Everyone and their dog appears to be knee-deep in HBO’s critically acclaimed drama: Succession.
The hit show is centered on a ruthless media mogul resisting retirement as his spoilt, vulture-like family jockey for position around him. Sound familiar? I’m about halfway through season two of the show, and the more I fall into the rabbit hole of the story the easier I find it to draw comparisons with the McMahon family of professional wrestling.
Ok, I know the show is not based on the McMahon family, the ultra-powerful Murdoch family is the actual inspiration for the series. That said, it’s hard not to assume that creators Adam McKay and Jesse Armstrong are massive wrestling fans who have leaned on the character traits of Vince McMahon and his power-hungry family for some small influence on their show. Maybe I’m reaching and maybe I am just seeing what I want to see, but I couldn’t help but see the McMahon family ingrained in the souls of the main players of this slick saga from the first episode.
Firstly, there are no protagonists within the Roy Family. They are bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling, just like the McMahons. The Roy family have it all yet thanks to their own success, everything they touch is tainted and rotten and they all are broken to the core in their own individual way. None of them are sympathetic, no matter how much they want to be perceived as such, and none of them have anything that resembles a conscience, as they ruthlessly destroy the lives of the little people in their world. Just like Vince’s company, there are no babyface heroes in this story. However, unlike Vince’s company, Succession works better without them.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched Succession that Brian Cox’s character, the cutthroat head of the family Logan Roy, is basically Vince McMahon with a goatee. Logan Roy has appeared to slay the demons of business that are family, friendship and religion and he truly only cares about success, petty vendettas and needlessly increasing his own wealth. If that doesn’t describe Vince McMahon in a nutshell, I’m open to contraction.
Logan Roy is a frail elderly man to a point who shows no signs of loosening his grip on his self-made empire, just like Vince. In the 16 episodes I’ve watched thus far, Logan has demonstrated a cold blooded demeanor in terms of his business strategy, caring only about the bottom line rather than the wellbeing of those around him whether family, employees or consumers. He also doesn’t suffer fools gladly as he is easily irritated by what he perceives to be weakness while also has surrounded himself with shameless yes men who rarely tell him their honest opinion.
Again, this is Vince, right?
Logan also likes to humiliate people for his own amusement and after watching the “Boar on the floor” scene it’s hard not to draw comparisons with the infamous “Vince McMahon – Kiss My Ass Club”. In this scene Logan Roy makes his family and business degrade themselves for his own vengeful giggles by playing a demented game in order to potentially out a mole in his inner circle. The rules of the game are simple: you pick your emotionally weakest dinner guests, and force them to them crawl around on the ground making pig noises while you throw sausages at them and chant: “Boar on the floor”. It’s got “Vince McMahon power move” written all over it and if Vince ever watches the show, expect to see a WWE spin on the game on an upcoming Monday Night RAW as Ricochet and Otis, or perhaps even Michael Cole, lower themselves for either a title shot or to keep their job.
The story with Logan Roy is that he doesn’t trust anyone to run his company, something that is fair to assume that Vince has in common with the fictional billionaire. He looks at his family and sees them all as inferior to himself despite his declining health. I can’t see anyone running the WWE ship that’s not Vince until the old man kicks the bucket.
But the comparisons don’t stop there. Logan’s family and inner circle all have shades of the McMahon siblings and those close to Vinnie Mac. While none of the following comparisons come close to matching fully with any one character, many major players in this show have qualities and attributes similar with those closest to the WWE head honcho.
Marcy Roy is the quiet, yet dignified wife of Logan Roy and you can see some similarities with Marcy and Linda McMahon. Marcy isn’t as fond of the spotlight, and carries herself with some more dignity than the rest of her family, a low bar I know. Yet, underneath the timid exterior lies a plotting, intelligent beast waiting to pounce.
Siobhan “Shiv” Roy, wonderfully played by Sarah Snook, could easily draw a resemblance to one Stephanie McMahon. A hunger for power, a low moral compass and a soulless killer instinct are traits ever present in Logan Roy’s only female offspring. She also yearns for her father’s affection while also appearing to be the most capable candidate to succeed her father when he steps aside.
If you look at Logan’s eldest son Connor, there is more than a tad of Shane McMahon in him. He has delusions of grandeur and while being Logan’s firstborn, he clearly hasn’t the chops to run the company when the time comes. Like Shiv, Connor has this desire to try to please his uncaring father, except Connor tries to win his father over with thoughtful yet idiotic gifts. Unlike his old sister, Connor is a moron deep down and is basically a pariah because of it.
Connor and Shane are very alike just different. Connor bakes his daddy and an awkward loaf of bread for his affection, while Shane throws himself off a steel cage like a toddler in a swimming pool screaming “watch me dive.” Connor and Shane are fond of half-baked ideas too. Connor dreams big, trying to run for president of the USA despite being way out of his depth, while Shane aims smaller seeking to turn 1 hour of Raw like a shameless UFC rip-off mixed with a Tuesday day shift at a strip club and label it “RAW UNDERGROUND”.
