“I would like to be clear that unless I have direct involvement and input as Executive Chairman from the outset, I will not be able to support or approve any media rights deals or strategic transaction” – Vince McMahon 12/31/22
This response above is the loaded gun Vince McMahon threatened the WWE Board of Directors with to facilitate his return to the company. And he’s not coming alone. Michelle Wilson and George Barrios, former company co-presidents and WWE Network architects McMahon fired three years ago, are coming with him.
This follows Thursday’s news by the Wall Street Journal that McMahon was plotting his return to WWE in order to pursue a sale and be involved in the company’s upcoming media rights deals.
McMahon, as the majority shareholder owning 80% of class B stock, forced his way back on the Board with Wilson and Barrios, forcing three Board members to vacate their seats.
Two other Board members resigned, including the individual who led the investigation into McMahon using company money for hush money payments to women who accused him of sexual misconduct and assault.
This shocking development occurred AFTER the Board unanimously voted on 12/27/22 against McMahon’s 12/20/22 request to return. WWE is publically spinning this as a positive while stating McMahon will have nothing to do with the day-to-day operations. Triple H is still the head of creative content, and Stephanie McMahon is still the company’s CEO.
JP Morgan is officially helping WWE find potential buyers as negotiations for the next round of media rights deals will begin later this year. Raw and SmackDown TV deals with USA and Fox, respectively, expire in 2024. Having a multi-year TV rights deal before a sale will make WWE more valuable.
Four billion dollars is the amount Endeavor paid to purchase the UFC, and WWE will sell for an even bigger number due to its history and content output.
There are many ways to look at Vince McMahon’s return to the WWE Board. However, his interview with Pat McAfee last March tells you everything you need to know. Vince said he surrounds himself with intelligent people to make the best-calculated business decisions. He also said when it comes to creative, he’s never worked a day in his life because of how much he loves it.
Vince saying it will be easier for WWE to obtain higher media rights and sell the company with him than without him is a fable. Nick Khan negotiated the last round of media rights, and Vince reportedly never attended those meetings.
Vince lives for booking and writing the show. It’s his favorite thing in the world to do. History dictates that, at some point, he will take back control of the book, which would be a shame since the last six months of WWE television have made for a much better viewing experience.
However, what if he’s telling the truth? Maybe, Vince won’t stick his nose in day-to-day and creative affairs. Perhaps, Vince knows he can genuinely never run the company the way he did before due to the slew of allegations against him. The way he forced his return to the Board might be a sign that he wants to be a part of the company in some way.
It’s also possible Vince wants to sell his creation because if he can’t have it, he will not let Hunter and Stephanie have it either. Remember, Vince took NXT away from Triple H and stripped away any hint of his influence. Stephanie quietly quit the company on a Friday afternoon in May until the allegations against her father prompted her to assume the role of CEO.
Now that Vince McMahon is back on the WWE Board, free agency has been turned entirely upside down. Anyone wrestler who is considering leaving WWE or going to WWE has to think twice before making a decision.
William Regal, who recently started working for WWE again, got an early release from AEW. Regal, fired by Vince McMahon in a set of mass layoffs, told AEW he did not want his contract renewed in April 2024. AEW honored his request and let him out early. Regal is close friends with Triple H and is expected to be Hunter’s right-hand man.
FTR’s contract with AEW reportedly expires in April, and they’ve made remarks about returning to WWE now that Triple H is at the helm. Vince fired them at the peak of the pandemic.
Miro, who WWE also fired, reportedly tried getting out of his AEW contract in an attempt to go back to WWE. AEW is currently not using him after he refused to lose to a wrestler in November.
Tony Khan hired many of the WWE wrestlers who McMahon fired since 2020. Triple H brought many of them back once Vince “retired” in July, including Bray Wyatt.
Many wrestlers want to work for Tony Kahn over Vince McMahon. However, those same wrestlers want to work for Triple H over Tony Kahn.
Vince’s return has thrown a monkey wrench in a lot of free agency plans. Will Washington of Grapsody cited, “There is a lot of worry among talent.”
You can’t blame them; after all, Vince called all of the talents he released “dead weight” during the McAfee interview. When a company is looking to sell, they always get as much money off the books as possible to make an acquisition more appealing.
Presumably, this is why Vince fired so many wrestlers before, and he will have no hesitation in firing wrestlers again now since the company is officially for sale.
The family drama behind the scenes must be super tense. Someone on the Board leaked the Vince stuff to the Wall Street Journal before and after he retired in an attempt to get him out and keep him out.
Now that Vince is back with two new Board members and two vacancies he will fill, it’s not in their best interest to leak further information about Vince anymore. More stories and allegations will make it challenging to sell the company.
If more allegations come out, a potential suitor will want WWE to cleanse itself of all things Vince McMahon before serious negotiations begin. As for Vince totally leaving WWE, well, look at how he came back.
Also, watch the below video from a 2002 storyline when Vince McMahon brought in the nWo to kill WWE in what might have been a case of art imitating life.
In the end, are we really surprised?