There is no winning with Vince McMahon, at least not for plebes like you and me. He just closed a merger with Endeavor that will net him billions. He already had billions. Whenever he spins off this mortal coil, because he’ll never retire, he’ll have been a transformative figure in not just wrestling but the entertainment world, even if it was never enough for him. He’ll never face any punishment he’ll notice from the various sexual assaults and improper office relationships he’s accused of. In most ways, he’s Teflon.
So we have to find our joys where we can. And we know what matters to McMahon. The money isn’t enough. The fame isn’t enough. What he’s accomplished isn’t enough. We know from decades of evidence that McMahon was, and is, desperate to be seen as something more than just a wrestling promoter. Even if he’s by far the biggest and most famous wrestling promoter in history. We know that he craves control of what goes on TV, given all the ways he’s grabbed back creative control when removed in the past.
Which means we can rejoice in the fact that he’ll never accomplish being seen as more than the world’s most famous wrestling promoter, and there’s a very decent chance he’ll never control creative of WWE again. That’s because Vince thought he could outwit or even come to an accord with one of the few people who has more power than he does in the entertainment world. And that’s Ari Emanuel.
If you missed the news, earlier in the week it came out that Ari Emanuel, who is the CEO of both Endeavor and TKO, the company formed by the pairing of UFC and WWE, had placed all creative control of WWE to Paul Levesque (you may know him as Triple H) and basically has sidelined McMahon. Yes, we’ve seen this movie before. When it came to light the amount of money that McMahon and WWE had paid to keep his improper relationships with women in the office quiet, McMahon was moved aside from creative and the company as a whole, allowing Triple H to run the show unimpeded. It only lasted a couple of months, as Vince forced his way back in through his shareholdings and power on the board to facilitate the merger with UFC. However, it was always felt that an underlying reason for his muscling back in was to be in charge again, too.
There won’t be any muscling back in this time. For the first time…well, ever, or at least since his dad was around, McMahon has someone to answer to. And that’s Emanuel. And Emanuel doesn’t need him, which he’s shown.
Emanuel said all the right things at the time of the merger, that he would defer to McMahon when their visions didn’t align, because McMahon was the wrestling guy. It was a nice cover story. It would be funny and satisfying to believe that Emanuel was playing McMahon the whole time, only needing him to close the deal and then punting him into a closet where he couldn’t talk to anyone the moment he could.
It’s also possible that Emanuel had to get on the scene first to see what the layout really was. And certainly, when TKO’s stock price dipped after the announcement that Smackdown was moving back to USA Network, he wasn’t shy about theorizing why that could be:
“I would say to you there’s plenty of interest in Raw, right now. I know people are like, ‘NBC is out of the mix’ and that’s why it went down. I think there’s three things that happened. One, the reason the stock is down is they thought Raw was the best package. I saw 40 percent increase which was in line with expectations… Two, the P.F.L. situation and three, probably Vince (McMahon) in our deal, wanted to be able to put, at any point in time, his stock. He’s 78 years old. He’s been working at this for decades and decades so, I think those three back-to-back issues…”
Either way, McMahon is no longer calling the shots on what fans see on their screens and in the arenas, which is what wrestling fans have wanted for years. They got a brief taste of it not so long ago, and it was pretty refreshing.
It’s easy to see the difference. Wrestlers who rarely got TV time are now getting plenty of it, like Ricochet or Tegan Nox’s title shot at Becky Lynch. Matches are now allowed to breathe for 15-20 minutes instead of being 3-5 to get on to another dumbass segment backstage. Bronson Reed and Gunther on Monday was an excellent example, a banger of a meat fight that went around 20 minutes. McMahon would have never had a heel vs. heel match go that long, if on TV at all.
Whether the WWE product will change dramatically under HHH’s guidance remains to be seen. What is new is that there is a possibility that it could, which never existed under McMahon. Fans were going to get the same garbage over and over. What is also refreshing, no matter how little consequence it actually has, is that someone as self-absorbed and power-hungry as McMahon can still find his Waterloo, even if it’s someone equally as unpleasant as Emanuel (responsible for the most irritating character on the most irritating show played by the most irritating actor in TV history, among other things). We may look at all McMahon has and all he’s done and all he’ll never answer for and wonder why he doesn’t just buy his own island and go live out the rest of his time in paradise.
But we can also know, and generate a little smile, that all those things weren’t enough for McMahon, and now they’ll be his ceiling. And that perhaps the last story of him on the public stage was getting separated from his own company and tossed to the side so everyone could move on without him. It’s not much to us, but it’s something, and it’s a good bet it matters to McMahon far more than it should.
Take what you can get.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky @felsgate.bsky.social
Original source here
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