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Trump’s obsession with WrestleMania and fake drama
A business deal brought Trump and the WWE together. But an enduring love soon developed. By JOSH DAWSEY

It was a made-for-TV storyline: A somber-faced Vince McMahon stepped into the wrestling ring and announced he was selling Monday Night Raw after agonizing deliberations. The crowd went silent as the new owner beamed in via satellite, promising to present the show without commercials, crowing about his intelligence, and even citing President Barack Obama as a reason to take the show in a new direction and “give back.”

“I, Donald Trump, am now the new sole owner of Monday Night Raw,” he said in 2009. “I’m going to do stuff that’s never been done before, that’s never been seen before.”

The fake news came with a fake press release but had real consequences. The stock price of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. sharply dropped — more than 6 percent — and Raw had to quickly issue a mea culpa apologizing to investors. Scott Fried, a longtime wrestling journalist, said investors were skeptical of Trump’s ownership because of his bravado and tendency to exaggerate. And they were worried about losing their dividends and a change in ownership after 30 years of steadiness with the McMahon family.

“It said a lot about what investors saw as Donald Trump’s business acumen,” Fried said. “They just freaked out. I don’t think the average fan is an investor.”

Trump has a long relationship with professional wrestling and the McMahon family that dates back to the 1980s, and much of his relationship with the family parallels his surprising rise to the U.S. presidency. Now, Linda McMahon is set to become his Small Business administrator, should she pass her upcoming confirmation hearing in Washington.

One person who knows the family well said Trump “is more of a Vince guy, but he likes Linda.” And while those close to Trump say his love of the professional wrestling world doesn’t spring from one particular place, his ties are extensive and enduring.

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“I know there’s a lot of doubters, but, listen, life’s about falling down and getting up. It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, it’s about getting back up. So if there’s any kid out there that’s told by a parent or a coach or a teacher or somebody that they look up to, somebody that’s supposed to push them and believe in them and they’re told no, don’t listen to them. Believe in yourself.”

Phil ‘CM Punk’ Brooks