Same energy. Hell, they even kind of look similar since Shane went grey. That being said, maybe Connor’s presidential run is more like Linda McMahons senate run more than anything else.
Now let’s get to the Triple H analogy shall we. Old Hunter actually reminds me of a selection of characters throughout the show.
First, there is Kendall Roy. Kendall fancies himself as the real successor and has been playing with other parts of the company as a warm-up to the big job, similar to how “The Game” has been playing booker in NXT. Logan, just like Vince I suppose, feels Kendall just can’t cut the mustard when at the big table and has very little faith in him when the series begins. Kendall wants to be the man running the show yet and he really isn’t capable, nor does he possess the trust of Logan Roy.
But we also have Shiv’s husband Tom, which perhaps fits Hunter more. Yes, he’s the son-in-law and yes, he is doing his damnedest to suck up to his boss/father-in-law. Tom does his best to maneuver himself to as high as position as possible within the company despite starting at the bottom and marrying into the family. Tom being a bastard to those below him and uses everyone for his own gain. Yet when it comes down to it, Tom craves approval from Logan and will do anything to earn the chance to succeed him despite not being blood related.
However, Hunter also has some traits similar to another character: Logan’s youngest son Roman.
Roman Roy, a standout character in the show played by Kieran Culkin, is the smart mouth, overly privileged piss runt of the family. He is a self-absorbed, weasel-like character who pisses everyone off around him for his own spoilt enjoyment. He is not talented, not in the slightest and has zero remorse for being the immature dipshit that he is.
Maybe Triple H is a nice blend of both Tom, Kendall and Roman. A cunt cocktail if you will.
But I enjoy Roman’s character way too much to liken him with Mister Stephanie McMahon. You see, while Roman is an arrogant, pig-headed and disruptive asshole, you can’t help but like the guy to a degree. He’s charming and witty, but still a major piece of shit at the end of the day. You simultaneously despise the character yet find yourself thoroughly entertained by his juvenile banter in a similar vein to 1997’s HBK rather than Triple H’s 1998 try-hard tribute act.
Speaking of Triple H, he like Tom has his henchmen. Greg could easily be the William Regal of Succession, as he goes about being a well-paid gopher for the Roy Family. Now I don’t think Regal has covered up any sex scandals for the McMahon family, then again there is has been the odd allegation of sexual misconduct in NXT over the past year, so who knows.
You could easily throw Johnny Ace and Brother Love comparisons at the characters of Gerri and Frank, as these two characters shovel all the shit for the Roy’s while happily degrading themselves for their boss’s pleasure. I also think it’s far from an unrealistic possibility that Kevin Dunn has spent a night or two belittling one of the McMahon siblings while they pleasure themselves, just like Gerri did for young Roman Roy. I’ve gone too far haven’t I?
But isn’t not just the characters that bare similarities with WWE, it’s the situations too. You can just imagine Vince screaming “THAT’S FUCKING RIGHT PAL” after lowballing AOL Time Warner when they bought WCW or chucking sausages
But no such situation speaks to me more than the recent NXT rebrand.
In what seems like an extremely short timeframe, NXT has gone from the super-indie vanity project of Triple H that could do no wrong to being gutted and scrapped in an instant. NXT was Triple H’s baby and he built a brand that was at one time beloved by a section of WWE’s fan base. But while the brand was successful in some metrics, it ultimately began to fail in others. Yes it sold out arenas across America and yes these shows did receive widespread acclaim, but it did get humiliated when going toe to toe with Tony Khan’s AEW and eventually it was determined to be not fit for purpose by top dog Vince McMahon. Vince has now gutted it.
Now this real life situation is just so similar to the Vaulter side story within the HBO hit show, which was bought and built up by Logan’s company under the watchful eye of Kendall. The brand then underperformed and soon enough, it had the fat trimmed by Logan Roy. Cue multiple firings, assets sold and the whole entity decimated bar a skeleton staff. It’s damn sure a carbon copy of what has happened to NXT since Triple H was moved aside. I couldn’t help but see this as life imitating art. If only WWE could imitate HBO and make compelling, entertaining television.
As I progress through the show hope for more comparisons between the McMahons and the Roys. Will we get Logan Roy developing a hatred for sneezing? Will we see Shiv Roy stating that philanthropy is the future of marketing? Will we see a plane ride from hell involving the Roy family, with Connor exposing himself to flight attendants while Tom and Kendall wrestle near the emergency exit? A man can wish.
Either way, I thoroughly enjoy the show (Succession, not WWE programming) and I look forward to more McMahon family parallels as the show rolls on. If you haven’t checked it out, I recommend giving it a watch.