WWE Reportedly Burying Stephanie McMahon To The Press

Stephanie McMahon’s departure has given way to a potential rift between Stephanie and WWE.

McMahon shockingly announced a leave of absence last month, and since then her abrupt exit has only been plagued by drama.

WWE’s Chief Brand Officer noted she was stepping away from the promotion to focus on her family, however a recent story from Business Insider suggests her departure was also performance-related. Though WWE reported a 34% year-over-year increase in sales and sponsorship in Q1 2022, Claire Atkinson of Business Insider (h/t PWInsider) noted that WWE was hoping to match UFC in ad sales with a target of $100 million in ad sales/brand sponsorships annually.

“We weren’t seeing that growth,” said a WWE insider.

“When someone is moved out of a company, it’s usually the result of something not working. We took stronger control of that a few months ago.”

Brand integration has been a focal point in the Nick Khan era as WWE continues to leverage its many partnerships during major live events. WrestleMania 38 set a new sponsorship revenue record with more than $10 million, a 50% year-over-year increase.

WWE Buries Stephanie McMahon to Media

Despite record sponsorship numbers for WWE, McMahon’s departure has been dogged by whispers of performance issues. In recent weeks, those whispers have blossomed into an all-out smear campaign against the top executive.

“[I had a] very bizarre conversation, I’ll tell you that. I didn’t expect that phone call. It was a phone call that kind of veered into a discussion about Steph. So I asked and I was like, ‘Hey, anything I could add to this? What’s going on?’” said Andrew Zarian of the “We’re Live, Pal” podcast (h/t Wrestling Inc).

“And, you know, some of the comments, I was shocked. One being that people internally, and this is coming from someone in the know in WWE, this wasn’t like a guy in catering, the comment was that internally, there was doubt put on Steph, her abilities as an executive. And a lot of this started after she absorbed some of Michelle Wilson’s responsibilities after she left, one being ad sales and sponsorship. And the comment that I found interesting was that they mentioned that the investors were questioning why they weren’t performing as well. And internally, there was some questioning as to why that wasn’t performing.”

Dave Meltzer echoed similar sentiments Tuesday morning on “Wrestling Observer Radio.”

“This was definitely an article that [WWE] had planted, and it was an article burying her,” said Meltzer of the aforementioned Business Insider piece.

“It wasn’t the first place that they had gone to bury her and it’s kind of weird to me because if she’s gone she’s gone. It was well known she wasn’t coming back as the Chief Branding Officer or anything like that—if and when she comes back—and the idea was that she would come back in a different role.”

“I’m really surprised,” Meltzer continued.

“They basically planted the idea that Vince fired her…which, by the way, isn’t true. She did leave on her own. And [WWE insiders said] she was not good at her job. There are people who will tell you that, and there are people who will tell you different.”

Meltzer previously noted there’s a “much bigger story” behind Stephanie McMahon’s departure, as something presumably happened after she left that caused the company to change its tune on the longtime VP.

Stephanie McMahon’s WWE Future

WWE recently named Catherine Newman as Executive Vice President and Head of Marketing and WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett was also installed to a “high-level executive position” on the live events side.

With McMahon’s absence indefinite, she’s expected to return to an entirely different role than the Chief Brand Officer position she has held since December 2013. It wasn’t too long ago that Stephanie McMahon and husband Paul “Triple H” Levesque were the unquestioned heirs apparent to Vince McMahon’s WWE empire. Triple H has since taken a vastly reduced role amid AEW’s trouncing of NXT during the Wednesday Night Wars and, more importantly, life-threatening health issues.

Triple H was reportedly viewed as a scapegoat for NXT’s failure to put AEW out of business in a head-to-head ratings competition. Suddenly, both Triple H and Stephanie McMahon seem to be on the outside looking in of WWE’s inner circle, led by the increasingly powerful Nick Khan.

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