“Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? ‘No!’ says the man in Washington. “It belongs to the poor.’ ‘No!’ says the man in the Vatican. ‘It belongs to God.’ ‘No!’ says the man in Moscow. ‘It belongs to the people.’ I rejected these answers; instead, I chose something different – I chose…Rapture!” – Andrew Ryan
It is no secret that Mr. McMahon is a figure that evokes the sleaziness of a car salesman and the policies of a dictator, as many could attest to. As wrestling fans, we’ve seen him screw over WWE wrestlers, turn on them, and enforce his toxic yet brilliant ideals into a place of his making. A place where he shut the outside world out, with promises of unlimited potential and unrestricted momentum, yet as human history has shown us, this is not possible, as we often get in the way of each other. He’s a man who loves control and power. Who else could match that sort of evil, fascist, heelish energy?
Enter: Andrew Ryan.
The antagonist of the Bioshock series, Andrew Ryan sought to liberate himself of the restraints of 1940’s and 1950’s societal standards that he felt were hindering the progression that he felt humans were capable of. If undeterred and unfettered, who could tell what we could accomplish? The parasites that had sapped many doctors, inventors, entertainers, scientists, etc. of their potential for what was “acceptable” was a crime in Ryan’s eyes. So, he sought a better place where he and his peers could create and advance their own civilization. He sought Rapture, and he founded it in an unlikely place – at the bottom of the sea.
It was here where Ryan’s cohorts would push past the boundaries of humanity, for better or for worse. Sickening biological experiments, some of which are too heavy to describe, and unsettling forms of entertainment that would come from someone who’s mind became too warped, too twisted to resemble anyone with a compassionate, human heart and mind. Rapture, while an idealistic utopia for evolution, was never meant to last long, to survive. The twisted minds of those who broke their chains and created civilization thousands of leagues under the sea wasn’t meant to last. Human minds will break; Mother Nature will reclaim what’s hers.
Big Daddies, Little Sisters, and Splicers were the darkness in Rapture, in the shadows of the art-deco architecture and the swing and big band music in the light. This vast, horrifying madness swept under the rug of high society is something all too familiar with the real world’s cruelties. And it is also familiar with the wrestlers that Mr. McMahon has affected when power would go to his head.
Here is how Andrew Ryan and Rapture ties into Mr. McMahon and the WWE.
Mr. McMahon was a character that would cast off anything that got in his way, and if not he would humiliate and destroy it. From loyal workers to God himself, McMahon embodies the Ayn Rand philosophies that inspired the character of Andrew Ryan. He was a man whose power corrupted someone into something so wicked, so vile, that you hate his character more and more.
Adultery, misogyny, and meddling in the means of self-interest were McMahon’s forte, which had drew the ire of the likes of Bret Hart, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, Ric Flair, and John Cena to name a few. Like his counterpart in Andrew Ryan, he saw those that would restrict him as parasites. He saw fans booing him as parasites. He saw anyone in his way as parasites. If you didn’t fit his narrative, you were a parasite. Sometimes you still are.
For those that were screwed over by McMahon, they had their reflections in Andrew Ryan’s monstrosities. Big Daddies were the big men, treated as dumb and as outcasts – such as Kurrgan, The Great Khali, Kane, and Giant Gonzalez. The Little Sisters were defenseless little girls that had grown adults pursuing them for whatever means they needed to get their fix, and that was mirrored in how the women would be sexualized in WWE: innocent people idealized by whatever vision the masses wanted out of them. And then there’s the Splicers. People who weren’t at the top of the food chain who fell into the depths of madness trying to get their itch of power scratched. That was any wrestler that didn’t fit the WWE vision, that couldn’t for whatever reason, do for Mr. McMahon what he wanted.
The capitalistic, atheist, and individualistic nature of Mr. McMahon proved to twin Andrew Ryan. The confines of WWE’s kayefabe world felt just like Bioshock; as the oceanic waters outside of Rapture’s walls and exteriors, a vague darkness would envelope outside of whatever venue WWE would visit – one where the likes of WCW, ECW, TNA, and any other territory or promotion did not exist. The names of talent that flocked to WWE’s Rapture did not exist but were rather recreated in McMahon’s vision. And if you didn’t fit his vision, you were not worth the time. Just like the sheep and the disenfranchised citizens of Rapture.
For now, that’s enough about McMahon and Ryan. There are more parallels to briefly explore, like the many Frank Fontaines out there, such as Shane McMahon, Eric Bischoff, Paul Heyman, and Steve Austin himself. Then there’s Jack the Bioshock protagonist who could be seen in the many faces in WWE that dared to defy McMahon, such as (again) Steve Austin, The Rock, John Cena, CM Punk, Becky Lynch, Roman Reigns, and Daniel Bryan. Brigid Tenenbaum is another force of Rapture with her WWE connection, such as Linda McMahon.
Somewhere beyond the sea, there could be someone who could depose McMahon as Andrew Ryan once was, leaving behind a city of dilapidated ruin that once was a huge metropolis within the pop culture sphere. Or maybe leave a better one – a rapture of McMahon’s ideals and something new that would embrace the outside world that would not have anyone kissing its ass, as the world and the isolated behemoth could coexist.
Should McMahon stay his self-indulging hand – in his mindset of how a man chooses and a slave obeys – then one day someone is going to knock on that forbidden door and take a bathysphere down to the depths of WWE and change the company for him.