Triple H (real name Paul Levesque) is WWE’s Chief Creative Officer, and has technically been overseeing the company’s creative efforts since McMahon “retired” in the summer of 2022 during an investigation into his financial dealings with women who’d accused him of inappropriate behavior. Since Vince forced his way back into the company earlier this year however, it’s been widely reported that he — not Levesque — has had final say over the company’s creative plans.
McMahon didn’t just return to make late changes to Raw and SmackDown scripts. He also facilitated the sale of WWE to Endeavor. Vince is now Executive Chairman of TKO Group, the new Endeavor spin-off company which consists of WWE & UFC (which Endeavor already owned), reporting to Endeavor founder & CEO Ari Emanuel.
During an initial round of media with Emanuel announcing the deal, McMahon said he didn’t think he’d have much time to devote to creative post-merger... but it wasn’t long until we were again hearing rumors of his involvement. And since Emanuel said during those same interviews that Vince would continue to have the final say on all things WWE after the deal went through, it seemed that would continue to happen no matter what it said on Triple H’s business cards.
But now we’ve heard Levesque is running the show without interference from McMahon, and the product showing up on our screens supports that talk. So what happened?
According to a Fri., Oct. 13 report from Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso, Emanuel himself made the call:
Multiple contacts within the WWE and UFC have confirmed that Ari Emanuel, who wields power as the Endeavor CEO, is behind the change. Emanuel has long been a firm believer that, in order for an organization to be as effective as possible, people need to do the job they are assigned. In this case, that approach has empowered Levesque to exert his full influence in the company’s creative sphere.
The job Emanuel has assigned for Vince at the moment is “overseeing a lucrative new media rights deal for Raw and the NXT brand.” Which should keep both him & WWE President Nick Khan plenty busy. But as Barrasso wonders at the close of his report, it will be interesting to see how McMahon responds to a loss of power within the organization he built. Vince’s contract with Endeavor protects him financially, but as this move demonstrates, it doesn’t guarantee him political power in the new company.
While confirming SI’s report on Wrestling Observer Radio today (Oct. 16), Dave Meltzer seemed to be pondering the same question. He compared the situation Vince is now in with Emanuel to the then-WWF after McMahon’s purchase of the promotion from his father in the 1980s. As possible evidence of where Vince currently stands with his new boss, Meltzer also reminds us that Emanuel listed Vince’s stock arrangement (which could be in place due to an ongoing Federal investigation into McMahon’s hush money scandal, and that Endeavor has documented as a potential risk to future business) as a possible reason for a recent drop in TKO’s share price:
“Well, he [McMahon]’s out of creative. It’s a big story because Ari Emanuel, when they were on the verge of closing the deal, and had actually closed the deal in April, did media rounds [saying], ‘Vince will be in charge of the company [WWE], and if me and Vince have a disagreement, it goes the way Vince wants because Vince is the guy’.
“So then the deal went through, it only really went through about a month ago, and already, Vince is out of creative because of Ari Emanuel. So this is a real interesting thing because it is the first time – Vince is now in the position that his father was in in ‘84 when his father had run the company for years and years and years, and (then) he was just an employee of... Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
“Vincent Kennedy McMahon was the guy making all the decisions, and now, Vince was in fact overruled, even though when he merged the company he was told that this would not happen. It did happen. And it’s a really interesting thing.
“And that statement when Ari Emanuel was talking about the reasons the stock is down and he mentioned Vince’s name. So it is very interesting I think what is going to happen.
“Vince’s power is clearly marginalized. There’s no way around that.”
You won’t find many fans, pundits or (off the record) wrestlers & WWE employees who are unhappy about Vince being out of creative. But you’ll find many within those groups who believe he’ll eventually find a way back into his old role.
Can he though? Now that he has a boss, and one who apparently will stand up to him? McMahon’s never backed down from a fight before. So even though it’s not clear he can win this one, we won’t be shocked if he tries.
It’s hard to imagine Vincent Kennedy McMahon cashing in his stock and settling into retirement.