Vince McMahon Is Gone From WWE, Allegedly For Real This Time
2:48 PM EST on January 28, 2024
Vince McMahon was all smiles last Tuesday. He was at the New York Stock Exchange to watch Dwayne Johnson ring the bell as part of a promotion advertising The Rock’s addition go the board of TKO, the company created by the merger of WWE and UFC last year. That same day, Netflix announced it was paying $5 billion for the rights to WWE Raw for the next 10 years. The stock soared. McMahon got even richer.
He still has his money, but McMahon is no longer executive chairman of the TKO board. He resigned from his position Friday, the day after a former WWE employee accused him of heinous sex crimes in a lawsuit. The lone public pressure appeared to come from Slim Jim. “Slim Jim values integrity and respect in all of our partnerships,” the beef snack brand told Post Wrestling. “Given the recent disturbing allegations against Vince McMahon, at this time we’ve decided to pause our promotional activities with WWE.”
The allegations against McMahon, which he has denied, are indeed disturbing. Janel Grant, whose representatives told the Associated Press she wanted to be public, said she and McMahon met because they lived in the same apartment building, and she began working at WWE in 2019—where her job included having sex with McMahon. The suit said McMahon once locked her in an office and, along with another WWE executive, they "took turns sexually assaulting her," per The Wall Street Journal. Another time, she said McMahon shit on her head during a threesome. The lawsuit added that McMahon caused her to bruise and bleed by using dildos he named after WWE wrestlers.
The suit also accused McMahon of sharing sexually explicit photos and videos of Grant with a “a world-famous athlete and former UFC Heavyweight Champion with whom WWE was actively trying to sign to a new contract.” The WSJ, which first reported the lawsuit, identified that man as Brock Lesnar. He is the only wrestler who would fit that description. The suit included a text allegedly sent by McMahon to Grant after Lesnar re-signed, telling her “part of the deal was fucking U.”
The suit included multiple screenshots of texts it said McMahon sent to Grant. In the messages, the sender sounds like both like an old, rich man texting and a 13-year-old boy on AOL Instant Messenger in 1996. (In one screenshot, “Vince” also does not know how to spell the word “pussy,” spelling it “pussey.”)
Grant said McMahon eventually convinced her to sign a nondisclosure agreement after his wife, Linda, found out about her; she said she only received $1 million of the agreed-upon $3 million hush payment.
Last night was WWE’s annual Royal Rumble, a show so bad it was as if WWE had tanked the show to prove McMahon is needed behind the scenes. There was a press conference afterward with a few wrestlers and WWE chief content officer Triple H. He did not inspire much confidence in the executive suite of the company caring at all about the lawsuit. Triple H, whose real name is Paul Levesque, is married to Vince’s daughter Stephanie. He is a WWE executive. Yet he claimed to have not read the lawsuit accusing his father-in-law of sex trafficking.
“We all found out in real time when you were,” Levesque said. “And that’s the truth. I’ll go back to what I said before, this is an amazing week for us and at this point, I don’t even wanna get bogged down with the negatives of it. I just want to focus on the positives and where we’re going ... I feel like we are in the middle of something that we might not be able to put our finger on now but five, 10 years from now we’re going to be saying, ‘Wow, what a time that was’. I want to focus on that.”
The idea that WWE just found out about all of this is absurd. This has been in the news before! The WSJ reported in June of 2022 that the board of WWE, then an independent public company, was investigating a secret $3 million settlement to a WWE paralegal with whom McMahon had an sexual relationship. That was Grant. Her lawsuit alleges WWE breached the NDA by leaking her name; not long after the WSJ report, wrestling blogger Brad Shepard did post her name last year.
A month later, the WSJ reported of $12 million in payments to four different women who accused McMahon of sexual misconduct. McMahon was exiled from WWE that month, but he used his voting power to force his way back onto the board a little more than a year ago. The stories kept coming out, though. Last July, WWE revealed that McMahon was subpoenaed and served with a search warrant in its quarterly report.
Even in general, the news of McMahon’s sexual misconduct is not new. In 1992, ex-ref Rita Chatterton accused McMahon of raping her in 1986. In 2006, a Florida tanning salon employee said that McMahon attempted to “attack and rape her.”
Yet the massive WWE-UFC merger last September went through. It created TKO, a company valued at $21.4 billion at launch. McMahon was the board’s executive chairman until Friday. So much of this was public knowledge to WWE execs, to Triple H, to The Rock, to Slim Jim, and to Endeavor, the controlling owner of both WWE and UFC.
“Mr. McMahon does not control TKO nor does he oversee the day-to-day operations of WWE,” TKO said in a statement. “While this matter predates our TKO executive team’s tenure at the company, we take Ms. Grant’s horrific allegations very seriously and are addressing this matter internally.”
Wrestling lingo has penetrated the ether in recent years, so you probably know the term for all of this: kayfabe. Everyone here is keeping up appearances. It was public information that McMahon was a shitbag, but people were willing to look the other way. Even Slim Jim ended up sponsoring last night’s Royal Rumble after McMahon resigned, but they’d agreed to sponsor it when many of his alleged misdeeds were already public.
McMahon can’t force his way back onto the board anymore, but many of his minions are still at WWE. Former UFC-turned-WWE star Ronda Rousey tweeted that McMahon “was still running things” the last time he left the company. She said he used longtime ally Bruce Prichard, who has been with the company so long that he was The Undertaker’s first manager, as a go-between. Maybe this time, McMahon could be gone for good. But someone at WWE will have to acknowledge having read the lawsuit first.