Today, scandal-plagued former WWE CEO Vince McMahon announced his retirement from the wrestling dynasty he’s presided over for over four decades.
McMahon suddenly announced his retirement on Twitter, saying that at the age of 77 it was time for him to retire from the WWE. After thanking the World Wrestling Entertainment universe, McMahon signed off his tweet with WWE’s slogan, “Then. Now. Forever. Together”—followed by the hashtag “#thankful”.
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Update 07/22/2022 6:45 p.m. ET: In a new statement, McMahon expounded on his departure:
As I approach 77 years old, I feel it’s time for me to retire as Chairman and CEO of WWE. Throughout the years, it’s been a privilege to help WWE bring you joy, inspire you, thrill you, surprise you, and always entertain you. I would like to thank my family for mightily contributing to our success, and I would also like to thank all of our past and present Superstars and employees for their dedication and passion for our brand. Most importantly, I would like to thank our fans for allowing us into your homes every week and being your choice of entertainment. I hold the deepest appreciation and admiration for our generations of fans all over the world who have liked, currently like, and sometimes even love our form of Sports Entertainment.
Our global audience can take comfort in knowing WWE will continue to entertain you with the same fervor, dedication, and passion as always. I am extremely confident in the continued success of WWE, and I leave our company in the capable hands of an extraordinary group of Superstars, employees, and executives – in particular, both Chairwoman and Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon and Co-CEO Nick Khan. As the majority shareholder, I will continue to support WWE in any way I can. My personal thanks to our community and business partners, shareholders, and Board of Directors for their guidance and support through the years. Then. Now. Forever. Together.
McMahon’s retirement announcement comes at an auspicious time considering he is currently under investigation by the WWE for alleged affairs with multiple former WWE employees. Back in June, McMahon “voluntarily stepped back” from his roles within the company amid an ongoing investigation of one of the alleged affairs, which, according to The Wall Street Journal, involved a secret $3 million settlement between McMahon and the former employee.
The $3 million settlement barred the complainant, a former WWE paralegal, from discussing her relationship with McMahon or otherwise disparaging him. An internal probe conducted by a WWE special committee reportedly found McMahon had reached similar nondisclosure agreements with three other former female WWE employees. The employees made allegations of misconduct against both McMahon and WWE head of talent relations John Laurinaitis, according to a later WSJ report.
In total, McMahon paid the four women $12 million to keep quiet about his alleged affairs with them. McMahon and the WWE previously claimed the affair revealed in the first report was consensual.
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Although his daughter, Stephanie McMahon, replaced McMahon as the interim CEO and chairperson of the company, McMahon still retained creative control over WWE storylines.
Since the investigation began, McMahon has made multiple bizarre in-character live appearances on WWE programming. During an appearance on the first Friday Night Smackdown after the WSJ’s initial report, McMahon reiterated WWE’s motto of “Then. Now. Forever. Together,” before tossing his microphone and leaving the ring. (Afterward, a WWE employee reportedly witnessed McMahon shouting “fuck ‘em,” seemingly about the allegations.) On the following episode of Monday Night Raw, McMahon teased the return of John Cena, which fans were already aware of through WWE’s advertisements.
The big question is what happens now. Fallout seems to have already begun, with Wrestling Observer writer Bryan Alvarez tweeting that former Universal Champion Brock Lesnar has departed from Smackdown. In a follow-up tweet, Alvarez added, “Brock’s line was some derivative of, ‘If he’s gone, I’m gone.’”
Earlier today, Paul “Triple H” Levesque tweeted that he will officially be stepping back into his role as the wrestling organization’s EVP of talent relations. Time will tell whether Levesque will also return to his former role as the head of WWE’s developmental program, NXT, or even branch out into having creative control over the ongoing WWE storylines.