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Vincent Kennedy McMahon:
Star Maker, Star Breaker 
July 28, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


What do you say we lop of a chunk of wrestling history today, and take a closer look at it?

For our purposes, let's place the not- quite-arbitrary slice on January 1, 1985. On that date, the WWF had just revved up plans for this thing called "WrestleMania" and Vincent Kennedy McMahon had finally started to assert his vision over a company that had, up until late 1983, operated under the "traditional" rules of territorial wrestling. In fact, until 1983 (per the decision of

Vince McMahon Sr.), the WWF had rebuilt a tacit working agreement with the NWA (after the violent rift that resulted in the WWWF creating its own World Champion back in 1963), and many fans viewed the WWF as a northeastern affiliate of the NWA, and viewed the WWF Title not as a "World" Title but as a regional one.

Once Vince Jr. took control of the company from his ailing father (and had to arrange to buy out other part-owners such as Gorilla Monsoon and Arnold Skaaland, since his dad only saw fit to give Vince Jr. 50% interest in the family venture; subsequent interviews revealed that Monsoon was more-than-happy to sell quickly -- in exchange for a pittance and for job security -- because he believed Vince Jr. would drive the company into the ground and render his ownership interest utterly worthless), he played nice. But only for a while. Tentative talent raids of other regional promotions started in late 1983 (most notably, the poaching of Hulk Hogan from the AWA), and then began in earnest in 1984. Ties to the NWA were irreparably severed and Vince Jr. sought to re-establish the WWF Title as a national (if not quite a World) title.

And by January 1, 1985, the WWF had earned itself a spot in the mainstream spotlight, had held successful cable TV specials on MTV, had established itself as a reliable draw on the fledgling USA Network, and had -- in short -- experienced the kind of growth and success that emboldened Vincent Kennedy McMahon to believe he could do no wrong. For our purposes, 1985 marks the point where Vince realized he didn't just have to bend the rules, he could outright smash them. Some may call it the "Hogan Era" or the "WrestleMania Era," but our discussion today is one that makes it appropriate to simply call it the "Vince Era."

Because what we're gonna look at today, by examining that shank of wrestling history from 1985 to the present, has nothing to do with Hogan or WrestleMania: it all has to do with the promotional tendencies and proclivities of the Boss himself. Vince has, on numerous occasions, said that the WWF/E's greatest skill is creating new stars. Then again, Vince has, on numerous occasions back during the highly competitive 80s and 90s, dismissed and mocked his competition as unworthy (mere "wrestling companies," while Vince fashioned his WWF to be a multimedia empire -- one that ironically tends to fail when it strays too far away from the core wrestling product), which by extension MIGHT mean that he doesn't think too highly of the low-rent "rasslers" who worked for these unworthy promotions.

Well: Vince McMahon says a lot of things. And very few of them make a whole lot of sense. But in this case: one can look at the data and quickly see that Vince honestly believes his line of rhetoric, and has something of a track record to back him up.

Since 1985, a total of 34 different men have held the top title available to them in WWF/E. [Note: for our discussion, this refers to the single WWF Title of 1985-2002, and then also to the dual RAW/SD! Titles that have existed since then. The "WCW" Title that briefly appeared on WWF TV in 2001 and the current "ECW" Title are excluded, as they are not the same things as the WCW Title and the ECW Title that spawned them. If the new ECW survives longer than the WCW revival of 2001 and truly legitimizes itself as a viable third brand, perhaps I'll have to rework this document at a later date. But for now: nuh uh.]

Of those 34 men, 10 of them stand out as WWF/E's most bankable and reliable headliners by getting 3 or more title reigns. Look at the list, and where they were before Vince shined 'em up:

Triple H (10 Title Reigns) -- lower-card WCW performer, came to the WWF in 1995 as a big time "project"; may have benefited from associations with Shawn Michaels and then later with the McMahon family, but has certainly blossomed to full potential in the last decade; HHH's true legacy may be as the guy who always seemed to get pushed too much and too fast, but at the end of the day, stepped up his game so as to deserve the spotlight he'd been handed

The Rock (7 Reigns) -- third-generation wrestler, never wrestled outside of the WWF umbrella, completely homegrown by the WWF developmental system; an even bigger crossover star than Hogan, and developed completely in-house, the Rock is quite possibly Vince's greatest "creation"; credit also to the Rock, who was an abysmal failure for a year as "Vince's Creation," but when allowed to add his own personality and charisma to the mix, finally broke through in a big way

Hulk Hogan (6 Reigns) -- a huge draw (and a movie star) in 1983, Hogan was politically stonewalled in the AWA and knew he'd never hold their top title; Vince saw dollar signs and turned him into the WWF's signature star and a true industry legend; he was back with the WWF for less than a month when he won his first World Title, and he racked up 4 more over the next 9 years; ironically enough, when Hogan finally returned from WCW in 2003, it took him less than 5 months to add on his sixth WWF/E Title

Steve Austin (6 Reigns) -- WCW mid-carder, and an all-around talent; but without a "hook," he was fired during an injury hiatus by WCW; after a brief stint in ECW and after 6 uneventful months in the WWF in 1995-1996, Austin got the King of the Ring crown originally intended for Triple H (until HHH ran afoul of Vince McMahon), cut the "Austin 3:16" promo, and cemented himself as the impetus for "Attitude" and the primary reason why the WWF finally overtook WCW in the ratings by mid-1998

Kurt Angle (5 Reigns) -- amateur wrestling stand-out and Olympic champion; never competed professionally outside the WWF/E umbrella, and came up entirely through the developmental program; another true Homegrown success story who won his first WWF Title less than a year after his debut (and along with Euro and IC Gold and a King of the Ring win, may have had the most remarkable Rookie Year ever in the history of WWF/E)

Bret Hart (5 Reigns) -- trained and got about 5 years of seasoning (after finally deciding to commit to wrestling fulltime; he had been dabbling in the family business since the mid-70s, though) working mostly for his father in Stampede Wrestling, Bret got his first national exposure by jumping to the WWF in 1985; not quite "homegrown," Bret still did most of his maturing and improving on WWF's dime, and within 7 years went from a mid-card tag wrestler to a World Champion

Shawn Michaels (4 Reigns) -- a raw, young tag wrestler in the AWA, Shawn (and partner Marty Jannetty) got signed by the WWF in 1987 mostly just so the Fed could have their own version of the highly successful Rock 'n' Roll Express (just as "Demolition" was invented to create a Road Warriors doppelganger); 5 years of tag team toiling led to a Rockers break-up in 1992, with Shawn instantly breaking out by winning his first singles gold (the IC Title) within a few months; he was in main events in less than 3 years and won his first World Title in 1996

Undertaker (4 Reigns) -- a WCW low-card/tag-team wrestler (as "Mean" Mark Callous), Taker was poached by the WWF in 1990 and given a make-over so complete that a case could easily be made that "Mean" Mark never existed, and that the "Undertaker" is an entirely homegrown phenomenon; the Taker gimmick meant he was always at the top of the card, but oddly-enough, his reigns have usually been relatively short and non-descript because of his remarkable stature and perception of being a "division killer"; Taker's four reigns combined total less than 7 months of calendar time (three of them were seemingly "transitional" in nature, including his 1991 5-day title reign as part of a confusing schmozz that relieved Hogan of the belt to set up the '92 Rumble); perhaps a case of Vince creating a character TOO successful to be a viable champion?

