Mr. McMahon's kayfabe funeral (lost unaired segments of scrapped WWE storyline; 2007)
On the 11th June 2007 edition of WWE Raw, the Chairman of the WWE, Mr. McMahon, was blown up as he entered his limo at the end of the show. The 25th June 2007 Raw was to be based around his kayfabe funeral, with several backstage segments being filmed for the show. However, the segments never aired because the storyline was abruptly cancelled following the Chris Benoit double-murder and suicide.
Fresh off losing the ECW World Heavyweight Championship to Bobby Lashley at One Night Stand, the 11th June 2007 edition of WWE Raw became the "Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night", as ordered by McMahon himself. Aside from featuring the WWE Draft, the show saw numerous individuals from McMahon's past expressing their "appreciation" of him. In actuality, the segments saw many of them humiliate McMahon, ranging from Stone Cold Steve Austin belittling the Chairman to Donald Trump giving away some of McMahon's money to the crowd. At the end of the show, McMahon calmly entered his limo. Suddenly, the limo exploded, leaving the show on an abrupt cliff-hanger ending. Some viewers, including Trump, genuinely believed McMahon had been killed in the explosion. This actually caused WWE's stock price to fall, forcing the company to clarify that only the character Mr. McMahon was kayfabe killed off, and that the real Vince McMahon was still alive.
After the 18th June Raw, which featured the start of the investigation over who blew up the limo, it was announced that the next week's edition would feature a three-hour tribute to McMahon, with a key focus on his funeral and the surrounding investigation. All three brands were expected to appear on the show. According to Theodore Long and then-WWE creative team member Chris "Big Dick Johnson" DeJoseph, several backstage segments were filmed for the live show at Corpus Christi. DeJoseph recalled appearing in three funeral segments, one of which featured him and Michael Hayes sobbing at the death of McMahon. A few other details of the original show emerged; in a whodunit segment, Linda McMahon, was to have been arrested on suspicion of murdering her husband. Additionally, the Raw set was appropriately ready for a funeral, as a casket and hearse, as well as flowers, wreaths, candles, photos of McMahon, and a choir, were all to feature in the arena. Ted DiBiase also featured in some segments to counsel some of the grieving individuals.
The McMahon family were all to appear on-screen, including Vince's lesser-known older brother Rod, who never had featured on WWE programming. Following this, the storyline would see Mr. Kennedy be declared as McMahon's illegitimate son and inherit the company, becoming corrupt with power. After winning the WWE Championship, he would finish the feud at Wrestlemania 24, either defending the WWE Championship against Triple H, or battling Shane McMahon for control of the company.
Alas, the storyline ended abruptly under real-life tragic circumstances. As the funeral segments were being filmed, increasing concern emerged over the wellbeing of Chris Benoit, who no-showed the 24th June Vengeance: Night of Champions pay-per-view where he was scheduled to face CM Punk for the vacant ECW World Championship. Acting on a welfare check, police discovered the bodies of Chris, his wife Nancy, and his 7-year-old son Daniel at their home in Fayetteville, Georgia. After being notified at around 4:15 pm, WWE immediately cancelled plans for McMahon's kayfabe funeral and instead created a three-hour Chris Benoit tribute show with Vince hosting the broadcast. Eulogies were still being written by the time the show was considerably altered.
As the Benoit tribute aired, more details emerged: between 22nd to 24th June, Chris had murdered his wife and son via asphyxiation before hanging himself. An investigation suggested CTE and steroid usage may have contributed towards Benoit's actions. WWE immediately went into damage control mode, erasing most of Benoit's history with the company and distancing themselves from the tragedy. Considering the real-life circumstances, WWE mostly altered the McMahon saga, with him coming out on the 6th August edition of Raw to admit he faked the whole incident to see if anyone missed him. While the illegitimate son angle continued, it featured Hornswoggle as McMahon's "child" instead of Mr. Kennedy. as the latter along with several other wrestlers were suspended following an investigation into extensive and systematic steroid usage brought about by the Benoit tragedy.
DeJoseph's comments and other sources confirm that segments and eulogies were being produced, though the sudden announcement of the Benoit tragedy meant some work went unfinished. It is extremely unlikely that any unseen recordings and other materials will be publicly released by WWE, as the scrapped storyline is now permanently linked to the Benoit case.
- Online World of Wrestling summarising the appearances of Mr. McMahon. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- KB Wrestling Reviews reviewing the 11th June 2007 edition of Raw and summarising the start of the storyline. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- Atletifo detailing the scrapped funeral storyline. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- The Sports Rush reporting on Trump allegedly believing Vince had genuinely died in the limo explosion. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- KB Wrestling Reviews reviewing the 18th June 2007 Raw and noting the 25th June Raw would feature a three-hour McMahon tribute. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- SE Scoops reporting on Long's comments surrounding the scraped storyline and segments. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- Online World of Wrestling reporting on DeJoseph's comments surrounding the unaired funeral segments. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- Wrestling Inc reporting on notes surrounding the original 25th June edition of Raw. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- The Sportster summarising the illegitimate son angle. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- E Wrestling News summarising the Benoit double-murder suicide timeline. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- All That's Interesting documenting the Benoit double-murder suicide. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- Bleacher Report detailing WWE distancing themselves from Benoit. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- 411 Mania reporting on Mr. Kennedy discussing potentially being McMahon's kayfabe illegitimate son. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- Wrestling Inc reporting on various wrestlers being suspended during an investigation of steroid usage, including Mr. Kennedy. Retrieved 12th Apr '23