It shocked quite a few people when WWE announced that Vince McMahon would be appearing during last night’s episode of SmackDown, which was days after a Wall Street Journey report revealed the WWE Board was investigating McMahon regarding allegations of paying off a former employee to hide an affair. McMahon did end up appearing on the show, opening up the episode with a brief introduction before heading backstage, and while the brevity and lack of addressing anything confused people quite a bit, Deadline is reporting it had an immense impact on the ratings.
The possibility of McMahon addressing the investigation or anything related to it was enough to draw people in, delivering a positive score of 0.6 and marking a 26% bump in week-over-week total viewers. It also delivered a 46% rise in the 18-49 demo, so while McMahon was only out for a few minutes, that didn’t seem to matter.
McMahon started out by saying “It is a privilege as always to stand before you, the WWE Universe, especially in this ring in Minnesota.” Then McMahon talked about the importance of the WWE tagline, saying “Then, Now, Forever, and the most important word is together. Welcome to SmackDown!”
According to Fightful Select’s report, McMahon’s speech and segment weren’t featured on internal full scripts or in the rundown they obtained around 7:50 PM EST. As for McMahon, he was said to be in a good mood backstage and wasn’t outwardly showing any sort of reaction to the investigation. The term “business as usual” was something used quite a bit backstage, and few knew what McMahon planned on saying.
After the report was first published, WWE sent out an internal memo that stated “The Wall Street Journal has published a report about WWE with allegations that we and our Board of Directors take seriously. We are cooperating fully with the independent investigation initiated by our Board of Directors.”
McMahon has since stepped down from the CEO position, and it was announced that Stephanie McMahon would be stepping in as the interim CEO. Vince will however continue to have control over creative and booking. In a press release, Stephanie said “I love this company and am committed to working with the Independent Directors to strengthen our culture and our Company; it is extremely important to me that we have a safe and collaborative workplace. I have committed to doing everything in my power to help the Special Committee complete its work, including marshaling the cooperation of the entire company to assist in the completion of the investigation and to implement its findings.”
What did you think of McMahon’s introduction and last night’s SmackDown? Let us know in the comments.