Vince McMahon, a controversy king or a genius who transformed WWE? - Hindustan Times

Vince McMahon, a man surrounded by controversies or a genius who transformed WWE?

Jan 27, 2024 02:13 PM IST

Only highlighting the controversies may not be the right way to show a man of McMohan's calibre

Vince McMahon, who stepped down from his role as executive chairman of TKO, the parent group of the pro wrestling juggernaut after a lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault and trafficking, is no stranger to controversies. He stepped down as WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) chief executive officer in 2022 amid an internal investigation into allegations he had an affair with an employee and paid her $3 million to keep the matter secret.

Vince McMahon speaks to an audience during a WWE fan appreciation event(AP)
Vince McMahon speaks to an audience during a WWE fan appreciation event(AP)

His daughter Stephanie McMahon was named interim CEO as the investigation continued amid widening allegations of misconduct and payments of millions of dollars to women formerly associated with WWE to keep quiet about affairs and alleged misconduct. But judging The co-founder of WWE.

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Even this was not the first sexual misconduct allegation against the successful entrepreneur. The first known allegations were made by then-WWF (World Wrestling Federation) referee Rita Chatterton, who alleged that McMohan tried to sexually assault her inside his car in 1986. Then in 1999, wrestler Sable sued the company for sexual harassment.

Then there was the infamous steroid trial that nearly brought the company to the brink. It was alleged that illegal and banned steroids were distributed freely among wrestlers in the company's roster and all of this happened under McMohan's supervision. But the distribution charges were ultimately dropped, and McMahon was found not guilty on the count of conspiracy.

Who can forget the altercation between Bret 'Hit Man' Hart and McMahon after what happened during 'The Montreal Screw Job' in 1997. Hart was facing Shawn Michaels in a Survivor Series pay-per-view main event in the former's hometown. As per reports, the match was supposed to end in a disqualification with Hart retaining his title but the match went against Hart despite there being no clear evidence of a pin or submission. McMahon had pulled off a surprise without Hart's knowledge and this didn't go down well with the local crowd.

Having said all this, only highlighting the controversies may not be the right way to show a man of McMohan's calibre. That WWE is a ratings blockbuster today is mainly because of promoter McMahon, a longtime friend of Donald Trump. McMahon started his career in the wrestling business as a commentator for WWWF (World Wide Wrestling Federation) in the 1970s.

After buying what was then the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) from his father in 1982, McMahon turned the second-rate league into an entertainment giant.

Transformed into World Wrestling Entertainment in 2002, the league passed the billion-dollar mark in annual sales last year and on Tuesday Netflix sealed a 10-year, $5 billion broadcast deal with WWE. He used scripted matches, celebrity wrestlers and glitz to make the brand more acceptable to television audiences, and created the concept of pay-per-view matches for bigger events such as "WrestleMania" to build its revenue base.

TKO was formed last year when McMahon forged a deal between WWE and Endeavor Group-owned mixed martial arts franchise UFC.

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