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What happened that made Vince McMahon change his mind?

Vince McMahon WWE

It was just over one month ago that the Wall Street Journal published a report claiming the WWE Board of Directors was investigating longtime Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon over a $3 million settlement he paid to an ex-employee with whom he’d had an affair. McMahon quickly announced he would be stepping back from his duties — though he would remain on assisting with Creative — and his daughter, Stephanie McMahon, would be taking his place on an interim basis.

A couple weeks later, a piece in the New York Magazine featured a wrestler corroborating a female referee’s account of being raped by McMahon in 1986.

A couple weeks after that, the Wall Street Journal published a new report with more details on alleged hush money McMahon paid to women who worked for WWE. That report brought the total to four women who are said to have been paid $12 million by WWE’s long-time leader in exchange for their silence on alleged sexual misconduct. Two of those women refuted claims that it was consensual.

Despite all of this, reports claimed he was at WWE television and the environment backstage was “business as usual.” As Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer put it “Everyone, especially Vince, acting like nothing happened.”

Now, the Wrestling Observer is reporting that around that same time frame, at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, “talent was told that Vince was not going to be leaving creative under any circumstance.” That was on July 2. Just three weeks later, on July 22, McMahon announced his retirement, with Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan being named co-CEO’s of the company.

So what changed?

Just days ago, rumors and reports were indicating the Wall Street Journal were still pursuing the story and trying to get into contact with former WWE performers. In addition, more mainstream media outlets were apparently working on stories surrounding the situation as well. The Observer reported talent they were in contact with “knew very little” but “speculation around it is the same as everyone’s, with the idea that either they were aware of damaging media stories or aware of something the independent investigation revealed.”

McMahon has led the way at WWE through numerous scandals and controversies, enough so that there was a prevailing belief that he would remain in his position until he was physically no longer able to do so. That he abruptly announced his retirement has only led to more suspicion of what any of these ongoing journalistic efforts may bring to light.

The only thing that’s really clear in all this is that we aren’t even close to being done with this story just yet.

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