How WWE Might (Or Might Not) Change With Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque At Helm

Levesque took over head of creative from Vince McMahon

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July 25

WWE enters a new era with Paul “Triple H” Levesque taking over creative duties from Vince McMahon.

McMahon announced his retirement Friday amid a “hush money” scandal first reported by the Wall Street Journal on June 15. McMahon had stepped down as chairman and CEO of WWE on June 17 — he made an appearance on that night’s SmackDown where he simply greeted the audience — but he still maintained creative control of the on-screen product.

That has changed after a Monday press release where Stephanie McMahon, who had been named interim chairwoman and CEO after her father stepped down, and Nick Khan were named co-CEOs, and McMahon was officially named chairwoman of the board with Khan remaining a member.

The press release also stated Levesque, McMahon’s husband “will assume all responsibilities related to WWE’s creative, in addition to his regular duties” of head of talent relations — a position previously held by John Laurinaitis, who was also named in the WSJ reports.

WWE also released its 8-K filing stating $14.6 million in payments were discovered — the WSJ reported $12.2 million had been paid by Vince McMahon in non-disclosure agreements. In the filing, the company stated the payments should have been reported as expenses. However, it will be paid by McMahon personally. As a result of this reporting error, the company is revising statements over the past three years, but this is likely not to have a significant effect on financial results since the company reported $77 million, $132 million and $180 million in net income in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The 8-K filing also notes McMahon “resigned” rather than “retired” as stated in WWE’s press release. For business purposes, the terms are interchangeable, according to Wrestlenomics’ Brandon Thurston.

On the day of the release of these documents, WWE’s stock price has increased from $66.22 to around $71 throughout the afternoon. What this entails exactly is unknown.

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For most WWE fans, what they will see is what happens on television. This gets into Levesque, who will be taking over the creative direction of WWE after McMahon’s decades long reign in charge.

The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer gave an overview of how things will play out:

The current system will remain in place with a writing team as Bruce Prichard will head things up and report to Levesque. This dynamic was in place last Friday for SmackDown.

For some fans, Levesque represents a bold new direction — a changing of the guard. While Prichard remains with the company, some believe it will be short tenure as Prichard has worked under McMahon for nearly three decades. His current tenure started in 2018 after a decade away from the company after he was fired by Stephanie McMahon.

Another person with close ties with Vince McMahon is WWE executive producer Kevin Dunn, who has worked with the company for almost four decades. There have been rumors throughout the decades Stephanie McMahon and Dunn do not get along, which is why there is belief Dunn could be on his way out as well.

If these figures are out of WWE, what would change regarding the booking philosophy? Fans hope for a version of NXT’s “Black and Gold” era in the mid-2010s where NXT Takeovers would have better and more exciting matches and characters than the “main roster.”

However, it’s important to put that era into context. NXT ran for an hour, and the booking style was centered around its top stars having a 3-to-5 month run in the main event before being called up to Raw and Smackdown. That will not be the case, especially with NXT rebranded to NXT 2.0 after the Black and Gold brand started to lose its luster amid talent staying with the brand and the weekly show transitioning to two hours.

It’s hard to say how much Levesque will change WWE’s philosophy, at least on-screen. Perhaps the most significant change could be made behind the scenes. Vince McMahon created a culture backstage that most recently saw Sasha Banks and Naomi walk out because of.

Levesque could remove the old guard and bring in his new people, though the Bill DeMott scandal shows even he is not perfect in hiring individual with clean-cut records.

What happens next with WWE is anyone’s guess, but it’s safe to say every move from July 25 onward will be dissected and analyzed by fans, for better or for worse.

Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images
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