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Tuesday, a DAZN employee reported that Vince McMahon had sold World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund. The tweet, via a sketchy employee called Steven Muehlhausen, trended atop Twitter to great virality.
However, WWE informed reporters the following morning that the news is not true. The recently returned Vince McMahon continues to explore sale options with various potential suitors, says the company.
And Saudi Arabia remains among the pool of buyers.
Dave Meltzer — the Ian Rapoport of wrestling news, if you will — reported Thursday that the sovereign wealth fund is interested in buying the company but is not the “favorite.”
“Those at WWE said that Saudi Arabia [is in] the running but not the favorite,” reports Meltzer.
The report did not specify who is, indeed, the favorite.
That said, any list of potential buyers likely includes current WWE broadcast partners Comcast and Fox, as well as Netflix, Disney, Amazon, Google/YouTube, Apple, and Endeavor Group Holdings.
In addition, a report from CNBC revealed that WWE’s chief rival, All Elite Wrestling (AEW), has interest in merging the two promotions.
AEW debuted in 2019, founded and owned privately by father and son Shad and Tony Khan, the billionaire owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
AEW cannot compete with WWE in scale. WWE had a 40-year-head start, and is thus the default professional wrestling brand. It’s the Google and Coke of wrestling.
Nonetheless, AEW is the first notable alternative since WCW, a promotion that ceased operations in 2021.
Suffice to say the Khans would establish a monopoly on the industry with the purchase of WWE, some four years after undoing McMahon’s monopoly on said industry.
CNBC says Tony and Shad could partner with a strategic media company to share the intellectual property while merging the wrestling leagues.
Still, it’s unclear if Vince McMahon would entertain a sale to his rivals. There’s a belief McMahon plans to sell to a buyer that’d keep him in charge of the brand
Consider it a long shot that he’d take on a role under the Khan family, an idea CNBC says Shad and Tony would entertain.
“The Khans are open to discussing a potential role for McMahon, 77, after a sale but haven’t yet had those talks, one of the people said. It’s unclear what type of job McMahon would want with WWE after a sale,” the report explains.
Ultimately, a sale to the Khans would be the best storyline. A deal with Saudi Arabia would provide the company with the strongest financial foundation — the company would go private with substantial backing. And a deal with Comcast remains most probable.
Comcast’s NBCUniversal has significant ties to WWE programming, from airing of “Raw” on USA Network to streaming pay-per-views on Peacock.
Comcast would be wise to own the property, rather than renting it for ever-increasing rights fees.
Vince McMahon hopes to advance sale talks before WWE renegotiates its television deals later this year.