As part of an ongoing series, Lauth Investigations International is highlighting how poor corporate culture in professional sports starts at the top, and how changes in leadership can change an organization for years to come.
The world of wrestling has changed significantly for the first time in nearly 40 years. Vince MacMahon, the man whose name is synonymous with the professional wrestling world, has finally retired from the world of what he calls “sports entertainment.” However, after a checkered history in front of the camera as a fictionalized version of himself and behind the scenes as the WWE’s CEO and creative director, those working in the WWE have reported a ‘night and day’ change in the federation following the exit of Vince MacMahon.
Since taking over the business from his father, Vince MacMahon has been largely credited with uniting the professional wrestling world by buying up competing factions of wrestlers throughout the United States and merging them under one banner, what we know today as the WWE. In 2021 alone, the WWE reported more than $1 billion in revenue in their fourth quarter report. At the age of 76, MacMahon announced his impending retirement on July 22 in the wake of a report released by the Wall Street Journal that he had made over $14.6 million in hush money to various women to quell allegations of sexual misconduct.
Following his retirement from the WWE, MacMahon’s daughter, Stephanie MacMahon has been named chairwoman of the company, becoming a co-CEO alongside Nick Kahn, the former head of CAA’s television department. Stephanie MacMahon’s husband, Paul “Triple H” Levesque, who rose to wrestling fame in the 1990s, will now be in charge of talent relations and creative—a position previously heavily supervised by Vince MacMahon himself.
The change in leadership is already showing signs of strengthening the company’s corporate culture where it was previously buckling amidst MacMahon’s reported misconduct. According to Mike Johnson from the PWInsider, “One department where that change has been described as ‘massively night and day’ has been inside the company’s production end…there isn’t anyone yelling at the production truck or the announcers anymore since Vince MacMahon, who was extremely heavy-handed verbally over the course of TV productions, is no longer here.”
Since MacMahon’s departure more than a month ago, there have been reports of a dramatic uptick in morale throughout the WWE, with the work environment being characterized as less hostile. The feeling of “walking on eggshells” has disapated with at least one production employee reporting that the change in leadership has “allowed them to ‘feel like it’s fun to work here.”