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Breaking - WWE board investigating Vince

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  • Breaking - WWE board investigating Vince

    Just seeing news that Vince McMahon us being investigated regarding a $3m "hush" payment to a former employee about an affair.

    Probably going to be the biggest wrestling story of the year, and the potential consequences could be seismic.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  • #2
    "According to an article on wsj WWE board members are “investigating a secret $3 million settlement that longtime chief executive Vince McMahon agreed to pay to a departing employee with whom he allegedly had an affair, according to documents and people familiar with the board inquiry.”

    The former employee was said to have been hired as a paralegal in 2019 and a January 2022 separation agreement bars her from discussing the relationship with Mr. McMahon or disparaging him.

    According to the article, the board’s investigation reportedly began in April and has expanded into other nondisclosure agreements that involve misconduct claims made by other former female WWE employees about McMahon and WWE’s head of talent relations John Laurinaitis. The board members reportedly found out about the $3 million agreement through a series of anonymous emails from a person who said that the former WWE employee was their friend.

    Here is an excerpt from the article…

    “The first email, sent to board members on March 30, alleged that Mr. McMahon, 76 years old, initially hired the woman at a salary of $100,000 but increased it to $200,000 after beginning a sexual relationship with her. The email to the board also alleged that Mr. McMahon ‘gave her like a toy’ to Mr. Laurinaitis. The board is investigating the allegations in the email, the people familiar with the inquiry said.”

    An e-mail to the board stated, “my friend was so scared so she quit after Vince McMahon and lawyer Jerry [McDevitt] paid her millions of dollars to shut up.”

    A spokesperson for WWE stated that they are taking the allegations seriously and are cooperating fully with the board inquiry."

    A summary I found elsewhere.

    Biggest story in wrestling? Only if it leads to Vince being moved out. Which is obviously possible. I am betting Johnny Ace will be taking an early retirement any day now, but Vince will once again find a way to snake through this relatively unscathed, but may resign in an effort to put up a good show.


    • #3
      For anyone interested, here's the full WSJ article, paywall free:

      I read it. There's two things that come across as really damning. One is that the woman's friend (who alerted the Board to the nondisclosure agreement to begin with) claims that she was given to Laurinaitis "like a toy". The wording there is pretty rough, but it's also coming from the angry friend of the person, so who knows.

      The one that'll come back to hurt someone is that she was made Johnny Ace's assistant in 2021 before departing in 2022. Something feels fishy there.

      I doubt Vince will resign. If it is true that he increased her pay when they started sleeping together, that's an issue. But if it happens to be that this person who said she was on financial hard times told Vince that and he increased her pay (it's not unheard of in that company), and then after the fact this relationship began, that's another thing altogether.

      A nondisclosure agreement is gross, but again, not unheard of for powerful people to do.
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      • #4
        The dirtsheets will sensationalize every aspect of this, but Vince has such an incredible track record of coming out looking clean after scandals... I dunno. There's a sleaze aspect to this I could never deal with. I think the mainstream press will drop it quickly, but mostly because it seems like there's a new scandal to report every couple of weeks. Depp va Heard is over, so now it's the Vince stuff. Next week it'll be something else.

        I recently listened to the Vince McMahon interview on Howard Stern from before Wrestlemania X7, and he admitted to affairs previously, but claimed they stopped in 95. Timely for this accusation to come out.


        • #5
          Originally posted by PEN15v2 View Post

          Biggest story in wrestling? Only if it leads to Vince being moved out. Which is obviously possible.
          I don't know, this could be the distance I'm at again but this feels like the biggest story to do with wrestling of the year regardless of the outcome. I'm not sure what I could have missed that would compare.

          If it did lead to Vince being moved out, ending a forty year dynasty, we're probably talking not just the biggest wrestling story of the year, but of the decade. I'm not sure what you'd have to go back to in order to top it. Could well be there'd be nothing that really compares all the way back to Benoit, maybe. It is odd how 'bad' news always ends up being bigger, but I suppose that's not unique to wrestling at all.

          My best guess is it'll come down to whether or not the board (and shareholders) think the image damage is worth having someone with that experience (irreplaceable experience, really) in charge of the company. Probably difficult to gauge how people are likely to go at this stage, though I tend to think where money is involved people tend to be cautious to move.

          "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."


