Vince McMahon is well known for having a very hands-on style of managing the WWE, for better or worse. He always gets final say on everything that happens in the promotion. Unfortunately, as a 65 year old businessman, Vince doesn't always do a good job of keeping up with popular culture, and he's nixed a few gimmicks and angles because he personally doesn't understand them.
For example, when Paul Birchill started working a pirate gimmick inspired by Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean, Vince canned the gimmick because he hadn't even heard of the movie and thought pirates should be heels a la Jean Pierre LaFitte (aka Carl Oulette).
He also cancelled "The Blonde Bytch Project", a parody of The Blair Witch Project starring Stevie Richards and the Blue Meanie that was to bury Sable*
Sable had recently left the WWF and filed a $110M dollar lawsuit against it
, allegedly on the grounds that he had never seen the movie, and therefore assumed nobody else had either.
Allegedly, the reason Raven was barely utilized during his WWF/WWE run was because McMahon personally disliked him (he was party buddies with Vince's son Shane during his Johnny Polo period) and forbade the bookers from pushing him.
Vince hired Ultimo Dragon because Rey Mysterio became very popular, and he wanted another flippy masked wrestler. However, he did not do the research and was unpleasantly surprised to see that Dragon wasn't flippy. He then decided that Dragon's wrestling style was completely incompatible with anyone in WWF/E, and went so far as to editing out the cheers Dragon got on the taped shows.
He has used his Executive Meddling to benefit as well. He did such an efficient job filtering the ideas that Vince Russo and Ed Ferrera came up with that for years Russo was credited as the genius behind the Attitude Era boom.
Vince Russo had a pet gimmick called Beaver Cleavage (a hypersexual take on Leave It To Beaver) that he fought with the rest of Creative tooth and nail over to get on the air. When Beaver Cleavage got the negative reaction everyone not named Russo expected, McMahon himself pulled the plug and canned the character. This actually lead to Russo leaving WWF for WCW.
You remember the disaster that was the NXT Season 2 Finale? All Vince. Vince was furious and was throwing a tantrum backstage over the fact that the fans didn't vote for his preferred rookie Alex Riley who he was high on, instead voting for popular Indy Wrestler Low Ki. Vince basically tells the seven who didn't win to go out there and beat him down. What followed next is best described as a trainwreck and an abortion as no one had any clue what was happening or what to do. The highlights (or lowlights if you prefer since there was nothing good about it) being Titus O'Neil no selling MVP's big boot and the Pros walking out and Alex Riley delivering a Juvi Driver, to his own teammate. Needless to say, it killed all eight of their careers and Low Ki would be utilized as a Jobber winning only once and fired months later under the guise of asking for his release. Petty bastard ain't he?
For better or worse, Vince McMahon combined all manner of meddling with the worst aspects of a Corrupt Corporate Executive in the late 80s. Rival promoter Jim Crockett at the time owned the flagship company in the NWA, which was the forerunner to WCW. In 1987, Crockett had scheduled the NWA's equivalent of Wrestlemania, Starrcade, on Thanksgiving weekend, and had this year pulled out all the stops to make it as widespread and successful as a Wrestlemania event. Vince McMahon knew that Crockett was banking his company's future on Starrcade being a huge success and so he announced his own pay-per-view, Survivor Series, to air on the same day. Crockett offered to reschedule Starrcade for a different time slot so that the two didn't run head to head, confident that if fans bought both events, they'd see that his was the superior product. All well and good, except McMahon put the word out that any cable company who wanted to air Survivor Series would have to agree not to run any other wrestling pay-per-views for a month beforehand or for three months after. On top of that, any companies that did decide to run Starrcade rather than Survivor Series would not be allowed to run Wrestlemania the following year. Out of over 200 national and local cable companies that had interest in carrying Starrcade, only five ended up doing so. The amazing thing is that he got away with it, especially after having laid down conditions that would have any decent anti-trust lawyer chomping at the bit.
