Vince McMahon steps down as WWE CEO

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STAMFORD, CT. (CW44 News At 10 | UKTN) – WWE CEO Vince McMahon has resigned from his responsibilities as chairman and CEO while the wrestling company’s board of directors investigates him for alleged misconduct.

In the meantime, his daughter Stephanie McMahon, will serve as interim CEO and interim president, WWE said in a statement Friday.

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McMahon will not completely disappear from the company. He will retain his WWE Creative Content role while the investigation is ongoing and will appear as a character during wrestling matches. The company tweeted Friday that McMahon would appear on the company’s Friday night wrestling showcase, “Smackdown,” which airs on UKTN.

A special committee of the company’s board of directors began investigating McMahon. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that McMahon paid a secret $3 million settlement to a former employee with whom he allegedly had an affair. The separation agreement, which was reportedly reached in January, bars the unnamed former employee “from discussing or disparaging her relationship with Mr. McMahon”, according to the Journal.

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“I have pledged my full cooperation with the special committee’s investigation, and I will do my best to support the investigation,” McMahon said in the statement. “I am also committed to accepting the findings and results of the investigation, whatever they may be.”

The investigation reportedly began in April and “uncovered other, older nondisclosure agreements involving allegations of former WWE employees of misconduct on the part of Mr. McMahon,” the Journal reported. Other allegations of misconduct were reportedly found against John Laurinaitis, the company’s head of talent relations.

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WWE said Friday that it takes “all allegations of misconduct very seriously” and has engaged independent legal services to assist in the review. A third party will also carry out “a comprehensive review of the compliance program, the HR function and the general culture of the company”.

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The company’s board of directors is made up of executives who report to McMahon and even members of McMahon’s own family. That includes Stephanie McMahon as well as Paul Levesque, her husband and former wrestler who goes by the stage name, Triple H. Vince McMahon controls the majority of the votes.

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McMahon has been an integral part of WWE for decades, both behind the scenes and in the ring.

The CEO helped turn the company into a media powerhouse, which currently has deals with UKTN and NBCUniversal. McMahon also helped create many famous wrestlers, like The Rock, John Cena and Stone Cold Steve Austin, who became bigger than WWE itself.

WWE shares are up more than 30% year-to-date, an outlier in the current bear market.

– Frank Pallotta of UKTN Business contributed to this report.

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