The Wrestling World Has A Lot To Say About The Vince McMahon Lawsuit

Following news of the bombshell Janel Grant lawsuit in late January against former TKO Executive Chairman Vince McMahon, former WWE Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis, and WWE itself, accusing them of sexual assault and trafficking during Grant's time with the company, the wrestling world has had to process what it all means about the man with whom so many had at least a working relationship with over the years. In some cases, there was a friendship there as well, and often a measure of respect for a man whose name has been synonymous with professional wrestling for more than 40 years.


All of that good favor is seemingly gone, as former employees have renounced McMahon almost unanimously based on the allegations, which are deplorable to read about and, for those close to the situation, likely sickening to digest. The reactions came from far and wide, ranging from current WWE superstars to former talent, including one of the most popular names in the history of the business, Bret "The Hitman" Hart, who will forever be tied to McMahon thanks in part to various scandals between the two families. Also chiming in was former WCW President Eric Bischoff — who has a unique perspective after famously competing against McMahon and WWE during "the Monday Night Wars," then working under the WWE umbrella for several years following its purchase of WCW in 2001 — and the Garcia Twins (fka Bella Twins in WWE), whose own stepfather,  John Laurinaitis, was implicated in the scandal.


As the lawsuit proceeds and the saga further unfolds, there are sure to be further reactions from all over the wrestling landscape. For now, here is a sampling of those who have spoken out so far.

'Different levels of evil'

Working for WWE in two distinctly different eras, Maria Kanellis-Bennett has plenty of experience with Vince McMahon as a boss. Beginning with the company in 2004, Kanellis-Bennett was part of that year's Diva Search and earned herself a contract, first as a backstage interviewer and then as an active wrestler soon after. Outspoken on many occasions over the years about her WWE stints, and a staunch advocate for women's rights not just in wrestling but overall, Kanellis-Bennett did not mince words following news of McMahon's alleged misdeeds.


"All the news coming out is horrible," she posted to X. "Many of us experienced or heard rumors of different levels of evil for years. Some tried to speak up to build momentum to change the culture in WWE. Many times we've been called bitter or crazy. Others have been paralyzed by fear. I just hope justice is served and I hope this brings some people peace. I pray for all of the victims, the ones that have [spoken] up, the ones no longer with us, and the ones that suffer in silence."

One of those no longer with us, as Kanellis-Bennett cited, is former WWE star Ashley Massaro, who committed suicide in 2019. Kanellis-Bennett was on the WWE tour of Kuwait in 2007 during which Massaro was sexually assaulted by someone representing himself as a United States Army doctor, according to a sworn affidavit released in 2019 following her death. Recently, in the wake of the Janel Grant lawsuit, VICE News released an unpublished statement from Massaro claiming she was punished professionally for rejecting McMahon's sexual advances.


'It was pretty shocking'

Rob Van Dam's relationship with WWE goes back to 1997's ECW invasion storyline, when Jerry "The King" Lawler first dubbed him "Mr. Monday Night." He would then return in 2001 to take part in another invasion angle, following WWE's purchases of WCW and ECW, in what was his longest stint with the company. In total, Van Dam spent parts of nine years working for WWE, as well as sporadic appearances between 2019 and 2023, including a Hall of Fame induction as part of the class of 2021.


Following the recent allegations toward McMahon, Van Dam, who has made four appearances for AEW since August of 2023, spoke up on his "1 of a Kind" podcast.

"From what I saw, it was pretty shocking," Van Dam said. "I can't imagine the Vince McMahon that I know speaking the person that texted those messages," alluding to graphic texts that were shared as part of the lawsuit that Van Dam had trouble believing came from McMahon on account of their tone and syntax.

RVD went on to draw a connection between the McMahon allegations and a classic short story, "The Most Dangerous Game," indicating that this sort of behavior stems from abuse of power.

"It makes me wonder, billionaires that are world leaders, what do they do for fun?" Van Dam asked. "You see these movies where they let people out in the woods and hunt them down and shoot them, like a rich people's game. I make the comparison there, someone that has such a hunger for power that they need to control someone."


