Dave and Chuck the Freak

WWE is causing a lot of speculation among its fanbase over the rumored sale of the company to the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund.

The potential sale of WWE has been a top trending topic on Twitter since last night (January 10), and it continues to be a top trend as of publishing. So far, WWE has yet to comment publicly on these rumors.

WWE has had a relationship with Saudi Arabia for a number of years. The sports entertainment giant began a 10-year partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Sport in 2018 that involves hosting pay-per-view events in the country.

There are many layers and details in this wild story. Here’s a breakdown of events in WWE for the past six+ months:

  • June 15, 2022: 'The Wall Street Journal' Reports Vince McMahon was Under Investigation for Alleged Misconduct

    Vince McMahon was the prime subject of a blockbuster report from The Wall Street Journal stating the WWE CEO secretly paid a $3 million settlement in January 2022 to a former employee with whom he had an alleged consensual affair.

    WSJ reported the WWE board of directors began an investigation into the matter after it received a series of anonymous emails beginning on March 30 from someone who said they were a friend of the former WWE employee who was hired in 2019 as a paralegal.

    WSJ said they received a letter regarding this matter from Jerry McDevitt, McMahon’s longtime attorney, that stated the former employee never filed any harassment claims against Mr. McMahon and, “WWE did not pay any monies” to her “on her departure.” However, those familiar with the WWE board inquiry on the matter said Mr. McDevitt negotiated the settlement deal and cited the aforementioned March 30 email which reportedly states, “My friend was so scared so she quit after Vince McMahon and lawyer Jerry paid her millions of dollars to shut up.”

  • June 17, 2022: Vince McMahon Steps Down as WWE CEO During Investigation, Stephanie McMahon Named Interim CEO

    This news was announced in a joint statement from WWE and its Board of Directors which said, in part, “…[Mr.] McMahon has voluntarily stepped back from his responsibilities as CEO and Chairman of the Board until the conclusion of the investigation. McMahon will retain his role and responsibilities related to WWE’s creative content during this period and remains committed to cooperating with the review underway. The Special Committee has appointed Stephanie McMahon to serve as interim CEO and interim Chairwoman.”

    Mr. McMahon said in a personal statement, “I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation. I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are.”

    Ms. McMahon said in her own personal statement, “I love this company and am committed to working with the Independent Directors to strengthen our culture and our Company; it is extremely important to me that we have a safe and collaborative workplace. I have committed to doing everything in my power to help the Special Committee complete its work, including marshaling the cooperation of the entire company to assist in the completion of the investigation and to implement its findings.”

    Furthermore, the joint statement from WWE and its Board of Directors concluded, “WWE and its Board of Directors take all allegations of misconduct very seriously. The Independent Directors of the Board engaged independent legal counsel to assist them with an independent review. In addition, the Special Committee and WWE will work with an independent third-party to conduct a comprehensive review of the company’s compliance program, HR function and overall culture. The Company and the Board do not expect to have further comment until the investigation is concluded.”

  • July 22, 2022: Vince McMahon Retires from WWE During Misconduct Investigation

    WWE confirmed the news in a press release that featured a lengthy statement from McMahon that read, in part:

    “As I approach 77 years old, I feel it’s time for me to retire as Chairman and CEO of WWE. Throughout the years, it’s been a privilege to help WWE bring you joy, inspire you, thrill you, surprise you, and always entertain you. I would like to thank my family for mightily contributing to our success, and I would also like to thank all of our past and present Superstars and employees for their dedication and passion for our brand. Most importantly, I would like to thank our fans for allowing us into your homes every week and being your choice of entertainment.”

    McMahon concluded his statement with:

    “I leave our company in the capable hands of an extraordinary group of Superstars, employees, and executives – in particular, both Chairwoman and Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon and Co-CEO Nick Khan. As the majority shareholder, I will continue to support WWE in any way I can. My personal thanks to our community and business partners, shareholders, and Board of Directors for their guidance and support through the years. Then. Now. Forever. Together.”

