Why did Shane McMahon leave WWE in 2009?
Why did WWE's first fourth-generation character leave the company that was his birthright?
Shane McMahon is Vince McMahon’s only son and his firstborn child, as well as the first fourth-generation figure in WWE history. He worked for WWE in different roles, both on-screen and behind the scenes for twenty years, filling a wide variety of roles.
Yet, WWE announced Shane’s departure from the company in October 2009, after he had spent some twenty years working for the promotion.
So why did this happen?
His first run
Shane McMahon spent twenty years working for WWE in different roles. As a young man, he spent a lot of time doing non-creative roles such as a referee, backstage official, and as one of the main people behind the launch of WWF.com, which was WWE’s official website at the time.
Shane didn’t become an important on-screen figure until 1998, as the feud between ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and Shane’s father, Vince began to take form. Shane gradually grew from being just another official helping Vince in his war against Austin, to playing the role of the spoiled son that flaunted his wealth and power.
Shane became a major player on WWE programming and remained that way from 1999 to about 2003. In that time, Shane had taken part in numerous high-profile matches and feuds. These included his famous match with Kurt Angle which led to glass being shattered, his role in the 'Invasion' storyline, and getting his testicles electrocuted by Kane.
Over this period, Shane developed a reputation for being a gutsy daredevil who, despite not being a formally trained professional wrestler, was more than willing to put his body through unimaginable damage just to entertain the fans. This is a reputation he has maintained to this day, which is why he still does all those crazy jumps and extremely dangerous bumps.
On October 16, 2009, WWE announced that Shane McMahon was resigning from WWE effective January 1, 2010, ending his 20-year tenure with the promotion. This took many people by surprise, given that he was a prominent figure backstage as well as on-screen throughout the years.
No official reason was ever given at the time, and the only statement Shane released on the subject was vague and ambiguous:
“Having been associated with this organization for the majority of my life, I feel this is the opportune time in my career to pursue outside ventures.”
That didn’t give anyone much explanation as to why Shane left WWE, and only raised further speculation on the fans’ part. After all, it was logical that Shane would follow in Vince’s footsteps and become the next owner of WWE.
A lot of people speculated at the time that Shane was being ‘pushed out’ by the combined efforts of Stephanie and Triple H. This was based on rumours that Vince might’ve felt closer to Stephanie than Shane, and her ‘daddy’s girl’ gimmick wasn’t actually that much of a gimmick.
However, in 2016, a month or so after his WWE return, Mick Foley conducted an interview with Shane McMahon on the WWE return, and Shane McMahon said that business was affecting his personal relationship with Vince McMahon and the rest of the family, and he couldn't let that happen. This caused his departure.
As a result, curious fans proposed that Shane didn’t have a future in WWE, because the keys to the kingdom had already been granted to Stephanie McMahon and Triple H.
While he was away, Shane McMahon pursued other business-related ventures to show that he had actual business savvy that went beyond the wrestling business. He created an entertainment service company called YOU On Demand, which was based in China.
He has also done work in international sports management, and is currently a part owner of a motorcycle shop in Brooklyn.
Shane McMahon returned to WWE in February 2016 to interrupt Stephanie and Vince as the latter was presenting the former with a phony award. Shane proceeded to cut a scathing promo lambasting Stephanie for her poor management of WWE in his absence and how things had taken a drastic downward turn after she took control of major aspects of the WWE’s day-to-day activities.
That led to an on-screen rivalry between the McMahon siblings (because we haven’t seen that before), with each one of them being in control of one of WWE’s regular TV shows. Although this rivalry betwixt Shane and Stephanie has played out mainly on-screen, there have also been reports that it’s playing out backstage as well.
Shane’s return proved that the phrase ‘never say never in WWE’ really does apply. Few people thought that Shane would ever return to WWE after departing under such questionable circumstances. Yet now we see him on a weekly basis on SmackDown and, based on fan reaction, has been a positive addition to the regular SD Live roster ever since.
As long as he continues to elicit such a positive reaction from WWE’s audience, you can be certain he’ll stick around. Even if the rumoured rivalry between him and Stephanie does get stronger and more pronounced in WWE’s backstage environment, it looks like Shane won’t be leaving this time around.
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