World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE  ) shares shot up by more than 17% as reports emerged that former CEO Vince McMahon was returning to the company's Board of Directors to spearhead a potential sale. It's long been rumored that this has been McMahon's end goal especially as the company has gone increasingly mainstream to appeal to a wider audience and abandoned its streaming platform to join Peacock.

It's even being speculated that McMahon will make it a condition of the sale that he retains creative control which was stripped away from him amid his sexual harassment scandal and accusations of payoffs made with company funds. While this legally pushed him away from the company, he remains the majority owner by a wide margin, and his family members are entrenched in key positions with his daughter, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley currently serving as co-CEO. McMahon's return to the Board also increases confidence among buyers that he wouldn't oppose the deal given his majority stake which could be a major impediment otherwise.

While a couple of decades ago, WWE was known for its risque programming that pushed the boundaries of what could be shown on primetime TV, it's now firmly in PG-13 territory that will appeal to all demographics and age groups. Internally, the company believes that it can be another 'Marvel' with its in-ring superstars taking the place of comic book superheroes and similar IP around their product.

The company has hired JPMorgan (JPM  ) to advise it on any potential deals. It's easy to understand the appeal of the WWE for any buyer, especially streamers, who are in a battle for eyeballs and subscriptions. The WWE has a global reach, millions of fans that span generations, and valuable IP to bolster any content library. Like Marvel, the company's IP can be used to sell toys and generate revenue in creative ways.

Due to the increasing likelihood of a deal, WWE's stock has been trending higher over the past year. In fact, it's up nearly 80% over the past year which is quite impressive given the bear market. One clue that the stock was primed for big gains is that it never really experienced significant selling pressure even amid the rough headlines of the past few months. Another is the explosion in TV rights for all types of exclusive content which bodes well for WWE's next TV deal.