In a candid conversation, former WWE star Jonathan Coachman shared a compelling story about an incident that left him in tears of rage and Vince McMahon’s unconventional form of punishment.
Jonathan Coachman, known for his involvement in WWE from 1999 to 2008 and later in 2018, primarily as a broadcaster, recalled his tenure with the company. While some might remember him as the interviewer who often bore the brunt of The Rock’s backstage antics, Coachman had a more complex journey within WWE.
During his time in the wrestling world, anyone could find themselves on the wrong side of Vince McMahon, and Coachman’s story revolved around his refusal to participate in a Tribute To The Troops show in the Middle East.
Speaking to Chris Van Vliet on his Insight podcast, Coachman recollected the incident that landed him in hot water with Vince McMahon. It occurred during a time when the United States was involved in conflicts in the Middle East and the war on terror was in full swing. The company organized a voluntary trip to the region, and Coachman found himself part of it, even wrestling Ric Flair in Afghanistan on one such trip.
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Real trouble? Yeah, there’s one story that still kind of rubs me the wrong way to this day. And back between, you know, after 9/11, unfortunately, there obviously was a war. We started going to Afghanistan in the Middle East or Iraq, and it was supposed to be a volunteer trip.
So I went, I actually wrestled Ric Flair in Afghanistan, one particular trip. And again, I was right next to Vince. It was three groups of six and man I never said no, I took pride. I never say no, I’m the ultimate team player.
So I get married and my wife is pregnant with our first child. They said, ‘Hey, if you don’t feel comfortable going, there’s no pressure whatsoever.’ Like do you believe that? So they didn’t believe it, I told them from the jump. I never said I was going, I said no.
I show up on the day and they take your bags, and because it has to go through screening at the Pentagon or whatever, and they’re like, where’s your bag? And I was like, I told you, [they said] we thought you were kidding. I said, at what point did you ever think I was kidding? Did I ever laugh? Did I ever not look you in the eye I say, I’m not going. They’re like you’ve never told us before [because my wife’s pregnant] and she didn’t feel comfortable.
So they had to scramble at the last minute. You got to get passports. It’s a whole big thing. I think it was actually Chris Masters that took my spot on that particular trip if I remember correctly, but I should have known. I should have known that it wasn’t just going to end there.
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Coachman was known for being a dedicated team player, always willing to go the extra mile for the company. However, things took a turn when he had to make a difficult decision. His wife was pregnant with their first child, and the company informed him that if he felt uncomfortable going on the overseas trip, there would be no pressure on him to participate. Coachman conveyed his decision upfront—he wouldn’t be going.
When the day of departure arrived, Coachman was taken aback as the company personnel assumed he was kidding about not going. He expressed his concerns about his pregnant wife and made it clear that he couldn’t undertake the journey. The last-minute scramble to find a replacement ensued, and Coachman suspected that Chris Masters ultimately took his place.
But the consequences didn’t end there. In an unexpected twist, Vince McMahon used a rather unconventional method to penalize Coachman for his refusal to go. Coachman found himself at the mercy of two WWE icons, The Undertaker and Batista.
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After a week had passed, during Coachman’s commentary duties, the show concluded, and The Undertaker was preparing to exit the ring. That’s when Coachman was instructed to attack The Undertaker from behind, a baffling directive that made no sense in the storyline. However, the order came from Vince McMahon, who was apparently upset with Coachman for saying no to the trip.
Reluctantly, Coachman complied and struck The Undertaker. The legendary wrestler turned and apologized to Coachman, expressing his reluctance to carry out the attack, and then tossed Coachman to Batista, who proceeded to assault him. Coachman vividly recounted his feelings of rage during the incident, describing it as one of those rare moments in life when overwhelming emotions bring tears to one’s eyes. Despite taking multiple finishing moves from both icons, Coachman refused to “sell” the attack, displaying his frustration.
The experience left Coachman deeply angry and questioning the unjust treatment, considering his years of loyalty to the company. He walked to the back, bypassing the traditional respect for these wrestling legends, consumed by his emotions.
While Vince McMahon is no longer in charge of WWE, Coachman emphasized that he had no desire to work for the company again.