Vince McMahon enters the ‘Smackdown’ phase after allegations of misconduct surfaced

“Mr. McMahon,” the executive’s in-ring personality, was brief.

“It’s a privilege, as always, to stand before you tonight,” McMahon told the crowd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

McMahon told the audience that he was there simply to remind the crowd of the four words that make up the “WWE Signature.”

“Those four words are ‘then,’ ‘now,’ ‘forever,’ and the most important word is ‘together,'” he said. “Welcome to SmackDown!”

McMahon then left the ring as his theme song “No Chance in Hell” played.

The wrestling company’s longtime boss is under investigation by the company’s board of directors for agreeing to pay a secret $3 million settlement to a former employee with whom he was allegedly having an affair, according to a report by Wall StreetJournal.
On Friday morning, the company announced that McMahon has agreed to step down from his role as chairman and CEO pending the ongoing investigation.

His daughter, Stephanie McMahon, will serve as interim CEO and chair, the company said in a statement Friday.

As for McMahon’s in-ring persona, he’s not going anywhere for now. McMahon will retain his role in relation to WWE creative content and will appear as his character during games while investigations unfold.

The separation agreement was reportedly struck in January between McMahon and the former unnamed employee. It prevented the employee, who was hired as a paralegal, “from discussing her relationship with or disparaging Mr. McMahon,” according to the Journal.

The investigation, which began in April, has “uncovered other, older non-disclosure agreements involving allegations by former female WWE employees of wrongdoing by Mr. McMahon,” according to the Journal. Further allegations of misconduct were reportedly made against John Laurinaitis, the company’s head of talent relations.

“I have pledged my full cooperation in the Special Committee’s investigation and will do everything possible to assist in the investigation,” McMahon said in a statement Friday. “I have also pledged to accept the findings and findings of the investigation, whatever they may be.”

McMahon added in the statement that he loves them WWE (WWE) and is “dedicated to working with the independent directors to strengthen our culture.”

“For me it is extremely important that we have a safe and cooperative workplace,” he said. “I have pledged to do everything in my power to assist the select committee in completing its work, including collaborating across the company to support the completion of the investigation and implement its findings.”

As evidenced by Friday’s appearance on “Smackdown,” McMahon has been an integral part of WWE for decades, both as a leader and as a wrestler himself.

He built the company into a global media company that currently has major broadcast and streaming deals with Fox and NBCUniversal. McMahon also helped create many famous wrestlers, including The Rock, John Cena, and Stone Cold Steve Austin, all of whom have transitioned into pop culture.

— Jordan Valinsky of CNN Business contributed to this report.

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