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The 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week: Vince McMahon Scandal Edition

January 29, 2024 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Vince McMahon, WWE TKO, Slim Jim Image Credit: CNBC

The 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week

Hello, everyone, and welcome to a special edition of The 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week. I’m Bryan Kristopowitz.

I haven’t done one of these Dumpster Fire of the Week pieces in almost four years, but considering the events of the last week I thought it was a good idea to bring it back, for one week only, to talk about those events of the last week. Why?

Because I’m annoyed.

And so, without any further what have you, let’s get on with it. Who is the 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week this week?

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Image Credit: Bryan Kristopowitz

Image Credit: WWE

This week, the 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week goes to WWE Chief Content Officer and Head of Creative, 14-time world champion, and WWE Hall of Famer Paul “Triple H” Levesque, for his complete disaster of a post-Royal Rumble press conference appearance.

There was seemingly endless speculation within the internet wrestling community as to whether or not the WWE would have a press conference after the 2024 edition of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view in light of the absolutely horrendous allegations leveled against WWE founder and former owner Vince McMahon in a recent lawsuit. When everyone found out that the WWE would, in fact, have a press conference after the 2024 Royal Rumble, IWC speculation ramped up on whether or not Triple H would actually appear at the press conference at all. Would Triple H, or his bosses in the WWE’s new parent company TKO, want to answer any potential questions that would no doubt come up about the scandal, the allegations, what Triple H may have known when the former WWE corporate board investigated McMahon back in 2022, etc.?

And so the 2024 Royal Rumble happened, the post-show press conference commenced, Royal Rumble winners Bayley and Cody Rhodes participated, and then Triple H came out for the final part of the press conference (as is typical when the WWE does one of these press conferences, at least far as I’ve seen). Triple H went through a series of “prepared remarks” about how generally successful the Royal Rumble event was. Triple H then opened the floor to questions. After a question about the big hooha Netflix deal the WWE announced earlier in the week, Triple H was asked about the McMahon scandal.

Now, I didn’t expect to get a “real” answer from Triple H. Typically, corporations like the WWE and its parent company TKO, don’t comment about pending litigation beyond perhaps a boiler plate press release of some sort (sort of a “It’s company policy not to comment on pending litigation, but we do take these allegations seriously and we are investigating the matter and we always strive to create a welcoming workplace because our employees are our number one priority” type deal). And WWE President Nick Khan and TKO did release a statement announcing that Vince McMahon had resigned from the company and was no longer involved in anything. I didn’t expect Triple H to get into any details about anything, from any angle of the story and situation. I expected some form of “No comment”/”I can’t comment about this pending legal matter”/”We take the allegations seriously” type answer chased with a heaping dose of empathy.

We didn’t get that type of answer.

Instead, Triple H said he didn’t want to focus on the negative, he wanted to focus on the positive. The WWE just had a hugely successful week. That was somehow more important than the massive scandal that was hanging (and is still hanging) over the WWE and pro wrestling in general . No sense of empathy at all. There were just too many positive things to talk about instead.

It was the wrong goddamn answer.

You want to “just focus on the positive?” I’m sure everyone in the world would absolutely love to always focus on the positive things going on. Negative things are, well, negative and terrible and can make people uncomfortable. Who wants to deal with that? But failing to deal with the negative things or acting like they don’t exist inevitably leads to more negative things, and failing to acknowledge the negative things suggests that you don’t care about those negative things at all. Does Triple H think that if he and the WWE just ignore this situation, don’t acknowledge it when asked about it, and just push on through that people will forget about it and it will be “business as usual” into the future?

It sure as hell seems that way. And it’s dumb. Really, really dumb.

But Triple H doesn’t run the WWE! He’s just the head of creative! How can you expect him to answer questions he was likely told not to answer by his bosses in TKO?!? Triple H’s job isn’t public relations! And Vince McMahon is Triple H’s father-in-law! How can you expect him to answer potentially sensitive “family” questions in such a public forum?!? He was just there to talk about the Royal Rumble!

