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October 13, 2023

Triple H and Vince McMahon Have More Defined Roles in WWE

Per Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, Paul “Triple H” Levesque is in full control of WWE creative.

When WWE merged with Endeavor last month, Paul “Triple H” Levesque did not receive a seat on the Board of Directors, a position he had held prior in WWE.

Yet that has not represented a loss of power.

In fact, the opposite has occurred.

If you have noticed a change in WWE programming, you are not alone. Levesque, who is WWE’s Head of Creative, has overseen all of the creative on SmackDown and Raw since the merger, which is precisely what his job description entails.

The difference is that Vince McMahon, who is synonymous with all things WWE, is no longer directly involved in dictating the weekly creative in the same manner he once did. McMahon remained the title of Executive Chairman in WWE, but he no longer possesses majority control of the company. That has allowed for change in the new regime, particularly in the creative department.

Multiple contacts within the WWE and UFC have confirmed that Ari Emanuel, who wields power as the Endeavor CEO, is behind the change. Emanuel has long been a firm believer that, in order for an organization to be as effective as possible, people need to do the job they are assigned. In this case, that approach has empowered Levesque to exert his full influence in the company’s creative sphere.

Not all is lost for McMahon. As Executive Chairman, his focus is elsewhere, particularly in overseeing a lucrative new media rights deal for Raw and the NXT brand. But it is a fascinating time for McMahon.

No longer the be-all, end-all of WWE, McMahon possesses an iron-clad contract that protects him financially–yet not politically. Will he view this as a loss of leverage? His response will be a very telling action.

source:  si.com

October 11, 2023

WWE NXT Viewership Triumphs Over AEW Dynamite in Tuesday Showdown

On October 10th, AEW Dynamite and WWE NXT clashed, with the former airing a special Title Tuesday edition featuring multiple title shifts and Adam Copeland's debut match against Luchasaurus. This came as Major League Baseball playoffs were scheduled on TBS for October 11th.

On the other hand, WWE NXT promised fans a star-studded evening with the likes of John Cena, Cody Rhodes, Asuka, and Paul Heyman in attendance. Fans also anticipated appearances from NXT Women’s Champion Becky Lynch, North American Champion Dominik Mysterio, and possibly, The Undertaker, following circulating rumors of his presence.

Before the showdown, reports mentioned Triple H and Shawn Michaels aiming to highlight the dominance of NXT over AEW. Tony Khan, on the other hand, had a sharp retort, labeling the NXT heads as "bald a**holes."

According to Wrestlenomics' Brandon Thurston, WWE NXT garnered an impressive 921,000 average viewers and a 0.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic. AEW Dynamite, in comparison, achieved an average of 609,000 viewers and a 0.26 rating in the crucial demographic.

Interestingly, while NXT dominated in viewership during the October 3rd episode, AEW Dynamite led in the key demographic against the October 4th NXT episode.

October 10, 2023

Rumor Mill - Triple H And Vince McMahon's Roles In WWE Creative

Rumors began to emerge yesterday suggesting that Paul "Triple H" Levesque is fully in control of WWE creative following the formation of TKO Group Holdings. In this scenario, it was said that Vince McMahon still retains his position on the board, but is no longer submitting last-minute creative changes to "WWE Raw" and "WWE SmackDown." On today's "Wrestling Observer Radio," journalist Dave Meltzer shared what he's heard regarding the creative situation in WWE.

McMahon has reportedly "backed off" of the company's creative. However, that is only for the time being, and McMahon still retains the power to change things if he desires. As of now, though, the creative direction is said to be almost entirely set by Levesque. Meltzer stated he was unsure why exactly McMahon seems to have chosen to take a step back willingly, as he has expressed no desire to do that in the past. In fact, McMahon pushed hard to return to the company in the wake of his retirement last year, and for a period of time was said to be making a number of creative changes to WWE shows.

While the details are not yet clear, McMahon is currently under investigation by the federal government. The investigation is likely diving into alleged "hush money" payments made by McMahon to several women previously employed by WWE. Several months after news of the scandal first broke, McMahon stepped down as WWE CEO, and soon after announced his retirement. Early this year, however, McMahon would shockingly re-appoint himself to the board, quickly changing the rules to allow himself to become the company's Executive Chairman. McMahon then presided over the merger between WWE and UFC under the umbrella of Endeavor, which was finalized last month.

