Vince McMahon plans to return to WWE board by force (WSJ)

WWE, Vince McMahon (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
WWE, Vince McMahon (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Vince McMahon is at it again.

Weeks after the report that the former WWE CEO believes he received bad advice to resign and wanted to come back, it looks like McMahon is moving full steam ahead with that plan.

In a new report from Lauren Thomas at The Wall Street Journal, McMahon sent a letter to the WWE board stating that he would be electing himself, Michelle Wilson, and George Barrios to the board. The move would force three people to vacate their board positions.

This comes three weeks after another woman came forward against McMahon stating that he sexually assaulted her.

Vince McMahon wants to return as Executive Chairman

McMahon has majority voting power because he owns WWE’s Class-B stock. In the letter, McMahon stated he wanted “to help spearhead a strategic-review process. (…) Mr. McMahon believes there is a narrow window to kick off a sales process because WWE’s media rights —including for its flagship programs “Raw” and “SmackDown”—are about to be renegotiated.”

The WWE board sent a response to McMahon that it “was prepared to initiate a review process and would welcome working with him on it.” The letter went on to say that the board unanimously agreed that bringing him back to the WWE was not in the company’s best interest.

The board also asked that McMahon pay back the money spent while investigating the allegations against him. The WSJ article also says that the board “requested that he agree not to return to the company during government probes of the matter. Mr. McMahon said in response that he remains willing to continue working to complete any reimbursement for reasonable expenses related to the investigation, to the extent they aren’t covered by insurance, but he declined to agree to not return to the company.”

A probe was started after the WWE board learned that he paid $12 million in hush payments to four women. Through the investigation, the board learned he paid over $19 million to six women in total.

McMahon could potentially sell the company. He informed the board via letters that he “will not support or approve any media-rights deal or sale” unless he is allowed direct involvement as the executive chairman.

McMahon released his own PR statement

Shortly after the WSJ article was published, McMahon released his own PR statement confirming that he, Wilson, and Barrios wanted to be back on the board and that three members would need to vacate their spots to facilitate the move. In addition to being former board members, Wilson and Barrios are former co-Presidents of WWE.

The statement reads, “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.”

“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.”

In what appears to be a way to gain even more power, the press release says, “Mr. McMahon’s written consent also includes certain amendments to the Company’s bylaws to ensure that WWE’s corporate governance continues to properly enable and support shareholder rights. These changes will be detailed in a Schedule 13D amendment to be filed by Mr. McMahon and a Form 8-K to be filed by the Company in the coming days.”

McMahon fired Barrios and Wilson

McMahon previously fired Barrios and Wilson. At the time, McMahon told shareholders that they were let go because of a “different view of execution.” Barrios and Wilson wanted to keep the WWE Network where it was and add independent companies to their library. McMahon wanted to sell the network to NBC’s Peacock, which eventually happened.

Within an hour of firing them, WWE’s stock fell 20% and was down 27% the following day. Last January, Wilson and Barrios started their own firm, Isos Capital Management. The firm identifies “attractive investment opportunities in global media, sports, and entertainment industries with the new venture.” It should also be noted that the firm’s office is just 20 minutes from the WWE headquarters.

WWE employees blindsided

Today’s news is huge for WWE’s employees. Fightful Select reports that people they’ve heard from across the company had no idea this was coming and were “floored” by McMahon forcing his way back onto the WWE’s board.

Fightful reports that one talent shared that “considering some people from his regime were kept this long, they must have known it would happen.”

SmackDown airs live tomorrow, so the situation could potentially be addressed prior to the show. One of the biggest concerns is if McMahon will be involved in creative. Sean Ross Sapp confirmed that they have reached out to WWE directly about this subject.

The Select report notes that many WWE sources have “come out of the woodwork” to anonymously state that McMahon is not wanted back in the company.

A talent told Fightful that “finding out online is scary, and it’s Vince, so I don’t believe a word that he says.” They went on to praise Triple H and Stephanie McMahon and hoped current management didn’t change.

A WWE higher-up said, “I can’t count how many interviews I’ve read or people I’ve talked to outside of the company that said, ‘Vince like me, but I got fired,’ He didn’t like you, he didn’t like any of them or they wouldn’t have fired them during a pandemic.”

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It is not really a surprise that McMahon would force his way back into WWE, especially after multiple reports that a majority of people in the company don’t want him to come back and believe that the company is better off without him.

McMahon is notoriously petty and has an inflated ego. He demonstrated that when he came out on national television after the first four allegations were revealed. He knew fans in the arena would treat him as the “Mr. McMahon” character and would cheer for him.

He cares for no one but himself and will likely sacrifice his own daughter and her husband to assume control of the WWE board again and to install the “yes” people who will vote alongside him. WWE has grown 15% since he stepped down, but that doesn’t matter to him. He wants the control and the spotlight. Even if he is bluffing, he’s getting attention.

WWE, and wrestling as a whole, is better off without a man who has sexually harassed and assaulted multiple women and used his power to conceal it. No one is denying what he did for the wrestling business. We’re just telling him that people like him are not welcome, especially in places of power.

No matter what Teddy Long says, McMahon is bothering a lot of people and the wrestling world needs to shun him. Otherwise, it’s sending the message that women fans don’t matter and you just want our money and see us as nothing more than a viewer demographic.