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Ari Emanuel ‘wasn’t going to let’ Vince McMahon leave WWE; Vince talks creative role moving forward

Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel and WWE Chairman & controlling shareholder Vince McMahon are already doing press for the huge news they confirmed earlier this morning (April 3) — that Endeavor is acquiring WWE and merging it with UFC to form a new publicly traded company.

In the first of two interview segments set to air on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street, McMahon said that while WWE did have other suitors, the synergies with Endeavor would too good to pass up. It’s something he reiterated when asked about the timing of the deal, which they hope will be finalized later this year:

“It’s the right time. It’s the right time to do the right thing. It’s been the next evolution of WWE. I could probably do what Ari is right now with UFC, it’d take me 10 years. In the time I’d grab those 10 years, he’d be 10 years ahead again. It makes all the sense in the world for all the synergies that we have, to extract all the value we can out of the marketplace.”

WWE’s current CEO Nick Khan, who will serve as the president of that operation under McMahon in the new company, had said McMahon was willing to remove himself from the business if that was a requirement of the sale. Reports indicated other potential buyers would have liked to move on from Vince and the baggage he brings, namely the past year’s investigation into various sex scandals and hush money payments. McMahon told CNBC he was willing to step down (again), but Emanuel said he never would have let that happen:

“I would have bodyslammed him if he thought he thought he was going to leave... Here’s a man who has seen around the corners at every beat over the last 40 years of this business, and has a vision for this business way before a lot of people see it. Him now being able to utilize what we have built in our flywheel? I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Because I got Vince McMahon, a visionary that sees around corners, I’ve got Dana White and what we’ve built. That’s pretty unstoppable.”

Emanuel, an entertainment industry titan who transformed the William Morris talent agency into the Endeavor media holdings empire, stood by UFC president White earlier this when he was caught on video slapping his wife.

Vince said he didn’t have to be pushed too hard to stay. Growing the WWE business is his passion, and he thinks that growth will be exponential post acquisition & merger.

The men were also asked about one of wrestling fans’ favorite topics... is McMahon involved in WWE creative again?

“Yes and no. On a higher level, yes. In the weeds, which I always loved to get in the weeds in the past, no. Can’t do that.”

So it seems it will officially still be Vince’s son-in-law, Chief Creative Officer Paul “Triple H” Levesque at the forefront of creative. But if his boss/dad puts his foot down...

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