Mick Foley (3 Reigns) -- a world traveler and cult sensation due to his brutal brawling style, Foley (as "Cactus Jack") did start to break through with hardcore US wrestling fans in 1994 and 1995 due to his work in WCW and ECW; Vince, stubborn as ever, recreated Foley as "Mankind" when he brought him to the WWF in 1996; "Mankind" would eventually rack up three reigns that total in the days (not in the months), but with signature matches, best-selling books, and multiple characters/killer promos/all-around awesomeness, the end result was that "Mick Foley" became a huge star on WWF/E's dime

Brock Lesnar (3 Reigns) -- an amateur wrestling stand-out and NCAA champion, Lesnar had never competed professionally outside of the WWF/E umbrella when he debuted and started a memorable 2 year run with the company; the completely homegrown developmental system creation received a gargantuan promotional push, backed it up with gargantuan talent, and won 3 titles before flaking out and leaving the company

[In this time frame, 2-time WWF/E Champions include: Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Yokozuna, Sid, Big Show, John Cena, and Edge. The 1-time champions are: Andre the Giant, Ultimate Warrior, Sgt. Slaughter, Bob Backlund, Kevin "Diesel" Nash, Kane, Vince McMahon, Chris Jericho, Goldberg, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, JBL, Randy Orton, Batista, Rey Mysterio, Rob Van Dam, and Booker T. For a total of 34.] 

Looking just at the 10 Signature Stars, what do they all have in common? They were, on the national pro wrestling stage, NOTHING before coming to the WWF/E and letting Vince McMahon turn them into stars. Well: OK, so 9 out of 10.... Hulk Hogan is the exception, as he was hugely popular, and if not for the old-timey political situation in the AWA at the time (where Verne Gagne considered Hogan's movie career to be a bad thing for wrestling's "legitimacy"), he should EASILY have been their World Champion; instead, the closest Hogan ever came was a "Dusty Finish," which was also the straw that broke the camel's back and proved to Hogan he'd be better served to listen to Vince McMahon than get jerked around by the Gagnes.

But the lesson here is that if Vince McMahon wants to call himself a Star Maker, he's probably well within his rights. Looking at his signature stars of the past 2 decades, he sure didn't rely on outside superstars to prop up his company. Which is something you can't say about NWA/WCW....

In the 15 years of our Chunk of Wrestling History during which the company was in business, NWA/WCW had 23 different champions, with 8 of them standing out by accumulating 3 or more title reigns. Of those 8, sure, you can make the case that Crockett/WCW gets credit for "making" Ric Flair (12 post-1985 NWA/WCW reigns), Sting (7 reigns), Jeff Jarrett (4 reigns after being an upper-mid-card act for the WWF), Booker T (4 reigns), and Vader (3 reigns, although he was also an absolutely HUGE star in Japan before coming to WCW). But then there's 3 guys who throw things way out of whack: Hulk Hogan (5-time WWF champ before becoming a 6-time WCW champ), Randy Savage (2-time WWF champ before becoming a 4-time WCW champ), and Kevin Nash (1-time WWF champ before becoming a 4-time WCW champ). [In this timeframe, the 2-time NWA/WCW champs are: Lex Luger, Big Show, and Sid Vicious. The 1-time champs are: Dusty Rhodes, Kerry von Erich, Ronnie Garvin, Ricky Steamboat, Tatsumi Fujinami, Ron "Faarooq" Simmons, Goldberg, Bret Hart, David Arquette, Vince Russo, and Scott Steiner. For a total of 23.]

So if Vince wanted to compare his track record of "star making" versus that of his most serious competitor of the era, he trumps them in a huge way. Ten signature Headline Stars, and MAYBE one of them (Hogan) was a proven main event commodity before starting with the WWF. Compare to WCW, where there are 8 signature Headline Stars, and 3 of them (38%) were not just proven commodities but former champions before starting with the company (and two others -- Jarrett and Vader -- came pre-made as highly marketable talents because of the work done by the WWF and New Japan, respectively, and are cases not entirely different from the "proven headliner, but no Domestic World Title" status that Hogan brought to the WWF from the AWA).

Even looking at guys who are only 1- or 2-time champs for the WWF/E over the past two decades, it's a lot of the same thing: guys who were either under-utilized mid-card wrestlers elsewhere (Jericho, Nash, Benoit, Guerrero) or homegrown (Edge, Kane, Cena, Batista) getting to win their first World Titles under the guidance of Star Maker Vince McMahon.

But looking at those 1- and 2-time WWF/E champs, you notice something else: even towards the bottom of this list of the headliners of the past 20 years, you'll only find four (4) men who reigned as the recognized world champion of another organization before coming to the WWF/E and duplicating that success. And the fourth one only happened on Sunday, when Booker T won the SD! Title at the Great American Bash.

That number might strike you as odd: four men, recognized as the best by their previous employers, are the only ones in 21 years to be granted that same distinction by Vince McMahon's WWF/E. 

It becomes only more remarkable a figure when you do a little digging and find out that 27 proven performers who won their first world title(s) in other promotions either debuted with or started a fresh run with VKM's WWF/E after January 1, 1985. This counts all NWA/WCW champs, AWA champs up through the company's implosion and loss of TV exposure in 1989, and ECW champs starting with the "Extreme" name change and rapid TV expansion in late 1994.

[Again, for an interesting counter-point: contrast this with NWA/WCW practices... six men debuted with or started fresh runs with NWA/WCW after January 1, 1985, after having their first World Titles for the WWF. Of those six, FIVE of them won NWA/WCW gold (that's 84%, kids): Hogan (6 times), Savage (4), Nash (4), Sid (2), and Bret Hart (1). The only former WWF champ to jump to NWA/WCW in this timeframe and NOT win their title? The Ultimate Warrior. BWHHAAHAHAHAHAAHA!]

