By now I’m sure everyone’s heard that Vince McMahon is being investigated for allegedly paying $3 million in hush money to a former employee he had an alleged personal relationship with, which in turn led to rumors of other such alleged cover-ups. There’s a lot of questions about what what could happen coming out of this situation, so let’s take a realistic look at the story, what we know now, and how this might affect both Vince himself and WWE as a business.
Firstly, I used the word “alleged” a lot in the previous paragraph for a reason: all of this is allegations at this time. Yes, there have been rumors about this kind of behavior in WWE, many specifically involving Vince McMahon, for decades now, but nobody knows exactly what happened other than the people who were allegedly involved. We have due process and the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” in this country (the United States, for the record) for a reason, and if evidence comes out to support the accusations then that’s a different story, but I personally don’t believe in convicting people based on an allegation and then expecting them to prove their innocence. So let’s use that as a starting point instead of the pitchforks and torches approach.
Beyond that, Vince has long been seen by hardcore wrestling fans as this kind of villain who wants to squash professional wrestling so he can cram mindless sports entertainment down our throats. Those people aren’t wrong, but I think a lot of these same fans have visions dancing around in their heads right now of Vince being removed, and without him we will live in a wrestling utopia where the stupid gimmicks, “body” guys with little to no wrestling ability, and lobotomized storylines go away, and instead we go back to traditional wrestling angles, workers like Dolph Ziggler, Finn Balor, and Bobby Roode taking their rightful places in the main event where they should have been all along, ratings go through the roof, and everyone lives happily ever after.
I hate to burst your bubble, but that’s unlikely to happen, for a few reasons. First is that Vince McMahon is kind of like the Vladimir Putin of the wrestling industry. Yeah, he doesn’t give hardcore fans what they want, and yeah, the allegations don’t paint the picture of what most people would consider a decent human being. That said, he’s the devil we know, and the same way there’s a fear that someone much more dangerous and unhinged may take over for Putin whenever he’s gone, things could actually end up way worse in WWE (and by extension, the entire wrestling business) if he winds up losing control of WWE.
The longtime expectation has been that, whenever Vince is no longer running WWE, Triple H would take over creative and Stephanie would take over the business end. Problem is, that’s the future that was envisioned if Vince died or retired, not if he was forced out. Generally, when top executives leave a position in disgrace, any family members remaining at the company usually are gone before too long themselves.
If a member of the McMahon family doesn’t wind up in charge, probably someone with a corporate background outside of wrestling (such as current CEO Nick Khan, who does outrank both Hunter and Stephanie) takes over, and history has repeatedly shown that corporate leadership never fails to send wrestling companies spiraling straight into the ground. This happened with Turner and WCW, Sinclair and ROH, and Panda Energy/Dixie Carter and TNA, and there’s no reason to believe it would go any differently with WWE. As much as you might dislike Vince McMahon’s WWE, don’t expect anyone who replaces him to know how to improve matters (at least from the fans’ perspective).
There’s also the fact that, regardless of what comes of the investigation, the Board does not have the power to kick Vince out since he retains voting control of WWE. I think anyone who knows anything about Vince knows he is highly unlikely to leave voluntarily, but if he doesn’t, it may lead to a situation where his business partners (ie the TV networks, Make A Wish, Susan G. Komen, etc) will refuse to work with WWE as long as Vince is there. That would create a very interesting battle between what’s best for business vs Vince’s willingness to fight to the death over this.
Much like the war in Ukraine, it’s impossible to know right now how this will end or what the long term effects on WWE and wrestling in general will be, but it definitely bears watching since this could potentially have ripple effects on everything in the wrestling business for years to come.
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