As Vince McMahon Rallies on WWE Raw, Class Action Lawsuits Loom

Vince McMahon made a "surprise" appearance on WWE Raw this week amidst a scandal that has seen him temporarily step down from his role as CEO and Chairman of WWE after reports that the WWE board is investigating a $3 million hush-money payment to a former employee said to have engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with McMahon. WWE head of Talent Relations John Laurenitis, also involved in the investigation, has been placed on administrative leave, with Bruce Pritchard filling in for him while the investigation takes place. The appearance on Raw this week was unannounced, though perhaps fans should have expected it after McMahon opened WWE Smackdown last week.

As Vince McMahon Appears on Raw, Class Action Lawsuits Emerge

Analyzing his Smackdown appearance, we wrote last week that McMahon's plan wasn't to "say goodbye" in case he's permanently removed from the company, or to "troll" detractors, or even as a pure ratings grab, as many have speculated. Instead, we observed that McMahon's purpose in appearing in front of live crowds was to demonstrate that, despite the controversy, he is still beloved by most WWE fans, and therefore the board would remove him at the company's peril.

While one could argue that fans at Smackdown last week might not yet have known about the scandal, it's hard to believe that fans attending Raw this week were still unaware given all the publicity it has received. However, as soon as McMahon's music hit, the cameras showed fans jumping out of their seats to applaud him.

"What an ovation!" shouted Corey Graves as the commentary team touted the response of the crowd, clearly orchestrated to demonstrate McMahon's popularity. While the cheers were loud, it's impossible to know how much they were sweetened by fake crowd noise, which has become standard practice for WWE in the post-pandemic era.

"Tonight marks the 1,517th edition of Monday Night Raw," said McMahon. "Which makes it — well, continues to make it — the longest-running episodic television show in history. And for that, I say: thank you. Raw's been on the year for almost 30 years. 20 of those 30 years have been dominated by the greatest WWE superstar of all time. That man makes his return to Raw live here next week. I make reference to no less than Mr. Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect: John Cena!" McMahon then stumbled out of the ring as the crowd continued to applaud.

But while Vince McMahon is looking to win the battle in the court of public opinion, the battle in the court of law is heating up. McMahon's latest appearance comes as multiple law firms have signaled plans to start class action lawsuits against WWE on behalf of shareholders due to news of the investigation leading to a drop in stock prices, alleging that WWE may have "issued false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose information pertinent to investors" prior to the investigation being made public.

Vince McMahon's fate as Chairman and CEO likely hinges on whether the board views removing him and potentially upsetting fans, as well as spooking investors, as financially more viable than allowing him to resume his duties. Potential lawsuits could tip the balance against McMahon, but the ultimate decision may rest on how advertisers and television partners ultimately react. So far, there has been no reported loss of sponsorship or pushback from Fox or NBC Universal, which makes it seem likely McMahon will eventually return to power. However, if that changes, we could see an entirely different outcome.

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About Jude Terror

A prophecy claims that in the comic book industry's darkest days, a hero would come to lead the people through a plague of overpriced floppies, incentive variant covers, #1 issue reboots, and super-mega-crossover events. Unfortunately, nobody can tell when the comics industry has reached its "darkest days" because it somehow keeps finding new lows to sink to. No matter! Jude Terror stands vigilant, bringing the snarkiest of comic book and pro wrestling clickbait to the undeserving readers of Bleeding Cool.
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