So anyway: that's four men out of 27 proven championship-caliber performers who Vince decided to feature as top stars. That works out to 15%. Even if you want to get rid of the AWA/ECW Champs (on the grounds that they were "minor league" despite being included in the "Big Three" label at various times), the tally is 4 men out of 16 former NWA/WCW Champs (a title that was held in higher esteem than the WWF Title at times) who got Vince's blessing to carry HIS big belt. That still works out to a paltry 25% "conversion" rate on Vince capitalizing on incoming major stars.

It all leads one to wonder if there isn't a flip side to the "Vince McMahon, Star Maker" coin. In his hubris to show that he has a better eye for talent and the superior ability to promote and market that talent, sure Vince has invented some of the biggest stars of the past 20 years..... but then he goes even further, possibly undermining or torpedoing the careers of some proven champions who've passed through his company. Afterall: the failure of other "proven" champions on the WWF/E stage allows Vince to point to the promotional shortcomings of other companies, while proclaiming that he alone knows what he's doing.

Looking at the data alone (23 of 27 proven commodities never given the same opportunity by WWF/E), it's hard to dispute there's something fishy going on. But looking at the data alone, you could probably rationalize it as a mere subconscious quirk of Vince's... that he doesn't realize he's doing it, and like any of us, he's naturally attracted to his own creations.

But then you take the data, and look at the anecdotal evidence behind it, and you realize that not only did 23 of 27 proven commodities fail to duplicate that success in the WWF/E... a lot of them were turned into preliminary wrestlers, comedy acts, and inside jokes by Vince McMahon. Suddenly, the case for Vince McMahon subconsciously passing over other promoters' creations takes a hit... and the case for Vince McMahon willfully crushing the legacies of outside talents, all for his own amusement and self-aggrandizement, seems a whole lot more convincing.

This notion occurred to me largely by accident, as an offshoot off my feelings towards Vince's ass-hatted vision for the New ECW.... cuz let's remember: Vince hasn't just torpedoed individual wrestling careers, he once single-handedly destroyed a seemingly fool-proof Promotional War storyline. Vince McMahon bought WCW in March 2001, but then he killed it by July simply because he was too insecure and petty to promote WCW as a true equal to the WWF, fatally bungling the inVasion storyline as a result. All the data and little stories that make up this document are the result of realizing that the demise of the inVasion (and the precarious status of ECW's own legacy as long as its under the thumb of VKM) fit into a rather unflattering psychological profile for Vince. Stubborn, unable to accept or process outside criticism/feedback, unable to acknowledge the value of creations not his own, and fundamentally insecure, Vince seemingly exists inside a bubble he created in 1985 when -- for a brief moment in time -- it really did seem like he could do no wrong. 

Vince's own creations are always the best, others' creations are inherently inferior. If another's creation shows signs of thriving: kill it (this doesn't just apply to in-ring performers, either; think of how many times Vince has tried -- and failed -- to "kill" JR simply because Jim Ross is not a brainwashed disciple of WWE Think; it probably pisses Vince off to no end that he's always left with no choice but to keep bringing JR back after all these attempted character assassinations). And if one of Vince's creations flops demonstrably and heroically, well, we just crawl back into our protective bubble, and pretend that the WBF, XFL, Randy Orton as a babyface, and Mark Henry's 10-year contract all worked out to absolute perfection.

Since the Vince Era began, 27 men who broke out as proven superstars and won recognized world titles elsewhere have come to the WWF/E hoping to build upon their already-commendable legacies. Vince only saw fit to crown 4 of those men as his own champion (and may have marginally assisted in boosting the profiles of a handful of the others, even if they never quite won the Big Gold). Each of those 27 men has a story, and to fully demonstrate that Vince is every bit a Star Breaker as he is a Star Maker, I think we oughta quickly hear 'em all.

Here are capsule summaries of the 27 recognized champs who decided to ply their trade for the WWF/E starting in 1985 or later. They are presented chronologically in order of their first recognized World Title Reign, and everything should be pretty self-explanatory except for the final entry in each capsule.... the "VKM Legacy Multiplier" is a (mostly subjective) assessment of what effect Vince's handling of said performer had on that performer's overall standing and legacy with the fans. If Vince had no significant effect on how fans will remember said star, we apply a "VKM Legacy Multiplier" of zero (0). In a worst-case scenario (say, the way Dallas Page flopped in WWE and left in relative disgrace), we'll apply a negative VKM Legacy Multiplier (the worst being minus-10). In the handful of Happy Stories (say, Booker T's recent ascension to title-worthy status), a positive VKMLM will be applied (up to a maximum of 10).

Obviously, not all "legacies" of former World Champs start in the same place. But whether you're Justin Credible or Ric Flair, you *did* accomplish something before making a new start in the WWF/E, and we'll use the VKMLM to assess whether you came out of the experience better or worse for your troubles.

Here goes....

Before WWF/E: NWA World Champion from March 11 1969 to March 24, 1973
WWF/E Highlights: none, really; already 50 years old when he followed his younger brother, Terry, to the WWF in late 1985, the two briefly formed a tag team once Terry's run as a main eventer was over, before the WWF tried to replace Dory with the masked "Jimmy Jack Funk" (not really any relation)
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: 0
Dory wasn't around long enough make much of an impact on WWF fans of the mid-80s one way or another. Though never pushed to the moon, the Funk Brothers did win a tag match at WM2, so it's not like Vince went out of his way to bury them, either.

Before WWF/E: 8 NWA World Title Reigns between March 24 1973 and March 23 1984
WWF/E Highlights: was the first man to win the (then-untelevised) King of the Ring tournament and adopt the "King" gimmick in 1986; managed by Bobby Heenan, defeated a random assortment of mid-carders and jobbers en route to a house show program against champ Hulk Hogan; Hogan defeated Race, causing Heenan to turn on him; Race lost the "King" title to Heenan's new charge, Haku, and after quietly being jobbed out, left the company
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-2
Though Race had a relatively successful first year with the company, it later became apparent that VKM only brought the 8 time NWA Champion (the most decorated champion in history at that time) into the company to be a job boy for Hulk Hogan; pushing 50 and on the downside of his career, Race can't be blamed for taking the gig, but it's still unfortunate that more people will remember him for being the first wrestler they ever saw go through a table (in that losing effort to Hogan on SNME, which is still *my* main memory of Harley) than for 8 World Title reigns and more than a decade of being a worldwide headliner

