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Breaking Vince McMahon's Power Grip on WWE

Most WWE enthusiasts reject the notion that the wrestling juggernaut would ever sell out to a larger entertainment house the way cage-fighting franchise UFC did this summer for some $4 billion. It can even be a sore topic for readers. They don't want to believe that Vince McMahon, a guy who survived being

by the Undertaker, would relinquish his family's empire.

But this week, he sold a ton of WWE stock.

McMahon converted 1.55 million of his Class B shares into Class A shares and sold them for "estate planning purposes." Those shares were worth more than $32 million as of Aug. 16 and they represent about 2 percent of WWE's total stock. McMahon still controls 85 percent of the company's voting power through the rest of his Class B shares and said he doesn't plan to sell any more and that he intends to remain chairman and CEO for the foreseeable future. Even so, this was no small move.

See, there's Vince McMahon, the WWE character. And then there's McMahon the 71-year-old CEO of a public company. That company operates in a changing entertainment-media landscape potentially on the verge of mass consolidation.

McMahon's succession plan is thought to be that he will pass down the $1.6 billion company to his daughter, Stephanie McMahon Levesque, who is WWE's chief brand officer, and her husband, wrestler Paul "Triple H" Levesque, who's...