Here we are guys. As WWE prepares to dive into its most important few months of programming under the new regime of Nick Khan, Stephanie McMahon and Paul Levesque (Triple H), the ominous presence of Vince McMahon has once again cast a dark cloud of uncertainty over the future of the company.
The surprising report yesterday (January 5th) that Mr. McMahon was preparing the pieces strategically to orchestrate his return to the company was quickly confirmed by the former CEO himself.
McMahon, who still retains a majority of votes within the company despite retiring over the summer, announced plans to elect himself and former co-chairs Michelle Wilson and George Barrios to the WWE board of directors in order to oversee the next media rights deal and possibly even sell the company.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, the 77-year-old star said:
“WWE is entering a critical juncture in its history with upcoming media rights negotiations coinciding with increased industry demand for quality content and live events and with more companies seeking intellectual property on their platforms,” said Mr. McMahon. The only way for WWE to take full advantage of this opportunity is for me to return as CEO and support the management team in negotiations for our media rights and combine that with reviewing strategic alternatives. My return will allow WWE, as well as any other parties to the transactions, to participate in these processes knowing that they will have support of the controlling shareholder.
While McMahon did not mention the possibility of negotiating a sale to WWE in his released statement, he did apparently provide assurances that he had no plans to retake control of the on-screen product.
“WWE has an exceptional management team, and I do not intend my return to have any impact on their roles, duties, or responsibilities.”
These plans soon bear fruit. This morning, McMahon, Barrios, and Wilson officially joined the WWE Board of Directors, replacing Joelyn Leon Dillon, Jeffrey Speed, and Alan Wexler.
The SEC formalizing the move also changed the board’s bylaws so that Mr. McMahon would have full control over any major television rights deals or the sale of WWE to another company.
The recording shows Vince making changes to WWE bylaws so that media rights deals and any sales to the company cannot be made without his approval.
The deposition includes his speeches to the Council as opponents.
– Brandon Thurston January 6, 2023
So what does it all mean? Vince McMahon is back and there is nothing anyone can do to stop him.
I am by no means a legal expert, but if a controlling shareholder threatens to pull the rug out of any potential media rights deal unless he is involved in the process, The Wall Street Journal Others reported, what could anyone within WWE do other than go along with his demands?
McMahon even cleverly positioned his return as the most beneficial and profitable for the company’s shareholders ahead of the final round of media rights negotiations. The optics worked, as rumors of a sale sent WWE stock higher on Thursday.
wrestling” Brandon Thurston An amazing meltdown occurred yesterday after news broke that McMahon was making moves to return to the company. To paraphrase, McMahon could use the selling potential to offset any downside risks associated with resuming power.
McMahon was forced into retirement last year after numerous allegations of misconduct related to hush money payments. Additionally, along with the first word about his comeback plans, it was reported in December that two women had filed civil lawsuits against the former WWE CEO, accusing him of sexual misconduct.
Former WWE referee Rita Chatterton claims McMahon raped her decades ago in a limousine and is seeking damages estimated at $12 million. These are accusations that McMahon has repeatedly denied and weren’t enough to get him fired.
As an analyst, this move will have very little impact on my work. I will continue to present my opinions and analysis in a respectful and professional manner, while also highlighting the incredibly talented people I have the privilege of interviewing.
However, as a fan of these individuals and a fan of pro wrestling in general, this move freaks me out.
Would anyone think for a second that Vince McMahon would come over, help negotiate a TV deal, pat him on the back and then go back to playing golf and drinking Mai Tais (or whatever he was doing in retirement)?
Other than WWE, McMahon’s only other passions in life seem to be power and control. He may love those two things more than money, which is why I and others think the idea of selling to a company like NBCUniversal or Disney is just a smokescreen.
He’s pulling the other way Michael Corleone – just when we thought he was out, he’s pulling himself back in.
With the new TV rights deal in place, how long will McMahon sit around and wait for any opportunity to make wholesale changes? week? Month? Would he even let the ink in the necklace dry? Will he wait for a new deal to be struck?
I guess the question also needs to be asked, can he swoop in again and take over everything if he wants to? I have to assume the answer is yes. He forced himself back into the council against their wishes. What’s to stop him from sacking the management team he says he has the full support of?
If he really comes back just to make the sale easier, I’ll gladly eat crow. I’ll put some BBQ sauce on it while I’m at it. But my hunch tells me that the first slight drop in ratings, even if it’s only for a week, Mr. McMahon will be back in the chair he never wanted to leave in the first place. Again, this is according to the above Wall Street Journal Transfer:
“He has said that he was badly advised by people close to him to step down and that he now believes the allegations and investigations would have ended if he had stayed.”
Vince McMahon’s return to creativity would be a huge step back for the company. I’m not saying Triple H’s run as Chief Content Officer was flawless. far from it. But he is a man with an eye on the future. He’s a guy with long-term plans to improve the on-screen product and build the next generation of
Professional wrestlers Superstars, which is exactly the direction WWE should be heading in now.
The last thing the company needs is a return to the days of ripped scripts and endless rematches. The return of the creative decisions that turned someone as charismatic as L.A. Knight into a fearsome, intimidating mannequin manager.
Not to mention the massive impact this can have on the mental health of all employees and performers within WWE. We’ve heard several reports in the months since McMahon’s retirement that morale within the company is the best in years and that there are very few people who support his return.
A lot of people can separate the man himself from the legend in the world of professional wrestling. There is no denying what he has done for the industry and WWE specifically. Celebrate it if you like, but very few people think he should be in charge of creative decisions in 2023.
The real problem with McMahon’s return to the company is the high probability that mass layoffs will be back on the table. Either he works his way back into controlling employee decisions and goes back to his cost-cutting ways, or the company is eventually sold and the new owner decides he needs to cut the budget.
Any way you slice it, this doesn’t seem like great news from the outside looking in. Unless you’re a shareholder in WWE, or at least the majority shareholder.
my advice? Let’s all sit down and try to enjoy this upcoming WrestleMania season. That ominous dark cloud is moving inward and is almost guaranteed to develop into a massive storm. All we can do is brush it off and hope it’s not as bad as it looks.