On a week when the future of the distribution of sports entertainment media was announced with the deal that will bring Raw to Netflix and Dwayne Johnson was added to the TKO board of directors, implying his involvement to generate big money for the corporation, an absolute bombshell regarding Vince McMahon’s misconduct scandal overshadowed it. As we know, almost two years ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that the kingpin of WWE had not only had several affairs with company employees, but also spent tens of millions of dollars in company money to keep them quiet. Several women over the course of several years signed non-disclosure agreements in exchange for millions of dollars, which gave the company such negative publicity that McMahon “retired” for a short time before he strong armed his way back onto the WWE board before the Endeavor merger with UFC last year.
The difference in the story would’ve been if McMahon used his personal money and if these were consensual affairs, because if that was the case, his actions would’ve been sleazy and the subject of public embarrassment, but nothing illegal. However, there were accusations of coercion and it was revealed that McMahon had used company funds when he paid off the women to keep the affairs private. McMahon was also served with a subpoena last year as a result of an ongoing investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Since the WWE stock was publicly traded, the investments of the stockholders were misused since the NDA payments weren’t disclosed to the shareholders. Furthermore, if the affairs had been public, investors might’ve decided not to purchase WWE stock if McMahon was still the boss.
Just a few months ago, it was reported that Ari Emanuel, the CEO of Endeavor, put Triple H in charge of WWE creative, effectively ending Vince’s influence on the direction of the product. Some compared it to when Ted Turner was more or less pushed out of his position after the AOL/Time Warner merger years ago. With McMahon essentially just a figure head for business meetings and the corporate events, particularly when he reportedly helped broker a deal to bring the UFC to Saudi Arabia because of his previous dealings with the government there, many assumed that he would quietly fade from the public spotlight.
The women that had accused him signed non-disclosure agreements so they couldn’t legally talk about it publicly and when they were paid, the private matter was settled so it wasn’t the subject of any legal decisions.
However, the Wall Street Journal has a new report about a lawsuit filed against McMahon, the company, and a former WWE executive. A former staffer, Janel Grant, who had an affair with McMahon from mid-2019 until January 2022 alleges that McMahon’s misconduct, including sex trafficking and sexual abuse voids the previously signed NDA agreement. The details of the accusations are truly horrific and are examples of absolutely depraved behavior. The Wrestling Obsever’s Bryan Alvarez reported details from the 67-page lawsuit on The Wrestling Observer Live radio show, explaining that Grant was in financial trouble because she spent many of the prior years as a caregiver for her elderly parents before they passed away. According to Alvarez, McMahon initially offered her a job at the WWE office as a way for her to get back on her feet financially before he pursued a sexual relationship with her. Grant was pressured to stay in the relationship as a way to keep her job, and McMahon allegedly threatened her with legal action from his high-priced team of attorneys if she caused any problems.
The story continues to get truly disturbing with the accusations that McMahon pressured her into sexual encounters with John Laurinaitis, who was fired from the company after he was named in the original scandal reports in 2022. McMahon shared sexually explicit photos and videos of Grant to others without her knowledge or consent. The horrific details of the lawsuit explain that McMahon defecated on her during a threesome encounter that she was an unwilling participant in during their relationship.
The accusations of the depraved behavior continued, according to the lawsuit, when Grant was used as a bargaining chip during negotiations for Brock Lesnar to re-sign with the company in 2022. While the lawsuit doesn’t specifically name Lesnar, the individual was described as “a former UFC and WWE champion” involved, and that would leave Brock as the only potential person on the WWE roster. The details of the lawsuit explain that Brock was given Grant’s cell phone number and requested a video of her urinating before he called her derogatory names. Allegedly, Brock planned to set up an encounter with Grant, but a storm prevented the travel plans for the meeting between them.
If any of this is true, and the lawsuit claims that Grant has screenshots of text messages from McMahon to prove it then Vince McMahon should be subject to criminal charges. This wasn’t a consensual affair that McMahon simply wanted to keep away from the public. Instead, he used his position as Grant’s boss and his power as the CEO of the company to exploit her and force her into sexual situations that she was unwilling to participate in, but didn’t want to lose her job. Again, the legal process has to unfold, but if these claims are true then McMahon is a depraved sociopath and he would be a danger to anyone he has power over in the WWE corporate structure.
The argument could be made that even the initial accusations were more than enough to justify him being unfit to continue in his role as the boss of WWE, but given the horrendous nature of the lawsuit, there’s no question that it would be unsafe for McMahon to work around the WWE staff. How would any female employee ever be safe again if McMahon is capable of this type of systematic exploitation?
The bottom line is, if this is true ,Vince McMahon and anyone else involved in the exploitation of Janel Grant should be fired from the company immediately. TKO is a publicly-traded corporation that just secured billions of dollars in revenue for the next decade, they don’t need Vince McMahon, and even if he still had an important role in the corporation, he should still be fired. TKO doesn’t need the negatively publicity, and hopefully, when Vince McMahon is exiled, it will be a truly new chapter for the sports entertainment business. It’s ironic that McMahon wanted his pro wrestling empire to be seen as a legitimate business for years, but his actions were based on the sleazy aspects of the history of the industry. Furthermore, the most legitimate WWE will be as a business will be without McMahon involved, and while it would be impossible for the company to deny his involvement in the history of the organization, it shouldn’t be celebrated going forward either. Keep in mind, Vince was the biggest heel in the industry at a time when the company had record-setting ratings so it would be unrealistic to erase him from the archives, but there should never be another Vince appreciation segment again.
As a comparison, you’ve never heard anything like this about Triple H and even during his wrestling days, it was well known that he didn’t drink or use any recreational drugs. Obviously, the WWE will be in better hands under the guidance of Triple H instead of McMahon. More than anything, this story makes the entire industry look terrible and almost reinforces the negative stereotypes about the business. Again, assuming McMahon is exiled, hopefully this can be a fresh start for the WWE under the TKO banner. John Cena’s role as a real-life superhero is a much better narrative to promote for TKO than the accomplishments of Vince McMahon.
It’s important to remember that these allegations will have to be proven in court as the lawsuit unfolds, but assuming the claims are true, Vince McMahon won’t be known as the maverick promoter that took a regional wrestling territory and transformed it into a publicly-traded global corporation worth billions of dollars. Instead, the narrative of Vince McMahon will be that he ruined his legacy because he became another sleazy billionaire that tried to use his money and power to cover up misconduct as the CEO of the company.
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Until next week
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