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Vince McMahon steps down as WWE chief amid misconduct probe

Vince McMahon (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)
Vince McMahon (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

Vince McMahon is stepping down as chief executive and chairman of WWE during an investigation into alleged misconduct involving the long-time leader and public face of the organisation.

McMahon will continue to oversee the wrestling organisation’s creative content during the investigation, World Wrestling Entertainment said.

His daughter Stephanie will serve as interim CEO and chairwoman, the organisation added.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the board was investigating a 3 million dollar (£2.4 million) settlement McMahon paid to a departing female employee with whom he allegedly had a consensual affair.

Stephanie McMahon with wrestler Triple H
Stephanie McMahon with her husband, wrestler Triple H (Alamy/PA)

“I have pledged my complete co-operation to the investigation by the special committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation. I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are,” McMahon said in a statement.

The employee, hired as a paralegal in 2019, has a separation agreement from January that prevents her from discussing her relationship with McMahon or disparaging him, the WSJ reported.

The board’s investigation, which started in April, found other, older nondisclosure agreements involving claims by former female WWE employees of misconduct by McMahon and John Laurinaitis, the head of talent relations at WWE, the WSJ reported.

Aside from the investigation into alleged misconduct by McMahon and Laurinaitis, WWE said the company and its special committee will work with an independent third party to perform a comprehensive review of its compliance programme, HR function and overall culture.

McMahon has been the leader and most recognisable face at WWE for decades.

Dwayne Johnson
Former WWE stars include Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (Matt Crossick/PA)

When he purchased the company, then the World Wrestling Federation, from his father in 1982, wrestling matches took place at small venues and appeared on local cable channels.

The organisation underwent a seismic transformation under McMahon, who created WrestleMania, a premium live event that draws millions of viewers.

Revenue last year exceeded a billion dollars for the first time.

WWE stars have become crossover sensations, including Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and John Cena.

Stephanie McMahon, who will take over at least temporarily, announced last month that she was taking a leave of absence from the most of her responsibilities at the organisation. She had been serving as the chief brand officer.

Her husband Paul Levesque, who wrestled under the name Triple H, announced in March that he was retiring due to a heart condition. He serves as WWE’s executive vice president of strategy and development.

“I have committed to doing everything in my power to help the special committee complete its work, including marshalling the co-operation of the entire company to assist in the completion of the investigation and to implement its findings,” Ms McMahon said in a statement.