THE SELF-IMPOSED FALL OF VINCE McMAHON
“When it’s time for me to go. I would like to be devoured by the biggest, baddest carnivore that ever walked the face of the earth. And then I’d like that son of a bitch to get indigestion and vomit my remains back up.”
– Vince McMahon to Playboy Magazine in 2001
On Friday, Vince McMahon moved out of the house. On Monday, they changed the locks.
While the news of Vince McMahon’s resignation was portrayed as a retirement, everyone read between the lines bracing for another shoe to drop after many had fallen over the past six weeks. That shoe came in a size 8-K that the company filed revealing its findings of unreported expenses of around $14.6 million related to the outgoing CEO and chairman of the board of directors.
The figure is higher than the one last reported by the Wall Street Journal, which has uncovered four non-disclosure settlements that totaled over $12 million – including one stunning settlement figure of $7.5 million for a former female talent, who alleged she was coerced into performing oral sex on McMahon prior to her demotion and eventual release.
WWE’s wording left confusion regarding the source of the payments and the whether company funds had contributed to that $14.6 million figure. Tony Maglio of Indie Wire reports that it was McMahon’s funds that covered the expenses, however, by concealing the information, it had benefited the company and should have been disclosed regardless of his personal funds being used.
The discovery of the expenses has led WWE to delay its reporting of its latest quarterly earnings and going to back to revise financial statements from 2019 onward. It was made clear that the internal process of reporting failed in this regard and that potential regulatory and investigative measures have either already begun or could be presented in the future.
After a lionizing tribute to McMahon on SmackDown, it is hard to envision a similar treatment tonight on Raw rather than the company looking forward with new messaging, new people, and a new vision to put the improprieties of Vince in the rear-view mirror.
It is a stark reversal after McMahon was primed to be the central focus of a Netflix documentary, a scripted series being shopped by Blumhouse Productions, and a possible book project as WWE expanded its footprint in various media circles with Vince being their most valuable piece as of several months ago.
It was telling that Vince McMahon – the leader of the company going back to 1982 when he purchased Capitol Sports from his father – couldn’t deliver his own farewell address on his own television. Tonight, they are in the arena synonymous with the McMahon lineage and the site of McMahon’s first major success as a national promoter in March 1985.
The future of Vince McMahon is impossible to determine. He is sitting on endless wealth but exits his company in disgrace, representing an internal culture at WWE that was in need of a transplant.
Larger-than-life figures are given longer leashes than most, and McMahon is the largest in his industry. He also remains the company’s largest shareholder by leaps and bounds that provides him more than eighty percent of the voting power, which makes the idea of a complete exile impossible.
The story isn’t finished with the company’s board of investigators still conducting its investigation, outlets reporting on the story, and the question of anyone coming forward to add a name and face to any allegations.
Sadly, McMahon’s ultimate undoing didn’t appear to be the actions he is accused of but instead, the way in which he went about making them disappear. Everyone’s moral compass is different but major entertainment figures with ties to one’s childhood seem to have the greatest benefit of the doubt or outright dismissal of what they are accused of. To some, McMahon is only viewed as the author of their fandom and what they do outside of their parameters doesn’t compromise their creator-consumer relationship. For the rest, it’s a conflict of balancing one’s fandom with the realities of countless practices and stories that make their way to the public domain and force those to reconcile those actions, that often go unchecked.
There was a time and place when McMahon could make problems disappear. In a public company that answers to shareholders and is negotiating billion-dollar deals, the spotlight was never brighter, and that light became the necessary disinfectant.
The fear of a Vince-less WWE crashing the stock was unfounded on Monday – with growing expectations of a potential sale amidst the news of Vince’s ouster, the stock has jumped and demonstrated stability in the face of chaos.
The faces of WWE are now Nick Khan, Stephanie McMahon-Levesque, and Paul Levesque.
Khan’s power reaches another zenith as someone that no longer answers to the #1, instead co-occupying that role and will undoubtedly be the lead on brokering any sale, the forthcoming domestic rights negotiations – both of which could be tied together. The weight Khan carries in the entertainment and sports industry cannot be overstated and represents as steady of a hand on the WWE wheel as possible in this seismic shift in power figures.
Paul Levesque steps into the biggest task of his executive career, overseeing the creative process across the company while also handling his recently reclaimed title as head of talent relations.
After losing the Wednesday night battle with AEW, he returns with ultimate control of the company’s flagship properties with the power to streamline the entire system from an entry-level NIL contract to a headliner at WrestleMania – in his vision, on his timetable, and his decision-making.
While many will tune into Raw tonight out of curiosity, the true test will be how the programming reflects Levesque’s vision in several months and the small and impactful changes that cannot be realized through one major angle or promo or match that can be executed at a moment’s notice.
While fans will gravitate to the intrigue of a renewed presentation on television, Levesque is essentially tasked with keeping the ship steady with television viewership faring well in a continually fragmented cable universe and providing Khan and company with the best data and ammunition to attract bidders for their rights, which come due in over two years but meaningful negotiations will start well in advance of that time table.
Moves will be made, power is up for grabs, factions will prosper, the musical chairs will begin, and some will be left without seats when the song stops.
