Despite new legal demands and prior misconduct allegations, Vince McMahon has taken steps to return to the WWE as he pursues selling the company, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal.
McMahon, who has majority voting power due to his ownership of WWE’s Class-B stock, has reportedly informed WWE that he will be electing himself to its board of directors, along with former co-presidents and directors Michelle Wilson and George Barrios. That move would require three current directors to step down. He plans to be named executive chairman, pending board approval.
The WSJ also details that McMahon believes now is the right time to negotiate a sale with WWE’s media rights set to be renegotiated. According to the report, McMahon has told the board “unless he has direct involvement as executive chairman from the outset of a strategic review, he won’t support or approve any media-rights deal or sale.”
McMahon previously sent two separate letters to the Board in late December in which he expressed the urgency of his return to the company as Executive Chairman and his desire to work collaboratively with the Board and management team, he announced via a press release. McMahon determined, “consistent with his rights as controlling shareholder,” that the steps announced are necessary to maximize value for all WWE shareholders after a review was reportedly initiated, per the WSJ, and it was determined it “wouldn’t be in shareholders’ best interest.”
“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,” said McMahon, via a press release. “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.”
On the heels of allegations of misconduct, millions of dollars in reported settlements, and investigations into other nondisclosure agreements, the 77-year-old McMahon retired from WWE, handing the reigns to the company to his daughter, interim chairwoman, and chief executive, Stephanie McMahon and co-executive Nick Khan, the company’s former president and chief revenue officer. There are currently no details on what, if any, impact this return would have on Stephanie McMahon or Khan’s roles.
The news of McMahon’s impending WWE return comes on the heels of new legal demands, per the WSJ report, from two women who allege that he sexually assaulted them. According to the report, a former wrestling referee who accused him of rape three decades ago is also seeking $11.75 million in damages.