WrestleMania is over. So is WWE’s corporate independence. On April 3, rumors that a buyer had been found for World Wrestling Entertainment were confirmed by the company. Ari Emanuel and his Endeavor Group, which owns UFC, will absorb WWE in a deal that will grant it a 51 percent stake and six of 11 board seats in the new combined company. “We are confident that Endeavor can deliver significant additional value for shareholders by bringing UFC and WWE together,” Emanuel said in the corporate statement. While this does mean that, for the first time in almost half a century, no member of Vince McMahon’s family controls the fate of WWE, he isn’t going anywhere just yet.
In July, McMahon retired from the company amid allegations that he’d paid millions in hush money to multiple women over alleged misconduct and his daughter,
Shiv Roy Stephanie McMahon, stepped in as interim CEO. However, he made a surprise return to the company in January, announcing he was there to help with a sale, and Stephanie stepped down as rumors began swirling that the company had already been bought by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. It appears, however, that Emanuel was actually able to say the biggest number, which turned out to be $9.3 billion — or “a little over nine bil,” as Shiv might say. Maybe Endeavor was simply the suitor most amenable to keeping Vince in the fold, as just before the merger was announced, he’d apparently negotiated a two-year employment deal with WWE. The Endeavor deal will make him executive chairman of the board of the new company, and the preexisting deal gave him control over his life rights and protects him from future lawsuits brought by the company. In other words, he’s got them beat. He appeared alongside Emanuel on CNBC this morning — sporting his new look of dyed hair and a mustache — and said he will not be “in the weeds” in terms of WWE’s creative control moving forward. While it seems unlikely that Vince’s fingerprints won’t be all over WWE’s creative product moving forward, it appears that the era of WWE as a family-run business is truly over. This may be bad news for anyone hoping his son, Kendall Roy Shane McMahon, would get a redo of his surprise appearance at WrestleMania on Sunday night, which ended abruptly when he tore his quad on live television. But it’ll be okay. He’s a good kid.