Over the last few days, news of a WWE sale has been the hot topic of discussion in the wrestling world. In my last report, I noted that Stephanie McMahon had resigned from her position as co-CEO. So much has happened since then. Here is a bullet-pointed breakdown.
- Almost immediately after Stephanie resigned, the board voted to make Vince the executive chairman of the board.
- A rumor quickly spread that WWE was being sold to the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund but was not confirmed by any major wrestling journalists. The following morning, the story was debunked by multiple reports, including from the financial website CNBC.
- The Saudi fund is among the potential suitors, but no deal is close to final.
- If there were to be a sale, it would likely happen by the summer, before WWE would begin negotiations for television rights, which expire in summer of 2024.
- WWE is hoping for a sale at a price of $8.5 billion. Analysts say the company is currently worth $7.4 billion to $8.2 billion.
- Axios reported that Triple H and Stephanie were originally against the idea of a sale.
- Nick Khan is currently running the company. Wrestling Observer reports he has served as the intermediary between Vince and Stephanie, and now Vince and Triple H. As of now, Vince is not running day-to-day operations at the company and is focusing his efforts on selling the company.
- Some insiders wonder if Vince will maneuver the sale in a way to where he is back in charge of creative in the company.
- News has surfaced that AEW owners, Shad and Tony Khan are also interested in exploring a merger and have made inroads. It is incredibly unlikely that Vince would be willing to sell. The Khans have indirectly expressed to CNBC that they would be open to McMahon staying on but unclear in what capacity. The Khans themselves are worth $8 billion, so they would have to pool together a group of investors.
- Wrestling Observer reported that Nick Khan met with Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney and ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro earlier in the week, likely about a potential acquisition. Disney's Hulu currently has the next day air rights for Raw and Smackdown. The Observer indicates there have been other meetings Khan has been taking recently.
- Endeavor, who own UFC, are another suitor WWE is talking to. Endeavor, itself a public company, would continue to license out WWE content, a business model WWE itself is trying to move away from. But a potential merger could make the larger company much more appealing for later acquisition. Much like the Khans, Endeavor would need to pool investors.
- Companies that can afford the asking price are Netflix, Amazon, and the Saudis.
- WWE hired restructuring specialists, likely indicating job cuts are coming. I would assume they would hold off on cuts until after WrestleMania.
I will keep following this story as it takes all its twists and turns.
What's on TV this weekend?
Smackdown has a few matches announced for tonight at 8pm on Fox:
- Intercontinental Champion Gunther defends against Braun Strowman
- Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
AEW Rampage has a fun show tonight at 10pm on TNT:
- TNT Champion Darby Allin defends against Juice Robinson
- Eddie Kington & Ortiz vs. Kings of the Black Throne
- Tay Melo & Anna Jay A.S. vs. Ruby Soho & Willow Nightingale street fight
- We hear from The Acclaimed and actor Paul Thomas Hauser
Tonight on PPV, Impact presents Hard to Kill. Here's the lineup:
- Impact World Champion Josh Alexander defends against Bully Ray in a Full Metal Mayhem match
- Impact Knockouts Champion Jordynne Grace defends against Mickie James in a title vs. career match
- Impact Tag Team Champions Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) defend against The Major Players (Matt Cardona & Brian Myers), Bullet Club (Chris Bey & Ace Austin), and Heath & Rhino in an elimination match
- Impact X-Division Champion Trey Miguel defends against Black Taurus
- Impact Digital Media Champion Joe Hendry defends against Moose
- Jonathan Gresham vs. Eddie Edwards
- Steve Maclin vs. Rich Swann falls count anywhere
- Number one contender's match: Masha Slamovich vs. Taylor Wilde vs. Deonna Purrazzo vs. Killer Kelly
- Pre-show: The Death Dollz vs. Tasha Steelz, Gisele Shaw & Savannah Evans
- Pre-show: Kushida vs. Mike Bailey vs. Angels vs. Yuya Uemura vs. Bhupinder Gujjar vs. Mike Jackson
Wrestling News from Around the Internet
Sting told D Magazine that his deal with AEW expires sometime this year, and he will retire after the contract is over. His contract is likely up in December, because that's when he debuted.
Jon Moxley is heading to Ireland for OTT.
Dax Hardwood revealed on his podcast that FTR have been granted the next few months off. "We have asked and been granted the next few months off of television so we can sit back, reflect, decide, let our bodies heal, and figure out what we are going to do for the next few years because whatever we decide to do next will be the absolute last thing we do, period, as far as wrestling."
Kota Ibushi called out Hangman Adam Page as somebody he would like to team with and work against in the future.
William Regal officially began his position as Vice President, Global Talent Development for WWE. He will be at every Raw and Smackdown.
MJF posted a plaque on Instagram noting he won Pro Wrestling Illustrated's heel and feud of the year. In the feud plaque, he taped over CM Punk's name. Punk commented on the Instagram post writing “Maybe find some tape for the ratings so nobody sees those either.”
ROH announced Supercard of Honor for 3/31, the Friday before WrestleMania on the USC campus, which holds 10,000 people.
Johnny Gargano is out with a sprained AC joint, but hopes to be back for the Rumble.
Shane McMahon earned $828,000 as a performer in WWE in 2022, according to a recent filing. McMahon's only onscreen appearance was briefly appearing in the Rumble. He also helped produced the match. There was so much heat for what he planned for the match, he was unceremoniously fired afterwards.
Stephanie, fresh from resigning, had successful ankle surgery this week.
Do you enjoy pro wrestling? Knotfest Wrestling has a bi-weekly column filled with wrestling news. Read previous editions of this column here. You can always follow me @robinjection on Instagram and Twitter and @Squaredcirclpit.