First and foremost, THANK YOU for your recent support of the many columns that I’ve posted throughout 2023. I’ve listened to your feedback and upon reflection, I’ve toned down some of the swagger that you’ve seen in my columns previously like “Excellence in Column Writing” or getting hysterical on formatting to make a point, such as using ALL CAPS to talk down to you on a point. What I’ve realized, particularly as the Vince McMahon stories are breaking, is that readers are looking for no-nonsense analysis on what may be happening to the WWE or could happen to them with a sale.
Thus, I’ve pivoted…
For today, I’m just emptying the Mailbox on additional WWE-stories that have come my way regarding Vince McMahon and the potential sale of the WWE. My columns on Vince have out-performed most of the ones that I have ever supplied to NoDQ thus far, and thus my inbox has blown up with more email feedback than normal. While those Vince McMahon columns have been very detailed, there’s a few things that readers want to know and I’ll do my best to answer them. Tito, without the mask, works in the financial industry with experience working with corporations, mergers & acquisitions, financials and accounting, and trades of securities or stock while also having a graduate degree in finance. I hope to “do my best” to answer said questions in normal terms, which is how I attempt to do anyway when presenting on those topics.
Today’s Ask Tito is loaded with your questions, so let’s get right into it.
ASK TITO: Your Questions, My Answers
Do you think that Vince McMahon’s recent financial settlement with female referee Rita Chatterton will impact the sale of WWE?
Oh yes… Bigtime. In Vince McMahon’s mind, setting this over 35 year old allegation, which has resurfaced thanks to the other sexual allegations, removes the distraction of a lawsuit that gets in the way of him trying to sell the company AND to keep himself in charge. The allegations where that Vince promised this referee a major bump in salary for sexual favors during the mid 1980s, reportedly happening in a limousine. Vince has long denied this and even counter-sued during the early 1990s, but said suit was dropped just before the 1994 steroid trials.
BUT, while it may remove a distraction from Vince, it’s another large financial settlement made to a female accusing Vince of improper behavior as an executive. We were nearly at $20 million in Settlements + NDA shut-up documents before this, and we’re likely now well above that number for Rita to go away. She likely signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), too, to remain quiet about the allegations moving forward.
This is where it hurts Vince… I don’t believe that these media conglomerates want anything to do with the WWE if Vince McMahon forces himself to remain in charge of WWE. Even if Saudi Arabia is the buyer, they STILL have to make a deal with a media conglomerate who might have misgivings about Vince McMahon still being an authority figure of the WWE. THAT is Vince McMahon’s biggest mistake… He should have encouraged a sale to Nick, Stephanie, and Triple H as the #1 shareholder instead of this hostile takeover that he has performed as the #1 shareholder. He could have had his big financial cake and ate it too, while enjoying his daughter, Stephanie, and his son-in-law, Triple H, continuing his legacy for many years to come by agreeing to still run the WWE with the new buyer.
In my mind, Vince’s ego got in the way and he may ultimately struggle to sell the WWE if he desires to remain in charge of it. No media conglomerate, through 2023, wants to deal with the baggage that an executive like Vince McMahon presents. Companies like Comcast, Disney, Paramount Global, etc. are thick with internal policies in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Then, you have someone like FOX who had executives and on-air talent leaving the company due to sexual harassment issues. Why on earth would they be willing to give billions to Vince McMahon with all of these allegations hitting? It sets a bad example for their entire company and if he remains in charge, what guarantees that he’ll stop asking for sexual favors from co-workers? Once a horndog, always a horndog.
If I were Vince McMahon and if he really wants to sell the company, I would agree to STEP DOWN and not be associated with the WWE any longer after the sale. Otherwise, this company won’t get sold OR will get sold at a DISCOUNT instead. Vince McMahon may be expecting $5-$10 Billion, but only receives $3 or $4 Billion because these media conglomerates, who are also corporations, are hesitant to buy with Vince McMahon in charge. And again, Saudi Arabia NEEDS A TV DEAL to make this purchase profitable to them, although they have so many billions that they don’t care… But trust me, people in charge of money like to make much more of it on their investment than losing it. Saudis didn’t accumulate that vast wealth by not maximizing revenues on the energy products that they sell around the world. Ever hear of OPEC?
I believe these Settlements + NDAs will screw Vince McMahon’s desire to keep operating and running the WWE after the sale. Otherwise, buyer beware… He’ll either have to step down or might get a lower price tag than expected. Vince had a GREAT thing with Stephanie, HHH, and Nick running the company for him and didn’t realize it. Now, his ego has taken over and forced himself to rule the WWE with an iron fist but he’s selling to “woke” media conglomerate corporations who won’t tolerate his past behavior. This isn’t 10 years ago when things were swept under the rug and everybody was just OK with making lots of money.
