Unless he contributed to this week’s episode of NXT, Raw on Monday was the last piece of pro wrestling content Vince McMahon will ever create.
July 22, 2022, will be a day-long remember when the biggest announcement in the history of the industry occured. At 4:05 PM Friday, Vince McMahon announced his retirement from WWE on Twitter.
The company followed up with a full statement issued by McMahon confirming his complete retirement from WWE, including the head of creative. Stephanie McMahon and Nick Kahn will assume the role as the new co-CEOs of the company.
We’re also one week away from SummerSlam.
McMahon’s complete statement can be read below:
“As I approach 77 years old, I feel it’s time for me to retire as Chairman and CEO of WWE. Throughout the years, it’s been a privilege to help WWE bring you joy, inspire you, thrill you, surprise you, and always entertain you. I would like to thank my family for mightily contributing to our success, and I would also like to thank all of our past and present Superstars and employees for their dedication and passion for our brand. Most importantly, I would like to thank our fans for allowing us into your homes every week and being your choice of entertainment. I hold the deepest appreciation and admiration for our generations of fans all over the world who have liked, currently like, and sometimes even love our form of Sports Entertainment.
Our global audience can take comfort in knowing WWE will continue to entertain you with the same fervor, dedication, and passion as always. I am extremely confident in the continued success of WWE, and I leave our company in the capable hands of an extraordinary group of Superstars, employees, and executives – in particular, both Chairwoman and Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon and Co-CEO Nick Khan. As the majority shareholder, I will continue to support WWE in any way I can. My personal thanks to our community and business partners, shareholders, and Board of Directors for their guidance and support through the years. Then. Now. Forever. Together.“
McMahon’s retirement comes 37 days after the Wall Street Journal reported WWE’s Board of Directors is investigating McMahon over a $3 million hush money payment to a former employee he had an affair with.
23 days after the first report, the Journal dropped a second report that McMahon paid in excess of $12 million to four women over the past 16 years to sign NDA’s to suppress sexual misconduct allegations.
McMahon stepped down as CEO and chairman after the first report but remained the head of creative. During that time, Stephanie McMahon returned from an abrupt leave of absence and became the interim chairwoman and CEO.
Now, he’s completely gone.
WWE announced on Friday morning that Triple H is officially back in an executive capacity as EVP of Talent of Relations. Bruce Pritchard, currently the head of creative, was the interim head of talent relations when John Laurinaitis took a “leave of absence” when his sexual misconduct allegations were tied to McMahon’s in the initial report.
Triple H’s return didn’t generate much buzz because of the prevailing theory that he wouldn’t be effective in the role as long as Vince McMahon is still in charge. Later in the day, the news made the rounds that Stephanie McMahon, Nick Khan, and Triple H were traveling to SmackDown to hold an impromptu meeting.
That type of activity usually means big news is on the horizon, but no one expected what we got on Friday.
Stephanie McMahon kicked off SmackDown, talked about her father’s retirement, and led the crowd in a “Thank you, Vince” chant. It’s ironic that the TD Garden in Boston, where the Attitude Era began, hosted the first show of the post-Vince McMahon era.
If that’s not enough, reports surfaced that Brock Lesnar left SmackDown. Reportedly, Lesnar stated, “If he’s gone, I’m gone,” in response to the news and walked out. While Lesnar appeared at the end of the night, Fightful.com reported he was scheduled to be all over the show.
While Vince McMahon is done, he will remain WWE’s majority shareholder. In true pro wrestling nature, some will wonder or believe his retirement is a work.
Not this time. It’s 100% real.
As a publicly traded company, if Vince McMahon is still running things from the shadows after announcing his retirement, and the stock price dramatically shifts due to the news, WWE would have defrauded its stockholders, and someone is going to jail.
Vince’s retirement came 28 years ago to the day when he was acquitted in the infamous steroid trial by the federal government. It’s also fascinating that Triple H returns to the company the same day Vince McMahon hangs it up.
Everyone is wondering when things will finally change in WWE, especially its creative direction. There are a plethora of Vince McMahon-specific rules, edicts, and policies that could be altered or eliminated.
Will the phrase “sports entertainment” be put out to pasture? Are banned words such as hospital, title shot, belt, and wrestling a thing of the past? Will wrestlers finally be able to unionize or obtain SAG-AFTRA representation?
What about scripted promos? Should they stay, or should they go?
There are too many things to speculate on right now. However, it will be highly newsworthy as each shoe drops.
Honestly, anything is possible now, and change will come, but not right away. WWE needs a firm plan before they implement any new direction. The departure of Vince’s inner circle, John Laurinaitis, Kevin Dunn, Bruce Pritchard, and Michael Cole, seems inevitable.
Wrestling fans will remember where they were when Vince McMahon retired. I was on a work call that went well past closing time and began moments before the announcement was made.
After work, I texted my friend about some future dinner plans, and he followed up with, “So you saw the biggest news to ever hit the wrestling industry, yeah?
Due to our sarcastic nature and involvement with independent wrestling, I assumed I was in for a whopper of a tale. I replied “No” as I prepared for some ridiculous fallacy that can only be heard in wrestling.
The next two words in my inbox were, “Vince retired.”
“What?” I replied as I thought he was pulling my leg. I told him I hadn’t been online in hours.
He couldn’t believe I didn’t know, and I still thought he was working me. But then he kept going. Subsequent messages about Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, Nick Khan, and Brock Lesnar made me realize there is no ruse here.
I honestly believed Vince McMahon would never give up the throne. Many wrestlers over the years have said he loves it too much and will probably “Die in the chair.” In a March interview with Pat McAfee, McMahon said, “He would do it forever if he can because it’s never felt like work,” speaking to the creative process.
I’m curious what the in-ring product of a Vince McMahon-less WWE will look like. The one thing he does better than any promoter/booker I’ve seen is accentuating the showmanship of professional wrestling. McMahon’s creative application made more larger-than-life stars and moments than anyone in the genre.
Triple H’s NXT was my jam. However, I always thought it was too wrestling-focused from the assumed heir apparent to Vince McMahon. Apparently, McMahon thought so as he gutted the black and gold brand, jacked the wheels, and left it on blocks for Bron Breakker to knock over.
If showmanship falls by the wayside for the sake of five-star matches, I’ll dig it, Twitter will love it, but most won’t. Professional wrestling in North America without the grandeur and spectacle is just fake fighting. That’s what McMahon gets more than anyone.
It’s hard not to assume that another report of sexual misconduct is coming down the pike. The wrestling business would be very different today if it weren’t for Vince McMahon. Heck, it might not even exist. However, you’re always remembered for how you went out.