I was a huge fan of professional wrestling as a kid and young adult. The storylines, the costumes, the personalities; all larger than life.
The smaller circuits used to tour through my home region of central and northern Kentucky, coupled with wrestling magazines and local televised wrestling, and I was hooked, as were most of my friends. Macho Man Randy Savage threatened to beat the (expletives deleted) out of all my friends and me once. It left an impression!
It wasn’t unusual to find my friends and myself trying to kill each other emulating our favorite moves and wrestlers on a Saturday afternoon. Hey, we didn’t know it wasn’t real!
Starting in 1982, with Vince McMahon taking over what was then the WWF, wrestling exploded in popularity. McMahon centralized and organized professional wrestling, turning it into the billion dollar behemoth it is now.
But just like everything ends, so does the reign of the greatest promoter in entertainment sports history. Let’s go to Outkick for the details:
Vince McMahon stepped down as Chairman and CEO of WWE on Friday amid a board investigation into “hush money” McMahon paid to suppress allegations of sexual misconduct.
When the shock of the news wears off, industry discussion will inevitably turn to a potential WWE sale. There has long been speculation that McMahon, who is remaining the majority shareholder, was gearing up to sell the company.
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It is a shame McMahon acted in such a past manner that he would be effectively “forced” to step down, but at 77 years old, it was likely coming anyway.
McMahon is a tireless promoter and worker, and pushing himself like he is known to do at an advanced age isn’t a great idea. Live to spend some of that net worth, right?
The question now is, where does the WWE go from here? Likely the company will be sold, but to whom?
A reasonable purchase price for WWE could be around $7.5 billion. The company has a market cap of $4.73 billion and a current stock price of $66.69.
Therefore, there should be a number of possible sale partners, with Comcast’s NBCUniversal at the top of the list.
In addition to a deal for Peacock, the NBC-owned USA Network airs Raw on Mondays, keeping the network relevant in the pantheon of cable charts.
NBC pays $265 million a year to rent Raw essentially. Owning the WWE outright would prove sufficient long-term, eliminating the increasingly high fees to broadcast the properties on USA and Peacock.
NBCUniversal could then move SmackDown from Fox, a competitor, to its NBC broadcast network.
Breaking: Vince McMahon is retiring as WWE chairman and CEO, he announced today.
— ESPN (@espn) July 22, 2022
NBC makes the most sense, and could help recapture some of the adult male audience the flagging network has lost. Let’s be honest, NBC isn’t known for much anymore outside of NFL football. Personally can’t remember the last time I actually watched a network program. “Must see TV” is a slogan of a bygone era.
Disney is another potential buyer. In April, CNBC reported that Disney views niche sports like WWE as enticing acquisition targets.
Disney could air the weekly WWE television shows on any combination of its linear networks, including ABC, FX, and ESPN (probably ESPN2).
I guess every scenario needs a “worst case”, and Disney would be it.
Does wrestling need more queer characters? Is there a way to teach kids about gender identity through wrestling characters and storylines?
Few businesses in entertainment or otherwise can manage to be politically incorrect and still survive. The WWE is one of those, mostly because it’s too large to fail.
I’m sure Disney also thought they were too large to fail, then they started pushing their far left narrative into everything they do, and consumers have pushed back, as evidenced by Disney’s lagging stock price.
The purchase of WWE by Disney would be an abysmal failure, but Disney seems intent on plowing forward with their bad ideas, so we shall see.
Either way, for folks of a certain age, the retirement of Vince McMahon is bittersweet.
Best of luck to McMahon and lets hope NBC body-slams Disney and buys the WWE.