In a move that almost feels like a scripted pro-wrestling storyline come to life, Vince McMahon has seemingly forced his way back into World Wrestling Entertainment in an apparent bid to help facilitate the sale of the company.
McMahon stepped down in June from the company he created after an investigation was launched into his payment of hush money to various former female employees and allegations of sexual misconduct.
In what is still his last tweet as of this writing, McMahon announced his retirement:
At 77, time for me to retire.
Thank you, WWE Universe.
Then. Now. Forever. Together. #WWE #thankful
— Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) July 22, 2022
As ESPN reported, McMahon was found to have paid $19.6 million (of his personal funds) to help keep the accusers quiet.
McMahon, despite stepping down, still owned the majority of voting power in the company, and that appears to be how he strong-armed his way back in.
As ESPN notes, the board had previously rebuffed an attempt by McMahon to return.
The Wall Street Journal reported that McMahon felt like he had received bad advice from people in his inner circle who urged him to step down, which would explain his recent attempts to return to WWE.
In a joint statement from McMahon’s daughter, chairwoman and co-CEO Stephanie McMahon, her husband, chief content officer Paul Levesque, and other co-CEO Nick Khan, the trio also announced that the board of directors would see some shuffling.
“Today, we announce that the founder of WWE, Vince McMahon, will be returning to the Board,” the statement said. “We also welcome back Michelle Wilson and George Barrios to our Board of Directors. Together, we look forward to exploring all strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value.”
That same press release noted that McMahon has no intention “to have any impact” on the current infrastructure existing in the company.
In an apparent power move, and also to make room for Wilson and Barrios, the elder McMahon “in his capacity as controlling shareholder” removed JoEllen Lyons, Jeffrey R. Speed and Alan M. Wexler from the board. Ignace Lahoud and Man Jit Singh both resigned, as well.
Pro-wrestling reporter Sean Ross Sapp noted that Singh was the leading investigator in the internal McMahon investigation.
Again, this very much sounds like a pro-wrestling angle. But if Vince McMahon is not returning to make an impact, what is he returning for?
According to McMahon, it’s to help with upcoming media rights negotiations.
“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 in a statement.
“The only way for WWE to fully capitalize on this opportunity is for me to return as Executive Chairman and support the management team in the negotiations for our media rights and to combine that with a review of strategic alternatives. My return will allow WWE, as well as any transaction counterparties, to engage in these processes knowing they will have the support of the controlling shareholder.”
However, according to CNBC, McMahon’s corporate-speak means that he’s also back to help facilitate a sale of WWE.
In fact, CNBC reports that WWE has already hired JPMorgan to help with the sale.
According to CNBC, the “sports entertainment” (McMahon’s preferred term to “professional wrestling”) titan has a market capitalization of over $6 billion, with the speculation of a potential sale helping spike that value by nearly 17 percent.
The usual suspects are listed as prospective buyers (Disney, Fox, Comcast, etc.) though nothing appears imminent.
The value in WWE for many of these potential buyers is that it produces so much live, original content every week. It may not be a real sport, but at least real sports get an off season. Professional wrestling is a year-round endeavor, and the live, original content it produces is immensely valuable to streamers and media companies.
For now, it appears that McMahon is back just to help with this potential multi-billion dollar sale.
Once it’s complete? Given that McMahon has spent pretty much his entire life in the professional wrestling industry, it’s hard to see him quietly riding off into the sunset.
He’s already failed at that once.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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