“Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.” While these words didn’t pertain to the world of professional wrestling then sung by Roger Daltrey of The Who, they remain true. In the summer of 2022, a shockwave was sent through the world of entertainment sports when Vince McMahon, owner of the WWE, announced he was retiring. It wasn’t exactly a gracious exit either which is why the news that he’s now coming back, particularly shocking.
Yes, McMahon is back as executive chairman of the board of directors for the WWE; something he is apparently within his rights to do given the controlling interest in shares of the company. His stepping down came in the midst of an investigation regarding sexual misconduct and treatment of female employees. The investigation itself cost the company a reported $19.4 million; and now the source of that investigation is forcibly putting himself back onto the board.
“WWE is entering a critical juncture in its history with the upcoming media rights negotiations coinciding with increased industry-wide demand for quality content and live events and with more companies seeking to own the intellectual property on their platforms,” McMahon said about his return.
The new filing shows changes to WWE’s bylaws, so media rights deals and any company sales can’t be made without his approval. The filing includes his letters to the board as exhibits. His presence as the leading shareholder will effectively give the WWE (as well as any negotiating party) assurances he is onboard with the decision making process. To put it another way, Vince wants control over selling the company outright, or who acquires its programming.
Shares of WWE jumped 10% in afterhours trading. While that’s not necessarily a guaranteed sign that a sale of the company is coming, it is still something that’s worth noting. The current broadcast and streaming rights for the “Raw” and “Smackdown” programs are going to enter renegotiation, so if there were ever a time to sell, now would be the time. While there are other wrestling promotions out there like AEW and Impact, none of them carry the legacy and clout of the WWE.
Looks like 2023 is starting off with a plot that’s actually on-par with something the writers would’ve cooked up for their in-universe storylines.