Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Fall and resurrection of Vince McMahon, the wrestling magnate accused of sexual abuse

In the year 2007when you could not even think of him as president of the United States, donald trump participated in Wrestlemania, the biggest annual event of wrestling of the world. Vince McMahon, owner of WWE, the promoter of the event, cultivated a good relationship with him, to the point that years later he financed his political campaigns, in which his wife Linda also participated, who ended up having a position in the Trump government. .

Trump’s match at Wrestlemania was against McMahon, although it was not a match between them. Each of them represented a fighter. Whoever lost, had to shave their head live … and of course McMahon lost. Trump, yes, received the final movement from Stone Cold Steve Austin, one of the most famous fighters in history, to the delirium of the Detroit public… although that part was not incorporated into the video of the moment uploaded to YouTube by the company .

Those were the glory years of a company that revolutionized the US professional wrestling scene thanks to McMahon’s entrepreneurial vision and apparent lack of scruples. In the 1980s, he inherited a local business from his father and turned it into a sports entertainment multinational that swept away all the competitionbreaking the tacit non-aggression pact that the different promoters traditionally respected.

In ‘wrestling’, also known as ‘pressing catch’ in Spain, everything is scripted: who will win, how will they do it, when will the fight last, what movements and elements will be used… But that does not mean that it is all false, because falling from a ladder, being thrown against a table or receiving the impact of another body that falls from several meters of height hurts. Even if it’s scripted, it hurts the same.

3 billion dollars

McMahon, in his excessive ambition to be as rich as he could (his current fortune is estimated at 3,000 million dollars), did not hesitate to become an active part of the ‘show’, characterized as Mr. McMahon, an arrogant and authoritarian boss who He tried to make life impossible for the most popular fighters: Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, John Cena, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair… And even his own children, Shane and Stephanie, with whom he faced off in the ring.

The character was a creation encouraged by a real event, the betrayal in 1997 of Bret Hart, whom he stripped of the champion title without him knowing what was going to happen, when he was about to sign for WCW, WWE’s main competition in those years, later bought and absorbed by McMahon. The wrestling mogul saw money in the anger unleashed on him by consumers of his product and he strove to feed it, changing wrestling forever.because from then on he achieved leadership in audiences that made him keep the monopoly of the business in the US.

More than an ‘alter ego’

The question was always how much was real and how much was invented in the ‘alter ego’ Mr. McMahon. How much did the authoritarian, unscrupulous, vengeful and corrosive character to the true personality of the owner of the company. In many facets, but especially in relation to the treatment of women, who in the 90s forced them to appear almost naked in the ring, in combats in which the winner was the one who managed to leave the opponent in her underwear or with fights in the mud.

Already in 1992, in a social context that was much more permissive than now towards the mistreatment of women, a former referee, Rita Chatterton, accused McMahon of having sexually abused of her years ago, after he refused to perform fellatio on her in his limousine. McMahon never faced a trial for these alleged facts, but according to ‘Wall Street Journal’ he could do so now, after a legal change in New York that extends the statute of limitations for sexual crimes.

The Chatterton case has flared up again in recent months, also because an investigation published in June by the Wall Street Journal itself, which revealed millionaire payments to women to keep their extramarital affairs a secret with McMahon. Said payments, four for a total amount of 12 million dollars, according to the investigation, would have been made charged to WWE’s own accounts.

internal investigation

The scandal led to the opening of an internal investigation at the company. McMahon, now 76 years old, was forced to step aside, resigning all chargesin what was announced as a definitive withdrawal, to take over from his daughter Stephanie (who had just announced that she was taking time out of the company) and her son-in-law and her husband, the legendary former wrestler Triple H, at front of the executive and creative direction of WWE, respectively.

The relief, according to the specialized press, was welcomed with open arms by the company’s workers. Wrestlers who had personal clashes with McMahon in the past were rehired and those who were still in the company described that the work environment had improved substantially after the departure of the previous president.

The WWE, in short, seemed to be heading towards a new era, strengthening the role of women as wrestlers (a path started years ago and promoted, under the direction of Vince, by Stephanie herself) and giving a new air to the product in a moment in which the billionaire Khan family, of Pakistani origin, has invested a lot of money in creating competition with the AEW company.

The return

However, everything went up in the air a few days ago. McMahon never stopped being WWE’s top shareholder and took advantage of it to rejoin the board of directors of the company first and to force his re-election as CEO after. Stephanie, her daughter, who was serving as co-CEO, instantly resigned from all of her positions, leaving the company.

After the fall into hell, comes the resurrection of a 77-year-old man whose money comes out of his ears. Why has he come back? It might be because mere ego, for understanding that things in his absence were not being done as they should. Or, surely, to continue increasing his enormous fortune.

The specialized press points to two fundamental reasons for the return. The first is the imminent renewal of the television contracts for its main shows, Raw (aired on Mondays) and Smackdown (Fridays). The second step would be, after ensuring the audiovisual future of the company, and charging a million-dollar commission for participating in the negotiation, to sell WWE to the highest bidder as soon as possible.

Its current market value stands at about 6,500 million dollars and his annual turnover in about 1,100. Astronomical figures that would ensure McMahon an exorbitant income from his shares in the company.

Saudi Arabia

Among the possible buyers that appear in the pools stands out above all Saudi Arabia. The dictatorship already has agreements with WWE to organize there two big events a year (in which the women fight completely covered from the neck down) in a business relationship that has grown closer over the years.

It was even stated that the operation was done, something that was categorically denied by WWE, who, however, did not deny (or confirm) that there were negotiations underway with the Saudi kingdom. To know the truth, the script McMahon has written for himself in this unexpected resurrection, we will have to wait a few weeks.

But there is no doubt that the tycoon has everything under control. Because Vince McMahon tolerates, encourages and scripts losing a billionaire bet with Donald Trump in a ring of his own company. But does not tolerate a single defeat in business.

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