Vince McMahon retiring as WWE chairman and CEO, signaling massive shift in pro wrestling

The most important person in the history of professional wrestling hands over the reins.

Vince McMahon is stepping down as Chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, he announced Friday. In a WWE press release, McMahon, 76, further announced that his daughter Stephanie and current WWE President Nick Khan would serve as co-CEOs. Stephanie McMahon, who is serving as interim CEO, will also serve as chair, according to McMahon’s statement.

McMahon had previously resigned from his role as Chairman and CEO after a Wall Street Journal report revealed an investigation by the WWE Board of Directors into a secret $3 million settlement McMahon gave to a former WWE attorney. But at the time, McMahon was still maintaining his role as head of WWE creative, and sources told ESPN that McMahon’s retirement was for aesthetic reasons.

The Wall Street Journal followed suit on July 8 with another report alleging McMahon’s impropriety. The newspaper reported that the board was investigating $12 million given to four former WWE employees or contractors to silence allegations of McMahon’s sexual misconduct.

The $12 million reportedly included $7.5 million to a former WWE wrestler who said McMahon forced oral sex on her, demoted her, and then didn’t renew her contract in 2005 after she engaged in further sexual encounters with him had opposed.

McMahon’s retirement represents a massive shift in the world of professional wrestling, in which he has been a fixture since he bought WWE from his father in the 1980s. McMahon grew WWE into a billion-dollar brand with global reach, a promotion that held its own against the competition for decades.

“I am extremely confident in the continued success of WWE and am leaving our company in the capable hands of an exceptional group of Superstars, employees and leaders – particularly Chairman and Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon and Co-CEO Nick Khan,” McMahon said in a statement , which was released to WWE investors on Friday, “As a controlling shareholder, I will continue to support WWE in any way I can. Personally, I would like to thank our community and our business partners, shareholders and board of directors for their leadership and support over the years.”

WWE also announced Friday that McMahon’s son-in-law and Stephanie’s husband, Paul “Triple H” Levesque, would return to the company as head of talent relations, although it was immediately unclear if this was related to McMahon’s retirement.

McMahon will leave behind a complicated legacy, one fraught with scandal, including allegations that he supplied his wrestlers with steroids, which were leveled against him by the United States government in 1994. A jury found McMahon not guilty.

In the late 1990s, McMahon, who also worked for years as an on-camera play-by-play announcer, became a key on-screen figure during one of the hottest times for WWE. His evil boss character, Mr. McMahon, taking on working class anti-hero “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is one of the most memorable storylines in WWE history. The feud helped WWE overtake WCW, the rival promotion that WWE later bought.

WWE became a public company in 1999. The top two television shows, Raw and SmackDown, have been among the top-rated shows on cable television since the 1990s.

https://www.espn.com/wwe/story/_/id/34281650/vince-mcmahon-retiring-wwe-chairman-ceo-signaling-massive-shift-professional-wrestling Vince McMahon retiring as WWE chairman and CEO, signaling massive shift in pro wrestling

Emma Bowman

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