Mr. McMahon, 78, is one of the most influential figures in the history of professional wrestling. He’s not just a co-founder with his wife Linda of the company that would become WWE, or merely a corporate executive. He is the person most responsible for transforming wrestling from a dull regional entertainment product into a globally televised spectacle.
He has also appeared in the ring for decades, and is best known as a mentor to wrestlers such as “The Rock” and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. In the 1990s, he adopted a cocky, dictatorial demeanor in the ring who yelled at wrestlers, and he was a headliner at pay-per-view events. Even into this decade, Mr. McMahon retained control over the creative direction of WWE.
However, for almost as long, Mr. McMahon has faced allegations of sexual misconduct, which he has repeatedly denied publicly. For example, in 1992, Rita Chatterton, who was a wrestling referee, Said on “Geraldo” The talk show reported that Mr. McMahon had raped her in 1986. (Mr. McMahon and Ms. Chatterton reached an agreement In 2022, according to The Wall Street Journal.)
Meanwhile, WWE made sexual behavior towards women a core part of its brand. In 2003, the company launched the “WWE Diva Search”, a competition to find female performers who would wrestle occasionally. Body shape and low-cut tops were one clear part of appeal, Mr. McMahon also filmed a fictional promotion with his real-life daughter, Stephanie McMahon, a wrestler and longtime WWE executive, in which Ms. McMahon’s character made lewd allegations about her father’s character.
Ms. McMahon asked him, “Every time I went out to dinner with one of your business associates when I was 17, you don’t think you told me what you promised them that I would ” in a promotionWhich was broadcast on television during the matches.