Vince McMahon Return to WWE Benefits AEW

The Return of Vince McMahon to the WWE benefits AEW

The sale of the WWE to Endeavor, and the wrestling promotion’s subsequent merger with UFC, has largely shocked the world of professional wrestling and, indeed, the wider sporting universe. However, within the context of professional wrestling, the sale and merger has somehow been overshadowed by something else which has taken place in recent days. The return of former WWE owner, Vince McMahon, has done the impossible task of overshadowing news of a sale and, more so than the WWE, benefits AEW.

A report on Fightful Select revealed that morale had been “low” during the post-WrestleMania edition of Monday Night Raw – a Raw which has been the subject of many a negative review online. With McMahon having been seated in his former place of Gorilla Position and overseeing the production of the show backstage, many of the McMahon patriarch’s classic and infamous traits had been noticed as returning, with the same Fightful Select report also acknowledging that the show had been rewritten numerous times mere minutes before Raw went on air. There has even been a video surfacing online of WWE superstar Seth Rollins standing in the ring during his entrance music, receiving word from backstage that his segment had been scrapped/rewritten in the time it took him to enter the ring.

Not Surprised

As we are all by now aware, McMahon returned to the WWE in January of this year in what has been widely acknowledged as a coup d’état. Given that the revelation of McMahon’s return happened on January 6th, it has been compared to another recent, less successful coup.

However, when McMahon returned, it was claimed by the higher-ups within the WWE – and, indeed, McMahon himself – that he had returned for the sole purpose of regaining his former Chairman role and helping to negotiate a sale of the WWE. It was alleged by those involved that he would refrain from getting involved with the running of WWE’s weekly television shows and would complete his role in the sale, cash his checks and move on. This has not been the case, as evidenced by McMahon’s involvement in both Monday Night Raw and, reportedly to a lesser extent, WrestleMania 39.

Now, there is the possibility that McMahon’s return to creative was a one off – and that he was simply in town for WrestleMania and therefore stuck around for Raw. Given the nature of McMahon’s character (his real life character not being too dissimilar from his on-screen character), it was inevitable that he would be unable to help himself and get involved in the show. Does this mean McMahon will be overseeing creative going forward? It is a highly possible scenario which cannot be ruled out.


Cody Rhodes sits in ring after upset loss to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39 in Los Angeles, CA
Photo: WWE

As mentioned, morale within the WWE locker room is being reported at a record low. It had already been revealed that there would be releases from the WWE post-WrestleMania – this was not news, as this has been a historic annual cost-cutting measure taken by the company. With the sale and merger occurring, there was always going to be the opportunity for voluntary redundancies; a natural aspect of sales/mergers within the business world. However, what was not accounted for was the return of a chairman who, may it be remembered, had previously been involved with the release of a number of WWE superstars from their contracts (superstars who were welcomed back during the short-lived Triple H reign) and the creative burials/missteps of others. McMahon is out of touch with a modern roster seemingly loyal to Triple H, and therefore, this was always going to lower morale.

It has also been reported that many superstars within the WWE are considering the greener pastures of the wider world of professional wrestling. Former Women’s Champion Bayley has cryptically teased an end to her WWE career, as has fellow superstar and former Women’s Champion Asuka, who also referenced maybe returning to Japan. Drew McIntyre, the male star of the pandemic era, is reportedly in the end stage of his contract with the possibility of a non-renewal (though the WWE reportedly wishes to retain his services). No doubt, the landscape of the WWE is going to look significantly different in the coming months – both on and off screen.

This Affects AEW

Tony Khan AEW. Ring of Honor TV Tapings
Photo: All Elite Wrestling

Perhaps the greatest beneficiary of all of the WWE news in recent days is All Elite Wrestling (AEW) President and CEO, Tony Khan – who has no doubt been watching the fallout with keen eyes. Make no mistake, all of this benefits an AEW where momentum was significantly cooled last year by the rise to power of a vengeful Triple H ruing the defeat of his beloved NXT at the hands of a young upstart promotion also based in Florida. Remember, before AEW, it was black and gold NXT which was widely regarded as the U.S. home of modern, high-octane pro wrestling. AEW beating NXT so soundly in the oft-cited “Wednesday Night Wars” saw NXT moved to Tuesdays and eventually taken away from Triple H by McMahon.

Before Triple H took over creative on the main roster, AEW wasn’t just the place to be for wrestling fans – but also the place to be for professional wrestlers looking to get out of the WWE, and those who had been unceremoniously released. Andrade El Idolo, Keith Lee, Adam Cole, Miro, Ruby Soho, Malakai Black and Athena are just a handful of superstars who made the jump. William Regal, too, was one such name – one who went back to the WWE once Triple H rose to power. The likes of Andrade, Miro, FTR and a couple of others have also all teased going back at some point, with many wrestlers of today’s world being loyal to Triple H either through their time under him in NXT, or out of sheer respect for both his accomplishments in the business and how he conducts business. No doubt, the clear return will put a dampener on some of their ambitions.

How This Benefits AEW

AEW Rampage spoilers - Image of Kenny Omega diving on to Will Ospreay
Photo: All Elite Wrestling

The lowering of morale, the potential overruling of Triple H by a returning Vince McMahon and even the sale/merger itself all benefit AEW as a growing professional wrestling promotion. More and more WWE superstars will be considering options outside of the WWE umbrella and, additionally, some AEW should begin recognizing that maybe, just maybe, the WWE is not yet the Triple H show. AEW exists as an alternative to the WWE for this reason – when things go bad, there is a viable alternative for fans and wrestlers alike. On the other side, WWE is an alternative for AEW for when/if things turn sour. This is how competition works. At this moment in time, AEW is the beneficiary of a return which not many people wanted, both inside and outside of the WWE.

Now, as mentioned, it is possible that McMahon was involved for a one off and that he truly is finished where creative is concerned. Should this indeed be the case, morale will improve in the WWE – people clearly enjoy working for Triple H. If McMahon is truly back at the creative helm, then expect this to benefit AEW; they will attract new names, disgruntled fans and more business. AEW will also benefit from the WWE once again being ran by a man who does not see them as a threat and was historically less responsive, and aggressive, to them than Triple H. 2023 is going to be a transformative year for the world of professional wrestling no matter what and, for now, momentum has returned to AEW.

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Photo Credits: WWE and AEW respectively. 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.