It is Groundhog Day in the year 2024.
For the first time in the company’s history, no one named McMahon is in charge at World Wrestling Entertainment. And for the first time in forty years, Vincent Kennedy McMahon, the guy who essentially nationalized professional wrestling in America, has nothing to do with the company that made him a billionaire.
This whole damn situation is wild and it’s only going to get more interesting as time goes on.
Vince McMahon bought his father’s company, the Capital Wrestling Corporation, in 1982 with designs of taking what Vince Senior dubbed the “World Wide Wrestling Federation” to a national audience. Before Vince Junior, wrestling was basically a territorial business with various promoters operating in their own personal fiefdoms no one dared cross. Occasionally promoters would collaborate with talent trades and cross-promotion of shows, but no one really had designs to shake that whole system up until Vince Junior bought out daddy.
And Vincent Kennedy McMahon was ready to pull the mother of all disruptions for the old “Territory” system to which wrestling adhered. Ignoring other promoters markets, Vince decided to simply push his shows where he pleased and signed any talent other promoters had to his new company, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). This was how Vince found a big star in Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea—he just poached Hogan from Verne Gagne’s AWA.
Vince basically created the pay per view market for pro wrestling with Wrestlemania, his vision of what pro wrestling’s “Super Bowl” could be. He took the WWF to the stock market as a publicly traded company, something that to my knowledge has never been done with any other pro wrestling promotion in America. And in a very forward thinking maneuver, he started the WWE network in 2014, giving the promotion its own streaming access on demand platform.
Wrestling gave “Vinnie Mac” his billions, and those billions would be Vinnie Mac’s downfall.
Before we get any further into this I want to make it clear what I’m about to discuss involves a lot of allegations, rumor, and innuendo. This is America. People are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Even if they’re shitty billionaires. And people have the right to defend themselves in a court of law. Even, again, if they’re shitty billionaires.
So. Ahem. Let’s begin.
Vince has a history of some really perverse behavior. One of his former referees, a lady named Rita Chatterton, sued him for sexual abuse in 2022. Vince settled that suit out of court to allegedly “avoid the cost of litigation.” He’s also been accused of assaulting tanning salon attendants twice, in 2006 and 2011 respectively.
The big bombshell about Vince’s indiscretions with women, specifically company employees, came in April of 2022 when the WWE board of directors announced an investigation into a $3 million hush money payment McMahon made with company funds to an unnamed employee with whom he’d had a sexual relationship. One discovered hush money payment led to another and by October of 2022 the WWE Board disclosed McMahon made a whopping $19.6 million dollars in hush money payments to settle sexual misconduct claims.
Vince decided to step down as WWE Chairman in June of 2022 and then announced his retirement the next month. However, six months later he’d return to the WWE Board of Directors as Chairman citing a need to have a hand in upcoming media rights negotiations and to pursue “strategic alternatives” for shareholders. Basically the McMahon family patriarch had decided to sell his baby and he was going to make sure he got paid in the process.
He did this by using his majority shareholder status in WWE to force his way back onto the Board of Directors and appointed two of his personal cronies into board positions. With McMahon overseeing negotiations he orchestrated a merger with the mixed martial arts league Ultimate Fighting Championships to create a new group called TKO Holdings. As TKO Group Holdings’ Executive Chairman, Vince McMahon was in a prime spot to continue building his bankroll with new boss Ari Emannuel’s blessing.
And things seemed to be going well for the company. They announced last week a multi-billion dollar deal with Netflix to bring “Monday Night Raw,” the longest weekly episodic cable show in history, to the platform. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was named to the TKO Board of Directors.
Then last week Janel Grant, a former WWE employee, brought a lawsuit against the company, Vince McMahon, and several other named parties alleging, inter alia, sexual assault, sex trafficking, and more.
Grant’s complaint is here. It’s a rough read. She’s requested a jury trial, and if there’s any veracity to the text messages in the complaint Vince is done publicly.
He’s done with WWE and TKO as well. After Grant’s lawsuit found its way to the pages of the Wall Street Journal, Vince issued a statement saying he planned to defend himself in court and Grant was telling nothing but lies. However, out of “respect” for the TKO shareholders and company members, he was resigning as Executive Chairman effective immediately.
I have questions. I have a lot of questions. Let’s set a timer for sixty seconds.
Why not just hire hookers, Vince? They get paid upfront and you don’t have to worry about the NDAs and hush money then, right? Isn’t professional discretion a good thing?
This explains a whole bunch of really questionable storylines in the 90s and a bunch of poop jokes, doesn’t it?
Why would you shit on someone during a threesome?
Why is a billionaire in his seventies who spends his days dictating his every word to professional assistants writing text messages like a drunken, horny 17 year old boy?
Are the three most devastating letters in all of pro wrestling now officially N,D, and A?
If Grant got this much money and favors for being an office worker then what did the employees who got paid millions for their silence have to go through?
Was all that money really worth fucking a seventy-plus year old man who does steroids?
How in the hell was he doing this with other employees at the offices in Stamford and no one had the nuts to say anything about it?
Isn’t this the ideal time for pro wrestlers to unionize?
Does Vince regret calling himself “The Genetic Jackhammer?”
Was Grant still a 1099 employee and if so was she allowed to take extra dates on the side (This is the obligatory deep cut for wrestling nerds)?
What were other “play dates” Vince organized like?
Does Vince really have a leg to stand on now feigning disgust at the Plane Ride From Hell?
(okay, that’s two deep cuts)
How deep does this whole shitstorm run? Who knew what and who are the unnamed executives listed in the suit?
How does John Laurinatis’s wife feel about him allegedly sexually assaulting a young woman with his boss while she recovered from cancer treatments?
Speaking of Laurinatis, does he regret telling Jim Cornette he can’t yell at trainees in developmental “because WWE’s a publicly traded company” while Johnny Ace was boinking office help?
“Marital Aids,” if one will forgive the term, named after pro wrestlers? Really?
I ran out of time before those last two, but what the hell.
Anyway, the SEC filling TKO made last fall about Vince’s status as Executive Chairman being a potential liability for the company makes a whole lot more sense now.
That’s all for this week folks. Sorry for being a touch dark this week—I’ll do my best to regale you all with some quality dick jokes next week. Have a great weekend and remember—no matter what you did this week at least you didn’t lose a billion dollar job because you couldn’t stop banging the hired help!