When you think about professional wrestling, you likely think about stars who have jumped from the ring to the screen. Sports entertainers like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dave Bautista, and John Cena have all become huge names in movies and TV. While their careers are burgeoning on the big and small screens, they all began in a ring surrounded by screaming fans. One who might not come to mind for the casual fan is the godfather to their success, Vince McMahon. McMahon took the reigns of the World Wrestling Federation in the mid-1980s and built it into the juggernaut it became. But it hasn’t been all roses. A Netflix documentary about the king of the ring has reportedly been canceled amidst Vince McMahon’s scandals.
According to a tweet sent out by Denise Salcedo, a TV host on Wrestle Talk, the documentary about Vince McMahon set in motion over at Netflix has been taken off the spreadsheet. She goes on to say that while one source says the show is confirmed to not be on the list, another said, “that s***’s out of here.” A third source offered up that the project is already in deep post-production with talent interviews already finished and millions of dollars spent.
What is the reason for the cancelation? According to an article by The Wall Street Journal, McMahon is facing pretty serious allegations of sexual misconduct. In June, it was reported that McMahon stepped away from his leadership duties with WWE, and his daughter has taken over as the interim CEO and chairwoman. The allegations say four women have come forward to claim sexual misconduct by Vince McMahon; making matters worse is the report that the former CEO paid a total of $12 million in hush money to the women. The totals were broken down to $7.5 million, $3 million, and two payments of $1 million each. While the contracts of the four accusers (all of which worked for the company) contain non-disclosure agreements that prevent them from speaking out, the accusations come from leaked insider documents. Clearly, Netflix was deep in the Vince McMahon documentary before this came out, putting them in a tough place.
The decision by Netflix to cancel the Vince McMahon documentary comes at a curious time. Earlier this year, the streaming service released a statement to their employees regarding their employment. The company had recently come under fire for airing a Dave Chappelle special containing what protesters believed to be transphobic material. Even amidst backlash and employee-driven walkouts, Co-CEO Ted Sarandos refused to pull the special and backed Chappelle. The statement informed their employees that they approach each streaming decision from the perspective of artistic expression and refuse to censor certain creative voices. The statement stated the company streams to a diverse audience with diverse tastes, and if the employees have a hard time supporting their content, “Netflix may not be the best place for you.”
Whether or not you are a wrestling fan, a Netflix documentary about Vince McMahon could prove to be a success. Regarded as a brilliant businessman and the savior of the company that brought audiences numerous personalities, his story is fascinating. Without him, there may not have been a successful representation of characters like Peacemaker, Drax the Destroyer, or the many blockbuster roles for Dwayne Johnson. However, Netflix has a new standard for what is appropriate that we must learn as we go along.