'He needs to be gone and done'

Lance Storm competed in WWE from 2001-2004 and has also worked for the company as a trainer when Ohio Valley Wrestling was its primary developmental territory, and as a producer from 2019-2020. Calling the McMahon allegations "disgusting," Storm shared his thoughts with Bryan Alvarez on "Wrestling Observer Radio."


"Look, I was one of the few that said he needed to be gone when the story first broke," Storm said, referring to the Wall Street Journal report in 2022 that revealed payouts made to multiple women who accused McMahon of sexual misconduct. McMahon would eventually force his way back into power and ultimately into the position of TKO Executive Chairman before resigning in January in the wake of the Janel Grant lawsuit.

"I was outspoken against him being allowed back in the office," Storm added. "When he came back, I stopped watching the product."

As Alvarez ran down the list of allegations from Grant, Storm reacted further.

"That's classic sexual predator stuff," he said. "Find someone down on their luck and start grooming them and bending them to your will. This is absolutely, disgustingly horrible and he needs to be gone and done, and I hope there's criminal charges brought if any of this is even remotely true."


Going on to reference "so many NDAs," Storm was pretty convinced that everything insinuated was rooted in truth, adding, "I can't fathom how it isn't."

As for anyone else involved that hasn't been named yet, Storm says they should be permanently shown the door as well. "I think there needs to be a legitimate cleaning of house of anyone who covered anything up [and] who knew about this," he said.

'Shocked and disheartened'

Brie and Nikki Garcia performed in WWE as The Bella Twins on and off between 2007 and 2022, and were inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2020. The twins were a driving force behind the "Give Divas a Chance" movement that many credit as the tipping point in the upswing for women's wrestling in WWE. The duo's stepfather is John Laurinaitis, making the fallout from the McMahon lawsuit hit particularly close to home. Soon after the news broke, they released a joint statement via X.


"We are shocked and disheartened with the recent allegations against members of the WWE," the statement read. "It has been a lot to process since we found out this past week just as you all did. This is something we don't stand for or condone from anyone no matter who they are. We want all women to feel safe and supported in the workplace and in their everyday lives."

While they have had nothing further to say on the matter since the statement, it stands to reason that the Garcias are uniquely mortified by what the lawsuit contains, both as it pertains to a longtime boss in McMahon, and worse yet, their mother's husband in Laurinaitis.

The pair left WWE in 2023, not renewing their contracts in favor of focusing on various outside business interests including "The Nikki & Brie Show" podcast, a memoir, a wine label, multiple apparel lines, and television appearances on shows like "Barmageddon" and "Twin Love," a dating show that the sisters will co-host together.


'Right there with Chris Benoit'

Eric Bischoff worked as an adversary to Vince McMahon during his time as WCW President and later worked for him as an employee, appearing as an on-screen authority figure in the early 2000s and working briefly behind the scenes as executive director of "SmackDown" in 2019. As news of the lawsuit came out, Bischoff reacted harshly and did not mince words when it came to his former rival-turned-ally, calling the very core of the story "evil," while noting that any description of it all doesn't even do it proper justice.


"The name 'McMahon,'" Bischoff opined, "[is] going to be right there with Chris Benoit in the minds of a lot of people. It'll be a name not to be mentioned."

Lost in the comments of many through all of this are overtures of empathy toward those suffering, including the alleged victim, of course, but also others who are going to be forever affected by all of this. Bischoff did not shy away from discussing that element either. After saying that he hopes Janel Grant "finds the right spiritual and mental health guidance," he turned his thoughts toward the McMahon family, Shane, Stephanie, Linda, and several grandchildren.

"These are people that I've met and have worked with, and I'm seeing how they've treated others, and they're having to bear this as well," he said. "There are so many people [with WWE] that are working hard every day and are good family people, honest people that contribute to society and help others. I mean really good people that I know there personally and they're affected by this."


'It's abhorrent'

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth "Freakin'" Rollins is one of the company's most popular performers, and his face has become representative of the brand. That, of course, makes such terrible allegations even more difficult to deal with, but Rollins doesn't hold back in saying that, if true, Vince McMahon deserves everything that's coming to him — and so does anyone else who has been or might eventually be implicated.