Before WWF/E, Part 1: NWA World Champion from December 10 1975 to February 6 1977
WWF/E Highlights, Part 1: headlined house shows as Hulk Hogan's Sacrificial Lamb du Jour in late 1985 and early 1986 (including a memorably good -- by Hogan standards -- SNME match along the way); then briefly formed a tag team with brother Dory; when the WWF replaced Dory with the unrelated "Jimmy Jack Funk," Terry took the first available opportunity to leave the company
Before WWF/E, Part 2: 2-time ECW World Champion between December 26 1993 and August 8 1997
WWF/E Highlights, Part 2: Showed up as "Chainsaw Charlie," Cactus Jack's deranged tag team partner; the two reigned as WWF Tag Champs for a whole day before their WM14 title win was voided; Funk would hang around through 1998 as a sporadic performer (including one key match against Foley on RAW), before accepting a better financial offer to work for WCW
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-1 (overall)
Funk's unique on this list in that he came to start fresh runs with the WWF/E TWICE after winning different world titles. He's also unique in that he had already retired (multiple times, I believe) before starting each WWF/E run. Funk's first WWF stint was with the sole purpose of Terry putting over Hogan and helping the big fella have good matches; during that run, Funk was promoted very well, and given the "Middle Aged and Crazy" moniker that stuck with him for years and year. Call that one a wash (VKMLM: 0). It's Funk's second run that was, perhaps, a bit of a misfire: under the guidance of the highly respectful and protective Paul Heyman, Funk actually came across as a legitimate contender in ECW and had probably built up a "legacy" that was stronger and more immediate to wrestling fans than the one he had when he showed up in the WWF in 1985. But in that second run with the WWF, Funk was presented more as a cartoon character and a sideshow act. The minus-1 for that second run could probably be higher, except part of blame lies with Funk for continuing to work past the point where a company like the WWF could push him as a serious competitor. 

Before WWF/E: 3-time NWA World Champion between August 21 1979 and August 7 1986
WWF/E Highlights: dressed in yellow polka dots, became attached to an overweight, middle-aged black woman, who became his valet (and prematch dance partner); despite ridiculous new image, booked fairly strong in initial feuds against Honkeytonk Man and Randy Savage; eventually brought son Dustin into the company, but father and son lost a feud to Ted DiBiase and Virgil (Virgil's gimmick as DiBiase's manservant was VKM's dig on on Dusty, whose real name is Virgil Runnels), and disappeared soon afterwards
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-5
You'd have a hard time finding a wrestling fan under the age of 30 who remembers Dusty Rhodes as anything other than Utterly Ridiculous, and the blame falls at the feet of Vince McMahon for the 18-month-long Polka Dot stint Dusty had in the WWF. [Granted, from there, Dusty didn't help himself out much, as he became the blubbering, nonsensical color commentator for WCW soon afterwards, which didn't exactly serve to remind folks that he was once a credible in-ring performer.] This is a case where there's no doubt that Vince's booking of an incoming-legend was willfully vindictive. He'd already created the "Virgil" character strictly as a potshot at NWA Booker, Dusty Rhodes; and once given a chance to be the booker for WWF Wrestler, Dusty Rhodes, Vince gave him polka dots and an embarrassing valet. This Legacy Assassination didn't happen by accident, and speaking on behalf of My Generation, it sure as hell worked like a charm.

Before WWF/E, Part 1: 9-time NWA/WCW World Champion between September 17 1981 and September 1991 (when the NWA stripped Flair of his title when he attempted to take it to the WWF)
WWF/E Highlights, Part 1: 2-time WWF World Champion in 1992, including one title won in the universally-acclaimed '92 Royal Rumble match, which is still considered the finest Rumble ever (with Flair's performance being the finest ever, as well); as soon as the WWF told Flair there were no immediate plans to use him in the World Title picture at the start of 1993, they granted him his immediate release, only asking him to do one job (to Mr. Perfect) on his way out
Before WWF/E, Part 2: 5 additional NWA/WCW World Title between 1993 and 2000
WWF/E Highlights, Part 2: returned to WWE in 2002 as a figurehead General Manager, but soon returned to the ring on a semi-regular basis; was a founding member of Evolution (which firmly re-established Triple H as a heel after a tepid babyface run, and which launched the careers of Batista and Randy Orton); continues to have top-shelf matches when it's asked of him (including, at the age of 57, two of 2006's best free-TV matches of the year to date, against Edge and against Big Show)
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: plus-5 (overall)
When Flair debuted in the WWF in 1991, there was no screwing around: he was presented as a worthy world champion gunning for Hulk Hogan's WWF Title. Though Flair didn't take the strap directly from Hogan, Flair did last over 60 minutes in the most-entertaining and EASILY the most star-studded Royal Rumble (with upwards of 10 credible potential winners) to win the gold less than 4 months after his debut. Already a living legend to NWA/WCW fans, WWF's treatment of Flair in that first run "made" Flair with the other half of the wrestling audience who didn't know for sure if the Nature Boy could cut it in the "Big Leagues." Plus-3 for that first run. And Flair's second run? Obviously, WWE's done nothing quite so dramatic as crown him World Champion; but they've done something more important.... they've made Flair look and feel like a legend again. WCW (most notably under the guiding hand of Vince Russo) cosmically mis-booked Flair, resulting in Flair admitting that he felt like the piece of shit sideshow act they booked him as. But since returning to WWE, a combination of well-chosen spotlight matches, the right kind of company (Evolution/HHH, especially), and a concerted effort to treat Flair like a living legend has put Flair's legacy back where it was in 1996 (if not improving upon that status). Plus-2 for the unexpected-but-appreciated Legacy Resuscitation over the past 4 years.

Before WWF/E: AWA World Champion from May 13 1984 to December 29 1985
WWF/E Highlights: moderately successful tag team wrestler for several years, winning the WWF Tag Titles with Tito Santana in 1987; a violent split with Santana led to the creation of Rick "the Model" Martel, whose Gorgeous George-inspired cologne-mister was used to blind many an opponent; as "the Model," Martel was a reliable mid-card heel, for the most part, with a brief bump up into the IC Title picture in 1993 and '94
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-1
There probably wasn't much chance of Martel -- a 6'1" guy with a tinch of a French-Canadian accent -- to succeed in the Hogan Era WWF, no matter how sound his in-ring work. But the caliber of the work that Martel did do -- even later in his career at age 40 or so, and saddled with the ridiculous "Model" gimmick -- suggests that the one time AWA Champ could at least have been utilized as a secondary champion. Instead: his run as half of "Strike Force" and the memorably-stupid Blindfold Match against a "blinded" Jake Roberts are probably what most fans will remember. 