If Paul Heyman is to be believed, Vince stomped a wide mudhole in the 2006 December to Dismember ECW pay-per-view event, the last WWE event managed by Heyman. Heyman was constantly going to McMahon, begging him to let him revise the direction of the show but Vince kept insisting his booking would work. Even The Big Show, who was the current champion at the time of the event, was eager to let Heyman's ideas flow (which primarily involved CM Punk being allowed to shine) but Vince kept pushing his own agenda through the event. Unsurprisingly, bad booking and a weak card overall (capped off by a memorably mediocre installment of the Elimination Chamber match with an extreme gimmick bolted on) led to a massive backlash...which Vince promptly turned back onto Paul Heyman as the culprit, dismissing him from further creative interactions with WWE.
As an aside worth mentioning, to this day the event still stands as the worst-selling pay-per-view in WWE's entire history at roughly 96,000 verified purchases. To put that into perspective, WrestleMania III holds the record for largest WWE live audience in history at over 93,000 seats sold. This show could only bring in about 3000 more views across an entire country than the number of tickets sold to a live event.
Vince has had issues on occasion with the networks his shows aired on getting involved in the booking as well.
There was Muhammed Hassan. This could be looked at as Executive Meddling on both sides, as Vince chose to still air Hassan's "terrorist attack" on the Undertaker the same day that real terrorists bombed The London Underground (London's subway). UPN's subsequent edict that Hassan would never appear on the network again forced Vince to not only remove the character, but possibly re-book the main events at two pay-per-views.
Soon before WWE's ECW brand got underway, there were Internet reports that the Sci-Fi Channel had been trying to shoehorn sci-fi elements into this wrestling show. Cue "The Zombie" and other characters being soundly beaten by the Sandman upon the show's airing.
Among other things USA has been pressuring WWE into: more celebrity involvement and 3-hour Monday Night RAW broadcasts. The 'E did however work the celebrity involvement into some genuinely amusing moments (such as John Cena being beaten by Kevin flippin' Federline, Steve-O being legitimately beaten for laughing during his match, and Donald Trump causing Vince McMahon's infamous "bald moment").
Soon after Kayfabe!Vince McMahon was blown up in a fiery limo explosion, confirmation came that USA Network executives told the WWE to perform a murder storyline, much to the consternation of the writing staff, Vince himself, and half the fanbase. This made them look like idiots, morons, and every other epithet in the book when news of Chris Benoit's murder-suicide hit the airwaves a few weeks later.
One rumor floating around about the WWE right now is not so much executive meddling as much as TENURED Meddling. Some are arguing that younger talent is being buried so the older wrestlers (The Undertaker and Triple H especially) can milk the last few years of their careers for all they're worth. Some of it's minor (no one on the roster can have gear that looks like The Undertaker's.) However, some of it's more serious (some have argued that Triple H forced Chris Masters to keep doing the Masterlock Challenge, long after it stopped being entertaining [as if it ever was,] making Masters universally loathed by fans, and possibly torpedoing his career before it could get off the ground [he has yet to really build any momentum five years later.]) People are wondering why guys like Evan Bourne and Shelton Benjamin got nowhere fast in WWE, and many think it's this.
And yet Taker has received nowhere near as much flak for this, even though he's also helping hold back talent in the women's division by having the WWE keep that belt on his girlfriend Michelle McCool. This might be even more egregious because it buried the much more talented, popular and experienced Mickie James. Beth Phoenix may have been spared this only due to her ACL injury, so now they've taken to burying Melina.
The Undertaker probably gets little flak for using his pull in the company because of many stories, both true and false, about him keeping The Kliq in check during the New Generation era, especially around the time of the Montreal Screwjob.
There are several reasons why The Undertaker receives less criticism for this. For many years, fans have accused Triple H of using his meddling to further his own ego (As of late, that's not as true, see Rooting for the Empire for the whole story.) However, The Undertaker has more often than not, used his powers for good, not evil. Alongside the Screwjob above, he also allegedly interfered when Batista tried to have Mickie James fired. Also, it's not entirely clear if The Undertaker is forcing WWE to shill Michelle. They might be doing it on their own out of fear of losing either of them. Taker is one of the most universally respected people in the business, both as a wrestler and as a person, and McCool has developed into a very talented wrestler on her own when female wrestling is in something of a dry spell. Losing either of them would hurt WWE right now.
Hulk Hogan has been faced with executive meddling, and done quite a bit of it himself over the years.
