WWE Executive Director Bruce Prichard has recalled Vince McMahon wanting The Rock to wrestle a live bear in the middle of Wall Street.
WWE officially began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in October 2000 and, to mark the ocassion, Vince McMahon wanted to do something huge. His plan was to put a wrestling ring in the heart of New York’s financial district and host a series of matches.
While Wall Street is used to talk of talk bull and bear markets, it would have been a shock if Vince McMahon stuck to his original plan of having ‘The Brahma Bull’ clash with a literal bear.
On a recent edition of his ‘Something to Wrestle’ podcast, Bruce Prichard explained how the idea came about.
“The ring on Wall Street is when we moved from NASDAQ to the New York Stock Exchange. Vince came into my office on a Thursday, and I believe that it was going to be a Tuesday or a Wednesday that we were going to go and be on the New York Stock Exchange, to ring the bell on the stock exchange, and Vince wanted to put a ring in the middle of Wall Street. Shut Wall Street down and put a ring there and have matches at noon. Huge spectacle, we’re gonna go live on WWF.com.”
“So it’s like, okay, cool. I thought he was just kind of like telling me this. So that I knew that, ‘Okay, we need to put together a show, we need to come up with something.’ But what he was telling me was, ‘Hey, I want to do this, get it done. As he’s trailing off he goes, ‘…and I want a bear! I want The Rock to wrestle a bear. ‘The Brahma Bull’ versus the bear. The honest to God living wrestling bear, which used to be an attraction back in the day.”
Even without involving a bear, getting Wall Street shut down would be a near-impossible task for any company. However, as luck would have it, another event that day already solved half the problem.
“So I’m scratching my head. I called someone in their office that dealt with that type of logistics, and how do you get a street shut down in New York, and so on and so forth? the answer I got was that ‘Wall Street had never been shut down like that in the history of Wall Street, you can’t shut Wall Street down. Doesn’t happen.’”
“Well, ‘Vince wants to put a ring up. Vince wants to have this event when we go to the stock exchange.’ Ah, ‘Bruce, that can’t be done.’ Well, ‘It’s not about if it can be done, it’s what do we have to do to get it done,’ and we got it done.”
“We pulled a lot of strings and were able to get —the stars lined up. Clinton was the president at the time, and Clinton was actually speaking in a hotel three blocks from the stock exchange. So there were already roadblocks in place, and a great deal of security already.”
“So while you would think that would be a hindrance, I think that kind of helped us in that they were probably going to block off that area anyway. So we got the other end of it blocked off because it only made sense. A lot of things fell into place. Very, very fortunate. But it was by the hair of our chinny chin chin, and it was there — ‘No’ was not an acceptable answer.”
Prichard went on to discuss how Vince McMahon’s dream of seeing The Rock vs. a bear was nixed, mainly because the animal would overshadow any news coverage of the event.
“The bear, thank God, was reconsidered on several fronts because, first of all, you had the animal rights activists that would probably not look kindly on a wrestling bear. Even though the human rights activists are the ones that probably should have been alarmed. Because trust me, the bear always goes over…”
“So anyway, as we’re getting closer to this. The idea becomes, ‘Well, do you really want a bear hanging around on the New York Stock Exchange the day that your stock goes public?’ Well, ‘The bear was out today on the New York Stock Exchange.’ No, you don’t want that. You want ‘The Brahma Bull.’ You know, it’s a bullish market and not a bear market, for God’s sakes. So we had ‘The Brahma Bull’ and we didn’t have any bears hanging around there. So it was interesting, but we were able to get it done.”
H/T to Fightful for the above transcription.