WWE

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World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.
Trading name WWE
Type Public
Traded as NYSEWWE
Industry Professional wrestling, sports entertainment
Founded January 7, 1952 (promotion - as Capitol Wrestling Corporation)[1]
February 21, 1980 (corporation)[2]
Founder(s) Capitol Wrestling:
Jess McMahon
Toots Mondt
Titan Sports Inc.:
Vince McMahon
Headquarters Stamford, Connecticut, United States
Area served Worldwide
Key people Vince McMahon
(Chairman, CEO & Majority controlling shareholder - 70%)
Stephanie McMahon
(CBO)
Paul Levesque
(EVP - Talent, Live Events & Creative)
George Barrios
(CFO & CSO)
Kevin Dunn
(EVP - Television Production)
Michael Luisi
(President - WWE Studios)
Michelle D. Wilson
(CMO & CRO)
Products Television, publishing, movies, Internet, merchandise, streaming network service, home video, and live events
Services Licensing
Revenue Increase $659.33 Million (2013)[3]
Operating income Increase $138.00 Million (2013)[3]
Profit Increase $99.00 Million (2013)[3]
Total assets Increase $3.372 Billion (2013)[3]
Total equity Increase $2.208 Billion (2013)[3]
Owner(s) Vince McMahon[4]
Employees 700+ [5]
Divisions
Subsidiaries
Website Official website
Official Corporate website

WWE, also known by its legal name of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.,[7][8][9] is an American publicly traded, privately controlled entertainment company that deals primarily in professional wrestling, with major revenue sources also coming from film, music, product licensing and direct product sales.

"WWE" also refers to the professional wrestling promotion itself, founded by Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt in 1952, and, as of 2014, the largest in the world, holding about 320 house shows a year and broadcasting to about 36 million viewers in more than 150 countries.[10]

As in other professional wrestling promotions, WWE shows are not legitimate sporting contests, but purely entertainment-based, featuring storyline-driven, scripted and choreographed matches, though they often include moves that can put performers at risk of injury if not performed correctly. WWE first acknowledged this publicly in 1981, breaking the gentlemen's agreement that previously existed among promoters.[11]

Vince McMahon is the majority owner, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of the company. Together with his wife Linda, children Shane and Stephanie, and son-in-law Paul "Triple H" Levesque, the McMahon family holds approximately 70% of WWE's equity and 96% of the voting power in the company. The company's headquarters are located in Stamford, Connecticut, with offices in New York City, Los Angeles, London, Shanghai, Tokyo, Singapore, and Mumbai.[12][13]

The promotion was previously called the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC), the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Since 2011, the company has officially branded itself solely as "WWE", which is no longer an initialism, though the company's legal name was not changed.[9][14]

Company history

Capitol Wrestling Corporation (1952-1963)

Roderick James "Jess" McMahon was a successful boxing promoter who began working with Tex Rickard in 1926. With the help of Rickard, he began promoting boxing at the third Madison Square Garden. A few years prior, professional wrestler Joseph Raymond "Toots" Mondt had created a new challenge of professional wrestling that he called “Slam Bang Western Style Wrestling”. He convinced wrestler Ed Lewis and his manager Billy Sandow to implement this new solution into the wrestling industry. Following this, he formed a promotion with both men and persuaded many wrestlers to sign contracts with their Gold Dust Trio. After much success, a disagreement over power caused the trio to dissolve and, with it, their promotion. Mondt later formed partnerships with several other promoters, including Jack Curley in New York City. Mondt eventually took over the New York wrestling scene, due to the fact Curley was dying, with the aid of several bookers, one of whom was Jess McMahon.

Together, McMahon and Mondt created the Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd. (CWC), which later joined the National Wrestling Alliance in 1953. In November 1954, Jess McMahon died and Ray Fabiani, one of Mondt's associates, brought in Vincent James McMahon.[15] McMahon and Mondt were very successful and soon controlled approximately 70% of the NWA's booking, largely due to their dominance in the heavily populated Northeast region. In 1963, McMahon and Mondt left the NWA and created the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF).

World Wide Wrestling Federation (1963-1979)

In early 1963, the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) was formed by McMahon and Mondt, following a dispute with the NWA over "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers being booked to hold the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.[16] Both men left the company in protest following the incident and formed the WWWF in the process, awarding Rogers the new WWWF World Championship in April of that year. He lost the title to Bruno Sammartino a month later on May 17, 1963, after suffering a heart attack a week before the match.