  • January 5, 2023: Vince McMahon submits written consent to WWE Board of Directors to return to help with upcoming media rights negotiations

    Vince McMahon issues a lengthy press release that stuns many WWE fans. The press release states, in part, “Vince McMahon, the founder and controlling shareholder of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (“WWE” or the “Company”) (NYSE: WWE), announced today that he has taken necessary actions to position the Company to capitalize on a unique opportunity to maximize long-term value for all WWE shareholders … Mr. McMahon’s new role will enable unified decision making through the Company’s upcoming media rights negotiations and a parallel full review of the Company’s strategic alternatives, which Mr. McMahon believes is the right course of action and in the best interests of WWE and WWE shareholders amidst the current dynamics in the media and entertainment industry. As Mr. McMahon has communicated to the Board, he believes there is a narrow window of opportunity to create significant value for all shareholders and that to do so, the strategic alternatives review must occur in tandem with the media rights negotiations. He also expressed to the Board that he believes these two initiatives require Mr. McMahon’s direct participation, leadership, and support as controlling shareholder.”

  • January 6, 2023: Vince McMahon Returns to WWE Board of Directors

    Chairwoman & Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon, Co-CEO Nick Khan and Chief Content Officer Paul Levesque issue the following statement via a press release shared by WWE:

    “Today, we announce that the founder of WWE, Vince McMahon, will be returning to the Board. We also welcome back Michelle Wilson and George Barrios to our Board of Directors. Together, we look forward to exploring all strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value.”

    The press release notes, “In connection with the change in the composition of the Board of Directors and in cooperation with Vince McMahon as majority shareholder, the Company intends to undertake a review of its strategic alternatives with the goal being to maximize value for all WWE shareholders. There is no assurance that this process will result in a transaction.”

  • January 10, 2023: Vince McMahon Unanimously Elected as Executive Chairman of WWE Board of Directors

    In a press release shared by WWE, it’s announced Vince McMahon was unanimously elected as Executive Chairman of the WWE Board of Directors.

  • January 10, 2023: Stephanie McMahon Resigns from WWE

    Shortly after news of Vince McMahon being voted Executive Chairman of the WWE Board of Directors was announced, Stephanie McMahon surprises WWE fans by announcing her resignation as Co-CEO and Chairwoman of the Board of WWE.

    She issued a statement where she said, in part, “About 8 months ago, I took a leave of absence and within a few weeks, unexpectedly had the opportunity of a lifetime. I had the privilege to return as the Co-CEO and Chairwoman of the Board of WWE…Our Founder, Vince McMahon, has returned as Executive Chair and is leading an exciting process regarding strategic alternatives.”

    Vince McMahon said in a statement, “First, I’d like to express my full support for Stephanie’s personal decision. I’ll forever be grateful that she offered to step in during my absence and I’m truly proud of the job she did co-leading WWE. Stephanie has always been the ultimate ambassador for our company, and her decades of contributions have left an immeasurable impact on our brand.”

    He added, “I’m proud to announce that Nick Khan will serve as WWE CEO. Nick’s business acumen and mastery of the media industry have helped catapult our business to record revenue and profitability. Together, we look forward to working with the Board at this critical moment in time to review our strategic alternatives and maximize value for all WWE shareholders.”

  • January 10, 2023: Rumors Surface about WWE selling to Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund

    Rumors of WWE’s potential sale to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund began shortly after news of Stephanie McMahon’s resignation. The rumors began when Bodyslam.net’s Cassidy Haynes tweeted, “For what it’s worth, I’m told the Saudi deal is done and they’re taking the company private.”

    Haynes followed up in a piece on Bodyslam.net, “Sources have told me that World Wrestling Entertainment has sold the company to the Saudi Investment Fund. Vince McMahon was placed back on the board of directors, with many under the belief that Vince was looking to sell the company. Now, that’s become a reality. Not only that, but the public company is now going private under the new ownership.”

    Additionally, DAZN’s Steven Muehlhausen reported the same news in a since-deleted tweet. (H/T WrestlingInc.com.)

  • January 11, 2023: Multiple Reports State WWE is Not Selling to Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund

    Other notable names that cover wrestling news have since reported rumors of WWE’s sale to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund are false. BT Sport’s Ariel Helwani tweeted, “Contrary to reports stating otherwise last night, there is no deal in place at this precise moment for WWE to be sold to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund or any entity, sources say. The organization is still exploring all options, I’m told. Developing. Worth noting that the original tweet stating it was a done deal has since been deleted.”

     

    Wrestlenomics’ Brandon Thurston also tweeted, ” … I asked someone at WWE, who would know, who said the story that took hold of Twitter last night, about WWE and Saudi Arabia being near a deal to take the company private, is untrue.”

     

    Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp also noted, “Hey guys, one of hot rumors is that Saudi buyers are interested in WWE. I’ve gained no actual information thus far to indicate this is actually happening, outside of a few vague hinting messages from people outside WWE. WWE contacts claimed to not know what the hints were about.”