Thursday, April 10, 2014

Who could take over after Vince McMahon?

Dave Meltzer brought up this point on last night's Wrestling Observer radio: it's not clear that Paul Levesque has the business experience that would be required to run the whole WWE.

If you look at the candidates they range from his family (Linda, Stephanie, Shane, HHH) to current top ranks (Chief Strategy & CFO George Barrios, revenue & marketing officer Michelle Wilson, long-time right-hand man vice president Kevin Dunn) to former directors (Ex-COO Basil DeVito, Ex-CFO Mike Sileck, Ex-EVP Donna Goldsmith). However, while these individuals have requisite experience with WWE and demonstrated their leadership skills, they're all quite imperfect. They understand the challenges and demands of the running such a busy enterprise, and appreciate the unique industry space that WWE occupies. But none of these candidates truly have the complete skill set required to wrangle the many revenue arms of the WWE. I can't see any of them as truly effective leaders of the current company.

They're a TV company, they're an over-the-top streaming service company, they're an entertainment/talent company, they're still sort of a PPV company, they're an online website company, they're a merchandising & licensing company, they're a video game company, they're a Film product/distribution company, they're a publishing company, they're a live event company, etc.

I can't imagine a hired hand that could eat, sleep and breathe wrestling like Vince. He's had the benefit of being on top of the empire as it's evolved over these years. Would it work better to just install a competent manager who can then have underlings direct each of the major divisions? Do they need another crazy billionaire (ala Mark Cuban)? About the only job with as many headaches (talent, TV negotiations, merchandising, embracing new media, etc.) would seem to be like the GM of a major sports franchise.

Can anyone think of another company that had to go through a similar transition from powerful patriarch to next generation successfully? Disney, Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey Circus, Ford, NewsCorp?  Who do you think could succeed Vince McMahon?

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