Before WWF/E: NWA World Champion from May 5 1986 to May 20 1986
WWF/E Highlights: won the InterContinental Title less than one month after entering the WWF in 1990; held title for a few months before backstage issues cast doubts on von Erich's long term reliability; was pushed down the card and was a glorified jobber before disappearing from the WWF
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-1
One could make the case that von Erich's phenomenally forgettable flame-out in the WWF argues for an even worse VKMLM... but let's not forget that von Erich's "legacy" as an NWA Champion is a bit of a misrepresentation. Von Erich was a huge regional draw in Texas, but only a mild sensation elsewhere; his two week NWA Title reign was little more than a way for NWA promoters to score a HUGE box office gross for an outdoor event in Dallas, before just switching the title back onto the more-nationally (and internationally) known Ric Flair. Von Erich's starting point with the WWF probably wasn't as high as you might think, which makes the damage done in WWE substantially less severe.

Before WWF/E: AWA World Champion from May 2 1987 to May 9 1988
WWF/E Highlights: re-christened "Mr. Perfect," and after a lengthy undefeated streak was very successful as Hulk Hogan's house show opposition during a 4 month run; then won several InterContinental Titles, having excellent matches along the way with opponents like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels; back injuries forced Hennig out of the ring for a while, during which time he became an announcer; when he felt healthy enough to return to the ring, Hennig opened himself up to the highest bidder, and ended up spending most of the rest of his career working for WCW; a couple of brief WWE comeback runs before his untimely death did little to affect his legacy one way or the other
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: plus-3
Already a second generation star and a World Champion for the AWA, Hennig's resume of main events against Hulk Hogan and multiple IC Titles as "Mr. Perfect" are the things fans today remember about the guy. Hennig may have been the first case of VKM convincing himself he wasn't pushing "somebody else's creation" because Curt Hennig ceased to exist in late 1988 and was replaced by "Mr. Perfect" (which -- with the dead-on vignettes and perfect theme music -- is admittedly one of Vince's better marketing inventions)... but whatever the reasons for Hennig dodging the Curse Of The Outside Creation, he and his legacy certainly benefited from about 5 years inside the WWF ring. And his VKMLM could even have gone higher if not for the injuries which hampered him (and then hastened his move to WCW); imaging if Hennig had remained healthy and had been at the top of his game once Vince got comfortable pushing guys the sizes of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart and Steve Austin as his main eventers.... Hennig -- as "Mr. Perfect" -- certainly could have been in that mix.

Before WWF/E: NWA World Champion from September 25 1987 to November 26 1987
WWF/E Highlights: none, really; came in, got a very brief push, then lost a Retirement Match to Greg Valentine; became a special trouble-shooting referee; re-instated as a wrestler because of his biased officiating; started wearing a stupid shin-guard to counter Greg Valentine's Figure Four; never won a single important match after that; disappeared from the WWF and retired
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-1
As awful as Garvin's WWF run was, let's be pragmatic: the guy was already pushing 50 and on the down slope of a solid, but unremarkable career; Garvin's brief NWA Title reign was not the result of him spiking TV ratings or being a huge house show draw, it was the result of Magnum TA's suffering career ending injuries just prior to being scheduled to win the title; Garvin, as a reliable, if unspectacular, veteran, was the grudging compromise made by NWA bookers when they had to select a replacement. Yes, Garvin's WWF run was pathetic, but you can't really blame Vince for not doing more with the guy: if not for an unfortunately timed motorcycle accident, Garvin would have come to the WWF with a resume that basically looked like Bob Holly's.

Before WWF/E: AWA Champion from May 9 1988 to February 8 1989
WWF/E Highlights: few, if any, as a wrestler, as Lawler badly lost the small handful of "serious" feuds he had towards the start of his WWF/E career (to Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels), and has since been mostly a comic relief act inside the ring; however, over the past decade, Lawler has become one of WWE's signature voices as the color commentator for RAW
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-2
Too harsh? I don't think so. Lawler sneaks onto this list because of an AWA Title run just as that company was imploding, but the truth is that Lawler was one of the most bankable performers in the US from the late 70s through the late 80s within his territory (and with a reputation that spread across the nation). He was involved in some of the most violent (and most entertaining; see "Kauffman, Andy") feuds of the era, and was ubiquitous in any wrestling magazine you'd pick up (and was the only wrestler to appear on any Late Night Talk Show before the Hogan Explosion of 1985, when he and Kauffman did their memorable angle on Letterman's show in 1983), despite not being part of a truly National Promotion until he showed up on the AWA's ESPN show. VKM's use of Lawler as a wrestler in the early 90s threw all that hard-earned legacy out the door. It's only as a signature announcers that Lawler gets some of those points back. Because he might not be remembered for the good stuff, anymore, but he's probably known to a slightly larger audience than he would have been if he'd stuck with his Wrestling Legacy.... I compare Lawler's career path to Robert DeNiro's: most people know of "Godfather 2" and "Raging Bull" and "Goodfellas," and know those are excellent films. But for whatever reason, it's only once DeNiro pimped himself out and started making unabashed garbage like "Analyze That" and "Meet the Fockers" that one of his movies grossed $200 million dollars. Feuds with Kauffman and Savage are Lawler's "Taxi Driver"; shrieking "puppies" like a buffoon is his "Meet the Fockers." One is actually good, but the other is the one that finally wins over millions of retarded lemmings. 

Before WWF/E: NWA World Champion from February 20 1989 to May 7 1989
WWF/E Highlights: all came during an earlier run (before winning the NWA Title); when Steamboat returned to the WWF as an NWA Champ, he was stuck with a ridiculous dragon costume and told to breathe fire during his ring entrance; he also never won a single important match, and slowly disappeared after about a year
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-5
This is one of the most confounding and frustrating entries on this list (and not just because Ricky Steamboat was my first favorite wrestler ever). Steamboat didn't just come fresh from NWA/WCW as a recent champ, but he also had a storied history in the WWF from his previous run (where he took the IC Title from Randy Savage in what is STILL considered one of, if not THE best WrestleMania match ever). Failing to capitalize on that, Vince was not only pissing on NWA/WCW by destroying their recent champ, but he was also pissing on all the work he did to turn Steamboat into (arguably) the company's #2 or #3 babyface back in 1986 and 1987. Steamboat's 1991-1992 run as "The Dragon" is just too awful for words, both in terms of the refusal to call him "Ricky Steamboat" and do the full-on "Dragon" gimmick and in terms of how they booked him as a mid-carder and then eventually as a jobber. Luckily, Steamboat would leave and return to WCW one more time, where he'd win secondary singles titles and tag team titles en route to firmly re-establishing at least part of his legacy with fans. No thanks to Vincent Kennedy McMahon.

