Vince McMahon is currently under investigation by the WWE Board of Directors over allegedly paying millions of dollars to former employees in order to keep affairs and alleged sexual misconduct quiet. News of the investigation first dropped via a report from The Wall Street Journal on June 15, but the sequence of events leading up to the investigation goes as far back as 2005 and results in more than $12 million getting paid out. Below is a complete timeline of events surrounding the investigation, which we will continue to update as more information is made available.
As of now, McMahon has temporarily stepped down as Chairman and CEO of WWE but remains with the company as its Head of Creative, meaning he still dictates what happens on every WWE show. He also still holds more than 80% of the voting power within the Board of Directors due to the Class B shares of WWE stock he owns.
2005: McMahon With a Former Wrestler
McMahon allegedly coerces an unnamed female wrestler into giving him oral sex. When she resists later advancements, she is demoted and McMahon declines to renew her contract.
2006: McMahon With a Former Manager
McMahon reaches a nondisclosure agreement with a former manager after he allegedly "initiated" a sexual relationship with her. The employee of 10 years was paid $1 million for her silence.
2008: McMahon With a WWE Contractor
McMahon and a WWE contractor sign an NDA for roughly $1 million after McMahon allegedly sent her unsolicited nude photos and sexually harassed her on the job.
2012: John Laurinaitis Misconduct
Misconduct allegations made against WWE official John Laurinaitis result in an NDA with an unnamed employee receiving $1.5 million. The employee allegedly broke off an affair with Laurinaitis, resulting in him demoting her. Laurinaitis' demotion as WWE Head of Talent relations happens around the same time as this incident, though it's unclear if allegations resulted in his demotion.
2018: Deal Reached
The unnamed wrestler from 2005 and her attorney reach an agreement with McMahon, resulting in her getting paid $7.5 million.
An unnamed paralegal is hired by the WWE's legal department.
March 2021: Laurinaitis Rehired
Laurinaitis is rehired as the WWE Head of Talent Relations, a position he previously held from 2004-12. Throughout 2021 it was repeatedly reported that Laurinaitis would be the one from WWE's front office to call wrestlers and inform them that they had been released from the company, usually citing budget cuts. There were also reports of the women's locker room being concerned about Laurinaitis' favoritism towards the "Divas" era of women's wrestling. The unnamed employee would be promoted to his assistant.
April 2021: Promotion
According to Fightful Select's Sean Ross Sapp, the paralegal was promoted from Laurinaitis' assistant to a director position around the same time as WWE's first big wave of talent cuts on April 15, 2021.
January 2022: The Departure
After departing from the company, the unnamed employee signs an NDA that prevents her from publicly disparaging Vince McMahon or discussing their relationship.
March 30, 2022: Emails
An anonymous person claiming to be a friend of the former employee begins emailing the WWE Board of Directors with information regarding McMahon's alleged behavior. The first email stated that her salary was doubled from $100,000 to $200,000 after the relationship began and that McMahon "gave her like a toy" to Laurinaitis.
"My friend was so scared so she quit after Vince McMahon and lawyer Jerry (McDevitt) paid her millions of dollars to shut up," the email read.
April 2022: The Investigation Begins
The WWE's Board of Directors begins its investigation, though neither it nor the accusations directed toward McMahon and Laurinaitis are made public.
May 19-20, 2022: Stephanie Steps Down
Stephanie McMahon announces on May 19 that she would be temporarily stepping down as the WWE's Chief Brand Officer the following day, stating she wanted to spend more time with family.
"As of tomorrow, I am taking a leave of absence from the majority of my responsibilities at WWE. WWE is a lifelong legacy for me and I look forward to returning to the company that I love after taking this time to focus on my family," her announcement reads
Conflicting reports about Vince McMahon's involvement in Stephanie stepping down and the company's attempt to "bury" her performance on her way out would begin to pop up in the weeks that follow.
June 12, 2022: Proof of the Deal
The WWE Board of Directors receive a copy of the $3 million agreement the former employee and McMahon signed from one of McMahon's lawyers.
June 15, 2022: Wall Street Journal Report Drops
The Wall Street Journal's Joe Palazzolo and Ted Mann release a report breaking the news of the Board of Director's investigation and the accusations directed toward McMahon and Laurinaitis. The report states:
- The board is looking into other NDA's signed by former female WWE employees citing alleged misconduct from both McMahon and Laurinaitis (though how many NDAs remains unknown).
- The board states from its initial investigation that McMahon used personal funds to pay the employees who signed the NDAs.
- A WWE spokesperson told the paper that the company "is cooperating fully with the board inquiry" while noting that the relationship was consensual. An internal statement was sent to company employees after the story broke which parroted the news that the company would cooperate.
