Vince McMahon back in charge, plans to sell WWE

Disgraced WWE chairman Vince McMahon. Photo: Ethan Miller/AFP

Disgraced WWE chairman Vince McMahon. Photo: Ethan Miller/AFP

Published Jan 17, 2023


By Glenn Schouw

Cape Town — Like a meteorite, disgraced multi-billionaire Vince McMahon has re-entered the WWE Universe with a bang.

Back in control, McMahon is preparing an attempted sale of the company, with Saudi Arabia a strong favourite.

McMahon tapped out of his lucrative company last year, following numerous sexual misconduct allegations, with him forking out close to $20-million (about R340m) in hush money to four ex-female WWE employees in exchange for them signing non-disclosure agreements.

This prohibited them talking about their relationship with McMahon and any allegations of sexual misconduct.

McMahon says he was given bad advice to step down and believes he is in the best position to maximise value for all WWE shareholders.

McMahon's return, with his name engraved in gold back on his former office door as the executive chairperson, has led to his daughter, Stephanie, and co-CEO and chairperson of WWE, quitting.

Stephanie and her husband, Paul “Triple H” Levesque, the head of creative, are against his return and the selling of the WWE.

Levesque, hugely popular with the WWE wrestlers, has brought back many wrestlers McMahon had dismissed. He has also boosted the quality of tournaments and, consequently, drawn millions of new fans to the WWE Universe.

Under McMahon's leadership, the product was on the decline in the past few years.

No surprise that more blood is in the water followed after Stephanie made it clear there would be no red carpet for her dad's shock return.

McMahon wasted no time in wielding the axe. Three WWE board members were removed. Two others resigned.

McMahon has always been the majority shareholder, giving him power over the company, even after stepping down.

The indications are that McMahon is in favour of selling the WWE to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, for about $896-billion (about R10.6-trillion).

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund are also the owners of English Premier League side Newcastle United and LIV Golf.

WWE has worked closely with Saudi Arabia for almost a decade, holding prestigious live events in the Middle East.

But there are other contenders, Such as Comcast/NBC Universal, which broadcasts Raw on the USA Network and owns what was the WWE Network, showing pay per views on its Peacock streaming platform.

The WWE's main rival in the sports entertainment business, All Elite Wrestling (AEW), is also watching developments closely.

CNBC reported the company, owned and run by the Khan family, Shahid and his son, Tony, would be interested in merging with its larger rival.

If the WWE opts for Saudi, some issues, such as ethnicity, would need to be ironed out.

The Saudi government was not in favour of top WWE performer Sami Zayn, who is Syrian, wrestling in the country.

Some WWE wrestlers are also not keen to compete there. This follows an incident when, after a pay dispute, some wrestlers and crew were reportedly “held hostage” after a show and briefly not allowed to fly home.

However, it is a no-brainer that if the 77-year-old McMahon pins down the Saudis, the WWE wrestlers will strike oil in the form of massive pay increases.

IOL Sport

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