|Traded as||NYSE: WWE|
|Founded||January 7, 1952 (promotion - as Capitol Wrestling Corporation)
February 21, 1980 (corporation)
Titan Sports Inc.:
|Headquarters||Stamford, Connecticut, United States|
|Key people||Vince McMahon
(Chairman and CEO)
Paul "Triple H" Levesque
(EVP - Talent, Live Events and Creative)
(CFO and CSO)
(EVP - Television Production and Executive Producer)
(President - WWE Studios)
Michelle D. Wilson
(CMO and CRO)
|Products||Television, publishing, movies, Internet, merchandise, streaming network service, home video, live events, Video games, and toys|
|Revenue||$508.0 Million (2013)|
|Operating income||$5.9 Million (2013)|
|Profit||$2.8 Million (2013)|
|Total assets||$378.46 Million (2013)|
|Total equity||$252.4 Million (2013)|
World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (also known as WWE, Inc.), 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 approximately 320 televised and non-televised events a year, and broadcasting to about 36 million viewers in more than 150 countries.
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.
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 Triple H, 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.
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.
- 1 Company history
- 1.1 Capitol Wrestling Corporation (1952–63)
- 1.2 World Wide Wrestling Federation (1963–79)
- 1.3 World Wrestling Federation / Titan Sports Inc. (1979–99)
- 1.4 World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. (1999–2002)
- 1.5 World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. / WWE (2002–present)
- 2 Wellness Program
- 3 WWE stock and corporate governance
- 4 Legal disputes
- 5 Expansion beyond wrestling
- 6 Championships and accomplishments
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Capitol Wrestling Corporation (1952–63)
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 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. 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 (1963–79)
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. 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 championship 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; it ran its major arenas monthly rather than weekly or bi-weekly, usually featuring a babyface champion wrestling various heels in programs that consisted of one to three matches. 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.
World Wrestling Federation / Titan Sports Inc. (1979–99)
The Golden Era (1980–92)
In March 1979, for marketing purposes, the World Wide Wrestling Federation was renamed the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). That same year, the son of Vincent J. McMahon, Vincent K. McMahon, founded Titan Sports, Inc., originally in Massachusetts, and was incorporated on February 21, 1980. The younger McMahon bought his father's stock in the WWF in 1982, effectively seizing control of the company. Seeking to make the WWF the premier wrestling promotion in the world, he began an expansion process that fundamentally changed the industry.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, McMahon noted:
|“||In the old days, there were wrestling fiefdoms all over the country, each with its own little lord in charge. Each little lord respected the rights of his neighboring little lord. No takeovers or raids were allowed. There were maybe 30 of these tiny kingdoms in the U.S. and if I hadn't bought out my dad, there would still be 30 of them, fragmented and struggling. I, of course, had no allegiance to those little lords.||”|
Upon taking over the company, McMahon immediately worked to get WWF programming on syndicated television all across the United States. This angered other promoters and disrupted the well-established "boundaries" of the different wrestling promotions. In addition, the company used income generated by advertising, television deals, and tape sales to secure talent from rival promoters.
McMahon gained significant traction when he hired AWA talent Hulk Hogan, who had achieved popularity outside of wrestling, notably for his appearance in Rocky III as Thunderlips. McMahon signed Roddy Piper as Hogan's rival, and then shortly afterward signed Jesse Ventura. Other wrestlers took part of the roster, such as André the Giant, Jimmy Snuka, The Magnificent Muraco, The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Junkyard Dog, Paul Orndorff, Greg Valentine and Ricky Steamboat.
The WWF would tour nationally in a venture that would require a huge capital investment, one that placed the WWF on the verge of financial collapse. The future of McMahon's experiment 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 it was intended 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. 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.
New Generation Era (1993–97)
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. 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.
In 1993, the WWF broke new ground in televised professional wrestling with the debut 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. 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 (also known as Razor Ramon), and Kevin Nash (also known as Diesel).
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. 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. 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. 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.
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 the rights to WCW's trademarks, tape library, contracts and other properties from AOL Time Warner for a number reported to be around $7 million. Shortly after WrestleMania X-Seven, the WWF launched the ill-fated 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.
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.
