Report: Shane McMahon made a power play to take over Creative in 2012, Steph and Hunter freaked out (w/Keller’s Analysis)

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

Shane & Vince McMahon [ credit Wade Keller (c)]


VICE Sports published a major feature story called “VICE Sports: Breaking Kayfabe: An Inside Look at WWE’s Unlikely Business Empire,” which published information about Shane McMahon attempting a power play to take over Creative a few years ago. The following is an excerpt sent to PWTorch by VICE’s p.r. department. The full story is a must-read and available HERE.

A few years ago, as Levesque was gearing up to launch NXT, ratings were down and Vince was on edge. The writing room became a battlefield, and even people outside of the company took notice, including Shane McMahon. In March 2012, Vince, according to a source familiar with the exchange, called a surprise meeting at the WWE production office, a separate facility from the main headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. Shane had returned with a friend: James Frey, the author of the critically acclaimed and, later, highly controversial A Million Little Pieces and by that time the CEO of Full Fathom Five, a content creation company he founded in 2010.

(A spokesperson for WWE originally denied that Shane had approached WWE in any capacity between 2009 and 2016, but later confirmed that this meeting took place when asked about this exchange specifically.)

“When Stephanie found out Shane was going to be there, she went white in the face,” the source told me. “And Paul freaked out.” Shane had set up the meeting through Kevin Dunn, WWE’s executive vice-president of production and Vince’s right-hand man for nearly three decades; he is the second-highest-paid employee at the company behind Vince (according to SEC documents, Dunn’s 2016 base salary is $909,560). Shane had a simple proposal: that he take over all of creative, including the writer’s room, with Frey and his team at Full Fathom Five as consultants.

“Kevin Dunn is very close to Shane,” the source said. “And there’s tremendous tension between Kevin, and Paul and Stephanie. They feel like the company is theirs, but they don’t have power to control Kevin.” Presumably, if Dunn could figure out a way to get Shane back in the company in a high-ranking position, he would have even more influence with Vince. And Shane, too, could regain control over at least a portion of his family’s legacy. It was a win-win for the pair.

In the end, however, Vince declined his son’s offer. It would be four more years before Shane found himself on the inside of the company again. In the meantime, WWE would go through major changes internally as it continued its transformation from a TV-only wrestling outfit to a digital-forward entertainment super-corporation.


Keller’s Analysis: I did a 40 minute VIP Wade Keller Hotline audio update largely dedicated to breaking down this article’s strengths and weaknesses over the weekend, and also talked with Bruce Mitchell on the VIP Bruce Mitchell Audio Show this weekend about this at length. This was an excellent article, although not perfect in a few areas, and for anyone who follows the industry pretty closely, not particularly filled with new info, beyond the Shane power play. The Kevin Dunn-Triple H rivalry is a regular topic of conversation on Torch Audio, as is Vince’s penchant for radically rewriting TV shows after the Creative staff works all weekend on it. Any criticism of the article, though, doesn’t remove it from the top tier of major mainstream articles on an industry that’s very difficult to assess accurately and get a handle on. 

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