October 6, 2023

Details Of Vince McMahon's Agreement To Pay Legal Fees For WWE Stockholder Lawsuit

For over a year now, former WWE owner Vince McMahon has been embroiled in a scandal revolving around hush money payments over alleged sexual misconduct. According to a recent SEC filing, McMahon agreed to pay $2 million to the plaintiffs in a stockholder lawsuit that originated back in January, meant to cover legal fees. That sum is in addition to the $17.4 million that McMahon was forced to pay back to the company to cover the cost of the investigation into his actions, which was one of the points of the lawsuit. The larger sum was ordered by the court back in March, while the $2 million amount was agreed to in May.

The suit, filed by WWE stockholders Carole Casale and Chrystal Lavalle in January, also sought to address McMahon's changing of the company's bylaws, allowing him to appoint himself back to the Board of Directors after stepping down in 2022. Once the nature of the lawsuit became clear, McMahon reverted the bylaws to the previous iteration, rendering that aspect of the lawsuit no longer relevant.

This isn't the end of the road for McMahon in terms of legal trouble. It was reported that McMahon had been served with a federal search warrant as well as a subpoena from a Grand Jury in July.

October 1, 2023

Jim Ross On Why Triple H’s Creative Involvement Is A Good Thing for WWE

In the latest episode of Grilling JR (via Wrestling Inc), Jim Ross spoke about Triple H being involved behind the scenes in WWE and why it can only help the company.

He said: “The more you can get Triple H involved on a decision-making scenario, the better off you are. He’s just got a great feel for the business. He’s a student of the game, literally, more than just a nickname. I didn’t see a bad thing about it. My situation was just very arduous. It was no secret that Vince wanted to go younger, different look, different sound, and that would eliminate JR. I guess, if you’re a performer or a talent, you gotta expect that this is going to happen [at] some point in time. I have great respect for Triple H. Then, now, forever as the expression goes. We have a lot in common. We both love wrestling. We both love pro wrestling. I don’t remember having too many bad days with Triple H. We communicated well… And I understood too that he was kind of hamstrung on what he could do in my regard because the influencer was Vince, and Vince wanted a change. And he was hell-bent on getting his change at that announce position.“

September 25, 2023

Triple H's 2018 'Global Localization' Vision Now A WWE Trademark Initiative

On September 18, WWE submitted a trademark application for the phrase 'Global Localization' to the United States Patent & Trademark Office. The application reveals WWE's intention to utilize the term within the scope of 'entertainment services.'

Accompanying the application was the following description:

Entertainment services, namely, a show about professional wrestling; entertainment services, namely, the production and exhibition of professional wrestling events rendered live and through broadcast media including television and radio, and via the internet or commercial online service;

providing wrestling news and information via a global computer network; providing information in the fields of sports and entertainment via an online community portal; providing a website in the field of sports entertainment; fan club services, namely, organizing and staging events with wrestling fan club members; providing online newsletters in the field of sports entertainment; online journals, namely, blogs in the fields of sports entertainment; Entertainment services in the nature of development and creation of multimedia entertainment content.

The term 'Global Localization' was originally coined by Triple H in 2018 to outline his concept of creating international WWE hubs that would serve as talent pipelines for the US-based NXT brand

September 21, 2023

WWE’s ‘Smackdown’ to Move from Fox to USA Network in New Rights Deal

WWE’s “SmackDown” is officially set to return to USA Network in a new five-year rights deal.

The weekly show currently airs on Fox but will move to its new network home in October 2024 when the Fox deal expires. “Smackdown” originally began airing on Fox in 2019 as part of a five-year deal between the network and WWE. It had previously aired on USA Network from 2016-2019 and had a number of network homes before that, including Syfy, The CW, UPN, and MyNetworkTV.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but sources say the new deal is worth roughly $1.4 billion, up from the $1 billion Fox paid in 2019. As part of the new deal for “Smackdown,” WWE will produce four primetime specials per year for NBC, marking the first time that WWE will air in primetime on the network. It is unknown at this time exactly what form those primetime specials will take, i.e. if they will feature live wrestling or if they will be more documentary-focused like WWE’s programming on A&E. According to an individual with knowledge of the deal, the exact nature of the specials is still being determined.

