Updates on Vince McMahon’s retirement, mood at tonight’s Smackdown, more
WWE officials held a Zoom meeting with talent at 5pm ET, but it was not necessarily “all hands on deck” like initially portrayed.
The meeting was said to be a short “rah rah meeting” with Vince McMahon described as “irreplaceable,” according to PWInsider. It was also said that new WWE Chairwoman & Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon and Co-CEO Nick Khan will be plotting the course of the company moving forward. It was reported earlier that new WWE Executive Vice President of Talent Relations Paul “Triple H” Levesque was also attending SmackDown with Stephanie and Khan.
Furthermore, Fightful Select adds that several RAW talents were not required to attend the virtual meeting, and that it was “simply a quick goodbye to those that were there.” It has not been confirmed that Vince spoke at the meeting, but the “quick goodbye” is how Fightful described the meeting.
It was also noted that people within WWE have not been told who will be running the creative side of things for either show moving forward, but it was confirmed that Vince has retired from all active roles in the company, and that this is not a storyline.
There were “rampant and unconfirmed rumors” going around the talent today as they expect WWE’s Executive Producer & Chief of Global Television Distribution Kevin Dunn to be the next person to leave WWE. Like other executives in the company, Dunn has been at Vince’s side for many years, even more so than Laurinaitis. The same talent previously speculated on Laurinaitis being ousted for the company, and that ended up being the case. It was reported earlier that Dunn and Senior Vice President & RAW/SmackDown Executive Vice President Bruce Prichard would be the points of contact for running tonight’s SmackDown.
Regarding the mood backstage at tonight’s SmackDown, PWInsider adds that there’s been a “pretty positive reaction” in the locker rooms in regard to Vince’s retirement. While there is some surprise given it was Vince and some felt like he would always be around in some capacity, there is now some excitement among a lot of talents as they look forward to seeing what’s next. There is also the idea among some that there will be a new “energy” for WWE creative.
The internal message staff initially received today was that Vince is retiring but he wants everyone to continue waving the WWE flag. This is interesting as talent were told in a meeting weeks ago that Vince was here to stay, and wasn’t going anywhere. It’s been reported that more allegations against Vince and John Laurinaitis are expected to be revealed, but that has not been confirmed as of this writing, and also multiple mainstream media outlets are working on pieces about the allegations, including HBO’s Real Sports.
There have been a lot of people within WWE wondering what Vince’s exit means for the other executives beyond, Stephanie, Triple H, and Khan. There are also some people who have noted they wished they could have at least said goodbye to Vince personally, face-to-face, and hoped he would be at SummerSlam so they could say goodbye.
Today’s massive shake-up comes after the WWE Board of Directors recently began investigation Vince and then-Talent Relations head John Laurinaitis over allegations of misconduct. As we’ve noted, it was initially revealed on Wednesday, June 15 that WWE’s Board of Directors has been investigating Vince over the “secret $3 million settlement” he made to the former paralegal that was hired in 2019. Laurinaitis was also being investigated for his involvement, and it was revealed that the Board had been looking into other instances with former female employees as well. It was then announced on Friday, June 17 that Stephanie returned from her leave of absence to act as the Interim CEO & Interim Chairwoman after Vince voluntarily stepped away from his Chairman & CEO corporate duties, while still continuing his creative responsibilities, at least at that time. It was then revealed on Monday, June 20 that Bruce Prichard, WWE’s Senior Vice President and RAW/SmackDown Executive Producer, was working as the Interim Senior Vice President of Talent Relations, filling in for Laurinaitis during the investigation. It was then revealed on Friday, July 8, that McMahon agreed to pay more than $12 million in “hush money” to four women, including a former wrestler, as another round of allegations were made public. Prichard is no longer working the interim role as WWE announced today, July 22, that Triple H is the new WWE Executive Vice President of Talent Relations. Vince’s retirement was announced hours after Triple H’s new role was revealed, and Vince was the first to confirm that Stephanie is the new Chairwoman & Co-CEO, along with Co-CEO Khan.