World Wrestling Entertainment
World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) is a publicly-traded company dealing with professional wrestling entertainment. It also had failed venues in football (the XFL) and body building (the World Bodybuilding Federation). WWE puts on live and telecast wrestling shows, produces video games and licenses various products. The company was previously known was the WWF (World Wrestling Federation), and before 1979 the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), before changing its name in 2002. It is the largest entertainment wrestling organization in the world. Although WWE professes to conduct a sports competition, its events are scripted performances.
Vince McMahon is the majority owner and Chairman of the company and his wife Linda McMahon held the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Together with their children, Executive Vice President of Global Media Shane McMahon and Senior Vice President of Creative Writing Stephanie McMahon, the McMahons hold approximately 70% of WWE's economic interest and 96% of all voting power in the company.
The WWE maintains three promotional brands:
WWE's revenue in fiscal 2006 (from May 2005 to April 2006) was approximately $400 million (US), with a net profit of approximately $47 million. As of August 2006, the company's market capitalization is over $1 billion (US). Its stock is traded on the NYSE.
The World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) was born in 1963 when Vincent J. McMahon, the principal owner of National Wrestling Alliance-affiliated Northeastern promotion Capitol Wrestling, split off his company from the larger NWA, an umbrella organization of "mom and pop" wrestling territories with each promotion staying in its own territory. The company rejoined the NWA as a member in 1971 and was renamed the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1979. Under Vince McMahon, Vincent J. McMahon's son, the WWF broke from the NWA again in 1983 and would start to go national in the 1980s, breaking the unwritten rule of not encroaching on the turf of other regional wrestling territories and angering many other NWA and non-NWA promoters in the process. As his revenue increased, he also started to sign the best known names from other promotions, including the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and the NWA's flagship promotion, Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP).
The breakthrough signing that became the first nationally recognized superstar was former AWA wrestler Hulk Hogan who, due to his appearance in the movie Rocky III, had a national recognition that few other wrestlers could manage. Other big named wrestlers were brought in including Andre the Giant. Superstardom hit paydirt with the production of the first nationwide Pay per view WrestleMania in 1985. Incorporating well known actors such as Mr. T into the production helped to turn the WWF and WrestleMania into a mainstream hit.
Allegations of steroid abuse hit the WWF in 1994 as well as sexual harassment claims. They were a costly public relations nightmare that led to big cuts in salary for the wrestlers and staffs and saw many wrestlers leave for Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling (the former JCP, which Turner bought in 1988), including Hulk Hogan.
Due to the steroid allegations, as well as WCW signing away many wrestlers from the WWF, the company began promoting what they called the New Generation around 1994. This era focused less on wrestlers with bodybuilder physiques and more on performance. The two big names during this time were Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, who were smaller, but were known to be great performers. Other wrestlers who were prominent during this time included the Undertaker, Diesel, and Razor Ramon. Talent who would become prominent in the Attitude Era also began to be shown during this time. Most notably, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, The Rock, and Triple H. In 1996, Diesel (Kevin Nash) and Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) would leave for WCW. Their last night with the company has been known as the "Curtain Call." At a house show at Madison Square Garden, Hall and Nash, along with Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Triple H) and Shawn Michaels broke character to bid each other farewell. The four were part of a backstage group known as "The Kliq," which also consisted of Sean Waltman, who was not with the company at the time. As a result, since Hall and Nash were leaving for WCW and Shawn Michaels was the WWE Champion at the time, only Triple H was punished for the incident. Originally, Triple H was to win the 1996 King of the Ring, but did not. Instead, Stone Cold Steve Austin would win, leading to his now famous Austin 3:16 line and his eventual rise in the company. However, Triple H would win in 1997. Meanwhile, Hall and Nash would start appearing on WCW television in the summer of 1996. Eventually, they would form the heel stable the New World Order, or nWo, with Hulk Hogan.
Stone Cold Steve Austin rose as a star in the late 1990s in what is known as The Attitude Era, which saw a movement away from family fun to attacking authority, more violence, and swearing. The WWF and WCW went head to head during this time, including having competing wrestling shows on Monday nights. Superstars such as The Rock, The Undertaker, Mick Foley, Triple H, and Kane were prominent during this time. The Attitude Era also had controversial storylines, such as the Ministry of Darkness, in which the Undertaker formed a Satanist-like faction. As a response to the nWo, the WWF formed their own faction in D-Generation X, or DX for short. In contrast to the nWo, which had more of a gang mentality, DX took a more juvenile prankster approach. The group was originally composed of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna. After WrestleMania XIV, Michaels would retire from in-ring action, although he would occasionally be a part of WWF storylines. He would actually return to in-ring action on March 21, 2000, at an event in Texas for independent promotion the Texas Wrestling Alliance (a promotion attached to Michaels' wrestling school, the Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy); at that card's main event, Michaels defeated ECW star Justin Credible to win the TWA Heavyweight Championship, only to vacate the title soon afterward. However, his return to WWE would occur at SummerSlam 2002, in a match with Triple H. Triple H took control of DX, and added Sean Waltman, who had been known as the 1-2-3 Kid years prior in WWE, and was known as Syxx in WCW as X-Pac. The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn), who had already been associated with DX formed the DX Army. At SummerSlam 1997, Austin suffered a neck injury during a match with Owen Hart in which Hart botched a piledriver. At Survivor Series 1999, he was written out of WWF storylines in order to have neck surgery that would keep him out of action for the majority of 2000. During Austin's absence, fellow WWF superstar The Rock would begin to rise in popularity. Eventually, he would become just as big as Austin was, becoming the top babyface in the company during Austin's absence. Although some would argue that The Rock became an even bigger star than Austin. It was also during this time another superstar began to rise in Triple H, who had become the top heel in the company. In September 2000, Austin returned to the WWF at the Unforgiven pay-per-view. However, it would be another month or so before he would begin competing in matches on a regular basis. In March 2001, the WWF bought selected assets of WCW (see Going Public below), ending the Monday Night Wars, as well as the Attitude Era. In the years following, many talent from WCW would have runs in WWE. These include Booker T, Buff Bagwell, and Diamond Dallas Page, who were arguably three of the biggest names the WWF brought over in the immediate months following the purchase. Bagwell was released in July 2001, while Booker T and Page would be apart of the Invasion storyline, which ran for the better part of 2001. Other WCW talent who would come over to the WWF included Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, and Rey Mysterio. On March 31, 2003, Goldberg, who was WCW's most famous home-grown talent made his debut in WWE, but he left a year later at WrestleMania XX when his contract expired.
