wrestling / News

Stephanie McMahon Recalls Struggling Early on WWE Creative Team, Talks Relationship With Triple H

February 11, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Stephanie McMahon

– Stephanie McMahon appeared on the Facebook 3.5 Degrees: the Power of Connection podcast and discussed WWE as a family business, plus more. Audio and highlights are below:

On her very early wrestling experiences: “I remember once when I was probably around five years old, my first live event. And I was backstage and there were all of these superstars standing in the hallway and all of a sudden a group of kids came screaming and running past me. So, I looked to see what on earth they were running from and around the corner comes George “The Animal Steele.” For any of those who are not familiar with who he is, who was a wrestler that had so much hair on his back and chest it looked like fur. His head was very, very wrinkled and bald. He would dye his tongue green with like Clorets or something. And he was almost walking like an animal and here he comes towards me…I subsequently screamed at the top of my lungs, ran up my father’s leg, buried my head in his shoulder and hung on for dear life. And what surprised me was that my dad actually started to laugh.”

On wanting to be part of WWE from an early age: “I always wanted to be a part of our family’s business, I always watched, ever since I was a little kid. And my parents were on the road a lot building our company from the ground up. So, from my perspective, it was my way of being a part of my family, it was my way of giving back to my family…I remember I was about 16 when my father asked me officially what is it I wanted to study in school, what did I want to do with my life. And I looked at him like he was crazy and he said, “Why are you looking at me like that?” And I said, “Because, dad, I wanna be in the business. How could you think anything different?”

On her first roles in the company: “When I first graduated college my roles were in our sales office. Again, learning from the ground up, going on sales calls, what it took to really build our business. I’ve pretty much interned in our digital media space, almost everywhere really, and then ultimately came to be a part of our creative writing team which is where I really found my niche at that time and simultaneously also became a character on our television show…And then within two weeks the head writer quit and I was told, “Congratulations, trial by fire. Here in WWE, it’s sink or swim. You are now running the creative writing team.”

On her early struggles as a writer: “I was in charge of our creative writing and live event booking and marketing and talent relations departments at that time. I guess I really wasn’t doing a very good job because my boss, who’s also my father, called me into his office and told me that I wasn’t meeting expectations and that something needed to change. And I think that it’s one thing when your boss sits you down and tells you that you’re not meeting expectations and that you are performing subpar in some capacity, it’s another thing when that boss is your father and you have disappointed him…I questioned my value, I really did, and I questioned my value to our company, you know, where would I fit in? How did I fit in? And was I going to be able to overcome this massive setback to me personally and professionally? And was I ever going to be able to earn not only my colleagues’ respect but was I ever going to be able to earn or regain my dad’s respect? I beat myself up for a really long time and the main thing that I was doing wrong is that I was micromanaging. But then there was this huge self-doubt and insecurity that I was left with because, again, I took it so hard.”

On working through that struggle: “I’ve always been a strong performer and it just rattled my cage so much. And I started working with a coach. She taught me to focus on my strengths, and it’s one of the most valuable lessons that I’ve learned along the way. We all have weaknesses, every single one of us, but if you spend the majority of your time trying to hone your weaknesses you’re never really gonna get to that next level. But if you focus on your strengths, if you focus on what you do better than anybody else, it creates a greater value for your business, it creates a better value for your personally because then you start delivering. Then you start bringing things to the table that people may not have even thought were possible.”

On storytelling and branding being the essence of WWE: “Storytelling is the number one most basic form of communication because it makes people feel. You know Maya Angelou has that great quote. I butcher it a little bit but “People will never remember what you said or what you did but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.” If you can make people feel something, they can relate to it, they’ll remember it. Just like you’re relating to and remembering that all of those storylines and all of those characters, right? It’s something you felt as a kid, it’s nostalgia for you. You said it brings you back to that moment in time. It’s ingrained in who you are.”

On her relationship with Triple H: “My husband and I don’t really fight much. The only time we ever really disagree is about business. It gets really heated really fast. You’re right. Suddenly you go to this place that’s like, that doesn’t happen with people who aren’t in such close relationships. You have to really guard against that. You have to be careful. I agree, take a step back and be the bigger person as much as you possibly can. It’s great advice.”