ViRTUE's RAGE: WWE Life After Vince McMahon Submitted by Virtue on 08/30/2020 at 04:13 PM
August 30, 2020
Despite Vince McMahon recently turning 75 years old, he is still vigorously running his sports entertainment company on a full-time basis. There is a very good possibility that he is working harder in 2020 than he ever has during his lifetime. But trying to keep WWE running smoothly during a pandemic with many restrictions is most likely taking its toll on him. It’s no secret that people who have worked with VKM have touted his astronomical work ethic and endurance. They often joke that in VKM’s world, there are no days off for anything, including being sick. He is clearly dedicated to his company so much that he may in fact never officially step down as the boss until he physically and mentally cannot do it anymore. In other words, VKM will most likely have to get chronically ill or pass away for that to happen. But should VKM retire sooner rather than later, when something literally forces him out? That question is very disconcerting for WWE and VKM’s family, who will most likely be the ones to step in when the chairman does ever officially depart. Now let’s look at some of the main candidates that could very well be responsible to lead WWE after the era of VKM.
Shane McMahon: Shane seems to take more after his mother Linda than he does VKM, especially since he has bigger ambitions outside of WWE. Shane has had a good amount of success outside the WWE bubble with his various business ventures. From my point of view, this shows a much broader depth of business savvy than Stephanie, who seems like a WWE lifer. But even Shane, after a near seven-year hiatus, returned to WWE in 2016. I do not blame Shane for returning to help the family company and earn some nice paydays, but I am somewhat disappointed that he did because I figured he was fine conquering the world on his own, without the crutch and support of WWE. Nonetheless, now that Shane has been back in the picture for the last four years or so, I want to clarify that I think he is the best one suited to replace VKM in the future. He has multiple business experiences (most of them positive) with a plethora of sports, entertainment, and TV/cable knowledge. The fact he grew up in the wrestling business gives him all the experience and credibility he would need from that aspect as well. Shane might be the only one in the family that could one day acknowledge the company’s current faults and potentially be willing enough to start correcting them for the betterment of WWE.
Stephanie McMahon: Stephanie seems to take more after her father than she does her mother. In terms of knowing how daddy likes to do business, by default, Stephanie should have that down pat. However, that could pose a potential problem if she were to ever be fully in charge one day. It will almost be like nothing will change, if not potentially get worse for the company in terms of creative stagnation. Unfortunately, with Stephanie and hubby, Triple H, so entrenched within the corporate WWE structure already, this is perhaps the most likely scenario of leadership one day. I’m sure there are things Stephanie does well for WWE’s business practices, but based on her prior involvement with the creative team, if she were to ever fully be in charge like VKM, I think it could become a potential nightmare for the company, even more so than an aging VKM still trying to give fans what he thinks they want. Stephanie’s main strength for the company has always been as an on-screen villain, but I question most of her corporate abilities behind the scenes because of her not taking the same ambitious route as Shane and finding success outside of WWE without any help from daddy, even if at least briefly. Remember the WWE Women’s Division article I just posted last week about it losing steam since the departure of Ronda Rousey? Well, Stephanie is most likely to blame for not continuing to push its growth beyond the celebrity of a former MMA fighter.
Triple H: It is obvious that Triple H will more than likely never completely be in control of WWE because he will always be tethered to Stephanie. However, since he is responsible for WWE’s developmental and NXT, I want to make sure he is part of this topic. There is no doubt in my mind that Triple H has fallen in love with independent wrestling. With that being said, if Triple H were to ever have the opportunity to be in VKM’s role and tried to shift the NXT product to the main roster, there is no way a substantial amount of casual fans will ever come back to the product. Just look at Wednesday night’s cumulative ratings between AEW and NXT. They literally share about 1.5 million viewers and have now for quite some time (even before the pandemic). With Raw and SmackDown getting around 2 million viewers each right now during the pandemic, there are only about an additional 500K eyeballs I can honestly refer to as casual WWE fans. That number needs to grow, not shrink, which is what would happen if Triple H’s NXT vision consumed the main product. Catering to diehard fans makes sense at the current level NXT is at, but it would be a total business killer if it ever migrated to the main roster. Regardless of whoever is in charge after VKM, Triple H has peaked corporately with how he manages and runs NXT with his buddies.
A major buyer like the Walt Disney Company: Even if this were to ever happen, which right now seems very unlikely, there would still be a chance that the sales arrangement would keep a McMahon or family member at the helm for as long as possible. It’s hard to see any version of WWE not under the reigns of a McMahon, but if any company is willing and able to pull it off, it could very well be Disney. For example, the Star Wars franchise under Disney management gets a lot of flack from old school fans because of the writing and directing style, but they are still making mega bank with it and I don’t think anyone else could be as successful with it as Disney has been because of their marketing power. While I am not directly comparing WWE’s legacy to that of Star Wars’ legacy, it is interesting to gauge how Disney can still surge popularity to the next generation of fans for an old school product/franchise. Life in WWE after VKM may be a long way away, but I find it fascinating to discuss the possibilities. As I write this article, WWE stock is near $45 per share with a $3.5 billion market cap. That is nowhere near it was in 2019, but prior to 2018, their stock was consistently under $20 per share for years. There is undoubtedly a potential brand investment there for the right buyer, but as for now, VKM is still the higher power.
Thanks for reading Virtue’s Rage and I WILL BE BACK…