Before WWF/E: WCW World Champion from July 24 1991 to February 29 1992
WWF/E Highlights: flopped spectacularly as the #1 contender to Yokozuna's WWF Title despite an enormous, months-long marketing campaign; after the decision was made that Luger could not be trusted to carry the WWF Title, Bret Hart took over as top babyface, and Luger fell back into secondary and tag team roles for the remainder of his time with the company
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-2
One could argue that this VKMLM should be even lower, but you know what? Vince tried his damnedest to turn Luger into a star, and Luger just didn't have it in him to pull it off. Everything Randy Orton is doing today is what Lex Luger did in the mid-90s.... Luger was given the ball and fumbled it. The only reason I give a minus-2 VKMLM here is because once Luger fumbled the ball, a sharp promoter might have tried to shift gears to get SOME kind of return on his investment; instead, Vince just shuffled Luger to the back of the pack, when a heel turn (which finally did come, but 18 months too late, and just prior to Luger leaving the company) might have provided Bret Hart with slightly more compelling opposition than Bob Backlund come later in the year.

Before WWF/E: 3-time WCW Champion between July 12 1992 and December 27 1993
WWF/E Highlights: few and far between; Vader debuted at the 1996 Royal Rumble amidst much hype, and headlined SummerSlam of that year against WWF Champ Shawn Michaels; fell down the card after that, mostly becoming a tag team wrestler, and limping through a forgettable babyface run
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-4
Vader was, hands-down, the most effective wrestling heel in the United States during the first half of the 1990s. Even though he came to the WWF at a time when the company was trying very hard to establish Shawn Michaels as their new babyface headliner, it seems like more could (and should) have been done to utilize Vader than a one-off PPV title shot. Vader was a rarity: he came to the WWF with such a reputation that even casual fans knew his arrival was a big deal (not since Sid's first jump from WCW to the WWF did I recall such a buzz for somebody who'd never competed in a WWF ring), and inside of 8 months, VKM had managed to almost completely piss that opportunity away. 

Before WWF/E: WCW World Champion from August 2 1992 to December 30 1992
WWF/E Highlights: after a rocky start as some kind of Roman Centurion, "Faarooq" became the leader of the Nation of Domination (which is responsible for the launch of The Rock's career) and was a TV main event staple for months as a result; following the break-up of the Nation, Faarooq and John Bradshaw Layfield formed the "Acolytes" (part of the Undertaker's Gay-Spooky "Ministry"), which quickly morphed into the less-silly APA; the APA would win 3 WWF Tag Team titles together
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: plus-1
A former world champ spends his WWF career mostly as a tag wrestler, and that rates a "plus-1"? Yep. Because Simmons as NWA Champ wasn't so much a comment on Simmons' readiness to carry the company at the time, as it was a comment on Turner Broadcasting's desire to undermine a lawsuit claiming racial inequality in WCW. Though Simmons comported himself very well as champ for 5 months, it's telling that as soon as he lost the title, he drifted further and further down the card, and was allowed to disappear from WCW without so much as a whimper about a year later. Simmons had actually been taking indie bookings for several years (including several shots in ECW), when the WWF came calling in 1996. After a tough start, Simmons got himself back into ring-shape, rehabbed his character, and became an important cog of the "transition era" WWF (leading into the Attitude Era). Simmons WWF/E career was definitely a plus for him; perhaps not a huge one, but definitely a plus. Ask folks what they remember about Ron "Faarooq" Simmons, and his involvement with the start of the Rock's career and his memorable APA skits with Bradshaw will probably lead the list, with "First Black World Champion" as more of a footnote than something we actually remember seeing and experiencing.

Before WWF/E: ECW World Champion from March 24 1994 to April 15 1995
WWF/E Highlights: made an ass of himself with the cheesy "Dean" Douglas teacher gimmick; was originally scheduled to win the IC Title, but was deemed unready at the last second; figured out that he'd not be getting a fair shake from the WWF, departed after less than six months
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-1
The score could be much lower, but the fact is that as horrendous as "Dean" Douglas was, and as telling as the handling of the character was (complete with Vince/the Clique making sure that Douglas would not win the IC Title when he'd originally been scheduled to do so), Douglas' WWF run in the mid-90s was so brief that you'd be hard-pressed to find anybody who remembers it or cares about it. Damage was done, yes, but truthfully, not enough that Douglas wasn't able to recover inside of a year (with a return to ECW, and eventually with a mildly successful run in WCW).

Before WWF/E: 2-time WCW Champion between September 29 1995 and August 10 1996
WWF/E Highlights: 2-time WWF/E Champion (first in 1999, mostly as a transitional/stop-gap measure to cover for the loss of Steve Austin due to injury; and again in 2002-2003 entirely on his own merits) and current "ECW" Champ; despite rocky stretches with the company (where he's even spent stretches demoted to the developmental territories to work on his conditioning and his attitude), Show has mostly been a bankable top-of-the-card performer, who has contributed his fair share of memorable moments over the years (be they due to his largely-untapped personality/sense-of-humor, or in the ring, such as when he and Brock Lesnar broke the ring on SD!)
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: plus-2
It's hard to argue with the way "The Giant" was handled by WCW back in the mid- to late-90s. Although green as hell, he was pushed hard and fast out of the gate, and won WCW Titles, was integral to the long-spanning nWo storyline, and was never far from main events. He was, frankly, one of only two "homegrown" stars under the age of 30 on the WCW roster in 1999, and seemed like a guy who could write his own ticket. Reportedly on the advice of Hulk Hogan (still under contract to WCW at the time), the Giant wrote his ticket for the WWF, where he quickly became The Big Show. After a fast start, injuries and attitude issues did hamper Show's progress, but since 2002, Show's been an absolutely vital part of WWE's upper card roster.

Before WWF/E: 2-time ECW Champion between January 27 1996 and April 13 1997
WWF/E Highlights: none, really; limited mostly to the Hardcore division, and briefly formed a moderately-successful tag team with Tazz in 2001; dropped storylines (who *was* Raven's voluptuous ninja, anyway?) and under-utilization were the cornerstones of Raven's WWF/E run, as he was rarely featured in key matches, won them even more rarely, and never really got to play to his strengths (promos and character-building)
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-2
One could argue that only Paul Heyman "knows how to book Raven," and that's why Raven failed as a WWF/E character. Sadly, this is demonstrably wrong, as Scotty Levy also knows how to book Raven, and his input led to Raven being one of the under-appreciated mid-card staples of WCW Nitro's hottest phase, when he and DDP (and sometimes, Kanyon) would tear it up week in and week out. Raven was born in ECW, and perhaps is the kind of character who *is* at his best the edgier he can be.... but WCW's success with Raven speaks volumes about the reasons behind WWF's failure with Raven. It wasn't a lack of talent or creativity on Raven's end.... it was all in the presentation. And WWF's presentation of a 2-time ECW World Champion (and a WCW US Champ) left Raven essentially a Heat-caliber jobber by the time he exited the company

