IDIOT OF THE YEAR #4: Vince McMahon

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Wrestling fans did not expect to see the light of day. Vince McMahon is no longer the engine and agitator of pro wrestling. The former chairman and CEO of WWE, the squared circle’s biggest promotion, was forced to step down in July after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct were made public, along with more than $12 million in silent payments. Don’t let anyone fool you, it was a a resignation and not a retirement.

Parts of McMahon’s on-screen persona turned out to be a projection of his real-life antics — a womanizer who believed his power and money could shield him from the consequences of wrongdoing. And who can’t forget (but probably hope to) the Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass club, where wrestlers had to pucker up on those wrinkled cheeks? It is definitely a sign of a healthy individual. The charges against McMahon have not been publicly denied or confirmed, but the former CEO’s reaction to the Wall Street Journal breaking the news might as well have been an admission. Rare on-screen appearances by the 77-year-old McMahon became a weekly occurrence once the silent payments became readily known. Retreating to WWE’s public haven for validation is the ego-stroking McMahon he needed.

Stephanie McMahon and Paul “Triple H” Levesque, married daughter and son-in-law of Vince McMahon, took over WWE, alongside company executive Nick Khan. Many changes have been made to the program since the elder McMahon’s departure. Freed talents have been brought back into the fold such as Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, and Karion Kross. The company’s shows seem less repetitive and more representative of professional wrestling as an art form, not fragments of McMahon’s imagination. The magic behind McMahon’s revolutionary and monopolizing ideas about professional wrestling became obsolete in 2002, exactly two decades before he left the company.

The residual effects of McMahon’s reluctance to change WWE’s main product led to the golden generation of independent wrestling of the late 2000s. Many of WWE’s top stars were part of this charge. Remove Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Daniel Bryan to name a few of WWE’s product over the past few years. Things look radically different. Now, with real competition coming from All Elite Wrestling, McMahon would have fallen even further behind a real alternative.

A honeymoon period took place with Triple H to lead WWE’s creative efforts from late summer. And while some of that spoiled, it only showed that the bar Triple H had to hit was the equivalent of an Olympic high jumper having to go through a baby gate. McMahon has earned billions from WWE and other ventures, heading off into the sunset with your lifestyle still intact is one heck of a consolation prize that’s unavailable to most. And of course, it was recently reported that McMahon wanted to return to WWE, citing bad advice to quit that didn’t represent his true views.

This is not a WWE reunion or pro wrestling will want any part of. Now that details of McMahon’s promiscuous past have come to light, having someone with his sports-entertainment resume isn’t the endorsement you think it is. McMahon is still the majority owner of WWE and has not given up any voting rights in the company, which will be difficult to deal with if WWE wants to distance itself from McMahon and everything he has been accused of. Before this year, a WWE without McMahon in charge was unthinkable, just as he would relinquish his title, even his family. The last 12 months have proven that in pro wrestling anything can happen as she almost got rid of McMahon.

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