The UFC-WWE merger created a $US21 billion dollar superpower this week. And it’s left fans worried.
Triple H made a timely walk to the ring on the Monday Night Raw after an enormous WrestleMania weekend. There was a reason he needed to address the diehards.
“WE AIN’T GOING NOWHERE,” he definitively chanted.
It was the night after he, as head of creative, made some polarising decisions around which superstars would exit WrestleMania 39 with belts around their waists. None more so than in the main event, where Roman Reigns retained the Universal title. The raucous SoFi Stadium crowd in Los Angeles was ready for challenger Cody Rhodes to complete his championship mission. Most were left stunned, confused and even a little upset.
But that wasn’t why Triple H opened Raw. The elephant in the room was that Vince McMahon’s WWE empire just sold. And Triple H – also known as Paul Levesque – is Vince’s son in law, married to Stephanie McMahon; he’s thoroughly intertwined in all WWE business.
Whether his bold declaration can be trusted by fans will all reveal itself over time.
So here’s what happened and what it all means now.
The UFC-WWE merger that has rocked the combat world
Troubled billionaire businessman Vince McMahon finally found a buyer. The sale of his empire, World Wrestling Entertainment, was on the cards for some time. And while WrestleMania captured everyone’s attention, there were handshakes and signatures going on behind closed doors.
Endeavour Group Holdings Inc – which owns the UFC – has acquired a 51% majority share in McMahon’s WWE. So it’s effectively a UFC-WWE merger, combining forces into a $US21 billion superpower.
It was also confirmed the new combined entity will focus immediately on maximising shared media rights.
“Together, we will be a $21+ billion live sports and entertainment powerhouse with a collective fanbase of more than a billion people and an exciting growth opportunity,” McMahon said in a statement.
ESPN and Amazon were reportedly other merger considerations.
What’s the UFC-WWE merger mean for the future of WWE?
Vince McMahon has confirmed he doesn’t plan on going anywhere.
The WWE enjoyed a golden period in the build-up to WrestleMania, maximising well-received storyline creativity – known as ‘creative’ – which was led by Triple H.
Vince McMahon went on CNBC this morning to talk about WWE's merger with UFC under Endeavor and was asked if he was going continue to be involved in the creative side: 'Yes and no.'— Sportico (@Sportico) April 3, 2023
Part of the bigger picture is that McMahon stepped down as chairman in June 2022, pending an internal investigation into an alleged hush-money settlement. That followed previous sexual harassment allegations levelled against him. So he laid a low profile since January, when he was re-elected as executive chairman, partly to help facilitate a sale.
And his return to prominence is what fans are worried about. It’s been confirmed that Emanuel plans to continue having Dana White run the UFC and Vince McMahon run the WWE.
What are wrestling fans thinking about the UFC-WWE merger?
It is undeniable that fans are concerned what Vince back in the driver’s seat will mean; from a creative standpoint and from a staff morale perspective. Wrestlers were reportedly very satisfied with the direction under Triple H.
Here are the thoughts of a few anonymous fans, who have a very strong gauge of the WWE promotion.
Vince’s creative fingerprints
“Vince back in power is a worry,” one fan said.
“The last six months without him made the product more watchable than it had been in years and the storylines had more cohesion and meaning.
Another labeled Vince’s return a ‘major blow for the product’.
“It’s one of the quickest changing of the tides I’ve ever seen, following the high of WrestleMania,” he said.
“You can understand why the wrestlers, particularly the women, want out.”
WWE to take a leaf out of the UFC’s book?
“I’m hoping they don’t go the UFC route post-takeover and charge $60+ for pay-per-views, as the product is not strong enough to sustain a cost right now,” another anonymous fan pointed out.
“Their two biggest stars in Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar are part-timers and won’t return to a full-time load. If they do that, it would make the decision to not put the world title on Cody Rhodes even more mind-boggling.”
The end to Monday Night Raw – where Brock Lesnar turned on crowd favourite Cody Rhodes the night after interference cost him the Universal title at WrestleMania – left plenty of fans feeling convinced that Vince McMahon’s fingerprints are firmly back on creative.
The benefit of time will reveal all.