A Vince McMahon return would have negative implications for all of professional wrestling.
It was bound to happen. After a few great days of wrestling action, 2023 was off to a strong start. It was a matter of time before the bad news hit the industry, and that came Thursday afternoon. Lauren Thomas of the Wall Street Journal reported that Vince McMahon is planning a return to the company in a play to sell the WWE. Her report covers exactly how he would pull it off, with many who are familiar with McMahon’s antics seeing this as nothing more than a ploy to regain power of the company. Professional wrestling is known for hyperbole, but it would be safe to say that his return would harm the entire industry.
McMahon isn’t someone who stepped away from the company because he felt it was “time” at 77 years of age. No, he was ousted amid multiple disclosures of sexual misconduct. This is the same individual that also has allegations of sexual assault on his ledger as well. His stepping down in July was a small step in potential accountability for the harm he caused from such a powerful position. And yet, less than a year later, he’s making a power play to get back to the top of the WWE. It’s a move that would be to the detriment of the entire industry.
McMahon’s return would harm more than just the WWE
Let’s start with the part that’s perhaps not getting the most attention. This is a man who has committed improper acts with multiple women under his employ. Allowing him to regain power over such an organization allows him to step right back into the position that gave him the gall to commit such acts. This isn’t someone with just one accusation, but multiple to his name. It would be understandable if the women employed by WWE felt unsafe with his return.
Since McMahon’s departure, the WWE product has improved. While some will argue to what extent, the content that Triple H is leading each week is leagues better than the lackadaisical content McMahon “created” for the last decade. While his statement claims that he is looking to just take part in the sale of WWE, those who’ve followed the promotion closely see this as nothing more than a Trojan Horse to get back into leadership. His return would weaken the WWE as a viable wrestling promotion, and that would impact the rest of the industry.
How so? In a space where independent contractors are the resources that drive fan engagement, interaction, and spending – it’s important that there is a viable marketplace with multiple potential employers in play. Triple H’s leadership put the WWE in a position where more wrestlers see that location as a potential place of employment. McMahon’s “leadership” played a factor in many individuals being released during the COVID-19 pandemic under the guise of “budget cuts,” even though the company had record revenue intake year after year. Mercedes Mone’s departure is directly linked to his mismanagement of the entire roster.
If individuals from AEW, NJPW, or any other organization do not see WWE as a viable option, that gives them one less bargaining chip to play and it makes it easier for promotions to lowball them. Fans should want to see their favorite wrestlers make as much money as possible. Instead, this situation has the potential to create the exact opposite space which harms them all.
Vince McMahon represents everything that is wrong with professional wrestling. His desire to thumb his nose at being held accountable is just that, a scoff at the idea that he did anything wrong. Hopefully, this situation plays out to the best outcome because it’s exactly what the industry needs.