Teddy Long Discusses Vince McMahon's Return, Stephanie McMahon's Resignation, WWE Sale Rumors, & More - Exclusive

Holla holla, playas! The world of professional wrestling, and, more specifically, WWE, has seen some dynamic changes and revelations over the past week, including Vince McMahon's return to the WWE board of directors, Stephanie McMahon's resignation as WWE co-CEO,  rumors WWE could be sold to anyone from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Firm to Shahid and Tony Khan. The ripples spreading out from the chaos currently running through the world's largest wrestling promotion will surely impact its main competitor, AEW, as well as a laundry list of current and upcoming free agents trying to decide where their careers will take them next. So who better to break down all of this big news than WWE Hall of Famer and iconic "SmackDown" General Manager Teddy Long? In this exclusive Wrestling Inc. interview, Long talks with Wrestling Inc. Senior News Editor Nick Hausman about everything listed above and more.

You can support Long by following him on Twitter @TeddyPlayaLong. Long can also be found each week on Sportskeeda's The Wrestling Time Capsule alongside Mac Davis and legendary pro wrestling journalist Bill Apter.

Vince McMahon's WWE Return

Nick Hausman: Let me hear from you, Teddy. How do you feel about Vince McMahon returning, and he's now once again the executive chairman for the WWE board of directors?

Teddy Long: I spoke out before, and I had no problem with Vince returning. A lot of people thought it wasn't a good idea. I don't know why, because I think with Vince, you know what I mean? Whatever the scandals and all that other stuff is, I got nothing to do with that, I don't know anything about it. So I don't dwell on that, I dwell on what Vince has done for the WWE and WWF. The man created a gold mine, and he also entertained fans for many, many years. The man went out on TV and did stuff, had stuff done to him, that he didn't have to do. He's the owner of the company, he ain't got to go out and do none of that stuff. But anytime you take a guy — and this was what really got me to let me know that this man was true to the game, is he sat in the corner and let Rikishi set his ass in his face, and he also had him do it to his daughter and everybody.

That let me know then, man, this man is true to the game, he's about the money. I think it was a good idea for him to return. Now, what really shocked me was the selling. I mean, I heard the rumor, we've heard rumors all over time about him. I heard something about Disney was going to buy it at one time, the Peacock and all that, but I never did think Vince would really sell it, because that's his life. That's his life, that's all now he has to live for. He's got his family, his kids and everything, but they're all grown. But Vince's life is wrestling, so how can you take that away from him? 

But do you feel like the situation's changed though, Teddy? I mean, it seems like there's some different things going on right now where maybe there would be a sale on the condition that maybe Vince stays with the company, or that his legacy isn't affected in any kind of way. I don't know.

Here's the way I look at that. If it's sold to Saudi Arabia, they paid good money for it, they got the money. So I would think in this sense, and like I said, there's a rumor saying that it sold but he's running it, he's in charge. I think that's a smart move. Look at the money he made off the sale, and now Saudi Arabia has to pay him a check to run the company. It's their company now, he's going to run it for them, so that's a smart move. He made money, plus he got himself back into doing what he wants to do.

Possible WWE Buyers

While we're talking about this, Teddy, I actually have a list of potential buyers and we wanted to get your thoughts on each one to see the likelihood you think that this could be the outfit to buy WWE. Are you willing to play a little game here with me?

Yeah.

Do you think Comcast/NBCUniversal, do you see them as a potential buyer?

No.

No?

No.

They've been renting WWE content for a long time, $1 billion for the Peacock deal. You say you don't see them in the mix?

Well, I really don't. I don't know that much about them, so I really don't want to make a final decision on them. But me in my just personal opinion, I just don't see them buying it.

What about Disney?

Well, that's a possibility. I do see that happening because I remember one time when we used to go down to the Disney studios in Orlando and used to tape, and there was a rumor come out then that Disney was trying to buy one of the wrestling companies. And what they were going to do is make it a theme park attraction.

Can you give me a year, what timeframe that was?

You remember when WCW was going to Orlando, when we was going down, doing the TV tapings?

Sure.

