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The WWE has been known for making big moves behind the scenes, though last week was pretty monumental even for the pro wrestling brand. Company mastermind Vince McMahon rather suddenly dismissed longtime co-presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson, and at the time of the announcement, there were no immediate plans for succession.
On the heels of this sudden change, WWE CEO Vince McMahon spoke out about the situation, mentioning Barrios and Wilson's exits during the quarterly investor's conference call. According to McMahon, their firing was rooted in differences between what the brand's focus should be going forward. In his words:
The decision of management transition was based on a different view of execution over areas of focus. Over 10 years, supported by a strong management team, George Barrios and Michelle [Wilson] made more than significant contributions to WWE. . . . I am grateful for all that was accomplished during their tenure, but the Board and I decided a change was necessary as we have different views on how best to achieve our strategic priorities moving forward.
On the call (via Comicbook.com), Vince McMahon didn't get into the specific differences of opinion that were had between he and the former presidents, but he later commended executives on the current team of their ability to create compelling content and maintain the company's global fanbase, all while driving up revenue and ultimately increasing shareholder value. It appears McMahon is confident in his team's ability to move forward from George Barrios and Michelle Wilson's exits.
One subject that may or may not be related to this situation is Vince McMahon's mention the WWE could sell the rights to its pay-per-views to another streamer. Currently, the WWE offers access to PPVs via its streaming service, WWE Network. The sale could be a major get for another streaming service, and a major source of revenue for the WWE, according to the popular McMahon.
The WWE CEO said there are no concrete plans regarding a sale as of yet, and that other options will be explored for increased profits. If the WWE does happen to sell its PPV rights, however, McMahon said it could happen in the first financial quarter. Perhaps the former co-presidents were not interested in that plan, or maybe it has nothing to do with them.
It's definitely an interesting development given the sudden and involuntary departures of Michelle Wilson and George Barrios. WWE shares took a fall upon the announcement of the firings, and the move was questioned by some who know Vince McMahon is already splitting his time between the WWE and the upcoming XFL. It may take some time for the WWE to right its ship, and now may be a great time for competitors like AEW to get a small leg up while WWE reshuffles and develops new strategies.
For now, the WWE is still rolling strong on television with Smackdown Live! set to air on Fox this Friday at 8:00 p.m. ET. Stick with CinemaBlend for major updates on what's happening with television in 2020, and for a look at what's going on with the film side as well.