As first reported by the Wall Street Journal before later being confirmed in a press release, McMahon — who maintains majority voting power in the company due to his stock holdings — expects to assume the role of executive chairman of the board, after promoting himself and two former associates, Michelle Wilson and George Barrios, to WWE’s board of directors.
The initial report on the move mentioned that the board was hesitant to see McMahon return and even pushed back on the idea, which required three other board members to step down to facilitate the moves. Despite the initial pushback, however, the move was made, with McMahon referring to the move as “the only way” for WWE to capitalize on negotiations over media rights.
“WWE is entering a critical juncture in its history with the upcoming media rights negotiations coinciding with increased industry-wide demand for quality content and live events and with more companies seeking to own the intellectual property on their platforms,” said McMahon. “The only way for WWE to fully capitalize on this opportunity is for me to return as executive chairman and support the management team in the negotiations for our media rights and to combine that with a review of strategic alternatives. My return will allow WWE, as well as any transaction counterparties, to engage in these processes knowing they will have the support of the controlling shareholder.”
Last year, McMahon came under fire over various reports alleging the former chairman of having paid upwards of $12 million in hush money to various women to cover up claims of sexual misconduct and infidelity. An initial report that alleged McMahon had paid $3 million in hush money to a woman that he was allegedly having an affair with. As a result of that report, McMahon stepped back from his role as chief executive officer of WWE while the board continued its investigation.