Triple H Royal Rumble WWE Vince McMahon Screen grab: WWE

In the leadup to the Royal Rumble, one of the biggest stories wasn’t about the action in the ring or even WWE’s on-screen product. Rather, it was about the new lawsuit against Vince McMahon accusing the WWE founder of sexually assaulting and trafficking a former employee.

The lawsuit, which resulted in McMahon resigning from his role as the chairman of WWE’s parent company, TKO Group Holdings, received mainstream coverage. And yet, many wondered whether it would even be addressed in Paul “Triple H” Levesque’s post-show press conferences, as — is often the case in pro wrestling — the lines between reality and fiction are sometimes blurred.

Ultimately, Fightful’s Jon Alba asked Levesque — who is WWE’s chief content officer and McMahon’s son-in-law — a thorough question about the lawsuit.

“It was about a year ago the WWE Board of Directors unanimously opposed Vince’s return to the company as executive chair due to the ongoing investigations at the time before ultimately voting him back into power. You, Stephanie [McMahon], Nick Khan, you were a part of that. What degree of knowledge of the current accusations against him did you guys have at the time and how does the situation affect WWE’s relationship with partners going forward?” Alba asked.

While there were many important questions that could have been asked of Levesque considering both his role in the company and personal relationship with McMahon, it would have been hard to come up with one phrased better than Alba’s. In pointing out that WWE’s Board of Directors had initially opposed McMahon’s return in early-2023, Alba demonstrated why the situation was pertinent to Levesque before asking the most important question of how aware they were of the heinous allegations against the former WWE chairman while also spinning it forward with a question about how the lawsuit could affect the company’s future.

But while Alba’s question was both prepared and thorough, the same couldn’t be said of Levesque’s answer.

“I’m gonna do exactly what you’d expect me to do here,” Levesque said. “Look, we just had an amazing week. I just said it, 10-year, $5 billion Netflix deal. The Rock joining our board. We just sold out the Royal Rumble, put 48,000 people into Tropicana Field. I choose to focus on the positive. And yes, there’s a negative. But I want to focus on that and just keep it to that.”

To say Levesque’s answer was tone deaf would be an understatement.

While WWE certainly had a big week with the aforementioned Netflix deal and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson joining TKO’s board, the reality is that both stories — as well as the Royal Rumble — were overshadowed by the allegations against McMahon. And while Levesque might only want to focus on the positives, as a top executive who has worked extensively alongside McMahon over the years (to say nothing of also being his son-in-law), he doesn’t get that luxury.

The Ringer’s Cameron Hawkins proceeded to ask a follow-up, inquiring about what WWE was doing to make sure employees feel safe in light of the allegations against McMahon.

“I’ll give you the most generalized answer that I can: Everything possible,” Levesque replied. “That is a very important thing to us, a very important topic to us. It’s as simple as everything possible.”

Levesque was asked one more question about McMahon, with Wrestlenomics’ Brandon Thurston asking if he had read the lawsuit that was filed this week, and if so, what was his reaction. This elicited the former WWE superstar’s most baffling response yet, as he noted he hadn’t read the lawsuit before reiterating his desire to only see the good for the company this week.

“I did not,” Levesque said. “I think Cody (Rhodes) mentioned it that we all found out in real-time when you (did) and that’s the truth. I’ll go back to what I said before — this is an amazing week for us. I just at this point, I don’t even want to get bogged down in the negatives of it. I just want to focus on the positives and where we’re going.

“We’re at the most exciting time of the year for us. We’re at the most exciting point, to me, business-wise, I think, that we’ve ever had. I think Cody might have said the, I don’t remember exactly how he said it, but the best positioning of this company since the ‘Attitude Era.’ I’ve been through that era. I understand what it’s like. I feel like we are in the middle of something that, while we might not be able to put our finger on it right now, five or 10 years from now, we’re going to be saying, ‘Wow, what a time that was.’ I want to focus on that.”

Despite Thurston’s question supposedly being the last of the press conference, Levesque proceeded to answer a few more inquiries, none of which pertained to McMahon. The reaction to the press conference was swift, with many criticizing the former WWE champion for his apparent lack of compassion and tone deaf approach.

While Levesque did more than just say “no comment,” it was jarring to hear his willingness to overlook the horrific allegations against McMahon in favor of a new TV rights deal and The Rock joining TKO’s board. Whether he was ill-prepared to answer the questions or thought his personal desire to focus on the positive would suffice as an answer, either explanation would qualify as brazen in contrast to the seriousness of the allegations.

It’s a credit to Alba, Hawkins, Thurston and Haus of Wrestling’s Nick Hausman (who asked a question about the allegations against McMahon to Rhodes) that these questions were asked in a setting some were worried they wouldn’t be. And while Levesque did his best to dodge the questions, the reality is that for better or worse, he ultimately provided true insight into how he — and by proxy, WWE — actually view the allegations against McMahon.


About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.