Wow, this weekend's Knotfest Wrestling column begins with a massive story, one of the biggest of the year, if not ever, Vince McMahon announcing his retirement! We'll talk about that, preview the weekend of wrestling but let's stop wasting time and get to the biggest story…
Vince McMahon Announces Retirement (No, For Real!)
As I was finishing up writing this column, I noticed a tweet pop up. I had to double, nay triple check, to make sure this wasn't some fake or parody, but no, it's the actual Vincent Kennedy McMahon announcing his retirement from World Wrestling Entertainment. Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan were named co-CEOs with Stephanie being named chairwoman.
In a press release, an expanded statement from McMahon states “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. I hold the deepest appreciation and admiration for our generations of fans all over the world who have liked, currently like, and sometimes even love our form of Sports Entertainment.
“Our global audience can take comfort in knowing WWE will continue to entertain you with the same fervor, dedication, and passion as always. I am extremely confident in the continued success of WWE, and 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.”
McMahon is the subject of an investigation by the WWE board of directors, alleging he had affairs with former WWE employees and paid them millions to keep them quiet. A Wall Street Journal investigation eventually uncovered an NDA that alleged McMahon also forced a former WWE women's wrestler to perform oral sex on him and then released her when she didn't comply. You can read my previous coverage of the report here, which includes claims from two other women.
McMahon has run WWE for over 40 years, since buying it from his father, Vincent J. McMahon.
Now former VP of Talent Relations, John Laurinaitis, was also named in the investigation. Laurinaitis was put on leave and now he has lost his position. Today, WWE.com announced that Paul Levesque, known to WWE fans as Triple H, is once again assuming the role. Levesque held the role previous to Laurinaitis and recruited what many consider the golden period of the NXT roster. It will be interesting to see how his role will change now, especially since many of his lieutenants (like William Regal) had been released.
There are obviously a ton more questions, including what happens to WWE creative. Is Vince truly gone or is he still going to be wielding his influence from behind closed doors? How will Vince being a majority shareholder impact company decisions? Is WWE poised for a sale? I will keep you posted as the days go on.
Well, WWE Smackdown (8pm eastern on Fox) will certainly be interesting tonight. They'll have to address the Vince retirement somehow, right? Here's what else is scheduled:
- Brock Lesnar was scheduled to appear, but there is a report from Bryan Alvarez that he left the tapings.
- Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Ludwig Kaiser w/Gunther
- Liv Morgan will confront Ronda Rousey
- Maximum Male Models unveil their beachwear line and debut Max's sister, Maxxine Dupri
Here's a fancy graphic with the card for tonight's Rampage at 10pm eastern on TNT. Spoilers here.
This Saturday, AEW's Tony Khan presents Ring of Honor Death Before Dishonor on PPV and Bleacher Report. The card looks really good. Here's the lineup:
- ROH World Champion Jonathan Gresham defends against Claudio Castagnoli
- ROH Women's Champion Mercedes Martinez defends against Serena Deeb
- ROH Tag Team Champions FTR defend against The Briscoes in a 2-of-3 falls match
- ROH TV Champion Samoa Joe defends against Jay Lethal
- ROH Pure Champion Wheeler Yuta defends against Daniel Garcia
- ROH Six-Man Tag Team Champions The Righteous defend against Dalton Castle & The Boys
- Pre-Show: Willow Nightingale vs. Allysin Kay
The New Japan G1 Climax tournament continues this weekend as well with some killer matches. Here's a preview of tonight (the highlight being Ishii vs. Jay White) and tomorrow night (the highlight being Naito vs. Tanahashi – both of whom lost their first matches)
Here's what else has been going on in the wrestling world the last couple of days:
Chris Jericho revealed he suffered a broken nose during that brutal Barbed Wire Everywhere match this past Wednesday on Dynamite. Look at this gnarly photo:
Sami Zayn is currently out with a legit shoulder injury. He's expected back in a few weeks.
It might be a few weeks until you see Matt Jackson wrestling, as he's still recovering from whiplash from last week's awesome tag team title match on Dynamite.
AEW got some publicity from TMZ for having rapper Kevin Gates in the crowd and his stiff-as-hell punch to wrestler Tony Nese.
AEW is looking at running a big show in Toronto, according to the Wrestling Observer. I imagine they would run a big PPV like November's Full Gear or February's Revolution. In an interview with Canada's Sportsnet last month, Khan said “I’d love to get up to Canada. We had planned to come to Toronto, we’re going back to a lot of these cities we were looking at now, and I think it makes a lot of sense to come up here."
AEW's Jake Atlas, formerly of WWE NXT, posted a formal apology for his behavior that led to an arrest. Atlas revealed he was in an inpatient treatment center for alcohol addiction and mental health and its a daily journey for him.
On his podcast, Grilling JR, Jim Ross talked about the first time Vince McMahon saw Brock Lesnar and how it was love at first sight. “Vince and I were talking outside the locker room and Brock was standing down the hall talking to
The Rock was on Jimmy Kimmel Live and spoke about his daughter, Simone Johnson making her WWE debut on a NXT untelevised event last weekend. When asked what her in-ring moniker, Ava Raine meant, The Rock responded "It comes from all different areas. Usually, it's probably a mix. What she wanted to do, what she wanted to be called. Ultimately, what the powers that be want her to be called too as well. She's the first fourth-generation of pro wrestlers in WWE. I always like to say that name Ava Raine could mean a lot of things, but to me in my mind, it means she's going to lay the smackdown on candy asses." You can watch below.
Don't forget Knotfest Wrestling is live every Monday at 7pm on Youtube, hosted by Alicia Atout, Colin Young, and Jordan Olds. If you missed this Monday's episode, here it is.