In 2001, Vince McMahon joined Bob Costas for an interview on Costas' HBO show "On The Record" about wrestling and the XFL. The interview became heated as Costas seemed to criticize McMahon and the WWF for its content, which McMahon didn't take kindly to. Costas believes he was sticking to his journalistic morals and asking McMahon tougher questions than perhaps McMahon was used to.
McMahon started to lean in towards Costas, who stood his ground as the show rolled on. Eventually, things ended with an incident.
Speaking to Alex Feuz on The Whole Story, Costas recalled the infamous interview.
"I knew it was good television. It was live. It's HBO, so there are no commercials. It went on for half an hour and much of that was unremitting tension. I know it's good TV. I'm trying to stay with a line of questioning that has journalistic merit. I wasn't trying to stir it up beyond what it already was. I wasn't expecting him to react that way, but when he did, the idea is to keep your composure, keep your wits about you. I didn't think, as some people did, that I was in any kind of real physical peril, but I knew he was trying to intimidate me, but with body language and with the words that were coming back at me. When he came forward in his seat and started jabbing a finger toward me, I actually came forward closer to him and smiled at him little bit and I think that at him off all the more. Prior to that time, I don't know if he has never been interviewed in a serious way, he probably had, but 99% of the interviews he had done were staged. I wasn't the only one who received that treatment."
He continued, "Armen Keteyian, a very good reporter who has work as CBS and HBO, he was interviewing McMahon some years ago and asking similarly challenging questions. And Vince got mad and slapped Arem's notes out of his hand. This is not unprecedented for Vince McMahon. There are some people, I guess wrestling fans, who think that the winner of an exchange is whoever yelled the loudest or whoever seemed as if they could win a back alley fight. Sure, Vince McMahon could have crushed me like a grape if he wanted to, but by that line of reasoning, as he himself has said, 'It would have been interesting if Bob was closer to my size.' Do you see how preposterous this position is? This is a conversation and if the merits of the questions and answers are to be determined by who can win an arm wrestling match or a back alley fight, then eventually, Vince McMahon or anybody else would run up to somebody bigger and would that decide the merits of the points they're trying to make? I'm very content with what happened on that night in 2001. I hope, so he can sleep well, Vince is too."
Costas admitted to being a wrestling fan during the interview with Feuz, but didn't like what wrestling had become over the years.
"I grew up as a wrestling fan and that goes to the early 1960s and it was a broad farce, good-natured, cartoonish type characters. And we know what it became. The women became not damsels in distress but objectified in a way that only the most desensitized dope would find appealing. Then there were other aspects of it and obviously it was saturated with steroids and least common denominator vulgarity. There's a difference between pushing the boundaries with wit and intelligence, and banging two garbage cans together and calling it entertainment," he said.
Much of Costas' criticisms during the interview had to do with how wrestling had been portrayed during the Attitude Era, which as Costas mentioned, was a stark contrast from the wrestling he grew up on.
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