Before he was a trash-talking presidential candidate, Donald Trump was a trash-talking World Wrestling Entertainment character called Donald Trump.
Trump’s appearances on “Monday Night Raw” and “WrestleMania” in 2007 were scripted, of course, but his professional wrestling character was remarkably in keeping with his actual persona, at least the one he has shown on the campaign trail. He was brash, belittling and comfortable stirring up crowds of rowdy supporters.
Trump played a “babyface,” or good guy, in his “Battle of the Billionaires” story line in 2007 against Vince McMahon, WWE’s real-life chief executive and a long-running WWE “heel,” or villain. (The two men have been friends since the 1980s, when WWE began staging events at Trump’s convention hotels.) Trump won over WWE’s audience by showering an arena with banknotes (some of it real, apparently) and by briefly “buying” the WWE series “Monday Night Raw” from McMahon and airing an episode of the program without commercials.
Silliness, yes. But here are six ways Trump’s wrestling career presaged his political career:
1. Trump vowed to take pro wrestling “back” from the evil McMahon, just as he’s vowed to take the United States “back” from … well, whoever has it now. (Scroll to 2:45 mark.)
2. Boasting comes naturally to Trump: “I’m taller than you,” Trump says to McMahon. “I’m better-looking than you. I think I’m stronger than you. And I’m here to challenge you to a match in WrestleMania.” McMahon declines because of injuries and suggests that they find other wrestlers to represent them.
3. When that match nears, notice the way Trump insults and threatens his opponents: “You better hold your guy back, Vince, because he’s gonna have a hard time [at WrestleMania],” Trump said in a “Raw” episode leading up to “WrestleMania,” in which proxies for Trump and McMahon were to wrestle, with the loser getting his head shaved. “He’s gonna have the hardest time he’s ever had in the ring.”
4. Then and now, Trump is obsessed with polls. “I don’t know if you’ve seen the latest poll,” Trump said in that “Raw” episode. “I saw the other night — John Travolta, he prefers Trump. I see others prefer Trump. The poll shows 95 percent of the Hollywood celebrities want your head shaved. And we’re gonna do it, Vince.” (Scroll to 10:20 mark.)
5. Trump is at home in front of an arena full of catcalling fans, as he was when he sells “Monday Night Raw” back to McMahon.
6. Trump doesn’t mind taking the low road. At the end of “Wrestlemania,” Trump clotheslines McMahon, jumps on his prone body and beats him repeatedly about the head. Supply your own campaign metaphor here.