Did things get ugly before Kevin Dunn's WWE departure? As reported last week, Kevin Dunn decided to leave the WWE after decades working in the company. Dunn held considerable power and was often labeled as Vince McMahon's right-hand man. Dunn's official title was WWE’s Executive Producer and Chief of Global Television. Distribution. However, it's being reported that he officially resigned on 31 December 2023.
Dave Meltzer went into detail on Dunn's decision to step down. Here are some excerpts from the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
It was Dunn’s decision to leave, which one source said dated back about two months when Endeavor started wanting to make budget cuts to improve profitability in the department and started making decisions on the production side without relying on his opinions. Dunn had been basically autonomous in his position for decades, only having to answer to Vince McMahon.
There was considerable chatter about Kevin Dunn's future in the WWE after Vince McMahon's abrupt retirement in the summer of 2022. Some fans and industry analysts felt that Dunn's days were numbered as changes were being made in the WWE hierarchy. According to Meltzer, the WWE didn't want that to happen:
At the time we were told that with McMahon and John Laurinaitis leaving the way they did, they didn’t want any other major changes as far as top executives with the idea it would hurt the stock price, at least at that time. The feeling was that change would happen but it would be down the line. Still, it was a shock to most in the company when Mike Johnson first broke the story, and was later confirmed to reporters two days later as well as to all employees by the company.
It appears that Dunn has plenty of options available. Dave Meltzer described Dunn as independently wealthy, noting:
With stock grants from his position, Dunn is believed to be worth somewhere between $40 million and $60 million
H/T 8 January 2024 Wrestling Observer Newsletter
It sounds like Dunn is a classic example of someone with FU money who could walk away from the WWE anytime he wanted to (which he did).
However, that's not to say that his final run in the company was full of sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns. Let's look at some rumors relating to Dunn's decision to walk away.
Dunn is 61 so he had plenty of time left to work in the WWE if he wanted. However, if the reports on how things have changed since the Endeavor merger, it's easy to understand why Dunn's exit was likely.
As for the circumstances surrounding Kevin Dunn's departure, PWInsider's Mike Johnson is reporting:
While everyone is playing up positives publicly, we are told that the relationship between the two sides has gotten more and more frayed in recent weeks with one source describing it as "getting uglier" even after Dunn put his notice in Christmas week.
No details on what "getting uglier" meant but there's plenty to speculate about given a situation where an executive goes from having considerable power to possibly being just another cog in the machinery.
Dunn's departure is just another example of how thriving businesses tend to make changes to adapt to the times. As we'll see, the WWE is no exception and neither is the new structure assembled under TKO-Holdings.
Wrestling fans have seen many changes made to the WWE over the last few years. In 2020, Vince McMahon made a unilateral decision to remove the company's Co-Presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson, replacing them with Nick Khan. While the WWE's stock initially dropped, Khan helped the WWE secure its big-money deal to sell the rights to the WWE Network to the Peacock streaming service.
Under Khan, the WWE consolidated some of its departments, citing redundancies. In addition, the WWE released many Superstars during the pandemic. While the moves were criticized, the WWE posted record profits during the pandemic.
Things have been no different following the WWE's merger with Endeavor under the TKO-Holdings umbrella. The WWE released many employees as the two companies consolidated their corporate structure.
The PWInsider report notes that Kevin Dunn is finished with the WWE but he doesn't plan on retiring. The report notes Dunn is considering TV and film projects. The report noted that Dunn isn't likely to work in any pro-wrestling related capacity.
What do you think about the reasons behind Dunn's departure and the rumors that things were "getting uglier?" Was Dunn's departure inevitable following the Endeavor/WWE merger?
Photo Credit: WWE