The WWWF operated in a conservative manner compared to other pro wrestling territories;[17] it ran its major arenas monthly rather than weekly or bi-weekly, usually featuring a babyface champion wrestling various heels in programs the consisted of one to three matches.[18] After gaining a television program deal and turning preliminary wrestler Lou Albano as a manager for Sammartino’s heel opponents, the WWWF was doing sell out business by 1970.

Mondt left the company in the late sixties and although the WWWF had withdrawn from the NWA, Vince McMahon, Sr. quietly re-joined in 1971. At the annual meeting of the NWA in 1983, the McMahons and WWWF employee Jim Barnett all withdrew from the organization.[16]

World Wrestling Federation / Titan Sports Inc. (1979-1999)

The Golden Era (1980-1992)

In March 1979, for marketing purposes, the World Wide Wrestling Federation was renamed the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).[19] That same year, the son of Vincent J. McMahon, Vincent K. McMahon, founded Titan Sports, Inc.[20] and was incorporated on February 21, 1980. The elder McMahon had long since established the northeastern territory as one of the most vibrant members of the NWA. He had long since recognized that professional wrestling was more about entertainment than actual sport. Against his father's wishes, McMahon began an expansion process that fundamentally changed the industry.

McMahon's vision for his promotion was starting to become possible when he hired AWA talent Hulk Hogan, who had achieved popularity outside of wrestling, notably for his appearance in Rocky III as Thunderlips.[21] McMahon signed Rowdy Roddy Piper as Hogan's rival, and then shortly afterward signed Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Other wrestlers took part of the roster, such as André the Giant, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, The Magnificent Muraco, Junkyard Dog, "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik.

Vince McMahon, the owner of the WWE

McMahon was able to secure television deals, and WWF was being shown across the United States. This angered other promoters and disrupted the well-established 'boundaries' of the different wrestling promotions. The syndication of WWF programming forced other promotions to come into direct competition. To make matters worse, McMahon used the income generated by advertising, television deals, and tape sales to poach talent from rival promoters.

The WWF would tour nationally in a venture that would required a huge capital investment; one that placed the WWF on the verge of financial collapse. The future of not just McMahon's experiment, but also the WWF, the NWA, and the whole industry came down to the success or failure of McMahon's groundbreaking concept, WrestleMania. WrestleMania was a major pay-per-view success; and was marketed as the Super Bowl of professional wrestling. However, the concept of a wrestling supercard was nothing new in North America; the NWA had been running Starrcade a few years prior. In McMahon's eyes, however, what separated WrestleMania from other supercards was that he wanted it to be accessible to those who did not watch wrestling. He invited celebrities such as Mr. T, Muhammad Ali, and Cyndi Lauper to participate in the event, as well as securing a deal with MTV to provide coverage. The event and hype surrounding it led to the term Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection, due to the cross-promotion of pop-culture and professional wrestling.

The WWF business expanded significantly on the shoulders of McMahon and his babyface hero, Hulk Hogan, for the next several years. The introduction of Saturday Night's Main Event on NBC in 1985 marked the first time that professional wrestling had ever been broadcast on network television since the 1950s. The 1980s 'Wrestling Boom' peaked with WrestleMania III at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1987, which set an attendance record of 93,173.[22] A rematch of the Wrestlemania III main event between WWF champion Hulk Hogan and André the Giant took place on The Main Event soon after and was seen by 33 million people, and is still the record for the most watched wrestling match in North America.[23]

New Generation Era (1993-1997)

The WWF was hit with allegations of steroid abuse and distribution in 1992 and was followed by allegations of sexual harassment by WWF employees the following year.[24] McMahon was eventually exonerated, but it was a public relations nightmare for the WWF. The steroid trial cost the company an estimated $5 million at a time when revenues were at an all-time low. This helped drive many WWF wrestlers to the only major competition at the time, World Championship Wrestling (WCW), including former WWF Champion Hulk Hogan. During this period, the WWF promoted itself under the banner of "The New WWF Generation", featuring Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Razor Ramon, Bret Hart and The Undertaker, in an effort to promote and push young talent into the spotlight. A few remaining superstars of the 1980s like Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, Tito Santana, and Bob Backlund would mainly be used as enhancement talent.

