Vince McMahon, perhaps the most famous and influential wrestling promoter of all time, has retired. The now-former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (previously known as World Wrestling Federation, among other business names) announced via Twitter that he was stepping down from the position, followed by a longer official statement on the WWE corporate website. The 77-year-old Vince McMahon has recently been under investigation by the WWE for a number of allegations of sexual misconduct and reports that he had paid millions of dollars of hush money to various women in previous years to squash those claims. Here is Vince McMahon’s official Tweet:
According to the statement on WWE, Vince McMahon is officially stepping down from his position as Chairman and CEO due to his age. There is no mention of the various allegations of sexual misconduct against him, but the timing does seem notable. As one might expect, the statement goes on to thank fans of professional wrestling, sports entertainment, the wrestlers (or “Superstars” in WWE parlance), employees, and executives of the company. Vince McMahon specifically thanks his daughter Stephanie McMahon and WWE President Nick Khan. Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan will be taking over as co-chairpersons. The former is also currently acting as interim CEO of WWE since Vince McMahon was reported to have paid $3 million to a former WWE paralegal to cover up claims of a relationship with him.
Vince McMahon is a third-generation wrestling promoter, following in the footsteps of his father Vincent J. McMahon and grandfather Jess McMahon. Jess McMahon began promoting wrestling events around 1915, a tradition that would become the family’s legacy. Vincent J. McMahon was instrumental in the growing popularity of professional wrestling in the 1950s, being a primer mover in the utilization of television to broadcast matches. When Vince McMahon took over the family business in the early 1980s, he vastly expanded the company, eventually achieving a near-monopoly of professional wrestling in the United States. While the WWE would face strong competition from Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling in the 1990s, Vince McMahon eventually purchased the rival company and innumerable other regional wrestling groups.
He also made the unusual move of becoming an on-screen figure and performer. Reportedly, Vince McMahon had youthful aspirations to become a wrestler himself, which his father disapproved of, believing in a separation between in-ring talent and promoters. He spent years as a ringside commentator, and once he was in control of the company, assumed the kayfabe persona of “Mr. McMahon,” the ruthless and arrogant owner of the WWE. He would wrestle in various events many times through the years, eventually joined by his children Stephanie McMahon and Shane McMahon.
Throughout his career as both a businessman and entertainer, Vince McMahon has been a controversial figure. He has done more than anyone else to expand the reach and popularity of professional wrestling but has also been accused of multiple cases of abuse of power and of his employees. At the very least, Vince McMahon is leaving behind a complicated legacy.