Vince McMahon for good or bad knows how to make waves in the wrestling world and his return to WWE after “retiring” isn’t going to be his last bombshell.
When the news started up some weeks ago that Vince McMahon was looking for a return to the company that he led for decades, my initial thought was there is no way that I could see it happening. However, if 2022 taught us anything that wrestling is literally going through the most insane time in a very, very long time.
I only doubted Vince’s return because the allegations are still lingering over him and from a PR standpoint it could be an absolute disaster for the company. The company under the leadership of Nick Khan/Stephanie McMahon and Triple H has successfully managed the company since Vince McMahon’s “retirement” over the summer. The company has done well financially since Vince’s departure, which was always a concern if the company could survive without Vince at the helm.
Vince maintained his controlling interest in WWE stock, so I never completely closed the door on the possibility of him eventually exercising that voting power to impact the company, but I never expected him to practically forcing his way back into the door. With the reports of Vince threatening to hold up future media deals and sale of the company, Vince left the board with no choice but to give into his demands.
Why Has He Returned?
The only person that likely truly knows Vince McMahon’s motives on why he insisted on returning to the company is Vince McMahon himself and possibly a very small group of close confidants. Everyone in the media including myself is just speculating on what is really going on here and what this means for the future of the company.
I do understand Vince’s desire to return to the company, the man is 77 years old, and he has dedicated his life to the WWF/E. Vince has said over the years that he loves the wrestling business, and he didn’t consider it work running the company because he loved running it. Vince didn’t take vacations and was always called a machine by multiple people that worked for him over the years. WWE was his life so when he was forced to walk away from it, the question was so what Vince is going to do in retirement because running WWE was all he ever did.
I wrote a piece thanking Vince for everything he did for the wrestling industry and for introducing me to the business that I have been a fan of for most of my life, when he “retired”. I made it clear in that piece and I will once again make it clear that I am not supporting or condoning anything that he is being accused of doing over the years from his accusers.
I understand the motivation behind wanting to return as he wasn’t able to go out on his own terms, but instead was forced out of the company that he built into a global powerhouse. Much like wrestlers like HBK, Edge, Christian Cage and Bryan Danielson that had career ending injuries while working for WWE, but somehow return to have a second chance to go out on their own terms, Vince is looking at this as his second chance to go out on his terms is my guess.
The other thing that I don’t think many people are considering is that the company is the connection to his father and Vince wanted that connection back in his life and wants it to end on his terms. The connection to a parent like a father to son is a bond like no other and when you lose that person in your life, you look to things that help you feel that connection again.
For some of you readers, you may not know what I mean by this, but you likely one day will. I don’t know if this is actually Vince’s motivation, but considering how close Vince was to his father, and it doesn’t matter how long his father has been gone that pain never goes away so the WWE is that one piece that helps Vince feel that connection to him.
Personally, before Vince “retired”, my belief was that he would never retire or sell the company and wanted to die on the job because he loved what he was doing and that is how he wanted to go out. However, with everything that has gone done and the allegations still hanging over him, I truly believe that Vince wants to make one last major impact on the wrestling business before his time is up or the allegations become something more.
What Is He Going To Do?
In all honesty, I think Vince wanted back into WWE to do one of two possible things to ensure its future whether that is the media deal or selling the promotion the empire that he has built. All the initial reports of Vince wanting back into the promotion with fans fearing the worst that he was going to take full control over creative and undo all the good Triple H has done with creative control was understandable. I would be lying if I said the promo Vince cut in 2002 about injecting poison into the WWE if he couldn’t have the WWE then he would kill it, didn’t cross my mind when the story first broke.
Of course, at the time he was involved in a storyline with Ric Flair, who “owned” 50% of WWE because he bought it from Shane and Stephanie when they “sold” their interest in WWE to “buy” WCW and ECW to takedown Vince. As a result, Vince was willing to “kill WWE” by bringing in the nWo.
