Will WWE fans ever be so gullible again? Don’t answer.
Following a taping of "Monday Night Raw" at the Wachovia Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., June 11th, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon entered his limousine and, mere seconds later, "died" in an explosion.
The WWE was quick to issue a statement that the oft-vilified McMahon had finally met his maker – or somebody else, further south.
"…Initial reports indicate that Mr. McMahon is presumed dead. An official investigation into Monday night’s events is currently underway with no one being ruled out as a suspect."
Local authorities began fielding calls from fans and members of the media, the Citizen’s Voice reported. So many, in fact, that the Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department issued a statement of its own.
"…The incident was a staged event, prearranged with Fire Department personnel and authorized by Township Code Enforcement officials," it read. "All necessary precautions were taken during the filming of the event so as to ensure the safety and security of all persons involved in the event. Mr. McMahon was not injured during the event contrary to what is being reported on Internet Web sites and other media sources."
The WWE Web site continues to claim that McMahon is presumed dead and that investigations involving the explosion are under way.
But this hoax could be too real for some fans and investors. Company stock closed at $17.70 at end of day trading June 11th, prior to the airing of the explosion. By June 20th, WWE stock closed at $16.89.
Following an inquiry by CNBC regarding the WWE’s responsibility to its shareholders, the company released a statement that "to date, World Wrestling, Inc. has not received a single inquiry from a shareholder regarding the alleged demise of ‘Mr. McMahon.’ It is well known to our shareholders and our viewers that ‘Mr. McMahon’ is a character portrayed by Vincent Kennedy McMahon, the founder and Chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc."
Even if stockholders are spooked by the stunt, McMahon’s story has at least generated a lot of buzz for the WWE. Online search activity for Vince McMahon has reportedly jumped 9,800 percent since the incident.