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Vince McMahon Sued by WWE Shareholder over Return to Company, Changes to Board, More

Adam WellsJanuary 11, 2023

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 16: Vince McMahon attends a press conference to announce that WWE Wrestlemania 29 will be held at MetLife Stadium in 2013 at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images)
Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images

At least one WWE shareholder isn't happy with Vince McMahon's return to the company.

Per Mike Leonard of Bloomberg Law, a class action lawsuit filed against McMahon in the state of Delaware accuses him of illegally using his majority voting control to oust three board members and replace them with people loyal to him and push through changes that would "impose his will on the board and WWE."

Moonlight Graham @ReeceKelleyG

A class action lawsuit has been launched against Vince McMahon.<br><br>A shareholder is suing McMahon in Delaware, accusing him of wielding his ~81% voting control to impose his will on <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%24WWE&amp;src=ctag&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">$WWE</a> illegally. Cites board changes, threats to interfere w/ media rights.<a href="https://t.co/AN8ApJMuOK">https://t.co/AN8ApJMuOK</a> <a href="https://t.co/cKhkG8WCDg">pic.twitter.com/cKhkG8WCDg</a>

McMahon announced his retirement in July after Joe Palazzolo and Ted Mann of the Wall Street Journal reported WWE was investigating an allegation the 77-year-old paid a secret $3 million settlement to a former female employee with whom he had an affair.

The company's investigation also uncovered multiple separate agreements related to misconduct claims made by different female employees against McMahon and John Laurinaitis, then-WWE's head of talent relations.

Per Ariel Zilber of the New York Post, WWE said in an SEC filing McMahon paid out a total of $14.6 million that were classified as "unrecorded expenses" and revised previous financial statements to reflect the expenditures.

McMahon officially returned to WWE as a board member on Jan. 6. He also elected former co-presidents Michelle Wilson and George Barrios, who left the company in January 2020, to the board.

On the same day McMahon's return was announced, Brandon Thurston of WrestleNomics.com posted a screenshot of an email from the WWE board of directors that opposed him coming back to the company:

Brandon Thurston @BrandonThurston

Reposting WWE's Board's December 27 email to Vince. <a href="https://t.co/dm41qFknO3">pic.twitter.com/dm41qFknO3</a>

Since McMahon maintained a majority of shares in the company after his retirement announcement, he always had the power to return by electing himself to the board.

In a statement released on Jan. 6, McMahon said his return is timed to help WWE "fully capitalize" on its upcoming media rights negotiations. WWE's television contracts with NBCUniversal and Fox are set to expire in October 2024.

The statement also noted McMahon's return would not impact the "roles, duties, or responsibilities" of WWE's current management team, including co-CEO and chairwoman Stephanie McMahon and chief content officer Triple H.

Stephanie McMahon, who was appointed to her current role following her father's retirement, announced her resignation from the company on Tuesday.

McMahon's return also comes amid rumors WWE is up for sale. There were rumblings on Tuesday that the WWE was sold Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and would go back to being a private company for the first time since 1999.

Combat sports insider Ariel Helwani reported on Wednesday there "is no deal in place at this precise moment" to sell WWE to the Saudi Arabia PIF or any entity, but "the organization is still exploring all options" right now.