On April 7, 2011, WWE corporate announced that the company was ceasing use of the full name "World Wrestling Entertainment" and would henceforth refer to itself solely as "WWE", making the latter an orphan initialism. This was said to reflect WWE's global entertainment expansion away from the ring with the ultimate goal of acquiring entertainment companies and putting a focus on television, live events, and film production. WWE noted that their new company model was put into effect with the relaunch of Tough Enough, being a non–scripted program (contrary to the scripted nature of professional wrestling) and with the launch of the WWE Network (at the time scheduled to launch in 2012; later pushed back to 2014). However, the legal name of the company remains as "World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc."
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.
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.
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.
The World Wrestling Federation had a drug-testing policy in place as early as 1987, initially ran by an in-house administrator. In 1991, wrestlers were subjected to independent testings for anabolic steroids for the first time. The independent testing was ceased in 1996.
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. The policy tests for recreational drug use and abuse of prescription medication, including anabolic steroids. 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.
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.
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.
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, which can be potentially fatal if gone undiagnosed. The ailment was discovered while Assad was going through a routine Wellness Policy checkup.
WWE stock and corporate governance
On October 19, 1999, WWF, which had been owned previously by parent company Titan Sports, launched an initial public offering as a publicly traded company, trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) with the issuance of stock then valued at $172.5 million. The company has traded on the NYSE since its launch under ticker symbol WWE.
The company has actively marketed itself as a publicly traded company through presentations at investor conferences and other investor relations initiatives. In June 2003, the company began paying a dividend on its shares of $0.04 per share. In June 2011, the company cut its dividend from $0.36 to $0.12.
In 2014, WWE's stock value underwent a significant correction, losing 63.1 percent, or $1.4 billion, of its market capitalization after they released that there WWE Network only had 667,000 subscribers when the goal is 1million as well as the disappointment of WWE TV deal. Lemelson Capital Management, an investment management firm, released a report on March 17, 2014 saying the stock was substantially overvalued and should be shorted. In its short thesis and again on April 8, 2014, the firm criticized what it said were deficiencies in the company’s executive management team and announced that it was short WWE stock. The report placed fair value of WWE shares (which closed that day at $30.37) between $8.25 and $11.88. Following release of the Lemelson Capital report, WWE’s stock price plummeted 63.1 percent over eight weeks, closing at $11.27 on May 16, 2014, representing a $1.4 billion loss in the company's market capitalization.
Lemelson Capital Management criticized WWE's executive management for what it said was "a period of ongoing losses, execution failures and material misstatements." Several hours after the firm's announcement, former Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti announced that his law firm would begin an investigation into whether WWE had violated state or federal securities law. The firm simultaneously announced that it had covered its short position and taken a stake in the company at the substantially lower price. The Lemelson Capital report also was followed by broad criticism of WWE's management by financial media.
As of 2014, the company’s Board of Directors has nine members: Vince McMahon, the company’s Chairman of the Board and CEO; Stuart U. Goldfarb, President of Fullbridge, Inc.; Patricia A. Gottesman, former President and CEO of Crimson Hexagon; David Kenen, the former Executive Vice President of the Hallmark Channel; Joseph H. Perkins, former President of Communications Consultants; Frank A. Riddick, III, CEO of Shale-Inland Group, Inc.; Jeffrey R. Speed, former Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Six Flags; Kevin Dunn, WWE’s Executive Producer; and Basil Devito, WWE's Senior Advisor of Business Strategy.
"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.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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 WWF 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
|Championship||Current champion(s)||Date won||Event||Previous champion(s)|
|WWE World Heavyweight Championship||John Cena||June 29, 2014||Money in the Bank||Vacated|
|WWE Intercontinental Championship||The Miz||July 20, 2014||Battleground||Vacated|
|WWE United States Championship||Sheamus||May 5, 2014||Raw||Dean Ambrose|
|WWE Tag Team Championship||The Usos
(Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso)
|March 3, 2014||Raw||The New Age Outlaws
(Billy Gunn and Road Dogg)
|WWE Divas Championship||AJ Lee||June 30, 2014||Raw||Paige|
|Accomplishment||Latest winner||Date won|
|Royal Rumble||Batista||January 26, 2014|
|Money in the Bank||Seth Rollins||June 29, 2014|
|André the Giant Memorial Trophy||Cesaro||April 6, 2014|
Developmental territory champions
|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||Charlotte||May 29, 2014||NXT Takeover||Vacated|
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