WWE Announces Merger with UFC Plus WrestleMania Fallout
It's the day after the largest WrestleMania of all time, and yet the results of the evening are not even the big story. Rather, the big story is the news that WWE and UFC are merging to form a new powerhouse company.
The news surfaced yesterday via an in-depth CNBC report, where it was revealed that UFC's parent company, Endeavor, was in advanced talks to purchase WWE and spin WWE and UFC off into a new company.
According to CNBC, "Endeavor is slated to own 51% of the new combat sports and entertainment company, while WWE shareholders would get 49%, according to the people. The Endeavor deal gives WWE an enterprise value of $9.3 billion. Emanuel is expected to act as chief executive of both Endeavor and the new company. McMahon, likewise, is expected to be executive chairman, while Endeavor President Mark Shapiro will also work in the same role at the new company. Dana White will remain as president of UFC, while WWE CEO Nick Khan will serve as president of the wrestling business."
This morning, the news was made official, and McMahon appeared on CNBC (extended interview) along with Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel. (Fun fact: the character of "Ari" on the HBO series Entourage is based on Emanuel.)
The news also officially means Vince is back in a full-time leadership capacity after retiring last year after the Wall Street Journal dropped an explosive report that he was under investigation by the WWE board of directors and was revealed to have paid nearly $20 million to four women in hush money, some of which were on-screen talent. Vince remained the largest shareholder in the company, and returned to his Chairman of the Board position in January, promising not to get involved with day-to-day and only focusing on selling the company. Now he's back full-time.
The CNBC anchor asked him about the past allegations, to which he says "I’ve made mistakes both personally and professionally through my 50-year career. I have owned up to every single one of them and then moved on.”
When asked if he would be involved in the creative process, McMahon quipped "yes and no" adding that he would remain involved at a higher level but not get into the weeds, even though he enjoys doing that very much. An internal WWE email noted that Triple H would remain the chief content officer. While there were rumors that WWE might start charging for premium live events as pay-per-views again, there are currently no plans to do so.
UFC president Dana White, who will technically be working under McMahon based on the new leadership has said "This company has been on fire for the last seven years and now that we will be adding WWE to the portfolio, I am excited to take this to another level. Vince is a savage in the wrestling space, Ari is a beast at what he does, and then add what we at UFC bring to the table and there is no limit to what this company can accomplish in the next five years."
WWE is slated to negotiate their lucrative TV rights deals later this year, as the deals come up in 2024.
It's going to be a crazy year for WWE.
WWE WrestleMania Fallout
WrestleMania is in the record books and while most people (myself included) expected Cody to win the big one, the Bloodline still Reigns supreme (you see what I did there?). Roman and Cody had an excellent match that had me and the entire WWE Universe hooked until the surprise ending of Solo Sikoa interfering costing Cody the match.
Here is the ending:
WrestleMania night 1 did have a happy ending, with Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens defeating the Usos to win the undisputed tag titles. The crowd was rabidly hot for this one:
Two of the entrances really stood out to me and that was Edge being accompanied by Slayer's "South of Heaven"…
…and Bianca Belair getting a local dance troupe "The Divas of Compton" to bring her out. It was adorable:
The standout match for me was Gunther vs. Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre. These three beat the crap out of each other and we loved it.
Where WWE goes from here remains to be seen. What were your favorite matches? Tweet me @robinjection.
Some videos from the last few days…
The biggest highlight of my week was co-judging the Minoru Suzuki Karaoke Competition. It was an absolute blast take a look:
I recorded a live Squared Circle Pit with Circle6 stars Vinnie Massaro, champ Zachary Wentz and Cassanova Valentine. (The audio issues get fixed about three minutes in.) Take a look:
Also, I appeared on the WWE2k live stream to talk about the game, the soundtrack and my obsession with MyGM mode:
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.