Home The fallout for WWE, TKO from the Vince McMahon lawsuit is far from being over

The fallout for WWE, TKO from the Vince McMahon lawsuit is far from being over

Chris Graham
vince mcmahon
(© George Koroneos – Shutterstock)

It’s odd, to me, that there hasn’t yet been any significant follow-up reporting on the Vince McMahon sexual-misconduct lawsuit examining the angle of, who else in WWE and TKO knew what was going on, and didn’t say anything?

The suit, filed last week by Janel Grant, a former WWE employee, lays out a litany of disturbing allegations of sexual misconduct reportedly directed by McMahon that the suit alleges also involved former WWE head of talent relations John Laurinaitis and, without naming him, former WWE and UFC champion Brock Lesnar.

The suit was released on the eve of one of WWE’s biggest shows of the year, the Royal Rumble, which drew nearly 50,000 fans to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., though the show played to mixed reviews.

Lesnar, for one, who had been set to make an appearance in the main-event Rumble match, in anticipation of him being set for a prominent role in the upcoming Wrestlemania event in April, was not on hand for the show – Lesnar was, according to several reports, told to stay home, as the company has been working feverishly to distance itself from Lesnar, whose career seems to be done at this point.

What stands out here is that Lesnar’s reported involvement in the sexual misconduct is, according to Grant’s suit, she was directed to send sexual photos of herself to Lesnar as WWE was trying to recruit him to make a return to the company, and she later alleges that she was directed to make a “play date” with Lesnar that didn’t happen because weather issues forced Lesnar to cancel a planned flight to meet with her.

It strains credulity, doesn’t it, to think that this kind of arrangement would be unique to the recruitment of Lesnar, and it’s fair, then, to ask – how many other times did this kind of thing happen?

We know, first and foremost, based on how McMahon briefly stepped down from his role as CEO of WWE in 2022 after it was reported that he had spent millions in payouts to silence a number of sexual-misconduct cases, that Janel Grant is not the only victim here.

And in fact, the first serious allegation lodged against McMahon dates all the way back to 1992, involving former WWE referee Rita Chatterton, who went public with she was raped by McMahon in a limo in 1986.

McMahon actually filed a suit against Chatterton in 1993, alleging that she had made up the accusation at the urging of a former WWE performer who had a vendetta against him; he dropped the case in 1994 to focus on his federal steroid-distribution trial, which ended with his acquittal.

It would seem at least possible that McMahon, with that 1986 case as our backdrop, was leveraging his position as the head of WWE to his advantage in terms of sexual and power gratification for decades; indeed, it seems more plausible that this would be the case than it would not.

The existence of the multimillion-dollar hush-money payments is the circumstantial evidence there.

Indeed, Grant was among those who received some money from McMahon, though her suit alleges that he stopped making payments on a reported $3 million agreement with her, which if true would be in line with other deals brokered, then broken, by McMahon, in his dealings with fellow wrestling promoters as he built WWE from a regional promotion to national and worldwide juggernaut in the 1980s.

Was what amounts to sex trafficking, as Grant alleges in her suit, part and parcel to the growth of WWE, as McMahon not only strong-armed promoters out of the business, but also lured dozens of top talents from the regional territories to work for his national and international promotion?

That’s another fair question.

And then, another: how is it possible that McMahon could have engaged in the kinds of activities that he felt compelled to spend millions of dollars to try to keep from being made public without anybody around him in WWE knowing what was going on?

The company was a mom-and-pop run by Vince and his wife, Linda, the failed two-time U.S. Senate candidate who failed up to a job in the Trump administration – because that’s what these people do, win at losing – back in the early days, but by the 1990s, and for the past three decades, WWE has been big business.

How was TKO, which purchased WWE for $9.1 billion last year, not aware of McMahon’s dark side when it agreed, as part of the purchase, to make him the chairman of the board, which was his role with the company until he stepped down on Friday, a day after the Grant lawsuit was made public?

What did Paul Levesque, known to wrestling fans as Triple-H, who took over for McMahon as the head of creative after the sale to TKO, and is also McMahon’s son-in-law, know about what his father-in-law was up to?

How many people, from TKO to Levesque, to others in the WWE office, down to the talent, knew what McMahon was doing, and turned a blind eye?

The fallout from this lawsuit is far from being a done deal.

It’s hard to imagine that many more heads than that of McMahon aren’t going to roll.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].