Today marks the end of an era for WWE, as for the first time in forty years, someone with the last name McMahon no longer owns it. This morning, WWE and UFC officially merged to form TKO Holdings Group, a new publicly traded company owned by Endeavor Operating Co. LLC. Plans to merge the two combat sports entities into one company were announced the Monday after WWE WrestleMania 39 but was briefly addressed in the night two media scrum when I asked Paul Heyman, Roman Reigns and Paul “Triple H” Levesque about reports it was happening.
This month also saw another big change in the pro wrestling landscape, as All Elite Wrestling and Tony Khan officially terminated CM Punk, real name Phil Brooks, from his contracts. In the wake of that decision, rumors have run rampant in regard to his future and potential return to WWE. While the idea on paper seems sound, it is worth remembering that Punk walked out of WWE following the 2014 Royal Rumble and found himself in a lawsuit against one of their doctors, Dr. Chris Amann, after making disparaging comments about him and the way WWE treats its talent on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast.
ESPN’s Mark Raimondi had a chance to speak with the CEO of WWE, Nick Khan, following the merger of WWE and UFC and asked the executive whether the sports entertainment juggernaut is interested in welcoming Punk back into the fold.
“Listen, we only have respect for Phil,” he said. “We appreciate his run here. We appreciate what he did and tried to do with the UFC. Not many people can actually get in there and do what he did. So, when we have respect for Phil, we wish him nothing but the best.”
TKO Group Holdings closed out its first day as a publicly traded company, with its stock valued at $103.50, up from the $102 it was initially listed at this morning. Khan, along with Vince McMahon, Dana White, Bianca Belair, and others, were present on Wall Street this morning, celebrating the launch of TKO. McMahon’s presence did not end there; he was also reportedly back in the WWE creative mix last night on Raw, remotely sending in a variety of last-minute changes to the script.