- Jerry McDevitt, McMahon's lawyer, wrote a letter to the paper regarding the story stating that no claims of harassment had been made and that "WWE did not pay any monies" to the former employee "on her departure."
- Regarding the $3 million agreement, one million was paid upfront and the remaining two million would be paid out over a span of five years.
- McMahon and Laurinaitis declined to comment.
June 17, 2022 (Morning): Vince Steps Back, Stephanie Steps Up
WWE announces that McMahon has temporarily "stepped back" as both CEO and Chairman of WWE during the investigation, but would remain with the company on a day-to-day basis as its Head of Creative. The announcement also declares that Stephanie would be returning to the company as its interim CEO and Chairwoman.
"I love this company and am committed to working with the Independent Directors to strengthen our culture and our Company; it is extremely important to me that we have a safe and collaborative workplace," Stephanie said in the announcement. "I have committed to doing everything in my power to help the Special Committee complete its work, including marshaling the cooperation of the entire company to assist in the completion of the investigation and to implement its findings."
June 17, 2022 (Night): Vince appears on Friday Night SmackDown
McMahon opens SmackDown that week with a promo and references WWE's tagline of "Then, Now, Forever, Together." He makes no mention of the ongoing investigation.
It is later reported by Fightful Select that McMahon's backstage response to the initial Wall Street Journal report ranged from "no selling the whole thing" to "being defiant." He was reportedly heard shouting "F—em!" as he returned to Gorilla Position following his SmackDown onscreen.
June 20, 2022: Vince on Raw
McMahon cuts another promo on Monday Night Raw, this time reiterating the news that John Cena would be appearing on the following week's episode to celebrate 20 years since making his WWE debut. The announcement had first been made several weeks prior.
June 20, 2022 (Night): Laurinaitis on Leave
An internal memo is published late the night announcing that Laurinaitis has been placed on administrative leave "pending the conclusion of our Board of Directors' internal investigation." Bruce Prichard is then promoted to interim Head of Talent Relations along with his role as Executive Director of both Raw and SmackDown.
June 21, 2022: More Investigations
In the days following WSJ's report, law firms began dropping press releases announcing investigations into WWE over potentially violating federal security laws, engaging in unlawful business practices, breaching fiduciary duties and allegedly harming investors by producing misleading information. By June 21, five different law firms had announced their plans to investigate.
June 27, 2022 (Morning): Rita Chatterton Speaks
Rita Chatterton, WWE's first female referee, first publicly brought forward accusations of McMahon allegedly raping her in 1986 during an April 1992 interview with Geraldo Rivera. Nothing came from those accusations as the statute of limitations had expired and the story was buried by all the news surrounding WWE's Steroid Trials. She told her story once again in an interview with New York Magazine, only this time it was corroborated by a former wrestler in Leonard Inzitari, a jobber who wrestled in the WWF as Mario Mancini. No comment was made by the WWE regarding the piece.
June 27, 2022 (Night): Vince on Raw Again
McMahon appears at the start of John Cena's promo to introduce the 16-time world champion to the live audience. He is gone from the ring by the time Cena arrives.
July 2, 2022: McMahon Family at UFC 276
Vince, Stephanie, Triple H and Pat McAfee are all shown sitting together at the UFC 276 event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Their appearance was hours removed from the Money in the Bank pay-per-view WWE held blocks away at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
July 8, 2022 (Morning): Second Wall Street Journal Report Drops
The Wall Street Journal drops a second report regarding McMahon, this time from Palazzolo, Mann and Joe Flint. The report recaps:
- The alleged incidents in 2005 (and the subsequent agreement in 2018), 2006, 2008 and 2012.
- While it was undetermined if the Board of Directors' investigation would include the 2006 and 2008 NDAs, it was confirmed the incident regarding the former wrestler is being investigated.
- More details regarding McMahon's relationship with the former paralegal were brought to light, including how they met, how she never applied for the job and how she openly talked about the relationship with colleagues.
July 8, 2022 (Afternoon): McMahon Netflix Documentary Nixed
Denise Salcedo confirms via sources that Netflix has scrapped its documentary covering McMahon despite it apparently being "deep" into post-production with millions of dollars already being spent and wrestlers having been interviewed for the film months prior.
July 8, 2022 (Night): More No-Selling
While McMahon does not appear on the July 8 episode of SmackDown, he does reportedly book the show as per usual. PWInsider later reports that McMahon once again "no-sold" the allegations following WSJ's second report.
Stay tuned for more updates on the situation as they become available.
This story is developing...1comments