Before WWF/E: WCW Champion from July 6 1998 to December 27 1998
WWF/E Highlights: although he did eventually hold WWE's newly revived "World Heavyweight Title," Goldberg's WWE career was mostly downhill following a red hot start against The Rock; Goldberg banged RAW's highest rating of 2003 for his free-TV wrestling debut, and then almost instantly cooled off; there was no "Streak" as there was in WCW, and little in the way of focused storytelling for Goldberg (as RAW was mired in the middle of the HHH/Kane awfulness of 2003 even as they were also trying to present Goldberg as the newest challenger to the World Title); perhaps Goldberg's most memorable WWE moment came at WrestleMania 20, when Goldberg faced Brock Lesnar, and both men were booed out of the building for their half-assed efforts in what was to be the final match for both of them with the company
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-5
WCW did enough to spoil the legacy of Goldberg on their own, with their handling of him in the final 2 years of the company... but WWE made sure that the memories of Goldberg's Glory Days grew even fainter with their handling of him; up until WM20, Goldberg's WWE run would have been inept and forgettable; but with WM20 as his final legacy to the wrestling world, you deduct at least an extra point or two from that VKMLM; thanks to VKM, Goldberg's NEW legacy was cemented in 2004... a legacy of a one-hit wonder whose glory days were clearly 6 years past 

Before WWF/E: ECW World Champion from January 10 1999 to September 19 1999
WWF/E Highlights: Tazz ended Kurt Angle's undefeated streak in his WWF debut match; as a contracted WWF wrestler, Tazz added another ECW World Title to his resume in 2000; but after that, only a couple of brief tag team runs (one with Raven, and one with Spike Dudley) kept Tazz from curtain jerking duties... after quietly hanging up the boots (due mostly to injury concerns), Tazz dedicated himself full-time to announcing and has spent the last 4 years as the undisputed best color commentator in the business
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: 0
On the surface, Tazz and Jerry Lawler might seem like mirror images of each other.... but not quite. To be honest, Tazz's pre-WWF/E legacy probably doesn't quite match up to what Lawler had accomplished. But by the same token, once in WWF/E, Tazz was treated reasonably well for a while (including that big win over Kurt Angle), and was never really buried in terms of his in-ring credibility (even if he was also never given a true push after his first six months). The fact that Tazz has established himself as an outstanding commentator has also introduced him to a whole new group of fans who might not know his work as a wrestler (and unlike Lawler, Tazz doesn't embarrass himself on a near-weekly basis by acting like a teenage buffoon).

Before WWF/E: 3-time WCW World Champion between April 11 1999 and April 20 2000
WWF/E Highlights: stalked Undertaker's wife; was pinned on TV by Undertaker's wife; won the "WCW" Tag Titles with Kanyon during the phase when "WCW" titles were being defended on WWF TV; briefly held the WWF Euro Title at a time when the Euro Title was about the 9th most important title on WWF TV
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-7
Very few of WCW stars were truly "homegrown," but Page was one of them (at least, from a wrestling perspective, even though he'd done commentating/managing for other smaller companies)... perhaps that "Homegrown by WCW" status is what inspired VKM to execute one of his most brutal and thorough legacy assassinations on Page? How DARE a creation of that assclown Eric Bischoff come into VKM's company and succeed?!? From the awful and emasculating introductory angle with Undertaker and his wife, through a pointless tag team phase (holding titles that by that point everybody knew were meaningless), and finally into a babyface/inspirational-speaker character that never really clicked, Page's 18-month WWF/E run was an abysmal flop that ended with him winning a grand total of zero important matches after being one of the most vital cogs in the WCW machine for over 3 years

Before WWF/E: 2-time ECW World Champ between September 19 1999 and April 13 2000
WWF/E Highlights: none, really; Awesome was only with the company for less than a month following the WCW take-over (and very briefly held the Hardcore Title)
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: 0
Not enough of a sample size to lay any credit or blame at VKM's feet; frankly, the Legacy Damage was done by Awesome himself (by being a manwhore who sold out ECW) and by Vince Russo and Co. (who put Awesome though gimmicks such as "The Fat Chick Thriller" and "That 70s Guy")

Before WWF/E: ECW World Champ for 20 minutes on April 20 2000
WWF/E Highlights: debuted during the inVasion; had some mild success in the Hardcore division; but in so far as anybody remembers Dreamer's WWF/E run, it's for his "Jackass"/"Fear Factor" phase when he'd do any gross thing asked of him (like drink Undertaker's tobacco spit)
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-2
Truthfully, Dreamer's act probably doesn't play outside of ECW where he can Innovate Violence... and once WWE started scaling back on in-ring action and violence, that was pretty much the end of any chance Tommy had to showcase his best material; we could have understood those underlying factors and let this one go with a VKMLM of minus-1 or possibly even a total wash at 0, but Tommy had to go and make his lasting WWE memory be a 3 month period when he was nothing but comic relief; d'oh

Before WWF/E: ECW World Champion from April 21 2000 to October 10 2000
WWF/E Highlights: none; debuted around the time of the inVasion angle, and joined in once the ECW element was added; once the inVasion was over, transitioned quite smoothly into the role of jobber and sometimes tag team partner
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: 0
Justin Credible had no business being ECW champ, and even ECW fans will agree with that. So it's hard to argue that Justin had that much in the way of a real "legacy" upon returning to the WWF/E... and if the legacy is in this short of supply, then it's hard for VKM to do much to screw it up

Before WWF/E: 4-time WCW World Champ between July 10 2000 and WCW's close of business on March 26 2001
WWF/E Highlights: was a staple of the WCW "inVasion" force in 2001 (Booker's vaunted 5th title win was actually a "WCW" Title win during the phase when "WCW" titles were being defended on WWF TV); was widely thought to be in line for a World Title win in 2003 (as the WM replacement for the woefully inept Scott Steiner), but WWE pulled the plug on that; instead, found himself on the winning end of multiple US Titles, mostly recently in late 2005 against Chris Benoit; won the revived King of the Ring crown and dubbed himself "King Booker" leading up to a World Title win over Rey Mysterio
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: plus-3
It took five years and a lot of speedbumps, but Booker T finally duplicated the success he had in WCW by winning one of WWE's World Titles; without that title win, there's still enough of a solid track record that Booker would have gotten a 0 or a plus-1, but with the title, Booker becomes only the fourth man to come to WWF/E after winning his first world title elsewhere and be granted a run with the Fed's top gold; cynics out there have already commented that it's VERY telling that "Booker T" didn't win the World Title, however.... the VKM Creation "King Booker" did.... hmmmm....

