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Vince McMahon steps down as WWE CEO, to debate misconduct probe on Smackdown

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World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon is stepping back from his duties as the corporate’s board investigates alleged misconduct by the manager, but he’ll remain a foremost creative force behind WWE’s content, the corporate announced Friday.

Hours after the announcement, the WWE tweeted that McMahon would seem live to tell the tale the corporate’s “Smackdown” show Friday night on Fox. He’ll address the controversy, but accomplish that in character as his traditionally ruthless “Mr. McMahon” role, in accordance with an individual acquainted with the matter who declined to be named.

WWE writers were working Friday to alter the script for “Smackdown,” which had been accomplished earlier this week, the person added.

The announcement of the manager shakeup and a special board committee probe comes two days after The Wall Street Journal reported that the WWE board was looking into McMahon for paying a former worker $3 million to maintain her quiet about an alleged affair between the 2 of them.

WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon speaks at a news conference announcing the WWE Network on the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas.

Getty Images

The report said the probe also dug up previous nondisclosure agreements with former female WWE employees who alleged misconduct by McMahon and one other executive, John Laurinaitis, who used to wrestle under the name Johnny Ace. The board’s investigation began in April, the Journal had reported.

“I even have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee, and I’ll do every little thing possible to support the investigation,” McMahon said in a press release Friday. “I even have also pledged to simply accept the findings and end result of the investigation, whatever they’re.”

McMahon will remain involved within the wrestling media company’s creative content, in accordance with the discharge.

The CEO role is staying within the family. McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon, will take over as interim chairwoman and CEO. Stephanie McMahon said in May that she was pulling back from the majority of her duties as a WWE executive to spend more time along with her family. The appointment is a signal that the ability structure won’t change at the same time as Vince McMahon steps back, in accordance with the person acquainted with the matter.

“I like this company and am committed to working with the Independent Directors to strengthen our culture and our Company; it is amazingly necessary to me that we’ve got a protected and collaborative workplace,” Stephanie McMahon said in the discharge. “I even have committed to doing every little thing in my power to assist the Special Committee complete its work, including marshaling the cooperation of all the company to help within the completion of the investigation and to implement its findings.”

The announcement didn’t mention whether Laurinaitis, the corporate’s head of talent relations, would also step away from his duties while the investigation unfolds. The WWE didn’t immediately reply to a request for further comment. In its release, the WWE said, “The Company and the Board don’t expect to have further comment until the investigation is concluded.”

Vince McMahon, 76, is married to Linda McMahon, a former CEO of the wrestling company who worked as the top of the Small Business Administration under then-President Donald Trump, a WWE Hall of Famer.

While the WWE is a publicly traded company, McMahon, a flamboyant executive who has routinely acted out wrestling drama storylines in front of the camera, is effectively the controlling shareholder. He bought the corporate from his father 40 years ago and has orchestrated its growth into a world, arena-packing brand that has media partnerships with Fox, Hulu and NBCUniversal’s Peacock, amongst others.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

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