In summary, if Vince McMahon remains in charge, here’s what will happen:
(a) Media conglomerates won’t buy WWE.
(b) Media conglomerates will offer WWE a lower than expected amount.
(c) Saudi Arabia buys WWE, but struggles to get a good TV deal because of media conglomerates offended by Vince still being in charge.
Think about it this way… Warner Bros. Discovery repeatedly forced Tony Khan to not only keep Jay Briscoe off of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) shows, but actually limited the tribute to Jay on AEW programming. THINK ABOUT THAT! So if a media conglomerate like Warner Bros. Discovery can have a problem with LGBTQ+ Tweets that Jay Briscoe made almost 10 years ago, which he apologized repeatedly for and then donated 2 months of his wrestling earnings to the Partners Against Hate charity, think about how they’d respond to Vince McMahon who has directly harmed multiple women and paid hush money. Trust me, these corporations want no part of Vince McMahon being part of the deal UNLESS it’s a discounted price.
Will the LIV Golf deal with the CW Network impact the sale of WWE?
If you read my Top 10 Potential WWE Buyers column, you’d see that I ranked Nexstar Media Group as #10 on that list specifically because they owned 75% of the CW Network. I also mentioned that CW Network could have some interest in hosting Smackdown because Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery own half of the other 25% interest. LIV Golf is the Saudi Arabia owned professional golf league that started up last year and has been offering incredible million dollar deals with top PGA golfers just to participate, let alone win events.
If Saudi Arabia buys the WWE, that’s a real possibility on where Smackdown goes and CW Network is available to over 100 million homes here in the United States. That said, it’s not a very well watched channel with it’s clear #5 ranking against CBS, NBC, FOX, and ABC on broadcast channels. That said, you can obtain CW Network over the air for FREE, as long as you get that darned Digital TV antenna to work (which I struggle with here at my home).
So yes, this is an interesting development to watch IF Saudi Arabia becomes a buyer of the WWE. CW has its own streaming app, too, which could be bolstered with adding WWE content.
Should I buy WWE stock in wake of the sale rumors?
First and foremost, I must state that this column has been written for entertainment purposes only and myself, along with NoDQ.com, are NOT responsible for any financial decisions that anyone reading this makes for themselves or their company. Got that?
In the immortal words of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, “OHHHHH HELLLLL NOOOO!”.
Before Vince McMahon forced his way back on to the WWE Board to start these WWE sale stories, WWE stock was priced at $68. Now, it’s at $88. THUS, you have a $20 or so margin of those who bought with the expectation that WWE would be for sale. The selling of the WWE has already been “priced in” to this cake, guys. Unless the WWE’s upcoming financials shows an absurd financial performance that hasn’t been seen before (beating expectations) or a highly priced new Media Rights deal presents itself, this stock will NOT increase in value from here. Thus, if you buy now, you’re not going to get much out of it… Since the stock peaked almost 2 weeks ago at $90, it’s been slowly trickling downward to the $88 price that you see now.
That said, if you owned the stock back when it was under $70 in price before these sale rumors, it may be a good time to “cash in”. Why? Because as I wrote before, Vince McMahon might have a harder time selling this company than many people think. If he insists on still running the WWE after the sale, then it may scare off many media conglomerates who want nothing to do with his predator-like behavior towards women. There’s a good chance that Vince’s attempts to sell could fail OR he doesn’t get a good deal for selling the company and acquiring a new TV deal. If there are issues with the sale of WWE or getting a new TV deal, that stock will tank!
I wouldn’t buy it… It has already been pumped up artificially based on sale rumors and it could come crashing down if Vince’s insistence on remaining limits who might buy it or offer WWE new television deals. There are BETTER stocks on the market to buy instead, as I’ve always said. With WWE’s attendance and merchandise declining, they became too dependent on TV Rights money and reliance on a single source of income is major risk to consider as an investor. With Cable/Satellite channels losing subscribers, that has been my fear with the WWE anyway that the TV deals could peak at any moment. If Vince’s insistence on running the WWE interferes with sale or TV rights, this stock will drop hard.
But again, I’m just stating my opinion and you may do with your money however you choose.
What do you predict will happen with Triple H?
He’s got major leverage. If Triple H decided to walk away today, the sale of the WWE would dry up quickly and all confidence in the WWE with this Vince forced led company would disappear. I would suspect that many buyers of the WWE would anticipate that Triple H would assume his duties if bought, much like Dana White did when UFC was bought by Endeavor (except that Triple H is much nice to his wife). Triple H walking could change all of that… Hence, why I believe that Vince won’t meddle with Triple H on Creative and Talent Relations matters. Vince’s focus will be 100% on selling the WWE, getting new TV Rights if necessary, and then who runs the WWE after it is sold.
