Vince McMahon Sells 4.3% of WWE Stock, Files for XFL Trademarks

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2017/12/23/vince-mcmahon-sells-100-million-of-wwe-stock-files-for-xfl-trademarks/

One of the largest stories to monitor in 2018 will be the progression and roll out of Vince McMahon’s recently formed group, Alpha Entertainment LLC.

The story took shape last weekend when it was reported by journalist Brad Shepard that McMahon was putting plans in place to revive the XFL with a scheduled announcement for late January.

Shortly after this news was broken, the WWE provided a statement on the record to David Bixenspan of Deadspin:

Vince McMahon has established and is personally funding a separate entity from WWE, Alpha Entertainment, to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football. Mr. McMahon has nothing further to announce at this time.

The statement revealed for the first time, the existence of McMahon’s personal venture, while also distancing the WWE from the venture, likely as a sign to stockholders that it would not affect WWE business.

The idea of McMahon reviving the failed XFL brand could be traced back to the ESPN “30 for 30” documentary on the league’s one-year existence. The documentary culminated with McMahon and former chairman of NBC Sports Dick Ebersol discussing the legacy of the league. McMahon provided a coy response when asked by Ebersol about bringing the league back and doing it all over again.

That kernel of a hint took form over the past week, then an enormous leap on Thursday with McMahon selling 3,340,000 of his Class A shares of WWE stock to raise close to $100 million of startup capital for Alpha Entertainment. This coincided with a number of XFL related trademarks being filed for by Alpha Entertainment and an apparent strategy to acquire the WWE’s XFL related trademarks and be absorbed by McMahon’s new outside company.

The following statement was included in the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission with the selling of McMahon’s Class A shares:

Mr. McMahon executed the sale primarily to fund a separate entity from the Company, Alpha Entertainment LLC, which Mr. McMahon established to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football. Mr. McMahon has informed the Company that he has no current plan to sell additional shares of the Company’s stock and that he intends to continue in his capacity as the Company’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for the foreseeable future.

The shares sold by Mr. McMahon represent approximately 4.3% of the Company’s total outstanding shares of Class A and Class B common stock. After the sale, Mr. McMahon beneficially owns 32,193,375 shares of the Company’s Class B common stock, which represents approximately 82.8% of the Company’s total voting power and approximately 41.8% of the Company’s total outstanding shares of common stock.

The original XFL venture was announced in early 2000 and launched in February 2001 and became a partnership between the WWE and NBC. The league launched with tremendous audience numbers during the initial week with a great marketing campaign that drove curiosity to what Vince McMahon’s alternative vision of football would entail. The games on NBC, UPN, and TNN would see rapid declines over the next several weeks with ridiculous stunts being relied upon to generate buzz on the league from putting cameras in the female cheerleader’s locker room to a contrived feud between commentator Jesse Ventura and New York / New Jersey Hitmen coach Rusty Tillman.

In April of 2001, the league announced it would be folding after one season and losses totaling nearly $138 million between the WWE and NBC.

The WWE stock closed at $31.87 on Thursday and with the news of McMahon’s stock sale, it led to a close at $29.55 on Friday.

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This is insanity. Vince has lost his sweet mind.

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He has not been all there for some time now, I am actually not surprised that he would try to revive something that he failed at. It won’t work, probably, but it’s something for him to feel like a man

True, I just think it will have a huge effect on WWEs stocks as soon as it is officially announced. Maybe I’ll be wrong. On the flip side, if this means less Vince running things that might be better in the long run

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If WWE gets any better, sign me up, but when it comes to this I’m really pessimistic. We’ll wait and see I guess. Until then, there’s always NJPW.

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Will be exciting to watch this unfold

As an armchair NFL fan in the UK, I know there is some dissatisfaction for the football product they provide these days - but is there enough for people to walk away from the team(s) they know and support to spend time on dollars on a brand new league?

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This is exactly what I’m thinking (and I’m in the middle of the States). I’m just wondering if Vince is thinking that there is enough of this dissatisfaction to actually capitalize on making that league. In a way, I guess it’s a morbid curiosity that will draw a lot of us to this story.