In 1993, the WWF broke new ground in televised professional wrestling with the début of its cable program WWF Monday Night Raw. After becoming a runaway success, WCW countered in 1995 with its own Monday night program, WCW Monday Nitro, which broadcast in the same timeslot as Raw.[25] The two programs would trade wins in the ensuing ratings competition (known as the Monday Night Wars) until mid-1996. At this point, WCW began a nearly two-year domination that was largely fueled by the introduction of the New World Order (nWo), a stable led by former WWF performers Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall (a.k.a. Razor Ramon), and Kevin Nash (a.k.a. Diesel).[26]

The Attitude Era (1997-2001)

As the Monday Night Wars continued between Monday Night Raw and WCW's Monday Nitro, the WWF would transform itself from a family-friendly product into a more adult oriented product, known as The Attitude Era. The era was spearheaded by Vince McMahon and head writer Vince Russo, who drastically changed the way professional wrestling television was written.

1997 ended with McMahon facing real-life controversy following Bret Hart's controversial departure from the company, later known as the Montreal Screwjob.[27] This proved to be one of several founding factors in the launch of the Attitude Era as well as the creation of McMahon's on-screen character, "Mr. McMahon".

Prior to the Montreal Screwjob which took place at the 1997 Survivor Series, former WCW talent were being hired by the WWF, including Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind and Vader. Steve Austin was slowly brought in as the new face of the company despite being promoted as an anti-hero, starting with his Austin 3:16 speech shortly after defeating Jake Roberts in the tournament finals at the King of the Ring pay-per-view in 1996.[28] The creation of the Mr. McMahon character soon led to the Austin vs. McMahon feud, the central storyline during the Attitude Era. The feud even involved former boxing champion, Mike Tyson, which helped give the company mainstream media attention and a significant increase in ratings.

World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. (1999-2002)

On April 29, 1999, the WWF made its return to terrestrial television by launching a special program known as SmackDown! on the fledgling UPN network. The Thursday night show became a weekly series on August 26, 1999. In 2000 the WWF, in collaboration with television network NBC, announced the creation of the XFL, a new professional football league that debuted in 2001.[29] The league had high ratings for the first few weeks, but initial interest waned and its ratings plunged to dismally low levels (one of its games was the lowest-rated prime-time show in the history of American television). NBC walked out on the venture after only one season, but McMahon intended to continue alone. However, after being unable to reach a deal with UPN, McMahon shut down the XFL.[30]

Acquisition of WCW and ECW

By the fall of 1999, The Attitude Era had turned the tide of the Monday Night Wars into WWF's favor. After Time Warner merged with AOL, Ted Turner's control over WCW was considerably reduced, and the newly merged company announced a complete lack of interest in professional wrestling as a whole, and decided to sell WCW in its entirety. Although Eric Bischoff, whom Time Warner fired as WCW president in October 1999, was nearing a deal to purchase the company, in March 2001 McMahon acquired WCW from AOL Time Warner for a number reported to be around $7 million.[31] Shortly after WrestleMania X-Seven, the WWF launched the Invasion storyline integrating the incoming talent roster from WCW and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). With this purchase, WWF now became by far the largest wrestling promotion in the world. The assets of ECW, which had folded after filing for bankruptcy protection in April 2001, were purchased by WWE in mid-2003.[32]

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. / WWE (2002-present)

On May 5, 2002, World Wrestling Federation Entertainment announced it was changing both its company name and the name of its wrestling promotion to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Although mainly caused by an unfavorable ruling in its dispute with the World Wide Fund for Nature regarding the "WWF" initialism, the company noted it provided an opportunity to emphasize its focus on entertainment.[33]

Brand extension

In March 2002, WWE decided to create two separate rosters, Raw and SmackDown! due to the overabundance of talent left over from the Invasion storyline. This was dubbed as the WWE Brand Extension. Despite much of the originally drafted talent departing by 2004, WWE continued to separate the shows, taking on younger talent, and holding a Draft Lottery every year. On May 26, 2006, WWE announced the relaunch of Extreme Championship Wrestling as a WWE brand. The new ECW program aired until February 16, 2010.[34]