While many will eulogize and pay tribute to the visionary Vince McMahon, equal attention is due to the disgrace in which he leaves his post overseeing his company over the actions he is accused of. He is the author of his professional demise and time will determine how his legacy is viewed.
POST IT NOTES
**Wai Ting and I will be back tonight with Rewind-A-Raw to cover tonight’s show from Madison Square Garden, which is sold out and will be newsworthy given all of today’s news. We will also go over this week’s schedule at POST Wrestling, which will include more G1 Climax shows for POST Wrestling Café members, the ASK-A-WAI Mailbag Show, POST Shows for WWE SummerSlam, UFC 277 & more.
**Dave Meltzer joined me for a discussion on Monday to chat about the Vince McMahon departure from WWE, the latest findings regarding unreported expenses, Paul Levesque taking over the creative responsibilities in the company, and all the ramifications of the latest news.
**Wai Ting and I did a show on Sunday night for POST Wrestling Café members covering Day 4 & Day 5 of the G1 Climax with a review of all the matches, my initial impressions of the tournament, top matches over the past week, and how the format has worked. Plus, we spoke about my recent vacation, a bunch of F1 documentaries, the French Grand Prix, and more.
**With all of today’s news and the growing sense of a possible sale of WWE, the company’s stock shot up over eight percent on Monday, closing at $71.81. As its largest stakeholder, Vince McMahon’s on-paper growth was sizable on Monday. This was the complete opposite of the major corporate shakeup in early 2020 when co-presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson left the company and the stock took a dramatic fall.
**Tonight’s edition of Raw is the go-home edition before SummerSlam. I expect lots of lapsed eyes on the program tonight based on the exit of Vince McMahon and will be curious to see how the show comes across. The major items promoted include Roman Reigns appearing on the show to team with The Usos against Riddle & The Street Profits, the 20th anniversary of Rey Mysterio’s debut in WWE with Rey teaming with Dominik against Finn Balor & Damian Priest, and Logan Paul hosts his own segment.
WWE Monday Night RAW
Mon • Jul 25 • 7:30 PM
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Available Tickets => 2
Current Setup/Capacity => 12,833
Tickets Distributed => 12,831
Resale => 88
— WrestleTix (@WrestleTix) July 25, 2022
**Due to scheduling, we will have a story on the Friday Night SmackDown & AEW Rampage ratings either late tonight or Tuesday morning. We will cover the numbers on Rewind-A-Raw tonight. In Canada, SmackDown did 124,500 viewers and 55,100 in the 25-54 demographic, which was fifth for the night among sports programming in the country.
**Deadline covered Alan Gould’s report from Loop Capital regarding potential buyers for WWE given the increasing demand for live event programming. Gould cites Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and Comcast among potential suitors with Gould previously expecting a 50 percent increase for WWE’s rights in their next round of domestic negotiations, which he noted could be on the low end.
**CNBC covered the story involving Vince McMahon’s exit and the potential of a sale while also noting Loop Capital’s upgrade for the WWE stock:
Part of WWE’s overperformance this year may stem from heightened investor sentiment for a possible sale. Loop Capital upgraded WWE shares to a “buy” rating Monday and raised its price target on shares to $90 from $59 “based on a greater likelihood that the company is sold with Vince McMahon stepping down.”
**Ariel Helwani speaks with Rey Mysterio for BT Sport prior to SummerSlam this Saturday.
**The first episode of UFC Embedded going into UFC 277 this weekend.
**Here are the matches for AEW Dark: Elevation tonight at 7 p.m. ET on AEW’s YouTube channel:
*Konosuke Takeshita vs. JD Drake
*Toni Storm vs. Emi Sakura
*Evil Uno & Preston “10” Vance vs. Aaron Solo & Nick Comoroto
*Baron Black vs. Brandon Cutler
*Kris Statlander vs. Brittany
*Nyla Rose & Marina Shafir vs. Shalonce Royal & Angelica Risk
*Private Party & Angelico vs. AR Fox, Liam Gray & Adrian Alanis
*Hikaru Shida vs. Robyn Renegade
POST INTERVIEW: Dave Meltzer on Vince McMahon’s exit
John Pollock is joined by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter to speak about Vince McMahon’s departure from WWE.
G1 Climax – Day 4 & Day 5
John Pollock reunites with Wai Ting to discuss Days 4 & 5 of NJPW G1 Climax 32 headlined by Jay White vs. Tomohiro Ishii and Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi.
WRESTLENOMICS: Pro wrestling after Vince McMahon; ROH PPV
More on the fallout of Vince McMahon’s retirement following a sexual misconduct investigation by WWE’s board of directors. Plus, Jesse Collings was in-person at ROH Death Before Dishonor.
The N.W.A. Podcast: “The End Of An Error”
Brandon Thurston (Wrestlenomics) joins Nate, Kris & Andrew to discuss Vince McMahon’s resignation, Sasha Banks & Naomi’s future, Titus O’Neal and more.
ROH Death Before Dishonor POST Show
Wai Ting & Kate from MTL review ROH Death Before Dishonor 2022 featuring FTR vs. The Briscoes for the ROH World Tag Team Championship.
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN: Vince McMahon Retires
Wai Ting & Kate from MTL discuss and take patron calls about the retirement of Vince McMahon. Plus reviews of WWE SmackDown and AEW Rampage.
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