          • #6
            It's not that you're outside. It's that this isn't really wrestling related. I'll admit that I take extra efforts to remove myself from backstage talks/rumors, so possibly my position doesn't allow me a clear perspective. But we got a day of crazy headlines. If we find out it's settled by Tuesday (I know it won't, just putting the argument out there) and he remains in this role, it'll be forgotten by Summerslam.

            There's an insane need to be negative. Media, news and social, is salivating at the chance to sensationalize. So it feels big right now. And I do understand it's mainstream, so it's bigger in that way. But if the issue has no meat on the bones, and there's no major change to Vince's role, it'll stop faster than most stories. You'll still have the Bix complaints, but it'll become just aa irrelevant as all the other tirades.

            This will only be a big story if it goes anywhere.


            • #7
              I think this must be a perspective thing, because even if it does stop by next week - and of course, entirely plausible if WWE decide to just double down and move on - it'd still feel more important than anything else that has happened in wrestling this year. Even if it becomes a non-story in the end, it's not like there's much competition coming from within wrestling itself these days, and something that had people defaulting to giving an opinion on whether or not Vince McMahon's tenure might be brought down as a result (even if they're saying it's unlikely) just feels like a different orbit than anything you're likely to get from wrestler x's angle, so-and-so's injury, performer y's contract dispute, or whatever. Even the truncated version of that story is just bigger than anything that doesn't break through the bubble. And as I say, if it does go somewhere and Vince's position gets really vulnerable, you're not just talking biggest story of the year, but for many, many years. Way bigger than anything coming out of AEW, because if you think about it, in terms of cultural significance how on earth are you supposed to compare an upstart wrestling company around the year 2020 with the guy who pioneered WrestleMania and was the principal antagonist for Stone Cold Steve Austin?

              One thing that is worth adding is that it cannot do Vince much good however you cut it. He's 76 years old, in charge of a company with a very negative public perception for decades. Barring some kind of WWE-inspired wrestling boom out of nowhere, his position is only going to get weaker with time anyway - scandals like this can only accelerate and deepen that process. So even if they do lead nowhere in the shorter term, it's definitely going to weaken Vince at some level. Whether that is ultimately a tangible level is something that I guess we'll have to see play out.

              "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."


              • #8
                What I think is a bit difficult for WWE somewhat on this is that it's not an old accusation. I was expecting it to be some kind of late 90s/early 00s wrestler making the claim, but it's an office staff member that was hired only three years ago.


                • #9
                  I'm leaning toward this being a complete non story.

                  Word is that the board are looking into two things:
                  1. Were the relationships for which Vince has previous nondisclosures consensual
                  2. Were the nondisclosures paid out of WWE funds.
                  If the answer to 1 is yes and 2 is no, it's a nonissue. I guess you could add a 2a: Is is reasonable to believe that this particular person's raise was as a result of the relationship with Vince. It's possible, but if she told Vince that she was on financial hard times, there's precedent for him to bump her pay. He's paid employee's rent deposits, bought them things that they needed, and helped roster members get out of debt in the past.

                  It's all still a little gross, and a completely inappropriate relationship, but if it's all consensual and nothing was paid by WWE, it's an HR issue. But, I mean, people date their bosses all the time. I know that modern thinking folks don't like the idea and are obsessed with power dynamics in relationships and whatnot, but in the real world people date and sleep with their coworkers and bosses.

                  Johnny Ace will most likely take early retirement, more than anything because he's in a direct talent management and recruitment role and the implication of impropriety makes his role impossible. Vince will move on like usual. It'll be embarrassing personally, but he'll survive.

                  What does this do to some of his younger, more progressive thinking roster members? That'll be interesting to see.

                  I believe that the payments will be a nonissue. Vince is smarter than that. However, the big cavate is that if it comes out that any of these previous nondisclosure agreements were covering up something nonconsensual, that could be the end of Vince. How would it not be? How would the Board of Directors allow him to continue in his role if it's come out that he has done something nonconsensual to an employee or member of the roster? How would Comcast or Fox be willing to work with him if that were the case? If they could prove it -- and it wouldn't be difficult if they have the NDA's in hand -- that's the fall of Vince McMahon.

