It’s now been 10 days since news came out of WWE headquarters that Shane McMahon would be leaving the company at the end of the year.

The shocking announcement, issued at the end of a workweek, and with little fanfare, seemingly came out of left field.

For years it had been widely assumed that the only son of pro wrestling’s most powerful man would be handed the keys to the kingdom once Vincent Kennedy McMahon retired.

But it also was no secret that Vince’s daughter, “billion-dollar princess” Stephanie McMahon-Levesque, had become one of the most influential figures in the company in her role as head of creative. Her business and personal relationship with hubby Triple H (Paul Levesque) has put the power pair at the top of the pecking order.

Big brother Shane, apparently, was the odd man out.

Speculation has spread like wildfire since the announcement, although none of the possible scenarios have been confirmed.

Some believe the 39-year-old McMahon, WWE’s Executive Vice President of Global Media, resigned in order to work for mother Linda’s Senate campaign.

Others say McMahon, with his substantial financial assets, might even want to start his own wrestling promotion.

But it could be as simple as McMahon wanting to venture out on his own and see what he can accomplish outside a company that has been in his family for more than five decades. Shane has had a reputation of being a risk-taker, not at all unlike his father in the early days, and he has expressed interest in other fields, most notably the increasingly popular mixed martial arts genre.

What most sources inside and outside the business believe is nothing more than what’s been widely assumed for the past several years. And that is Stephanie and Triple H being the chosen ones to take over the reins for Vince when that day comes.

Shane, who was instrumental in turning WWE.com into one of the most visited sites on the Web, will leave on Jan. 1, 2010. He said his decision to leave his executive position was a surprise even to himself.

“I have never even considered a future outside the walls of the WWE,” he said on the company’s Web site. “However, sometimes life takes an unexpected turn and while it is the most difficult decision I have ever made, it is time for me to move on.”

McMahon, a fourth-generation wrestling promoter who started on the ground floor working with the ring crew, said he would remain a fan forever.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank my father for the incredible education working with him has provided and for giving me the opportunity to play a role in building WWE into the global phenomenon that it is today. I am extremely proud to have been the fourth generation in this business, and I am grateful for everyday I was able to work along side not only my own, but the entire WWE family.”

The elder McMahon seemed disappointed — almost blind-sided — by his son’s decision.

“Even though I am personally saddened by Shane’s decision to leave the company, I am proud of the enormous contributions he has made,” said the WWE chairman and CEO. “He will unquestionably bring passion, commitment and extensive business experience to any endeavor he pursues.”

It’s just the latest of significant moves in the company hierarchy. Linda McMahon recently resigned from her position as WWE CEO to enter the political ring in an attempt to become the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut.

A number of questions remain concerning Shane McMahon’s departure. One thing, though, is for certain.

The path is now clear for Stephanie — and Paul Levesque — to take control of the company when Vince decides it’s time to step down.

Booker, whose recent actions and locker-room demeanor have ruffled feathers among TNA management, did a quick stretcher job at last weekend’s Bound For Glory pay-per-view, which appears to be his last performance with the company.

Booker reportedly has been telling friends that he has a WWE job waiting for him, although that seems far from certain as he has two Wellness Policy violations on his record there.

Booker, who debuted in TNA in November 2007, boasted in an interview earlier this year with the Hit The Ropes show that he could see himself in a major program with Randy Orton. He added that he was always thinking about his “next career,” and that he was using his many accents to promote himself for future movies or TV roles.

“Hollywood is always looking. I don’t just think about the wrestling audience,” Booker said. “There are a lot of roles that need to be filled. So they’re looking for people that can who can do the scenes as well.”

Ross visited a neurologist in Oklahoma on Wednesday to determine that he did have a “full-blown Bell’s palsy” attack. He was scheduled for an MRI later in the week to determine if there was any damage to his brain during his third attack. The Oklahoman said he can talk out of the left side of his mouth, but his face has drooped on the right side.

“My face may be sagging, my right eye may be not so good, my tongue is numb, my head aches and my right ear is sensitive to sharp noises, but my heart and my soul are stout and my desire to get back in the game has never been stronger,” Ross posted on his blog.

“For those fans that think that this is the end for me or the end is near ... I suggest you rethink your position. I won’t allow your views to adversely affect me because I still love to play the game. I am an old school guy who still loves calling wrestling matches and sitting at ringside soaking up the adrenaline from the fans.”

Hopefully J.R. will be back at the mic sooner rather than later since he remains one of the company’s most valuable commodities.

The 56-year-old former Intercontinental champion probably didn’t help his chances with a recent response to that very question on The Mayhem radio show.

“I’m not sitting here like a dog waiting on a bone. If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. If for some reason I’m booked that weekend somewhere, I’m not going to cancel my booking for the Hall of Fame. I will continue on doing what I do, because this independent thing I’ve been doing for so long has fed my family, kept me alive and kept me in the spotlight, and I will not give that up for one payday from the WWE.”

It’s doubtful, though, that Honky would have to cancel a booking since it’s quite unlikely WWE would notify him at the last minute. And it’s even more unlikely that Honky would pass up the opportunity to add HOF to his resume.

“This is a company, the WWE, that office is extremely unpredictable. Just when you think you have the answer to the question, they change the question,” added HTM, who showed up to induct Koko B. Ware into the WWE Hall in April.

The 28-year-old is now being billed from Ghana, West Africa, where he was born Kofi Sarkodie-Mensah. Kingston’s parents moved to the U.S. in 1981 when he was an infant, but he grew up in Cambridge, Mass., where he wrestled in high school. He graduated from Boston College with a degree in communications.

The series will air next spring on NBC-TV.

Unlike some previous celebrity hosts, Snoop Dog exhibited knowledge of the business, proving he was a true WWE fan, and didn’t take away any of the wrestling thunder on the show.

Word has surfaced, though, that McGuinness approached the company only after WWE rescinded its contract offer as the results of the wrestler’s pre-contract screening reportedly turned up injury issues that led to the company backing off on their interest in signing him.

McGuinness disputed those reports in an interview with The Daily Star.

“I had a clean bill of health from my orthopedic guy and my local doctor, so it’s not about that,” he said. “I don’t hold against anything against them, it was a business decision, and they were only doing what they think is best for them.”

Cade, who was with WWE from 2001-2008, has been assigned to the company’s Florida Championship Wrestling developmental circuit.

Cade was released last October while serving as Chris Jericho’s second in his program with Shawn Michaels.

The former Chicago Bears running back and current Chicago-based sportscaster had done the race twice before.

Mike Mooneyham can be reached by phone at (843) 937-5517 or by e-mail at mooneyham@postandcourier.com.