What’s Happening? We’re not sure. Here’s something from the WWE statement about the issue, Vince himself speaking;
‘I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation. I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are.’according to Bloomberg
Special Committee? Investigation? Well, the Wall Street Journal cited people ‘familiar with the matter’ and described a payment Vince allegedly made to a female employee who he allegedly had an affair with.
That’s not all. Non-disclosure agreements with others have been mentioned. And so has John Laurinaitis.
That Sounds Serious. What Are The Details?
Well, we haven’t got them all. There are views that the woman who was employed as a paralegal and had an affair with Vince was allegedly passed onto John Laurinaitis when the affair finished, ‘like a toy’ according to Sportster.
Wrestling Headlines reported that the employee was paid a wage of $100,000 but that rose to $200,000 after the sexual relationship started.
What Action Has Been Taken?
Well, Vince has stepped down – more about that in a minute – and daughter Stephanie has stepped up.
Hang on though, didn’t Stephanie step down recently? She did tweet;
‘As of tomorrow, I am taking a leave of absence from the majority of my responsibilities at WWE…WWE is a lifelong legacy for me and I look forward to returning to the company that I love after taking this time to focus on my family‘Sportster reported.
But needs must. She said about this issue;
‘I love this company and am committed to working with the Independent Directors to strengthen our culture and our Company; it is extremely important to me that we have a safe and collaborative workplace.’according to NBC.
She needs to steady the ship.
Because this is a company with shareholders. But those shares didn’t fall off a cliff at the news of this situation, they tracked down but then rebounded slightly, perhaps because of Stephanie’s safe hand on the tiller and her dad stepping down. Or perhaps it’s that Vince, the icon of WWE, hasn’t stepped down at all.
Vince Hasn’t Stepped Down?
Oh no. Not completely. For those decrying the state of WWE programming, there will no respite. For as the statement says, via a BBC report;
‘The company has said the billionaire will “retain his role and responsibilities related to WWE’s creative content” during the investigation.’
So although the statement said that Vince would be stepping back from his responsibilities whilst an investigation took place, those will be the CEO and chair roles.
So it will look seamless on screen. Vince will be on Smackdown, and Laurinaitis stays in post, apparently.
Don’t all cheer at once.
What Does This Mean For WWE?
Reputational Damage. Defined by the BCI thusly;
‘Reputational damage can be caused by many different factors, but namely, it’s how an organization responds to disruption. Organizations in the public light must be seen to be honest to their stakeholders whilst considering the welfare of their staff.’
but does the WWE have any surprises in this area for wrestling watchers and fans? Some tweets about this issue would hint not;
Storm In A Teacup?
Doesn’t look like it. Vince McMahon and John Laurinaitis, men right at the top of the WWE, are named in an allegation based on sexual and financial skulduggery.
The story has a bit of spy spice too, anonymous emails sent to the WWE board, and the reports have been plentiful – add this one to the list.
There is a sense of a woman being used as a possession, but we only have an allegation from the woman’s friend at the moment. We have an allegation about money spent, but there doesn’t seem to be any sense that this was WWE money, rather than Vince’s own.
So this is a moral, gender, and power discussion. And it pains me to say that we seem to have been having those discussions about wrestling for decades.