The rumor was out then that Disney was going to buy it then and they was going to turn it into a theme park attraction. You charge one fee to get in and you would come in and see wrestling, just like you did all the other rides. And we would go there and we would tape twice a day. We'd do a two hour show in the mornings around noon, then we'd come back and do another two hour show in the afternoon. And the people got a chance to come in free because they bought a ticket.

What about Endeavor, the entertainment company that bought UFC? Do you see them as a potential?

Well, that could be a possibility. Them, I really don't know that much about.

Amazon?

Possibility.

What about Netflix?

Oh great, another big possibility, because I think they're looking for a lot of content.

Yes, they are. What about Fox?

Another possibility. They've kept them on the network for a long, long time, and they seem to be doing good there on Fox, so I could see that happening.

Warner Brothers Discovery?

I'm not too familiar with them, like I said, so I would think not.

What about The Rock? Do you think Dwayne Johnson would buy WWE?

I think he would.

You think The Rock would?

I think he would, because I think it would be fun for him to be able to own the company that got him started, that really gave him his big break. That's like going back in time, man. Yeah, I think he would do it.

I mean, he bought the XFL, but that's not the same ticket price, right? It was a lesser buy. I mean, you'd need billions of dollars to buy WWE.

Well, I think Rock knows enough people in Hollywood to come up with that money. He's a big enough name and star, all he'd have to do is just go to them and say, "Hey, let's buy this."

Negotiating During Uncertain Times

We talked about it earlier, the Saudis, you think that's a very viable option there? If there's anybody that's going to preserve the legacy and not mess with Vince McMahon, the Saudis would certainly be open to that. But at the same time, Teddy, there's a lot of people very, very upset that the company could be sold to this Saudis. There's reports that talent could look to get out of their contracts, leave the company. There's a lot of fans that are very upset over the human rights violations over in Saudi Arabia. It would really give the company a very different tone.

Well, like I said, it's so much going on now, you don't know what to believe or who to trust, you know what I mean? I'm just saying all the fans have to do, and the talent, is just wait. Just wait and see what happens. After the Saudis, if they are the people to buy it, Vince is going to run it. That's supposedly what they say, so wait and see what happens before you jump the gun. It may be a good thing, maybe even better for you, you never know.

If you're a talent right now whose contract is coming up in the next six months, do you start negotiations now, or do you lay low and wait to see what a sale or buyer looks like before approaching to renegotiate your contract? And I know that's a real inside baseball question.

That's according to what talent you are. Now, if you're talent that they haven't been using and they haven't been pushing on TV, you've just been showing up, I'd be worried. But if you're a talent, that big name you say, like the Brock Lesnars, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, those guys that are right there on top, I would just wait and see, because ... whoever buys it, I think those guys there are going to be there.

What about AEW talent, stars that have their contracts coming up? For example, FTR has said their contract looks to be coming up in April, they're going to take some time off AEW TV. If you were them, would you start the talks with WWE now, or do you wait to see how a sale plays out if you're coming from the outside, looking to come in kind of deal?

You need to wait until the sale is finalized, then that way you'll know exactly how to negotiate. Right now, you don't know whether that's true or not. Like I said, it is not final that it's even sold, it's a rumor. So I would wait until the finalization, until you find out exactly who owns it, then you'll know how to negotiate.

McMahon Family Executive Shuffle

There are other ramifications coming out of everything right now. Stephanie McMahon, she put in her formal resignation as the co-CEO ... She's out, she's going to go be a mom and a wife at home now for the foreseeable future and maybe do some charitable stuff. What do you think about the decision here by Steph to completely leave, and what should we take away from the fact Stephanie's completely walking away from everything?

I think that she's a mom now, she's got kids. And it's really great to be at home with your kids and your family if you've been in this business. Stephanie has traveled her whole entire life, had to have a nanny and everything to take care of the kids, so that's kind of rough. So I think Stephanie may be just kind of tired of all the mess and just want to go home and enjoy the rest of her life. Like I say, a lot of wrestlers now that are not there and they wonder why, but a lot of guys, they're happy. Just take me, for instance, I'm happy.

