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For decades, WWE has ruled supreme as the world’s number-one “sports entertainment” company.
In 1982, Vince McMahon bought the company that would eventually become WWE from his father, and he’s run the empire ever since. Today he is the Chairman and CEO, and he also occasionally appears on television as his “Mr. McMahon” character.
Now 72, McMahon still oversees every aspect of the company, but some have begun to speculate regarding who might take over his role, assuming he ever decides to step down. We asked WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross, a part-time WWE employee whose relationship with the company spans decades, what he sees as the most likely outcome.
Ross is currently promoting the release of his new book “Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling,” which he wrote with Paul O’Brien. Following is a transcript of the video.
Jim Ross: I have an opinion on where the company will go. I will say this — you know, Vince is very healthy. He still works out like a crazy man. He really takes care of himself. So, he ain’t going anywhere soon. We don’t want him to go anywhere soon. He’s the rock that built that thing. He’s the rudder in the water. It’s an amazing company.
[Jim Ross is a legendary WWE announcer and executive. He wrote a new memoir about his career in wrestling]
I think that, if I’m guessing, and it’s gonna strictly be a guess — that the money would be on, probably, Paul Levesque to be Vince’s successor.
[Paul Levesque is better known as “Triple H.” He’s one of the most popular WWE superstars in history. And he’s married to Vince’s daughter Stephanie McMahon.]
I think Vince is kind of preparing him for that in a lot of ways. You always knew that he was different from the other guys because he was very studious, and very – under control. He didn’t drink. No drugs. He looked to be a lifer early on, and he got a lot of that from being a fan all his life growing up in the northeast — New Hampshire. Then, getting trained by Killer Kowalski who was a great, old-school guy. So, I think he’s probably the heir apparent.
[Levesque is WWE’s EVP of Talent, Live Events, and Creative. He also runs WWE’s developmental promotion known as NXT]
Stephanie is very involved and, you know, is really more of a face of WWE. She does a lot of charity work. And she’s great at that. And you’ve got to have that in that world.
[Stephanie’s older brother Shane also works for WWE]
I think Shane seems to be, apparently, content with being a TV character. I don’t know where his role’s gonna be going forward or what he wants it to be. But, I think that Paul Levesque is the one that seems to be earmarked to be the next guy, if and when Vince is not in that role.
But Vince is a — he’s a unique cat, man. For him to get a publicly traded company in wrestling — are you kidding? Think of the image that wrestling has had for so many years. And I will tell you that if Vince had not rehabilitated the image of sports entertainment and made it a global brand, there’s just no way in hell I’d even be sitting here talking to you. I wouldn’t even —I would be unknown!
He made all of us known and he created a Walt Disney empire with bodyslams and headlocks and the actors playing the role of their own stuntmen. It’s been an amazing metamorphosis, how that’s evolved. And I don’t believe that there’s ever been a more brilliant entrepreneur than Vince McMahon in any walk of life. Think about it. Smokey old arenas — the image that wrestling had. “Oh, that rasslin’ stuff’s all fake! Aw, nobody watch rasslin’.”
All of a sudden, he’s in over a hundred countries and 40 languages or something and it’s big-time. And I just think that what he’s done, without me kissing his behind – I’ve done that, too, on television. In the world that he was managing and pulling out of, he had to be tough. You know, he’s a brilliant man.
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