Before WWF/E: ECW World Champion from October 5 2000 to November 12 2000
WWF/E Highlights: won the WWF Lightheavyweight Title in his WWF return/debut; lost it less than 2 months later; quietly faded away and was released by WWF/E
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-1
Lynn was easily the best of ECW's champions once they entered Panic Mode in 2000 (then again, when your competition is Justin Credible and Steve Corino, that's not saying much), and even without the ECW Title, had a bit of a legacy as one of the true cruiserweight pioneers dating back to 1990 and the GWF's ESPN TV show... even if Lynn was never going to come close to being a top level star for WWF/E, there's no excuse for why they couldn't have turned him into a mid-card staple of the LHW/CW division; instead, the guy is with the company for less than six months before getting out of dodge

Before WWF/E: WCW World Champ from November 26 2000 to March 26, 2001
WWF/E Highlights: provided one half of one of the worst PPV Title matches in history, as he single-handedly stunk up the joint versus Triple H at the 2003 Royal Rumble; as a result of that (and subsequent) performances, Steiner's standing with fans crumbled, and Steiner's planned headline spot at WM19 turned into Steiner watching the PPV from the sidelines with no match at all; futzed around on the mid-card, spent some time as a borderline misogynist and also as a tag team partner of Test before both he and WWE decided it wasn't worth him sticking around
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-2
Like Luger, I'm giving a fairly forgiving VKMLM score because there's blame to share, and Steiner himself is as responsible for what happened to him during his WWE run as anybody; but as with Luger, you can't completely give Vince a pass on this, as it is supposed to be the promoter's job to recognize weaknesses, hide them, and present strengths... instead of trying to do that, Vince decided the WCW Creation wasn't worth his time, and shuffled Steiner down to the mid-card where he wouldn't offend as many people; that's gotta be good for 2 minus points, especially considering TNA has found some way of using smoke and mirrors to get their fans tolerating Steiner, even now that he's another 3-years older and more broken down

Before WWF/E: Final Recognized ECW World Champion beginning on January 7 2001
WWF/E Highlights: none, really; debuted just prior to the inVasion and won the "WCW" US Title during that phase when "WCW" Titles were being defended on WWF TV; his remarkable early success in the WWF was torpedoed in late 2001 when Rhino found out he had a broken neck; surgery kept him out of action until early 2003, at which point he had a successful tag run with Chris Benoit before pretty much fading into the background; a tag team with Tajiri seemed perpetually promising, but writers rarely utilized them to their fullest potential; the team dissolved, and Rhino became essentially a jobber on RAW as 2005 started, leading to frustration and an incident that resulted in Rhino's termination from WWE
VKM Legacy Multiplier and Analysis: minus-3
Rhino has WWE size and look, but never really got a WWE push once he returned from neck surgery; it's quite possible that the only tangibly positive thing to come out of his 4-year WWE run was Paul Heyman's creation of the "GORE, GORE, GORE" signature call of Rhino's finisher (which is still in use by TNA announcers today)... the fact that Rhino (no matter how low on the card) would also pop the crowd and get a substantial reaction is additional proof that fans recognized his legacy, even if VKM was going out of his way to erase it

[Note: many will wonder why Chris Benoit is not on this list. After doing additional research, I've discovered that both original anecdotal evidence from the night after Benoit "won" the WCW Title and the current canonical WWE.com bio of Benoit reveal that Benoit is NOT recognized as a former WCW Champ, and that the result of that match was thrown out. It was *not* a case of Benoit winning the title, and then being later stripped.... it was a case of Benoit's win being nullified entirely.]

The Final Tally 

Number of Established Champions Who Gained by Coming to VKM's WWF/E: 5

Number of Established Champions Who Neither Gained nor Lost by Coming to VKM's WWF/E: 4

Number of Established Champions Who Lost by Coming to VKM's WWF/E: 18

Net VKM Legacy Multiplier For Incoming Champions (January 1985 to present): minus-33

There you have it: not exactly a pretty picture.... you can be recognized as the best in your own corner of the wrestling world, but if you decide to ply your trade, there's a less-than-20% chance that you'll succeed on the WWF/E stage. And a 67% chance that you'll flop in such a way that you'll come out of the experience worse for wear.

With 21 years of data and anecdotal evidence, it's hard to chalk such numbers up to chance. For established stars to come into WWF/E and fail with such regularity (and in some cases, to fail so spectacularly) requires an underlying root cause for my rational mind to be satisfied.

And looking at the big picture, it sure does seem that that root cause is Vincent Kennedy McMahon, who seems to have consciously set out to break as many stars as he's made over the past 2 decades. From his early use of highly decorated champions as nothing more than fodder for Hulk Hogan to his likely-persona vendetta against Dusty Rhodes, I don't think there's anything accidental about the way that outside champions have tended to fail in WWF/E.

Congrats to Ric Flair for somehow managing to dodge that bullet, and become the most successful outside creation during the VKM Era (and secondary tips of the cap to Booker T and Curt Hennig were are pretty much the only other substantial beneficiaries on this list of 27 men; although I remind you that it's ironic that in BOTH their cases, their success only came after Vince re-invented them as "Mr. Perfect" and "King Booker," respectively, which I think speaks volumes about where the man's mind is at). And sorry 'bout yer damned luck to guys like Ricky Steamboat and Dallas Page, who were victims of what almost HAD to be purposeful legacy assassinations by Vince McMahon (otherwise, their last runs in WWF/E simply don't make any sense whatsoever).

I didn't set out to erase Vincent Kennedy McMahon's claim to being a Star Maker; his accomplishments on that front speak for themselves. But I'm pretty sure I've uncovered the other side of that same coin, one which is dirty, since it's always hidden, face-down in the muck, so nobody'll see it or speak of it. Without even counting Vince petty and insecure handling of WCW in 2001 (what VKMLM would we apply to THAT brainfart? Minus-50? Minus-100?), the more-manageable bite-sized stories of 27 established World Champions who decided to try their hand with WWF/E go a long way to proving that Vince is equally deserving of the title "Star Breaker."

I'm curious to see what you folks think, and how you synthesize Vince's two natures in your own minds... is one stronger (or more important) than the other? Have I been fair in my VKMLM scores? Is there any data I've missed including here? Feel free to fire away with e-mail about this or any other issue, as I think this is something we can discuss back and forth a few times before arriving at some final agreement on the issue.

That's all for me today, kids.... enjoy your weekends, and see you Monday.

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Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.