Welcome to The Business of The Business: where The Schlock, WrestlingCulture’s newest writer, will discuss the business of this absolutely mad industry we all love called professional wrestling. Though it’s a business like no other, The Schlock hopes his Business degree and professional experience will give a unique perspective on the many topics he intends to discuss. The first topic on The Schlock’s agenda regards Vince McMahon, and what will happen to his baby, the WWE, now that his new baby, the XFL is in full swing.
After a very successful first week, Vince McMahon has to be proud of himself. This time around it seems he got the XFL right. Not only did Alpha Entertainment (McMahon’s self-funded company, and parent company of the new XFL) take their time putting this league together rather than rushing, they are also backed by excellent coaches, some well-known players such as former Ohio State standout quarterback and NCAA Champion, Cardale Jones, and have secured some incredible broadcast rights deals this time around. Even though it was reported that the XFL isn’t actually making any money from the deals, they are still receiving much needed mainstream exposure, which they will later monetize as their ratings (hopefully) continue to stay consistent or improve. As long as McMahon and Alpha Entertainment can deliver results in the form of viewership to these massive networks, they will likely renegotiate and extend the deal down the line, similar to what All Elite Wrestling just did with TNT.
The eventual success of a multi-million dollar business venture is always a great thing, but there is certainly something to be said about McMahon’s involvement in both capacities on a more than full-time basis. The man will be 75 in a few months for God’s sake. From what we have always heard, Vince is build different than the average man- scratch that. He is built differently than the average workaholic. He eats, (rarely) sleeps, breathes and bleeds the WWE. What will happen now that he also has the XFL to juggle? It is no secret that one of the toughest times to run a business is getting it off the ground. It takes resiliency, hard work, and focus. Who knows? Perhaps McMahon is more of a financial figurehead then actually having a hand in this league. But we know Vinny Mac, when he does something, he goes all in.
The truth is, McMahon is smart. Though he is stubborn, he is a businessman first and foremost. He is notorious for claiming he only does “what’s best for business” whether you believe him or not, and this instance is no different. McMahon has been preparing for the XFL’s launch on the WWE-end since early this past summer, but you might not have caught it.
On June 27 of 2019, McMahon shocked the professional wrestling world when he, for the first time ever, hired Executive Director’s for Raw and Smackdown: Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff respectively. Though dirt-sheet writers claimed this was just to appease an increasingly frustrated fan base, it really was the beginning of a trial period for McMahon. Could Vince trust these two gentlemen to carry out his two primetime shows without him? Heyman has since seen much success in his role. Bischoff, on the other hand, did not hold the position long and was let go on October 14th of 2019, just four months after his hiring. The details and rationale of his departure are scarce to say the least, and Bischoff has even said he signed a departing non-disclosure agreement on his podcast, 83 Weeks. No matter the reasoning, one thing is evident: McMahon was not comfortable with Bischoff taking Smackdown into a unique period of a billion-dollar FOX deal, and the relaunch of the XFL. Bruce Pritchard, who has been regarded by some as Vince McMahon’s second, was named the new Executive Director and continues in that role as of this writing. It is no surprise Vince would turn to Pritchard to fill this gap, as he is someone McMahon has trusted since the early ’90s. His old-school creative mindset is an extension of Vince’s. He understands what the boss would want, and delivers accordingly.
Now that McMahon has two well qualified and trusted Executive Director’s running Raw and Smackdown, he might be able to take more of a backseat as the XFL season continues to rage onward. This information would never be publicized, as the stock would tank even more than it has recently. After it was reported that WWE Executive’s Michelle Wilson and George Barrios were fired two weeks ago, dirt sheets claimed they were the succession plan. The Schlock promises a multi-billion dollar company has several succession plans in place for a variety of situations. To do otherwise would put too much capital at stake, and McMahon certainly knows better. Pritchard and Heyman are merely a version of such a plan from the perspective of succeeding oversight on WWE’s two main network shows.
Either way, it is not likely McMahon will own the majority of the WWE within the next few years as he continues to get older and expand the XFL and Alpha Entertainment. Even before their earnings call last week where Vince claimed WWE is considering selling their pay-per-view rights to major players in the streaming industry, it has seemed apparent that the WWE will be sold to an Amazon or Disney in a few years. Perhaps that will be explored in a later article.
Thanks for reading! Do you have an opinion of the WWE post-XFL launch or have another business topic you’d like to see The Schlock discuss? Leave a comment below!