Apr 3, 2022; Arlington, TX, USA; WWE owner Vince McMahon enters the arena during WrestleMania at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It was less than two weeks ago that Vince McMahon was front and center at the New York Stock Exchange as TKO Group Holdings celebrated appointing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to its Board of Directors and WWE’s new deal with Netflix.

For those keeping up with the latest happenings in WWE, the past two weeks might as well have been two decades.

In the time since McMahon helped celebrate TKO’s big day, the WWE founder has found himself the subject of a lawsuit accusing him of sexually abusing and trafficking a former employee named Janel Grant. While McMahon has denied the allegations, he did resign from his role as TKO’s executive chairman in a move that marked his first true departure from WWE  (he remained the company’s majority shareholder when he temporarily retired in 2022).

The lawsuit, which is full of heinous allegations against McMahon, leaves both he and WWE susceptible to paying significant damages, whether it be in the form of a judgment or a settlement. As it turns out, the 78-year-old McMahon is now also facing possible criminal charges, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into the allegations against the former chairman.

Per The Wall Street Journal:

Over the summer, federal agents executed a search warrant for McMahon’s phone and delivered a subpoena to him for documents related to any allegation of “rape, sex trafficking, sexual assault, commercial sex transaction, harassment or discrimination” against current or former WWE employees.

The grand jury subpoena, described to The Wall Street Journal, offers the first window into the investigation, which began in 2022. The Journal reported in 2022 that McMahon had made payouts to several women who accused him of sexual misconduct while he was CEO and that prosecutors were investigating the payouts. The subpoena also sought communications between McMahon and these women, including Grant.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Grant and at least four other women named in the subpoena had previously entered settlement agreements with McMahon regarding alleged sexual misconduct. The outlet had previously reported that McMahon had agreed to non-disclosure agreements as high as $7.5 million, perhaps indicating that the allegations levied by Grant, whose NDA agreement was for $3 million, are just the sign of things to come.

Also of note, former WWE head of talent relations John Laurinaitis — who is named as a co-defendant in Grant’s lawsuit — has seemingly turned on McMahon, with his lawyer telling Vice News that his client is actually a victim in the matter. It will be worth monitoring how many former and current WWE employees are called upon — or even implicated — as a result of the investigation, as well as how aware UFC was of the allegations before the company merged with WWE to form TKO last year.

In the meantime, the presence of the federal investigation seems to indicate that last week’s lawsuit was just the tip of the iceberg for McMahon and WWE. Last week might have been a “great week” for WWE according to McMahon’s son-in-law and the company’s chief content officer, Paul “Triple H” Levesque. The future, however, appears to be much more challenging.

[The Wall Street Journal]

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.