“NBCUniversal has been a tremendous partner of WWE for decades,” said WWE president Nick Khan. “We are excited to extend this longstanding relationship by bringing ‘SmackDown’ to USA Network on Friday nights and look forward to debuting multiple WWE special events annually on NBC.”

The rights deals for both “Smackdown” and “Monday Night Raw” were due to expire in the next year. While “Smackdown’s” future has been determined, there is no word yet on where “Raw” will land. It currently also airs on USA Network, as does WWE’s NXT. Sources say that there has been serious interest from a number of top platforms but no deal has been made at the time of this publishing. Neither of the other two shows is expected to continue to on USA Network, according to sources.

“It’s a privilege and thrill to continue NBCU’s decades-long partnership with WWE which has helped cement USA Network’s consistent position as the top-rated cable entertainment network in live viewership” said Frances Berwick, chairman of NBCUniversal Entertainment. “With Friday nights on USA, primetime specials on NBC, and the WWE hub on Peacock, we’ll continue to use the power of our portfolio to superserve this passionate fanbase.”

Since 2021, NBCUniversal’s Peacock has been the exclusive streaming home of the WWE Network. That includes the company’s expansive library of wrestling shows as well as the home for annual events like WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble, Summer Slam, and more.

WWE was recently sold to Endeavor, which merged WWE with the UFC to form a new company dubbed TKO Group. Vince McMahon, former CEO of WWE, has assumed the role of executive chairman of TKO Group. Under the terms of the deal, McMahon — who was WWE’s controlling shareholder — will own 16.4% of the economic interests in TKO (and 16.4% of the voting power in the new entity). McMahon stepped down as WWE’s chief executive in 2022 amid an investigation by the company’s board into alleged hush-money payments to women who accused him of sexual misconduct. McMahon returned to the company in January 2023 as executive chairman to head up efforts to sell WWE.

source:  variety.com

September 20, 2023

Details Behind Vince McMahon's WWE Ouster And Return

Last year, allegations of sexual misconduct and hush money payments forced Vince McMahon to step down from his role as WWE CEO. Though he retired for a time, it would be short-lived. McMahon was able to reinstate himself to the board earlier this year, though he remains under investigation by federal officials. A new story by the LA Times, in which the publication spoke to an "individual close to the board," features new insight into the company's internal investigation into McMahon and more.

According to the LA Times report, McMahon initially told the board he wouldn't stand in the way of their investigation into his actions. Additionally, McMahon reportedly agreed to step down from the board voluntarily, with some reluctance, while also claiming that each of the described encounters had been consensual and the payoffs had only been a matter of "protecting the company against potential litigation."

However, by December, McMahon had seemingly changed his mind about stepping to the side. McMahon sent a pair of letters to the company's board, informing them of his intent to return to shepherd a sale. Though the company's board, which at the time featured Stephanie McMahon and her husband Paul "Triple H" Levesque, voted unanimously against McMahon's return, the 78-year-old was able to use his voting power as a majority stockholder to replace two members and get himself back on the board.

The report indicates that McMahon viewed the internal investigation as being disloyal, and two more board members resigned in the aftermath of McMahon's return. Since then, McMahon was true to his word on setting the company up for a sale, with WWE and UFC merging into TKO Group Holdings, made official earlier this month. Under the new corporate infrastructure, McMahon remains in power, serving as the Executive Chairman.

September 19, 2023

WWE CCO Triple H Makes Cameo On Showtime's Business Drama 'Billions'

The latest Season 7 episode of Showtime's hit business drama "Billions" featured a cameo from none other than WWE's Chief Content Officer Triple H. One scene shows Chuck Rhoades, portrayed by Paul Giamatti, walking into an empty "WWE Raw" arena at Barclays Center alongside "The Game." Rhoades asked Triple H if it feels different walking to the ring as a businessman as opposed to a performer.

Triple H responded, "Man, I still feel every bump. Whether you're giving them, whether you're taking them, whether you're scripting them... Look, you could do it. When this crowd comes alive, you come alive. There is nothing else like this."

Rhoades expressed that he needed to turn one guy heel and one guy babyface in one move. Triple H then explained how he could pull it off in wrestling terms.

