Longtime CEO of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Vince McMahon, has stepped down from his position under pressure from the company’s board of directors, who are currently running an investigation into alleged misconduct.
A recent Wall Street Journal report shared that the board was investigating a secret settlement between McMahon and an ex-employee with whom he had an affair, according to documents and inquiry targets. However, that’s not the only trouble that’s surfaced around the 76-year-old wrestling tycoon.
In brief, the investigation is focused on McMahon and a former paralegal who used to work with the company. According to a ‘WWE special committee’, $3 million was paid to the former employee as part of a separation agreement from January that also barred her from discussing or disparaging her relationship with him.
After an initial probe, the committee also found McMahon and WWE’s Head of Talent Relations Laurinaitis tied to similar nondisclosure agreements with former female employees.
This chain of discoveries was set off in April this year when the WWE’s board members received anonymous emails from someone who claimed to be friends with the aforementioned paralegal.
For now, McMahon’s daughter Stephanie, who has been part of the organization for several years, will serve as the interim CEO and chairperson. While it hasn’t been confirmed yet, it’s likely that she may take up the role permanently if her father steps down as a result of the investigations.
McMahon himself is still responsible for ‘creative storylines,’ having conceived hundreds of ideas for wrestlers, their progression through the wrestling world, and even formats for the thousands of matches he’s seen in his role.
Some speculate that Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque (a WWE legend in his own right) might take over CEO duties from his father-in-law. Despite his position as executive vice president for global talent strategy and development and the family connections through his marriage to Stephanie, Levesque is currently encumbered with heart failure issues, which put an end to his 30-year-long wrestling career last September.
Another name in the running is Shane McMahon, although it’s slim chances given that the former WWE Executive left the WWE this February. This also follows a theme of various layoffs of wrestlers, which has speculated that the property will sell itself, although Nick Khan, WWE’s president and chief revenue officer quashed those musings back in January.
One thing’s for certain though — this isn’t the first rodeo for the WWE, not by a long shot. Vince has been involved in a long string of scandals involving inappropriate conduct with women, going all the way back to the 1980s.
His first major charge took place in 1994 for allegedly supplying illegal performance enhancers, although a New York jury declared him not guilty. Five years later, tragedy struck when wrestler Owen Hart fell to his death due to a mechanical malfunction on stage, with McMahon’s team running the show even after Hart was evacuated to a nearby hospital, where he died of internal bleeding.
His wife Martha Hart would go on to sue the WWE, and was issued an $18 million settlement which was used to form a nonprofit charity organization in Owen’s name. At the time, the WWE was called the WWF – a name change that in itself was set off by a lawsuit from the World Wildlife Foundation.
(Featured Image Credits: World Wrestling Entertainment)