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Vince has left the building pic.twitter.com/9CSPQ4Iffn
— WWE 2000's (@2000s_WWE) July 22, 2022
It wasn’t the sagging ratings that did him in. It wasn’t the formation of a rival company that’s taken a legit bite out of his empire in a way no other wrestling promotion has since WCW folded. It’s not the fact that the ratio of Good Ideas to “This Stupid Company…” ideas has gotten wildly out of balance, or the fact that WWE’s creative team has been so chaotic for so long that you can conceive an entire series of articles based around coming up with the most logical conclusion to a storyline or a match and then say “SO OF COURSE THEY WON’T DO THAT!” and predict the opposite, usually to good success.
No, it was none of those things that people thought over the years would be the final nail in Vince McMahon’s coffin. Instead, it was that other thing, that thing no one liked to talk about because it was icky. It was that thing we all tried to ignore because we enjoyed the memes, the lulz, and celebrating the 40 years of occasional successes in the pseudo-sport we love so much. It was that thing in the shadows that did him in.
Vince McMahon is a man who abused his power and took advantage of people. I could be more specific and more graphic but that’s the summary of it. Vince McMahon made himself unworthy of his position and, even though many of us (myself included) repeatedly said that the latest round of scandals would not do him in, they have indeed. Today (Friday, the 22nd of July, 2022) Vince McMahon announced he’s stepping down from WWE. He’s out. Done. Finished. 1-2-3, ring the bell.
I personally never thought I’d see this day. I mean, I’m almost 40 and Vince is pushing 80 but I still thought he’d outlast me, not only as WWE CEO but as a mortal man walking the earth!
There is simply no overstating how much WWE is going to change (assuming Vince isn’t still hush-hush calling the shots via Steph from a home office).
For 40 years the company has been a brand that’s grown to put on a show in front of millions every week, but for 40 years it has been a show solely for the pleasure of one man. One man has been the sole and final decision maker of everything. This costume, that song, this main-event, that feud, this tag team break-up, that script re-write, this script re-write, THAT script re-write, on and on, it’s been Vince McMahon and only Vince McMahon that the whole circus has performed to entertain.
Chris Jericho dressed up in a monkey costume for a random segment on a random Monday Night Raw in 2000. Why? Because Vince wanted him to. Daniel Bryan started celebrating every cheap/stolen/fluke win as though it was WrestleMania 12’s boyhood dream come true (the birth of the “YES” chant). Why? Because Vince thought it would be good heat. Sometimes Vince’s ideas hit, usually they flop, but when they hit they usually hit big enough to be milked for YEARS.
Now that’s gone. It cannot be overstated how huge it is. Who is calling the shots now? Who is going to be that one final decision maker? In the words of CM Punk, it’s now left to Vince’s “doofus son-in-law and idiot daughter.” Nick Khan is co-CEO, what will that be like? He’s the wildest of the cards in the deck right now, having come onto the scene relatively recently but quickly has put a humongous stamp on things. He’s easily as ruthless as Vince as a negotiator and businessman, but running the paperwork at Titan Towers is only half the equation in WWE. Running the creative room is the hard part. It’s like running a movie studio; the best Hollywood execs are guys with the rare skill at both knowing what a good picture needs in order to be made and knowing how to manage the various contracts to get that picture made. The person at the top of the WWE, going back four decades, has almost single-handedly managed the business affairs and the creative output of the product. Yes, he’s always had a team around him, but the final decision maker and the first person to come up with an idea has always been Vince. What now?
What I predict, coming out of this, is three-fold:
First, I predict things will be relatively business-as-usual for the next several weeks. Inertia will keep the ship sailing as it was in the weeks before this announcement. Don’t expect something like when Bischoff and Russo took over WCW, with every title being stripped and the whole vibe changing overnight. No. Consistency will be maintained as much as is humanly possible.
Second, I predict things will eventually, slowly, change over the next several months. Consistency will be maintained as much as is humanly possible, but Vince is one of a kind. If he’s not there to give his seal of approval to every little thing that happens on screen, then eventually the screen will be filled with things he didn’t approve of. It won’t happen all at once, but a little at a time. Eventually, say in 2025, you’ll look at the product and compare it to 2022 and realize how different it has become.
Third, I predict WWE will be sold to NBC/Universal within the next year. In conjunction with that, I predict that Triple H will be the first man up in charge of the creative team and that the feel of the show will lose the wild extremes that Vince’s long tenure was known for. It’ll be a more stable, less unpredictable, more old school NWA style program, albeit with a few “sports-entertainment” nods here and there, sort of like the black and gold era of NXT, but with a bigger budget. I also predict that this slow and steady change in style will cause an eventual fizzling out of the casual viewer, turning the product into something more like AEW, catered to diehards.
In short, this is not the end, but it is also not the end of the beginning.
It is the beginning of the end.
Vince McMahon is out.
WWE will never be the same.