Would anyone pay $9.99 to subscribe to a XFL Network? Would games be bundled with the current WWE Network subscription? Well… it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

File it under conspiracy theory if you must, but McMahon and Trump are best buds and with the president’s issues with the NFL (real or manufactured) it makes sense for this move right now. Pretty sure it won’t have the same variety of changes as the first incarnation and will be very close to the same product they will be competing against…

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Vince does not like to fail. Launching/Re-launching a football league now might be the best time. With Non-Traditional Companies looking for Live Streaming content (Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple, Netflix), the financing/resources are there for this to potentially succeed. Vince and Co. have learned from what failed in the past (at least we would think they have).

The only thing I would be skeptical of is running a football league at all in the current climate of NFL ratings dropping. There would need to be a good differentiation of this new league that would get the football audience still watching the NFL and/or getting the people who stopped watching the NFL to watch this.

But we’ll have to wait and see what is announced .

Any time the stock hits $30+ Vince sells a bit of the company. Thats a historically high value and if he can roll the money into an XFL reboot simply to get more content for a sub upsell why not try I guess. He’s just spending inheritance money at this point anyway… you can’t take it with ya!:grin:

It’s an extremely short-sighted move by VKM. It’s reactionary & not revolutionary or forward-thinking. A lot of folks are focusing on the (overstated) effects of politics on the NFL right now in terms of fan support. Yes, overall viewership is down; but the NFL is still by far the undisputed king of American sports.

And the bigger issue IMO is the safety concerns. The original XFL was launched in a pre-CTE/pre-Concussion Protocol era when big hits made fans and corporate sponsors cheer instead of wince. If they try to go that “Xtreme” route again, it will undoubtedly fail. The ONLY way I think a new XFL could survive is by taking a page out of the USFL’s playbook & creating an up-tempo game that puts a premium on scoring. They would also need to open the checkbook & see if they could poach some big name free agents/coaches (Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel, Terrell Owens, Brian Billick, Lane Kiffin, etc.), and combine those veterans with top college prospects & coaches. That’s the only way I think they can compete, and even then it’s a longshot. They would be the TNA to the NFL’s WWE…And we’ve seen how well that’s played out. :football::sunglasses::100:

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I’m still trying to sort out my feelings on how I feel about a potentially revived XFL. I have a perverse interest in seeing this freakshow revived, but already feel impossibly dirty when it comes to watching pro football in general. PodFatherSOH (OH MY GOODNESS, THAT’S BROTHER NATE!) nailed it pointing out how outdated the idea that “Xtreme” is as something that can be trotted out in the current climate. It’s not a matter of political correctness as much a matter as acknowledging the actual danger tied to the game itself. I don’t like that I can’t keep track of how many Pro Bowlers die young every year and I sure as sugar don’t need an “independent contractor” getting killed for a bargain bin salary on TV.

I watched the XFL as a teen for the novelty (GIMMICK SPORT POWER) and the draw would be the same for me as an adult. It’s probably not a good thing to have the same level of hook as watching The Book of Henry for the yuks. I’m not tuning in to the XFL (or UFL which seems insane to me considering the last time a UFL came farting around) for the football. I’m tuning in for a car wreck and the ability to bail immediately once I get bored. I can’t imagine I’m alone in this and arena football’s freefall in popularity shows a more exciting on-field product isn’t the magic key to gargantuan success. I dunno, this whole thing makes me a bit embarrassed as a wrestling and sports fan.

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I’ve heard plenty of interviews with WWE employees who’ve mentioned that Vince doesn’t actually watch or understand sports. He knows people watch them and obviously understands the weight they carry in the business world, but someone who doesn’t understand -why- people watch sports is destined to fail promoting them.

It’s very similar to his famous “we make movies” comment re WWE. That his favourite movie is “There’s Something About Mary” speaks to his failure to grasp how forces like characterization and internal consistency function in film, or narrative in general. He doesn’t want a story, or a character arc, he wants “moments”, as we’ve seen in the whole “Wrestler X wants a ‘WrestleMania Moment’” phenomenon.

Moments happen in sports. They have meaning, impact, and gravity. We remember where we were when they happened. But they only gain that power by virtue of their place within the larger structure or story of a team or athlete pursuing their goals. It’d be easy for someone who only watches highlight reels or gifs of sports moments (as I suspect Vince is limited to) to think that they could make a mint by selling a prospective audience moment after moment after moment, but they’ll never succeed, nor will they ever understand why they failed.