Vice Sports Run Explosive In-Depth Feature on the WWE
Vice Sports have recently published an explosive, in-depth feature which delves behind the scenes on the tumultuous business style of the WWE. Vice Sports specifically looks at the failed creative takeover attempt of Shane McMahon in 2012 (having left the company two years earlier), the company’s rocky relationship with the digital age and the failures of Vince McMahon’s management style. The feature includes insights from various former WWE employees, including Raw lead writer Brian Gewirtz, head writer David Kreizman and former Chief Operating Officer Donna Goldsmith. Below is a short excerpt from Shane’s botched takeover of creative
“A few years ago, as Levesque was gearing up to launch NXT, ratings were down and Vince was on edge. The writing room became a battlefield, and even people outside of the company took notice, including Shane McMahon. In March 2012, Vince, according to a source familiar with the exchange, called a surprise meeting at the WWE production office, a separate facility from the main headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. Shane had returned with a friend: James Frey, the author of the critically acclaimed and, later, highly controversial A Million Little Pieces and by that time the CEO of Full Fathom Five, a content creation company he founded in 2010
(A spokesperson for WWE originally denied that Shane had approached WWE in any capacity between 2009 and 2016, but later confirmed that this meeting took place when asked about this exchange specifically.)
“When Stephanie found out Shane was going to be there, she went white in the face,” the source told me. “And Paul freaked out.” Shane had set up the meeting through Kevin Dunn, WWE’s executive vice-president of production and Vince’s right-hand man for nearly three decades; he is the second-highest-paid employee at the company behind Vince (according to SEC documents, Dunn’s 2016 base salary is $909,560). Shane had a simple proposal: that he take over all of creative, including the writer’s room, with Frey and his team at Full Fathom Five as consultants
“Kevin Dunn is very close to Shane,” the source said. “And there’s tremendous tension between Kevin, and Paul and Stephanie. They feel like the company is theirs, but they don’t have power to control Kevin.” Presumably, if Dunn could figure out a way to get Shane back in the company in a high-ranking position, he would have even more influence with Vince. And Shane, too, could regain control over at least a portion of his family’s legacy. It was a win-win for the pair
“In the end, however, Vince declined his son’s offer. It would be four more years before Shane found himself on the inside of the company again. In the meantime, WWE would go through major changes internally as it continued its transformation from a TV-only wrestling outfit to a digital-forward entertainment super-corporation.
For Vice’s remarkable full story, be sure to check out the link below.