The WWE Universe was rather shocked to learn that WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon was taking a leave of absence from the company, and her official statement said she looked forward to returning but also that she wanted to take this time to focus on her family. A new report indicates there might be more to the story though, as during the most recent episode of We’re Live Pal, Andrew Zarian, Dave Meltzer, Bryan Alvarez, and Garrett Gonzalez discussed Stephanie stepping away and revealed a conversation with a source in the know in WWE that said there was more to the story.
“[It was a] very bizarre conversation, I’ll tell you that. I didn’t expect that phone call. It was a phone call that kind of veered into a discussion about Steph,” Zarian said. “So I asked and I was like, ‘hey, anything I could add to this? What’s going on?’ And, you know, some of the comments, I was shocked. One being that people internally and this is coming from someone in the know in WWE. This wasn’t like a guy in catering.”
“The comment was that internally, there was doubt put on Steph [and] her abilities as an executive. And a lot of this started after she absorbed some of Michelle Wilson’s responsibilities after she left. One [responsibility] being ad sales and sponsorship. And the comment that I found interesting was that they mentioned that the investors were questioning why they weren’t performing as well,” Zarian said. “And internally, there was some questioning as to why that wasn’t performing. I think a month ago, [WWE’s Head of Global Sales & Partnerships] Claudine Lilien…she went over to handle that and she was released a month ago and Nick [Khan] has taken over all these responsibilities. When the Shane issue happened at Royal Rumble, WWE was pretty quick to kind of say, yeah he got sent home for all the reasons that you heard, right? I was not expecting the words to be used for Steph because at the end of the day, the McMahons are the McMahons and they are the most protected people in that company.”
Meltzer had his own discussion about the situation and was told that there were efforts to keep this story under wraps, and added that it seems to be a case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing. “As far as Steph goes, like, if and when she comes back, and it won’t be soon, there’s a real good chance it won’t be in the same position…But it was interesting, because I talked to somebody about something similar and asked about Stephanie in that in that realm, and you know, certain things were explained that…there’s people who Stephanie dealt with that, but because Vince always had to answer, you know, she didn’t have the power. Nobody does,” Meltzer said. “Vince has all the power. She’s someone who talks to Vince but at the end of the day, Vince is going to make those decisions. But the thing was, there’s some people who are saying stuff and a person told me – he’s like, ‘if anyone hears that, they’re gonna be gone. No one can say anything bad publicly about Steph.’ And it’s like like a left hand and a right hand thing. Yeah. You (Zarian) were told, in a way, because they wanted it out.”
As for why the source would want this story out there, Zarian said “So you could see that this is a big change. But now the big story is okay, so why would that comment be made? There’s a reason for it. You know, you can speculate all you want. Is it to disconnect the McMahons from the company a little bit so if there is a sale positioning, it’s easier on the audience, maybe? … Or it can easily be, you know, get the stories out there to make it easier to change that old guard in our company. I was really surprised, and I hear some wacky things from there from people like crazy, crazy things. I was really shocked to hear that this conversation would happen.”