing and said, ‘No, I like the cowboy. We’ll do that. That sounds good.’
“He threw this contract out there for virtually no guaranteed money and said to me, ‘That contract’s not worth the paper it’s written on. All I can guarantee you is the handshake behind it.’ And that’s all I needed. I could live with that. He’s charismatic. No doubt about it. I don’t think anybody’s that ever met him will say any different.”