Jonathan Coachman recalls when WWE Chairman Vince McMahon had him arrested during his first run in the wrestling promotion.
Everybody likes a good story and the WWE has more than enough anecdotes to go around. One of the more popular stories is how Vince McMahon got Jonathan Coachman arrested for a prank. The story was even turned into a cartoon short for WWE Stories.
In a recent interview with Chris Van Vliet, Coachman took a trip down memory lane and discussed the prank. He started by mentioning how WWE’s version was largely inaccurate. He then proceeded to narrate his own version of it.
“When WWE started their WWE stories and then they make it into a cartoon, yeah I remember I was at ESPN and they said hey Coach they made a story out of your getting arrested,” Coachman said. “So I watched it. I’m like that didn’t happen. That didn’t happen. oh no that didn’t happen. So the thing that people saw? Not even true.
“I’m gonna tell you exactly what happened okay? It was and Vince to this day in the book, Vince calls it the greatest rib in the history of the company,” he continued.
Jonathan Coachman recalls when Vince McMahon had him arrested
“It was the beginning of football season and we were in Fayetteville North Carolina and Gerald Briscoe came up and said hey coach you got to run a football pool for all the guys. You know, pay ten dollars pick all the games. So I made photocopies and I’m just passing them out all day to everybody and we had people bringing me money all day everybody was in and all (of a) sudden about three o’clock I see two police officers state troopers and they’re like uh are you Mr Coachman?”
The cops told Coachman that he had committed a crime. They then entered Vince McMahon’s room and informed the WWE CEO that running an illegal pool was a felony in the state of North Carolina and that they would have to take Coachman with them.
“I said guys come on. I mean this seems kind of silly it’s a ten dollar football pool,” Coachman remembered. “They’re like, it doesn’t matter if it’s a dollar or a million dollars it’s the same felony. So we’re walking down and the cops are on either side of me and all these people are looking at me. We get to Vince’s office and they’re like um does Vince run the whole show here and I said yes. They said we really need to tell him and I go no we don’t no we do not. Yeah, they knock on the door and I’m like are you kidding!”
“I got Vince’s ball sweat on my face”
Coachman remembered Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, Gerald Briscoe, Kevin Dunn and of course Vince McMahon in the room. The cops told Vince about the incident. An infuriated Vince then berated Coachman while he stared at Briscoe hoping for him to step up and tell them that he was the one who asked him to collect the pool.
The Cops told Vince that it would be 1500 to bail him but he simply told them that Coachman was on his own. The Cops then asked for a towel to put over his hands to prevent others from seeing the handcuffs. Instead, they were given Vince’s boxer short.
“They said well unfortunately when somebody’s been arrested for a felony, they have to be handcuffed so we’re about to put handcuffs on him,” Coachman recalled. “Do you have like a towel or something so at least we can put it over his hands so people don’t see that he’s handcuffed?
Vince walks over to his gym bag and he picks up his boxer shorts that he wore to work out in that day. Oh my god whips them at me and they stick to my face. So I got Vince’s ball sweat on my face. The cop like with two fingers takes it off my face and puts it over my hand.
“We walk out the first person we see when we walk out of his office, the Undertaker. I’ve never felt more shame in my life. I just looked down. They put me in the back of the car and I’m sitting here thinking to myself how do I tell my father that my career job and my career could be over yeah because I have a felony for running a 10 a football pool.”
“I was crying so hard”
On their way out, the head of security (Jimmy Tillis) told Coachman that he would bail him. Midway however, the cops were informed that they had to pick up Tillis because he couldn’t get his car out. Coachman was explained that this was necessary because Tillis would be the one driving him home. He was too worried at that point however, to think how Tillis would drive him home without a car. Coachman finally realized that this was an elaborate prank when he got back to the arena and saw everyone stood there.
“All they were doing was killing time to get everybody to come out of the back of the arena and they were standing almost like in a pyramid with Vince right at the front and then everybody else behind. I see everybody standing out there and I still don’t know what’s happening!
“This whole process that I told you in about five minutes? It took 45 minutes to pull this off from start to finish which is why he calls it the greatest rib in the history of the company because it went way better than they ever could have imagined,” Coachman declared.
“I was like somebody get these handcuffs off me so the cops are doing this and everybody’s patting me,” he said. “I literally went to a part of the arena where nobody could find me and I just started sobbing, I was crying so hard. Sometimes when you’re so angry or you’re so relieved whatever the tears just come and you don’t know why and I was just so relieved that I wasn’t going to jail. That I wasn’t arrested and that I still had a job but it took 45 minutes and to this day he still calls it the greatest rib.”
“That still means a lot to me”
Coachman may have cried on the day. However, Jonathan Coachman now recalls the moment when Vince McMahon had him arrested much more fondly. In fact, when told that this story showed how much Vince loved him, Coachman agreed.
“Yeah, a lot of people have told me that over the years too because they think Vince wouldn’t even bother to endorse it, allow it and then participate in it,” he said. “Yeah, so uh that still means a lot to me.”
If using any of the above quotes, please credit Chris Van Vliet with an h/t to thesportsrush.com for the transcription.
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