                  I don't think that'll be the case. I expect that three months from now this isn't a story anymore.
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                  • #10
                    That's hit most of the big notes on it, other than you have to have enough pressure on Vince that he'd voluntarily step down, by all accounts. It's not like anyone can actually force him out, according to multiple sources. And I suppose I'd reiterate that even if everything has moved on, I'm not sure I'd call it a non-story. In my day job, I come across things all the time where the news cycle moves on fast and leaves something behind, but the significance of the moment was still huge - and while I'm not sure I agree with the 'Vince at most vulnerable since Steroid Trial' narrative, there's definitely a genuine significance about his increased vulnerability, however temporary that is.

                    The point about the people on the roster is a good one. Are people less likely to want to work for him? Plenty already don't seem that keen, is it just going to accelerate that trend.

                    If Johnny Ace does leave, that's quite a big name gone on the back of it by itself. Trying to think when the last time someone on that level was gone due to a scandal/external pressure.

                    But yeah, from what I can gather the question is about who paid what, and potentially what other things the investigation might dig up that have been hidden.

                    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."


                    • #11
                      And this is why I don't think it'll be big news at the end of the day. Obviously, nothing is for sure. But if it goes the way COACH is suggesting, it's going to be forgotten fast. And Vince is smart, he'll shell out money somehow to make a bigger story if needed.

                      This is a big story outside of the wrestling world. But to the wrestling community, Stone Cold's return match will be the bigger story. The MJF work/shoot will be bigger. Roman losing the title in Wales will likely be bigger. There will be exceptions, right or wrong, because there are people that will focus on the negatives. But barring anything related to rape or misuse of company funds, it'll quickly move out of consciousness.

                      It's a sign of our times. The world moves so f'n fast now. There's always a terrible story around the corner that will erase the current terrible story. The Will Smith slap to Chris Rock feels like it was last year (to me), but it was less than 3 months ago. We're so inundated with news and information that it's easy to move on from a story like this.

                      Either way, it's not really an important part of the discussion. I'm debating for the sake of it I think.
                      Last edited by PEN15v2; 06-16-2022, 12:53 PM.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Prime Time View Post
                        It's not like anyone can actually force him out, according to multiple sources.
                        Now, I could be incorrect and I've never poured over their bylaws, but I believe that in most cases a board can remove their Chair, and possibly their CEO, with a 2/3 majority vote. They can't take away his Class B shares, but being the Board Chair is a different ballgame than controlling shareholder, I believe. And typically the Chair of the Board is who the CEO reports to (when you're both, like Vince, you're the big boss). So theoretically, if they get the votes to remove Vince, than then installed a new Chair, that Chair could remove Vince as CEO.

                        Again, I don't think it'll happen.

                        It's telling that despite this, WWE's stock has only dipped 2% so far today, which is right in line with the market overall today.
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                        • #13
                          Ah, ok. I was basing that off this:

                          "But Meltzer also pointed out that McMahon can't simply be voted out of his position as chairman and chief executive officer. He owns over a third of WWE's Class B stock, and the voting power that affords him (just over 80%) would make it impossible for the rest of the board to vote him out. He could choose to resign from his position or be pressured by sponsors to do so.

                          Meltzer noted that some within the company believe McMahon will be able to survive this, while Sean Ross Sapp talked with some sources in the company who believe his job hasn't been in this kind of jeopardy since the Steroid Trials of the 1990s."

                          "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."


                          • #14
                            Well, we have some updates to this. Vince is 'stepping aside' while the investigation goes on, and Stephanie has been brought back as interim CEO and interim Chair.

                            Presumably there'll still be some channel from Vince to his daughter that will allow him to have some impact on the day-to-day operations but even so, is this the first time that he won't have been in charge (almost forty years to the day after buying the company from his dad)? Or has there been a spell I'm forgetting? I know there was a contingency plan in case the steroid trial went badly but I don't think he ever actually gave up power then, did he?

                            "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."


                            • #15
                              Nope. Vince was still in charge then, and no matter what Bruce says, Jarett was brought in to take the reigns if need be.

                              So, they knew this was coming, right? Two weeks ago, Jeff Jarrett is brought in to take over the live events department, and they hired someone to take on a lot of Steph's role in her absence.

                              I don't for a second believe Steph's leave had anything to do with this. But, obviously someone in a position of power knew that they'd need to divide up some things and a new hire indicates that they believe she's going to be out of her CBO role longer than initially anticipated.
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