Vince McMahon and WWE seem to be in a difficult place right now in regard to their financial viability. The lockdown in place due to COVID-19 has already forced the company to air the shows from an empty arena. Add to the fact, the declining viewership numbers and reports of multiple lawsuits filed against the company by the shareholders. Amid all speculations of how WWE would navigate past all the hurdles, a tweet by a former WWE employee suggesting 'WWE up for sale' has sent social media and fans of pro wrestling into a frenzy.
Former WWE manager and TV personality, Dutch Mantell, better known as Zeb Colter by WWE universe, broke the news on Tuesday which stated Vince McMahon is in discussions with ESPN and FOX to negotiate terms for the sale of WWE and the WWE Network. Mantell claims he directly overheard a WWE employee out of the company's HQ in Stamford, Connecticut, that WWE and the two broadcasters are deep in negotiations for a sale and it could take place as early as May.
Over the last few years, numerous reports have floated on the internet which suggested Vince McMahon is open to the idea of selling WWE. Despite being at the pinnacle of the pro wrestling industry as the top promotion, hardcore fans have often criticised WWE's product and the company's handling of its talent. Furthermore, the formation of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and the rise in popularity of some of the indie promotions like Ring of Honor (ROH) and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) meant the fanbase had a viable option if WWE tapings got too stale. AEW has forced the company to re-think its strategy to keep hold of its viewers and avoid dipping the ratings below a threshold.
The untimely lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak is already projected to cost the company in millions as WWE's flagship show WrestleMania 36 was forced to move out of the arena and being broadcasted from the Performance Center. Earlier this month, the company even fired a host of talents and staff members and is expected to release a bunch of superstars in the future in order to cut costs.
WWE already has a deal in place with FOX who air Friday night SmackDown on their channel. This has left the fans confused as to how WWE would come to an agreement with FOX and ESPN in regards to a sale. Despite, Dutch Mantell's breaking news gaining a lot of traction on social media, reports indicate there is not much concrete information to back Mantell's revelation.
According to Wrestling News, during a recent investor's meeting, Vince McMahon did address the possibility of selling the WWE Network to FOX or ESPN but NOT the company as a whole. Moreover, those talks are believed to be in their initial stages and are far from confirmed at the moment.