If I were in Triple H’s position and saw any hint of meddling from Vince about Creative or Talent, I’d threaten to walk. What Vince needs, short-term as he’s selling, is STABILITY from the WWE company. Losing Stephanie McMahon could have been a real threat had Nick Khan or Triple H left.
Now, Nick Khan could leave today but I believe that WWE has enough executives in the ranks AND on the board to temporarily replace Nick if needed. Barrios and Wilson, for example, could do Nick’s job (though probably not as well). If Triple H leaves, suddenly, that’s a lot of work to place on someone’s shoulders to ensure that LIVE WWE events go as planned. Vince McMahon would have to go on the road again and it would burn him out quickly as he’s trying to be Board Chairman to sell the WWE. He’d try to rely on stooges like Bruce Prichard to keep the ship afloat, but he’d fail. Paul Heyman isn’t what he was creatively, either. You can no longer call John Laurinaitis to run talent, either.
Now is the time for Triple H to flex that corporate muscle and stand up to Vince, for once.
Do you think that Vince McMahon’s return to the WWE would impact the Rock possibly wrestling for the WWE?
It could, as Hollywood had their own #MeToo movement and Rock would likely get questions to his squeaky clean image about doing business with Vince. That said, the Rock was a former WWE performer so thus it makes sense to do business with the WWE again. Additionally, he can argue that he’s there to “help family” in the form of wrestling Roman Reigns. Also, money talks and Rocky would easily net $10 million for wrestling Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 39.
I believe that it is still happening… For Dwayne to say he’s “not in wrestling shape” as a reason to not appear at Wrestlemania 39 is laughable. The guy lives in a freakin’ gym and for this match, not much is expected of him. Just pull out the blueprint of Wrestlemania 18 and flip the roles, with Roman playing the Rock and the Rock playing the limited veteran Hulk Hogan. That simple… You don’t have to do much for this match, physically, as the hot crowd for this match will take you places.
I believe what we’ll see is a 2-night Roman Reigns Main Event extravaganza, with Roman vs. Cody Rhodes on Night #1 and Rock vs. Roman Reigns on Night #2. This will give Roman major prestige as someone main eventing both nights, while creating storyline excuses as to why one of the matches were lost by him. For example, if Cody vs. Reigns was on Night #1, Rock could sneak in and cost Roman the WWE Title. But if Rock vs. Reigns was on Night #1, Roman could be “worn out” and it allows Cody to take advantage of a vulnerable Roman.
I believe that John Cena will continue to do WWE things because again, he worked there and built his career there.
It would be much different if an actor with ZERO WWE work history joined the WWE right now… He or she would probably get thrashed by cancel culture and other politically correct mobs. Rock and John Cena, however, have actual employment history with the WWE and WWE made them household names. Big difference.
Should WWE and AEW merge together?
This is under the assumption that instead of AEW acquiring WWE, which I don’t the Khans have the liquid assets to do so, nor would they be willing to borrow money for the sale. Yes, they can talk as though they are interested to make the WWE look bad, but buying them would be a larger financial blow to the Khans than a media company or the Saudi investment fund. Daddy Khan’s business plus operating a Soccer and NFL team are expensive enough, let alone an unprofitable All Elite Wrestling (thanks to the Video Game’s expenses), are consuming enough of the Khan’s wealth, assets, and time.
But this is a response to fellow columnist Top 5 Wrestling’s recent column entitled “Why an AEW WWE Merger Could Be Best for Business“. I call this a “receipt”, because this columnist decided to write a response column directly to my “Pro Wrestling Could Begin to Slowly Die if Vince McMahon Sells WWE” column (unlike them, I’m nice enough to plug their column). I’m wondering if Top 5 Wrestling was around or possibly too young when both WCW and ECW both folded and were sold to the WWE during 2001? Do you not know much about history of merged or acquired promotions, along with other companies who have merged or been acquired? Have ya paid a phone or cable bill lately from those merged companies?
Top 5 brings up the AFL and NFL merger, but that was done purely by the owners of both leagues to KEEP THE SALARIES DOWN! Before the merger, competition was BETTER for players, as they now had financial options to join either league. Furthermore, more athletes could participate in professional football leagues with more rosters spots available. Consumers had the choice of multiple football leagues to watch on television and the leagues were incentivized to put on the best program possible to captivate their audience. It’s when the salaries got out of hand that the owners of both leagues colluded and created the merger during 1960s. Furthermore as a combined NFL, they are actually anti-trust exempt and have powers to keep other competitors out (which Pro Wrestling completely lacks).