For starters, Hogan is notorious for his very limited wrestling ability. The thing is, Hogan, while never a technical wizard, could carry his end of a match. He was trained by Florida "house shooter" Hiro Matsuda, and could play the foreign big man heel in New Japan Pro Wrestling (one of the most physically demanding positions in wrestling) quite well, performing shoot-style submission moves and high impact moves like the enziguiri. But when he came to the WWF under Vince McMahon Sr. he was told to wrestle like a generic 'big man' character, and Hogan was able to get by on his admittedly, massive amounts of on-screen charisma while letting his opponents do most of the work. Hogan's side of the story has varied between "No one ever asked me to work hard so I didn't bother" to "they wouldn't let me work hard".
WCW was so desperate to get Hogan working for them that they gave him carte blanche over the entire company. While the legendary "creative control" clause in his contract was nowhere as broad as believed (it only applied to the finish of his own matches), nobody wanted to get on his bad side for fear of reprisal from higher in the Turner hierarchy. It was a normal thing for an episode of WCW Nitro to be rewritten from scratch according to Hogan's whims. This was one of admittedly many things that lead to WCW's demise.
The low point of Hogan's meddling with WCW booking was probably Starrcade 1997. After an incredibly hot slow burn of a feud between Hogan and Sting, Starrcade was set as the stage where Sting would finally get the revenge he'd been looking for for a year and a half. Instead, Hogan demanded that he would get a 3 count pinfall over Sting. A heat killing scenario in which Hogan hit his leg drop and a biased referee would count a fast pinfall, then Bret Hart would come out and restart the match was concocted. And allegedly, Hogan also privately insisted that the ref who was supposed to count the fast pinfall, not actually count the pinfall fast.
Hogan fuddled around with the finish to his match at SummerSlam 2005 against Shawn Michaels so he'd go over and there would be no "rubber match" (a rematch that Michaels could take victory in) due to Hogan claiming injury. At least this agitated Shawn enough to where he spent the entire match flopping around like a fish in a vibrant display of overselling. If Goldberg vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania XX could be seen as the Deconstruction of Kayfabe (that is a scripted fight without the dramatics that make pro wrestling believable), this was the Reconstruction.
In a rare positive example, Hogan changed the finish of Bound for Glory 2011 so that the champion, Kurt Angle, won instead of the heavily pushed Bobby Roode. The internet erupted in outrage - and according to Scott Steiner, so did Roode himself - but three weeks later Bobby Roode turned heel as a result of the loss and then proceeded to become a breakout star and the longest reigning champion in TNA's history.
WCW, which was broadcast on Turner Networks, was occasionally forced by the higher ups to include Product Placement in their shows. Thus, Rick Steiner was forced debate Chucky, who shilled the upcoming Bride Of Chucky movie. Later, Robert Wuhl of Arliss had a guest commentary spot - in-character as Arliss - which was made even worse by his commentary being non-stop burial of the match he was calling (Randy Savage vs Kidman) and pro wrestling in general.
Turner Networks also forced WCW to keep their shows at a PG level, which made it difficult for WCW to compete with the more risque WWF. This was in theory not a bad idea - they were counting on WWF's programming alienating their sponsors and putting WCW at a more advantageous position. However, some of the changes were somewhat silly. For example, renaming "foreign objects" (a pro wrestling term for weapons introduced into the match" to "international objects" when a directive meant to apply to CNN was applied to all Turner Networks programming by mistake.
They also nixed at least one gimmick before it started; Seven, a mysterious dream/Seven Deadly Sins character, was introduced in promos the network felt uncomfortably close to child abduction. (The gimmick itself was thought to be based on the 1995 movie Powder, written by a convicted child molester).
It has been confirmed that Cena has wanted to turn heel at some points, considering the fact that he's been a face for years (in fact, the Heel Face Turn was somewhere around '03-'04 - and he's never made a Face Heel Turn since then, meaning he's been a face for almost a decade). Whether he wants to now is possibly an entirely different story.
Bret Hart noted this problem in a shoot interview. It isn't whether or not Cena has ever been capable of playing heel (because we all know he can), it's whether or not he can do it now. Cena's character hinges on the kids and their dreams and being their hero and all that other good stuff. The question is whether or not he can handle the heartache of doing such a thing to said kids - much like Bret and his own Face Heel Turn all those years ago. Unless the kids themselves start hating him too, and that's the majority of them, then he's stuck as a face.