After years of misguided business ventures, problematic promos, and legal inquiries into alleged sexual misconduct, Mr. McMahon has finally been handed his own catchphrase: “You’re firrrrred!” Okay, not quite — but today, Vince McMahon shockingly announced on Twitter that he’s retiring, abruptly ending forty years as the chairman, CEO, and owner of the professional wrestling promotion World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., or WWE for short. This comes over a month after an announcement that McMahon would be stepping down during the tenure of the investigation into his misconduct allegations, but would still retain creative control over the promotion’s content. “At 77, time for me to retire,” he tweeted. “Thank you, WWE Universe. Then. Now. Forever. Together. #WWE #thankful.”
Over the years, McMahon has been a controversial figure both in and out of the ring, frequently appearing as a heel with his character Mr. McMahon and shepherding the WWE through several rebrands and eras, including mammoth acquisitions of rival promotions WCW and ECW. He’s credited with being one of the most important men in the history of professional wrestling, despite controversy after controversy after controversy after controversy.
McMahon’s daughter Stephanie was instated as interim chairwoman and CEO of the company as a result, a position she retains upon his retirement alongside now co-CEO Nick Khan. The news comes the same day that Paul Levesque, known in-ring as Triple H, was reinstated as executive vice-president of talent relations, following his own professional retirement last year due to a heart condition.
Clearly, a shakeup at WWE is imminent; superstar Brock Lesnar has allegedly walked out on tonight’s taping of Smackdown, saying something along the lines of “if he’s gone, I’m gone.” Only time will tell if McMahon’s departure will be discussed live on-air; his now-final promotion as CEO was a frankly ridiculous affair in which he proclaimed the WWE signature (Then. Now. Forever. Together.) to a mixed soundtrack of cheers and heat from the crowd.
If McMahon’s departure is any indication, the company being in the hands of his daughter might invoke a sea change; perhaps WWE starts taking notes from Tony Khan’s promotion All Elite Wrestling, or combatting the misogyny omnipresent in the program since the Attitude Era (of which Vince spearheaded.) And even amid all the shake-ups, there are still prominent voices in wrestling who haven’t reacted to McMahon’s investigation or his sudden exit. When it comes to sticking around WWE, sounds like Vince should borrow the words of his buddy John Cena and be the one saying, “You can’t see me.”