Speaking with Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful, Rollins called it "a crap situation" and lamented the fact that it's even happening.

"It sucks. It's horrible. It's disgusting," Rollins said. "I don't like hearing about it or reading about it. It's abhorrent. And I hope that if the allegations are accurate, I hope anybody who's involved with it gets what's coming to them."

Rollins's first comments came via "Maggie and Perloff" on Radio Row ahead of the Super Bowl, where Rollins explained how the performers are largely separated from the office.

"It's awful," he said, "and you feel terrible and you wish you could have seen it or done something. But at the end of the day, your job is your job, and that's what we do. We show up and we try to give the people [who buy] the tickets to come in the best possible show we can."


The realization that McMahon isn't who he thought he was stings for Rollins, who has been with the company since 2010 and recently indicated that, with his contract set to expire in the near future, he'd like to remain in WWE forever. Even so, at present, he seems to still be coming to terms with the reality of this dark cloud now hanging over the company thanks to McMahon.

"For me, it's very difficult because, again, I didn't see that side of him," Rollins said of McMahon to Fightful. "I didn't experience that. And so when you see stuff like that, it's jarring, it's painful, and it sucks all around. There's just no other way to say it. It sucks. It really sucks."

'I'm not worried about Vince's feelings. He's never cared about mine'

In perhaps the most poignant of all the reactions to date, Bret "The Hitman" Hart, whose up-and-down relationship with McMahon dates back 40 years, tore into the man he used to call a father figure in an interview with Slate.


"I'm going to speak my truth," Hart clarified to Slate's Abraham Josephine Riesman. "I'm not worried about Vince's feelings. He's never cared about mine." And in true professional wrestler fashion, Hart cranked his take up several notches from there: "I don't have any problem with everybody kicking his head around the parking lot," he said. "I'm okay with the truth coming out."

Hart had some time to prepare for the groundswell of this lawsuit, stating that others in the business had warned him that McMahon was going to be in major trouble soon enough — but nothing could brace him for some of what the lawsuit contained. 

"When you get that vision in your head," he said of some of the most explicit details, "you go, 'That's messed up.' It's too sick and disgusting to really imagine."


Contrary to the surprise that Rob Van Dam showed toward the text messages contained in the document, Hart put two and two together right away, saying, "They sound like Vince," and he likened the man he knows so well, someone without whom, Hart said, "I wouldn't be the same man I am today," to some of recent history's most deplorable human beings.

"It's like Jeffrey Dahmer, Harvey Weinstein, or Jeffrey Epstein," Hart said. "Vince will be a joke."

As the wrestling world does its best to move forward in as positive a direction as possible after this, Hart has a hard time reconciling how he used to feel toward McMahon versus where his feelings lie now.

"I think, despite all of the issues I ever had with Vince, I know, deep down, I always respected him," Hart said. "But now, knowing what kind of a weirdo he became, I have absolutely zero respect for him."

'It doesn't surprise me, and that bothers me'

Jake "The Snake" Roberts worked for Vince McMahon in WWE for the better part of a decade and has made several cameos over the years leading up to his Hall of Fame induction in 2014. It stands out pretty glaringly, then, that news of the lawsuit and McMahon's alleged behavior within didn't really catch Roberts off guard at all.


"It doesn't surprise me, and that bothers me," Roberts said on his "Snake Pit" podcast. "For me to be able to say, 'That doesn't surprise me,' [it] leaves me thinking, 'Man, this is pretty disgusting s*** you're looking at here, and it doesn't surprise me.'"

McMahon has long been described in certain circles as a domineering force behind the scenes, and rumors of his abuse of power have been persistent all the while, but Roberts takes that to a deeper level when sharing his opinion of his former boss.

"I believe the man is partially insane," Roberts explained. "He's drunk with power. He has been for a long time." Using an example right out of WWE storylines, Roberts cited the "Vince McMahon Kiss My A** Club" as an indicator of what the real-life Vince was like off-camera seeping through in front of the lens.


"Remember when they were doing the 'kiss your a**' thing? That was pretty s****y," Roberts said. "But to see and read [the lawsuit] and not be surprised by it makes me shake my head, man. Just so disgusting."