Yes, it’s true that Triple H doesn’t run the WWE corporate, but if he’s going to appear at a press conference and talk about how many tickets the WWE sold for an event, how big the gate was, and how generally successful “the business” is/was, he becomes the face of the WWE in full view of the public. In that realm, Triple H is the WWE and a major part of his job is public relations. If he gets asked a question he can’t answer for legal reasons he needs to say that. He may get further pressed on a question he can’t answer with another question, but he can answer, again, that he can’t talk about a pending legal matter. Most people would understand that answer (lots of people would complain, sure, but people complain about a lot of things all of the time. How would this situation be different?). And if Triple H doesn’t want to answer questions about his father-in-law, a man who was the face of the WWE and has been accused of absolutely horrendous behavior, then he shouldn’t participate in a press conference where journalists can ask him questions.

As for the “he was just there to talk about the Royal Rumble” stuff, that may be what he wanted to talk about, but since it’s a press conference and the questions aren’t vetted ahead of time and there’s a giant goddamn scandal engulfing the company, Triple H or anyone else should have absolutely no expectation that he’s “only going to talk about the Royal Rumble.” Someone is going to ask him about that giant goddamn scandal and he should be prepared for it.

And that “I haven’t read the lawsuit” answer he gave to the next question? Another disaster. Even if it is true who the hell believes him? Why should anyone believe him?

This press conference was just a complete disaster.

So why do I think Triple H performed so badly at the post-2024 Royal Rumble press conference? Was he just unprepared for it? Was he exhausted from having to do Raw and Smackdown and the Royal Rumble and he wasn’t thinking clearly? Are his tone deaf responses his version of being a public prick like Vince McMahon whenever he was questioned about anything bad he didn’t want to talk about (like when he was interviewed by Bob Costas or after Owen Hart died or when he was interviewed by HBO’s Real Sports?)? Maybe, maybe not ( Triple H did, apparently, learn stuff from Vince. Just how much did he learn from Vince?). Whatever it is, it’s not a good look for anyone, and it’s a pretty good reason to get rid of Triple H if it has to come to that. Will it? Probably not, at least not in the immediate future.

But who thinks this “Vince McMahon scandal story” is over? Who thinks there aren’t going to be more shoes to drop in the future? And who thinks that this story can’t get any worse? And does anyone think the WWE and the pro wrestling world aren’t going to be back to where they are right now if and when the story gets even worse? Does anyone really believe any of that?

Jesus Christ. How can they not see what a complete disaster all of this is? And why did Cody Rhodes do a better job at answering a scandal question than Triple H?

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Honorable Mentions

And then there’s the internet wrestling community that thinks the Vince McMahon scandal is a good time to engage in that “pro wrestling company tribalism” garbage that just won’t die, for the never ending “what about?” discussion on social media and wherever else people talk about pro wrestling. If you hop on Twitter or Facebook or even the comments section under any pro wrestling article here at 411mania you will see people using the Vince McMahon scandal to dunk on WWE or Tony Khan and AEW and God knows what else. What the hell is wrong with you people? Is your pro wrestling fandom that goddamn important that you have to spend countless hours hammering people because they like a pro wrestling company that you don’t like? I ask again, what the hell is wrong with you people?

And finally, there’s Jim Cornette and his podcast/YouTube channel, for their reaction to the Wall Street Journal article regarding the Vince McMahon lawsuit. While it’s true that the video that appears on Cornette’s YouTube channel was from a recording session for Cornette’s Drive Thru show and Cornette and his co-host/partner Brian Last are reacting in real time to the Wall Street Journal story that was apparently released at the same time (this explanation comes from Brian Last’s Twitter page), the video is cringe as hell, with Cornette and Last laughing throughout. While that laughing could be described as “nervous laughter” and they can’t believe what they’re reading, the video is not a good look at all for anyone associated with the podcast or shows. I’d suspect that the video was created because Cornette’s fans wanted to hear what he thought about the gigantic story, which is fine (Cornette’s two podcasts and YouTube channel are incredibly popular), but it probably would have been better to do some other type of recording regarding the Wall Street Journal story and Cornette’s initial reaction to the scandal. Last’s Twitter post says that there will be a more in depth response/reaction to the actual lawsuit and that will appear as part of the Jim Cornette Experience show, but as of me writing this Cornette’s YouTube channel hasn’t released that reaction. Maybe they should have done a special podcast/YouTube report when more information was available? I don’t think anyone would have complained.

Well, some people would have complained (people complain about Jim Cornette all of the time). I do think it would have looked better for all involved if Cornette and company had waited.

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