Beginning with the August 29, 2011, episode of Raw, it was announced that Raw would feature talent from both Raw and SmackDown, and would be known as Raw Supershow (the "Supershow" suffix would be dropped on July 23, 2012). Championships previously exclusive to one show or the other were available for wrestlers from any show to compete for; the "Supershow" format would mark the end of the brand extension, as all programming and live events since the initial announcement was made have featured the full WWE roster.[35]

In 2013, the company built a sports medicine and training center in east Orange County, Florida in partnership with Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. The training facility is targeted at career development for wrestlers and athletic development.[36]

WWE Network

On February, 24, 2014, WWE launched a 24/7 streaming network. The network includes past and present WWE shows, pay-per-views, and shows from the WWE Library.[37]

Wellness Program

The Talent Wellness Program is a comprehensive drug, alcohol, and cardiac screening program initiated in February 2006, shortly after the sudden death of one of their highest profile talents, 38 year-old Eddie Guerrero.[38] The policy tests for recreational drug use and abuse of prescription medication, including anabolic steroids.[38] Under the guidelines of the policy, talent is also tested annually for pre-existing or developing cardiac issues. The drug testing is handled by Aegis Sciences Corporation. The cardiac evaluations are handled by New York Cardiology Associates P.C.[38]

After the double murder and suicide committed by one of its performers, Chris Benoit, with a possible link to steroids abuse encouraged by WWE, the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform requested that WWE turn over any material regarding its talent wellness policy.[39]

In August 2007, the program was defended by WWE and its employees in the wake of several illegal pharmacy busts that linked WWE performers to steroid purchases even after the policy was put into place. Ten professional wrestlers were suspended for violating the Wellness Policy after reports emerged they were all customers of Signature Pharmacy in Orlando, Florida. According to a statement attributed to WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt, an eleventh wrestler was later added to the suspension list.[40][41][42]

Because of the Wellness Policy, physicians were able to diagnose one of its performers with a heart ailment that would otherwise likely have gone unnoticed until it was too late. In August 2007, then-reigning United States Champion Montel Vontavious Porter (real name Hassan Assad) was diagnosed with Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome,[43] which can be potentially fatal if gone undiagnosed. The ailment was discovered while Assad was going through a routine Wellness Policy checkup.

On September 13, 2010, WWE updated their list of banned substances to include muscle relaxers.[44]

Legal disputes

"WWF" name dispute

In 1994, Titan Sports had entered into an agreement with the World Wide Fund for Nature (also trademarked WWF), an environmental organization, regarding Titan's use of the "WWF" acronym, which both organizations had been using since at least March 1979. Under the agreement, Titan had agreed to cease using the written acronym "WWF" in connection with its wrestling promotion, and to minimize (though not eliminate) spoken uses of "WWF" on its broadcasts, particularly in scripted comments. In exchange, the environmental group (and its national affiliates) agreed to drop any pending litigation against Titan, and furthermore agreed not to challenge Titan's use of the full "World Wrestling Federation" name or the promotion's then-current logo.[45]

In 2000, the World Wide Fund for Nature sued World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. in the United Kingdom, alleging various violations of the 1994 agreement.[46] The Court of Appeal agreed that the promotion company had violated the 1994 agreement, particularly in regards to merchandising. The last televised event to market the WWF logo was the UK based pay-per-view Insurrextion 2002. On May 5, 2002, the company launched its "Get The F Out" marketing campaign and changed all references on its website from "WWF" to "WWE", while switching the URL from WWF.com to WWE.com.[33] The next day, a press release announced the official name change from World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. to World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., or WWE, and the change was publicized later that day during a telecast of Monday Night Raw, which was broadcast from the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut.

Following the name change, the use of the WWF "scratch" logo became prohibited on all WWE properties. Additionally, past references to the WWF trademark and initials in 'specified circumstances' became censored.[47] Despite the litigation, WWE was still permitted use of the original WWF logo, which was used from 1979 through 1994 and had been explicitly exempted under the 1994 agreement, as well as the similar "New WWF Generation" logo, which was used from 1994 through 1998. Furthermore, the company could still make use of the full "World Wrestling Federation" and "World Wrestling Federation Entertainment" names without consequence. In 2003, WWE won a limited decision to continue marketing certain classic video games from THQ and Jakks Pacific that contained the WWF "scratch" logo.[48] However, the packaging on those games had all WWF references replaced with WWE.