"Double turn. Tough to pull off, but, when it's done right, one of my personal favorites," Triple H said. "You need to let the heel come in and get the heat from the crowd. Then your babyface comes and gets the pop."

XFL, USFL begin talks to merge leagues

And then there was one. Spring league, that is.

The XFL and USFL are merging, per multiple reports. The deal isn’t done, but it’s close.

Obviously, there will be many questions. Who owns the equity? Who televises the games?

How many teams will be in the combined league? Will they play in home markets or hubs?

Who will run the combined league? Which executives will stay, which ones will go?

Most importantly, what will it be called?

The XFL? The USFL? The USXFL? The SUXFL? (I like the last one.)

In 2023, both leagues competed, with a few weeks of overlap. The XFL started one week after the Super Bowl, and the USFL started in April.

The XFL, the 2023 season represented the third crack at making it go. The USFL returned after multiple decades of going dark in 2022.

September 12, 2023

Endeavor Announces Close of UFC® And WWE® Transaction To Create TKO Group Holdings, A Premium Sports And Entertainment Company

Endeavor Announces Close of UFC® and WWE® Transaction to Create TKO Group Holdings, a Premium Sports and Entertainment Company

New Company to Begin Trading Today, September 12, on the New York Stock Exchange Under “TKO” Ticker Symbol

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. & STAMFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: EDR) (“Endeavor”) and World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (previously NYSE: WWE) (“WWE”) today announced the close of their previously announced agreement and the launch of TKO Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: TKO) (“TKO”).

TKO brings together UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, and WWE, an integrated media organization and the recognized global leader in sports entertainment, to create a new premium sports and entertainment company serving more than one billion young and diverse fans1, reaching viewers in 180 countries, and producing more than 350 annual live events. Through this combination, TKO will leverage Endeavor’s expertise in areas including domestic and international media rights, ticket sales and yield optimization, event operations, global partnerships, licensing, and premium hospitality to drive revenue growth.

“The creation of TKO marks an exciting new chapter for UFC and WWE as leaders in global sports and entertainment,” said Ariel Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor and TKO. “Given their continued connectivity to the Endeavor network, we are confident in our ability to accelerate their respective growth and unlock long-term sustainable value for shareholders. With UFC and WWE under one roof, we will provide unrivaled experiences for more than a billion passionate fans worldwide.”

“This is the culmination of a decades-long partnership between Endeavor and WWE across strategic initiatives including talent representation and media rights. Given our collaborative, trusted relationship and Endeavor’s incredible track record of success growing UFC, we believe WWE is optimally positioned for future growth and success as part of TKO,” said Vince McMahon, Executive Chairman of TKO. “Our focus remains on delivering for our fans across the globe as we take the business to the next level alongside UFC and Endeavor.”

TKO will begin trading today on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “TKO,” with Endeavor holding a 51% controlling interest in the new company and existing WWE shareholders holding a 49% interest in the new company, on a fully diluted basis.

As previously announced, TKO is led by:

Ariel Emanuel, Chief Executive Officer, who continues as Chief Executive Officer of Endeavor;

Mark Shapiro, President and Chief Operating Officer, who continues as President and Chief Operating Officer of Endeavor;

Andrew Schleimer, Chief Financial Officer; and

Seth Krauss, Chief Legal Officer, who continues as Chief Legal Officer of Endeavor.

Dana White is now Chief Executive Officer of UFC and Lawrence Epstein remains Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of UFC. Nick Khan continues at WWE in the role of President.

The Board of Directors of TKO is led by Vince McMahon as Executive Chairman of the Board and consists of 11 members, including Mr. Emanuel, Mr. Shapiro, and Mr. Khan, in addition to the following directors:

Peter C.B. Bynoe, Senior Advisor at DLA Piper LLP;

Egon P. Durban, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Silver Lake;

Steven R. Koonin, Chief Executive Officer of the Atlanta Hawks, LLC;

Jonathan A. Kraft, President of the Kraft Group LLC;

Sonya E. Medina, President and Chief Executive Officer of Reach Resilience;

Nancy R. Tellem, Executive Chairperson and Chief Media Officer of Eko; and

Carrie Wheeler, Chief Executive Officer and a board member of Opendoor Technologies Inc.

September 11, 2023

End Of An Era

Tonight's WWE Raw will be the last WWE show under the full majority control of Vince McMahon. End of an era.

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