Tell me, with a straight face, that WCW and ECW getting bought by the WWE was a good thing…
You can’t. WWE stripped WCW of the assets it wanted, then threw away the rest. Wrestler salaries hit a plateau once WCW was gone and once the WCW/ECW Invasion storyline poorly played out, many former WCW and ECW talents lost their jobs. Then, however, things became better when TNA started having success and talents like Kurt Angle, Christian, etc. had options to make good money elsewhere again… But then, TNA started losing increasing amounts of money under Dixie Carter and was bought by an aggressive cost cutting Anthem. Thus, wrestler salaries had once again hit a plateau.
The creation of All Elite Wrestling changed everything. Suddenly, guys like Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, and many WWE released wrestlers had somewhere to go and keep working on a big television network. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan could take big money deals to work for a competitor. On the flip side, Cody Rhodes could scold AEW and then go to the WWE for a big money deal and a major splash impact. In response to a growing AEW, WWE is paying its talent more with guaranteed money. With both WWE and AEW competing, wrestlers have more options, can make more money, and can use both competitors to potentially hop back and forth to refresh if needed.
Go back to the Monday Night Wars… Why were they called “wars”? Because you had both the WWE and WCW competing with each other, for your interest, on Monday Nights. It was AMAZING. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall jumped to WCW and it was the best thing for wrestlers because they not only boosted wrestler salaries, but they could be reborn in another promotion. Chris Jericho getting disrespected by WCW? He made them pay, big time, when he joined WWE in 1999. How about Sean Waltman? WWE lets him go, he makes a big impact in WCW. WCW lets him go, he returns as X-Pac to the WWE to give Degeneration X some new life. Would anyone want to dispute that Hulk Hogan joining WCW during 1994 didn’t make an impact?
Competition breeds QUALITY, period, but also better salaries, benefits, and opportunities for wrestlers. Having just 1 merged promotion squashes all 3 while placing that 1 company in a position to become lazy because they’ve already got your money as the 1 promotion alive. Isn’t that what wrestling fans have complained about the WWE for years, that it lacked any real competition? AEW is the most competitive threat that they have ever seen and it’s created nothing but improved excitement for the wrestling business for the last 3 years. Ask any wrestling news site how they are doing lately, thanks to the emergence of AEW. I worked for 2 big websites since AEW’s inception and I know…
Look at how AEW has already fumbled on the Ring of Honor acquisition. Nobody cares about ROH and “thinned out” Tony, who writes scripts for like 5 hours of television each week, struggles to maintain interest with ROH… How could he do anything with WWE?
Trust me, if it’s announced that maybe the Khans, working with Warner Bros. Discovery, have acquired WWE… The wrestling business is going to head for dark times with 1 company in charge of everything and trying to create a phony shell of existence of the promotion that they just purchased. Monopoly-like companies in any industry, who control most of the assets and content decisions, suck. Period.
Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it. Go back and review how the wrestling fanbase was actually shrinking as Vince McMahon’s national movement with WWE squashed territories. Go look back at how WCW/ECW going away made the early 2000s pro wrestling scene decline with interest. TNA declining began to limit options for wrestlers through the early 2010s. Then, look at how Tony struggles to make Ring of Honor interesting at all. Furthermore, Sinclair buying ROH and Anthem buying TNA/Impact has caused nothing but significant cost cutting measures to limit how those companies operate.
So, Top 5 Wrestling… You wrote a response to my “Pro Wrestling Could Slowly Begin to Die” column… Well, your idea of merging AEW and WWE together would increase the rot to make a faster death to pro wrestling. History shows that COMPETITION grows the business and the periods of time with 1 dominant promotion has shown declines.
– Early to mid 1990s (WWE dominant)
– Early to mid 2000s (WWE dominant)
– Mid to late 2010s (WWE dominant)
Growth in the business?
– Territory system from the start through the 1980s
– WCW’s rise to challenge WWE on Monday Nights
– TNA picking up steam during the mid to late 2000s
– AEW Created in 2019 and airing on TNT
COMPETITION breeds QUALITY of wresting programs and creates BETTER OPTIONS & LEVERAGE for wrestlers. Everyone wins!
Both WWE and AEW have financial options to pay for competing salaries. WWE is earning like $600 million per year from Comcast/NBC Universal, FOX, and WWE Network while AEW was briefly profitable thanks to their TNT deal (video game is killing them on expenses!). This is unlike the AFL and NFL battle of the 1960s where TV deals weren’t as rich as they are today, and population is much larger to pay and support leagues and promotions.
So yeah, an AEW and WWE merger would be BAD for business.
So just chill… till the next episode!