Nick Khan always thought Vince McMahon would return to WWE.
During an appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast, WWE CEO Nick Khan spoke about what led to Vince McMahon’s return to WWE. Khan said that he always believed it was a matter of time before Vince McMahon came back, noting how he wasn’t the only one who shared that belief.
“From the inside, it’s not that insane to me [that Vince came back]. Again the word inside — when you’re on the inside, you see things that might be coming and know what might be coming. My thought has always been that there’s always been one boss at WWE and it ain’t me. Vince is obviously the founder, creator of the company. He’s also the controlling shareholder, which is as you know, not a ‘work’ term, that’s a legal term. So it was always my point of view, Stephanie’s point of view that at some point, he would come back. I think the way that he played it, to me, was smart, Bill. He went away for five, six months, which maybe the audience seems to like when somebody does that, and he came back and took control back of his company as the controlling shareholder. It is a publicly-traded company, but with that controlling share, it gave him a lot of authority and he used it and I applaud him for doing it.”
Simmons noted that many people feel that Vince McMahon should not have come back because of the allegations against him and related legal issues. Simmons said that Vince still owns the company and you can have public pressure all you want, but questioned Khan about why Vince still came back when it could be a detriment to the WWE brand. Khan said that ratings aren’t down and advertisers have not fled, so why would Vince resign?
“I think for somebody like Vince — and you and he and both two different people. You’re both founders and CEOs, and I think different than regular founders and CEOs, so consider me for this moment in time a regular CEO — there’s something about the founder/CEO that sees the vision, sees the future, can get there a moment in time before others can, and then everyone else catches up,” Khan explained. “I think it’s the same thing for Vince as a founder/CEO. It’s his company. So to me, WWE is Vince, Vince is WWE and we’re going to do the best we can to keep building the company.”
Khan then spoke about Vince initially stepping down, as well as his return after being gone for nearly six months. Khan said that Vince truly did step away in that time and gave autonomy to those running the company, and that hasn’t changed.
“I didn’t see it as a force [to make Vince step down initially]. I think Vince saw the tonnage of things that were coming at him and us, and he thought — one thing he’s always said and you know this as a long-time fan, I’m a long-time fan also — he’ll do whatever’s best for business. And I think at that moment, whether it’s bringing the Ultimate Warrior back 20-plus years ago or whatever that might be, I think at that moment in time he saw what was best for business and that was for him to step away for awhile. So he did. And he really did step away, so there’s no, ‘Hey why are you doing this? I wouldn’t do this’ [from Vince]. It was, in my opinion, total freedom to myself and Stephanie and to Triple H on the creative side. It’s only been a week but he really — I believe what he said publicly about [being back solely for the strategic alternatives]. It’s only been that and the board issues,” Khan said. “Zero [involvement in creative or television]. Zero. None.”
Khan went on to add that anyone who believed that Vince’s retirement was permanent doesn’t know him. ”That was never going to happen,” Khan said.
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