Starting with the 1,000th episode of Raw in July 2012, the WWF "scratch" logo is no longer censored in archival footage due to WWE reaching a new settlement with the World Wide Fund for Nature.[49] In addition, the WWF initials are no longer censored when spoken or when written in plain text in archival footage. Since then, full-length matches and other segments featuring the WWF initials and "scratch" logo have been added to the WWE website and the WWE Classics on Demand service. This also includes WWE Home Video releases since October 2012 starting with the re-release of Brock Lesnar: Here Comes The Pain.[50] In exchange, WWE is no longer permitted to use the WWF initials or logo in any new, original footage, packaging, or advertising, with any old-school logos for retro-themed programming now using the original WWF logo, but modified without the F.[51]

Expansion beyond wrestling

In addition to licensing wrestling and performers' likenesses to companies such as Acclaim, THQ/2K Sports, and Mattel to produce video games and action figures, WWE has moved into other areas of interest in order to market their product.

Active properties

  • WWE Libraries: A subsidiary of WWE established in 2001 after the acquisition of WCW that owns the largest collection of professional wrestling videos and copyrights.
  • WWE Studios: A subsidiary of WWE created in 2002 to create and develop feature film properties. Formerly known as WWE Films.
  • WWE Music Group: A subsidiary that specializes in compilation albums of WWE wrestlers' entrance themes. The group also releases titles that have been performed by WWE wrestlers.
  • WWE Home Video: A subsidiary that specializes in distributing compilation VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray Disc copies of WWE pay-per-view events, compilations of WWE wrestlers' performances, and biographies of WWE performers.
  • WWE Books: A subsidiary of WWE that serves to publish autobiographies of and fiction based on WWE personalities, behind-the-scenes guides to WWE, illustrated books, calendars, young adult books, and other general "Nonfiction" books.
  • WWE Performance Center: A subsidiary of WWE that serves as the training and performance center for future employees.
  • WWE Kids: A website and comic set aimed at the children's end of the wrestling market, comics are produced bi-monthly. It was launched on April 15, 2008.
  • WWEShop.com: A website located at http://shop.wwe.com/.
  • WWE Jet Services, Inc.: A subsidiary formed in 2013 to manage the financing and operations of the company's fleet of private jets.

Defunct properties

  • World Bodybuilding Federation; A subsidiary of Titan Sports that was launched in 1990 which promoted professional bodybuilding through a television show, magazine, and annual pay-per-view events. It was closed in 1992.
  • XFL: Folded in 2001, was a partially owned subsidiary of WWFE launched in 2000 which comprised eight league-owned professional football teams. The league included television broadcasts on NBC (the other co-owners of the league), UPN and TNN.
  • The World, formerly known as WWF New York: A restaurant, night club, and memorabilia shop in New York City launched in 1999. Closed in 2003. Hard Rock Cafe took the building itself since 2005.
  • WWE Niagara Falls: A retail and entertainment establishment that was located in Niagara Falls, Ontario and owned by WWE. It was open from August 2002 through March 2011.

Championships and accomplishments

Current champions

Championship Current champion(s) Date won Event Previous champion(s)
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Daniel Bryan April 6, 2014 WrestleMania XXX Randy Orton
WWE Intercontinental Championship Big E November 18, 2013 Raw Curtis Axel
WWE United States Championship Dean Ambrose May 19, 2013 Extreme Rules Kofi Kingston
WWE Tag Team Championship The Usos
(Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso)
March 3, 2014 Raw New Age Outlaws
(Billy Gunn & Road Dogg)
WWE Divas Championship Paige April 7, 2014 Raw AJ Lee

Other accomplishments

Accomplishment Latest winner Date won
Royal Rumble Batista January 26, 2014
Money in the Bank
(WWE Championship)
Randy Orton July 14, 2013
Money in the Bank
(World Heavyweight Championship)
Damien Sandow July 14, 2013
André the Giant Memorial Trophy Cesaro April 6, 2014

Developmental territory champions

NXT Wrestling
Championship Current champion(s) Date won Event Previous champion(s)
NXT Championship Adrian Neville February 27, 2014 NXT Arrival Bo Dallas
NXT Tag Team Championship The Ascension
(Konnor and Viktor)
September 12, 2013 NXT Adrian Neville & Corey Graves
NXT Women's Championship Paige June 20, 2013 NXT Inaugural

Defunct championships

See also

References

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External links