Stephanie McMahon resigned from the company as her father returned to its Board. Now, rumors fly about a sale to the Saudi Public Investment Fund — let’s make sense of all this.
Wrestling Twitter was set ablaze Tuesday evening as the rumor mill began to spin regarding an earth-shaking business decision that would constitute the biggest heel turn of Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s career.
Which is saying something.
The gist was this: After retiring from the WWE in July 2022 in the wake of a hush money scandal regarding alleged extramarital affairs, Vince suddenly willed his way back into the center of the business this week, with board members unanimously electing him as Executive Chairman. This coincided with the resignation of his daughter, Stephanie McMahon, from her roles as Chairwoman and Co-CEO of the company.
Then, things got really juicy: Several insiders — a few of whom have since deleted their initial tweets on the matter — noted rumors pointing to Vince McMahon quite possibly (1) taking the publicly traded company private and (2) selling it to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund.
To be clear, there’s no evidence to suggest that any such pen-to-paper deal is in place, as many pundits and observers have noted:
And yet, the rumors persist.
The prevailing conventional wisdom upon the 77-year-old Vince McMahon’s surprise return was that he was dead-set on positioning himself in the middle of imminent WWE media rights negotiations, as well as a possible sale of the business. And while his restoration to the Board was ultimately not to be denied, it’s worth noting a couple of key details:
- Before unanimously voting him into the Executive Chairman role following Stephanie McMahon’s resignation, all Board members, including Stephanie and husband Paul “Triple H” Levesque, put in writing their opposition to Vince’s return
- As a publicly traded company, there are several legal and regulatory hoops WWE would have to jump through successfully in order to go private or effect a sale, to say nothing of shareholder accountability
There’s an incredible amount of palace intrigue afoot here, and there’s a ton we don’t know. But with WWE’s stock currently outperforming just about every other media and entertainment company under the sun, it’s clear that “Mr. McMahon” remains uninterested in allowing any pro wrestling gravy train to exist that doesn’t feature himself as conductor.
And given his existing relationship with the Saudi authorities through official WWE events in the Kingdom like Crown Jewel, as well as the increasingly aggressive pursuit of “sportswashing” through the repressive, authoritarian nation’s Public Investment Fund in the form of LIV Golf and the purchase of Premier League football club Newcastle United, it would be anything but out of the question that the brazen businessman would want to go such a route as a final l’état c’est moi moment to cap off his career.
But for now, though there are plenty of reasons these days to run around like your hair is on fire, we have permission to pump the brakes on what is or isn’t a foregone conclusion regarding a WWE Saudi Arabia sale.
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