Vince McMahon discusses his quest for television domination.
On Oct. 4, WWE SmackDown will move from USA Network to FOX. WWE signed a billion dollar deal with FOX last year in what was seen as a landmark deal for the promotion. WWE Raw will remain on USA, meaning WWE programming will be featured on both FOX and NBC Universal networks. In a rare interview with Variety, Vince McMahon discussed the deal with FOX and the future of his company.
“WWE talent will be appearing on [Fox] programming,” McMahon says. “It’s going to be a totally integrated approach. We’ve never had a platform like this in terms of promotion. Fox is going to go all-in, and they’re great promoters. NBCU is going to step up as well to the equivalent of what Fox is going to do.”
On the recent earnings call, McMahon blamed declining ratings and profits on superstar injuries. With a heavy travel schedule and the physical nature of professional wrestling, injuries are bound to happen. And while WWE can't prepare for injuries, Vince claims that talent can take time off whenever they desire.
“Anybody who wants time off can get time off. That’s easy,” McMahon says. “In addition to that, it’s easy to weave a talent in and out of a storyline. If they get injured, you’re not expecting that. Or if they have a family matter. Our characters are real people with real problems. It’s a revolving situation where this talent will work these dates, that talent will work those dates.”
With declining ratings, many believe WWE is in a vulnerable position. All Elite Wrestling has created a significant buzz since being announced on Jan. 1 and is set to hold their first major event on May 25 in Las Vegas. They will reportedly announce a television deal with TNT/Turner tomorrow at the upfronts.
On the subject of competition, McMahon brought up WCW and going head-to-head with Ted Turner.
“Ted Turner opened his checkbook and spent a lot of money buying our talent,” McMahon recalls. “We knew they’d do OK for a while, but we knew they couldn’t stand the grind. I liken it to the military At the end of the day I’ve got these ribbons and all these medals, and I wake up the next morning, and every one of them is gone. You have to earn everybody’s respect every day, all over again, and I don’t take it for granted."
Earlier in the interview, McMahon stated, “So few people understand what we do and how we do it. We’re different than anything else that’s out there. The respect factor is here, and now it’s global.”
WWE isn't McMahon's only focus at the moment with the XFL set to re-boot in 2020. When asked if he would be willing to sell all or partial stake in WWE, McMahon said, "We’re open for business."
McMahon recently sold 3,204,427 shares of the company to help re-launch the XFL. However, the press release sent out, which you can view here, stated that McMahon would remain the Chairman of WWE for the foreseeable future.