WWE CEO Nick Khan did plenty of media this week following the official merger of WWE and UFC into a new company called TKO Group Holdings. And while a lot of his interview time was spent discussing TV rights fees, business synergies, and profit margins, I happen to be much more interested in what he has to say about noteworthy people in the business like CM Punk, Vince McMahon, and Roman Reigns.
With that in mind, here is what Khan said on The Bill Simmons Podcast about LA Knight’s rising popularity in WWE, and how the company isn’t looking to compare him to previous top stars:
“You mentioned LA Knight. I think what’s proven in combat sports is the next one never looks like the last one. So you see folks, WWE included, you get a John Cena and part of the thought is, ‘Oh we just need to find the next John Cena.’ There is no next John Cena. Right? The next one never looks like the last one. If you look at UFC, same thing.
...Sometimes an entity can become fixated on, ‘Hey this is our next so-and-so.’ I’ve never seen it work. LA Knight’s the first LA Knight, and that’s part of why we think that he is resonating.”
Khan was also asked about Stephanie McMahon’s current status with WWE, and if a return is possible. If you recall, Stephanie took a leave of absence from WWE last year prior to Vince McMahon’s sex scandal, which prompted her to return as interim CEO. She then officially resigned from the company in January when Vince returned to power.
Here’s what Khan said about Stephanie’s decision to step down from her position in WWE:
“And ultimately, when Vince came back, she decided that she was ready to go and step out. I respect the decision. I wish she hadn’t done that, and she knows that from me personally. She’s a terrific executive and a terrific person. That’s her decision, her relationship with Vince is theirs, and once she made it, I have total respect for the decision.
...If Stephanie wanted to do something with WWE, of course WWE would embrace that. The WWE Universe would embrace that. I think she’s enjoying some time off. And you know the drill, after grinding hard...take a few months off. She still has school-age children, she and [Triple H] do. I think she’s enjoying herself.”
Simmons followed up on Stephanie’s status by asking if she might return to WWE in an affair angle with Test. Khan quickly reminded Simmons that Andrew Martin is dead. Things got very awkward, Simmons suggested maybe Test’s brother for this hypothetical return affair angle, and they changed topics.
What do you make of Nick Khan’s comments on LA Knight, John Cena, and Stephanie McMahon, Cagesiders?