At this time as long as it is a publicly traded company, I do not believe Vince will interject himself outside of the parameters of the media deal and a possible sale of the company. Going outside of those parameters could trigger potential lawsuits or SEC issues, so as long as that lingers and with Vince’s personal allegations lingering, I think we won’t be seeing Vince going outside those parameters…at least not right now.
I do truly believe that Vince is looking to do one of two possible things, either he is looking to completely sell the company in its entirety to someone else or possibly looking to buy the remaining the shares himself for it to become a private company again.
At the end of the day, I could see Vince choosing either option, because the future of WWE is once again up to Vince McMahon regardless not being the CEO of the company and quite frankly as the largest shareholder it was never not out of his hands as he could stop media deals or a sale as he made clear as he forced himself back on the board.
The most telling thing about what went down this wasn’t just Vince bringing himself to the board, but he forced other members off to bring in two of his former presidents with him. My guess is Vince has something massive in the works and he is ensuring that he has the board numbers in his favor to approve whatever that is.
There are potential suiters being mentioned by the media, from Comcast to Netflix to Disney to Amazon to Discovery to Endeavor. Personally, I don’t think you can ever truly count out Disney in any media acquisition as they certainly like acquiring video libraries and intellectual property. Despite SD airing on FOX, I do not believe Disney will be the buyer of WWE.
Netflix doesn’t have the capital and has not shown any live streaming capability to be a viable buyer here. Amazon certainly has the capability to buy them, but at the same time WWE live touring is so outside their wheelhouse I’m not sure how likely they’d want to buy them, but a streaming or media deal is certainly possible. Discovery is dealing with a ton of backlash from canceling content since buying WB, so I doubt there is the capital or interest there to own a wrestling promotion.
Comcast is a strong possible buyer in my opinion as their NBC/USA Network brands have strong ties for years airing WWE content and the Peacock absorption of the U.S. WWE Network has been a strong asset to them. I don’t believe they want to lose the content and I think it makes a strong case for them being in the running here. There is also the possibility that if they buy them, they leave the McMahons and Khan in charge of the company. This not only gives them a massive payday, but they secure the company’s future and get to still do what they love doing.
Endeavor, the company that bought the UFC and still left Dana White in charge is certainly an option here. Unless I’m mistaken, I believe the ownership does have ties to both Nick Khan and The Rock, and it was interesting that in July just before Vince’s “retirement” that Vince, Stephanie, Triple H and Nick Khan were all at a UFC event together. Yes, it was in the same location as MITB, but still when has Vince ever shown any interest in the UFC? All the people in charge of WWE and possibly members of the ownership group of Endeavor all being in the same place certainly makes you wonder especially with what we know now. Like the possible Comcast deal, the McMahons could get a massive payday and still be left in charge of the WWE.
The last possible option although unlikely is Vince buying the remaining shares of the company turning it into a private company again, which eliminates any SEC strings attached to the company. Vince could go full Emperor Palpatine and eliminate the Board of Directors like Palpatine did the Senate as well.
I truly believe the most likely suitors that will buy WWE is either Comcast or Endeavor.
I truly believe whatever the future holds for WWE being sold, will possibly involve the McMahons remaining in charge of the company as a condition of the sale or such a financial windfall that multiple generations of the family will never have to work again. Vince has always been ahead of the curve knowing when to zig and zag before anyone else knew they needed to do it.
From taking the company national before his competitors or embracing PPV and then abandoning it when PPV was slowing down replacing it with his own streaming service then selling the streaming rights for the network for another billion dollars for 5 years. So, whatever Vince is going to do here is going to leave an impact not only on WWE, but the wrestling industry as a whole and that will continue to add to his legacy in the wrestling industry.
Like him or hate him, it doesn’t matter, the man will leave a legacy that will outlive him when all is said and done no matter how you feel about Vince.
Photo Credits – WWE & UFC