I sleep in my own bed every night. I'm my own boss, nobody tells me what to do. I'm not on the contract, I ain't got to keep my mouth closed or worried about if I'm going to get fired if I don't say something or if I get fired if I don't do something. That's a lot of pressure on you, man. I got all that pressure off of me, so I'm just glad to be at home and enjoying the rest of my life. And maybe that's what Stephanie wants to do, is sit at home with the kids and enjoy the rest of her life. They got plenty of money, they can live good.

That's the thing, is she's made that choice, but her husband, Triple H, Hunter, Paul, whatever you want to call him, has made the decision at least for the time being to stay. Now, do you believe that Hunter is going to be able to retain the position of head of WWE creative for the foreseeable future?

Well, I would certainly hope so, but like I said, you just never know. Once you come under new ownership, maybe you got to go by their rules and regulations. Maybe they may want him and maybe they may not, I just don't know. But like I said, I certainly hope he stays around. Him and Vince, they did a great job and I think they will continue to do that.

As much as the new ownership could affect Hunter, I was thinking more along the lines of Vince. I mean, with Vince around and seemingly wanting to engage with the company again, do you think it's just a matter of time before he decides he wants to take back over WWE creative, or do you think he'll allow Hunter to keep the job?

Well, I think he will allow Hunter to keep the job, and I think him and Hunter will just work closely together like they've always been, that's what I think will be. Because Hunter did a great job there, Hunter was Vince's right hand man. He made a lot of good decisions, a lot of things you don't agree with, with him and Vince I guess, but that's the job. Everything ain't going to be rosie-dozy every day. Like I said, I think Hunter did a great job and I hope he certainly stays around.

The State Of AEW

With everything kind of going on over in WWE world, do you think that it affects what's going on with AEW in any way? I mean, it does at the very least look like AEW's going to be renegotiating their TV rights fees in the next year, just like WWE. Does this affect AEW in any way, what's going on with WWE, in your opinion?

No, I don't think so. I think what AEW needs to do is just keep running. Quit worrying about what's going on with WWE, keep doing what you're doing. Because you never know, we don't know what's really happening with this in the long run. It may end up where AEW come out on top, we just don't know.

Do you think AEW has done a good job picking up momentum since All Out and the controversy around CM Punk and The Elite and everything?

They've picked up a little bit of momentum. A lot of things I see that I don't agree with them, but Tony Khan's the boss there, so that's his decision. And like I said, the thing with CM Punk, I'm a big fan of Punk's, good friend of him. I can't get mad with a man for speaking his mind. Back in the day there were a lot of guys that wanted to speak out about stuff, but you couldn't. Like I said earlier, you'd get fired or you get buried on TV. Now, when a guy comes out and speak about that now, basically, you don't have to worry about that. So I just thank him for bringing a lot of stuff to the light so people will really know what's going on and know what guys really have to go through to keep that job.

It's an interesting thing, just as a kind of side tangent. In wrestling, you always wanting to keep kayfabe about the storyline stuff, but it's weird when you're starting to get expected to keep kayfabe about your real life stuff too. You have to present an alternate reality about your own personal life, not this character you're playing in the ring. Anyway, what do you think about MJF, do you like MJF?

I like him. He's another guy, he's got great mic skills and then he's another guy that will speak his mind. Yeah, I love him.

Somebody else who's obviously spoken their mind that's getting a lot of attention here, I kind of wanted to get your thoughts on, is Mercedes Mone, formerly Sasha Banks. She's going to be wrestling for New Japan, but everybody thought she was going to be on AEW Dynamite last night ... and then she didn't appear on the show. Do you have any thoughts about AEW having this hype, whether they intended it or not, that this person was going to show up and then this person doesn't show up as part of the show?

You never know what's going on there. And I think with AEW, they wanted the hype, to have Sasha Banks come up from WWE and walk out on their TV. That's a big hype right there, and that's what I think AEW was expecting. And a lot of the fans, they wanted to see her make the move since she come out and spoke about what was happening with her. I don't know what happened there, but that was a big missed opportunity. I wish it would've happened, that would've been a huge pop.

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