Vince McMahon Returns to WWE: Stocks Soar and Other Implications Around His Return

Vince McMahon returns to WWE - New Era

There was “no chance in hell” Vince McMahon was going to go quietly into the night following his July retirement from WWE amid allegations of misconduct and sexual assault. Sure enough, McMahon simply stepped back, bided his time, and just six months later has already returned to the company he helped put on the map decades ago. As was announced in a headline-breaking news story that has since been covered by wrestling and mainstream media sites the world over, McMahon has orchestrated his return to WWE’s Board of Directors.

Vince McMahon Returns to WWE

WWE’s press release on the return of Vince McMahon reads as follows:

STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– WWE (NYSE: WWE) is providing the following update regarding the composition of its Board of Directors and the exploration of strategic alternatives.

“Today, we announce that the founder of WWE, Vince McMahon, will be returning to the Board,” said Chairwoman & Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon, Co-CEO Nick Khan and Chief Content Officer Paul Levesque. “We also welcome back Michelle Wilson and George Barrios to our Board of Directors. Together, we look forward to exploring all strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value.”

As Vince McMahon stated yesterday, “WWE has an exceptional management team in place, and I do not intend for my return to have any impact on their roles, duties, or responsibilities.”

In connection with the change in the composition of the Board of Directors and in cooperation with Vince McMahon as majority shareholder, the Company intends to undertake a review of its strategic alternatives with the goal being to maximize value for all WWE shareholders. There is no assurance that this process will result in a transaction.

Vince McMahon, in his capacity as controlling shareholder of the Company, has removed JoEllen Lyons Dillon, Jeffrey R. Speed and Alan M. Wexler from the Board. Vince McMahon, George Barrios and Michelle Wilson have been added to the Board to fill the resulting vacancies.

The Board currently consists of:

  • Vince McMahon
  • Stephanie McMahon
  • Nick Khan
  • Paul Levesque
  • Steve Koonin
  • Michelle McKenna
  • Steve Pamon
  • George Barrios
  • Michelle Wilson

Ignace Lahoud and Man Jit Singh have resigned from the Board, effective today.

The announcement and timing of McMahon’s return comes as speculation continues to heat up regarding a potential sale of WWE to another entertainment company. As McMahon noted in a letter he sent to WWE’s board, “I believe WWE has a unique opportunity during this critical juncture to maximize value for its shareholders and all other stakeholders…Specifically, given the rapidly evolving media landscape in which more and more companies are seeking to own the intellectual property offered on their streaming platforms – I firmly believe that the best thing to do for all of WWE’s shareholders and other stakeholders is to undertake a comprehensive review of strategic alternatives.”

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, McMahon left WWE’s board little choice but to reinstate him as the former CEO and chairman maintained his status as majority shareholder in the company following his retirement. This allowed McMahon the ability to orchestrate the shakeup of the board. It was also noted in the WSJ article that McMahon told the board that unless he was reinstated as executive chairman that he would refuse to support any new media-rights deal or sale. WWE’s current rights deals with both USA Network and FOX, expire in 2024, with renegotiation conversations set to take place some time this year.

While the internal investigation into McMahon’s content has reportedly been completed since November, no findings have been released to the public. However, it is worth noting that the board did not make a move on their own to reinstate McMahon. He came to them, and given his shareholder power, essentially forced their hand. As the board stated in a regulatory filing back in November, “Mr. McMahon can effectively exercise control over our affairs.”

Impact of Vince McMahon Return

McMahon’s return may not be favorable among wrestling fans or those in the industry, but stability is essential on Wall Street. With McMahon back at the helm and at least the exploration of a sale seeming all but a certainty at this point, WWE stock rose as high as 22% on Friday following the announcement.

As far as any other impact that fans might fear, such as McMahon taking over creative control, at least as of now, that does not seem to be the case. While McMahon may not remain entirely quiet as WWE’s biggest time of the year looms (Royal Rumble through WrestleMania), McMahon stated in his letter to the board, “WWE has an exceptional management team in place,” McMahon said, “and I do not intend for my return to have any impact on their roles, duties, or responsibilities.”

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can check out an almost unlimited array of WWE content on the WWE Network and Peacock.