In the summer of 2001, the WWF attempted to negotiate with WCW wrestler, Sting. However, a segment on SmackDown featuring The Rock and Booker T convinced him to decline. For the next 13 years, WWE tried to get Sting, but were unsuccessful. A noticeable attempt was made in 2011, leading up to WrestleMania XXVII, with the 2.21.11 promotion. Many believed this to be Sting, however, it was a promo for the Undertaker. In July 2014, Sting signed a deal with WWE, and anyone who pre-ordered the game WWE 2K15 would receive a code in which they could play as Sting. On November 23, 2014, at Survivor Series, Sting finally made his official WWE debut, 13 years after the purchase of WCW. His first match was at WrestleMania 31, where he lost to Triple H.
From 2002-2008, WWE entered the Ruthless Aggression Era. It retained many aspects of the Attitude Era, but also focused more on in-ring action. Talent who would become prominent during this time period included Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton, CM Punk, and Edge, who had already been with the company for a while but was a mid-carder. Lesnar, Cena, Batista, and Orton all made their television debuts within 2002.
In 2008, WWE started the PG Era. With no competition to worry about, as well as the unwanted attention garnered by the Chris Benoit double murder/suicide, WWE decided to go back to more family-friendly programming similar of the late 1980s to early 1990s. Talent such as Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Ryback, and Dolph Ziggler would become major names.
On February 24, 2014, WWE launched the WWE Network. The network contains the entire past pay-per-view events from the WWF/WWE, WCW, and ECW, as well as original programming and library programming from the Capitol/WWWF/WWF eras and acquired shows from JCP, the AWA, Canadian promotion Stampede Wrestling and other promotions whose program archives were acquired by WWE. It also features Over the Edge 1999, the event in which Owen Hart died from a botched accident, in its entirety, although the fifteen minutes in which paramedics got Hart out of the ring, and the backstage interview with Jeff Jarrett have been edited out. It also features events featuring Chris Benoit, although an advisory is shown prior.
On February 22, 2016, Shane McMahon made his first appearance on WWE programming since 2009. This was to set up a match between McMahon and The Undertaker at WrestleMania 32. Afterward, McMahon would return to Raw, co-running it with his sister, Stephanie McMahon. On May 25, 2016, it was announced that another Brand Extension would take place and SmackDown would start airing live on Tuesdays on the USA Network starting July 19, 2016.
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, making SmackDown! the first weekly wrestling show to air on a broadcast network since Wrestling from Marigold Arena ended its run on the old DuMont network in March 1955.
On the back of the success of the Attitude Era, on October 19, 1999 the WWF's parent company, Titan Sports (by this time renamed World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc.) became a publicly traded company, offering 10 million shares priced at $17 each. WWF announced its desire to diversify, including creating a nightclub in Times Square, producing feature films, and book publishing.
In 2000 the WWF, in collaboration with television network NBC, announced the creation of the XFL, a new professional American football league that debuted in 2001. The league had surprisingly 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 primetime show in the history of American broadcast network television at the time). NBC walked out on the venture after only one season, but McMahon intended to continue alone. However, after UPN demanded that SmackDown! be cut by half an hour, McMahon shut down the XFL.
In March 2001 McMahon's empire grew when he acquired selected assets of his main competitor WCW (including its trademarks, its video library and selected wrestler contracts, though not the promotion itself), which had been losing money and was sold for about $7 million. The former WCW, which remained under Time Warner ownership, reverted to its previous name of Universal Wrestling Corporation and continued to exist only to deal with old wrestler contracts and lawsuits until it officially ceased operations on December 16, 2017 when it was merged into Turner Broadcasting System (which itself effectively ceased operations on March 4, 2019 when AT&T, which had bought Time Warner in June 2018 and renamed it WarnerMedia, dissolved Turner Broadcasting System and dispersed its properties to other WarnerMedia divisions).
Later in 2002, WWE acquired the assets of the defunct American Wrestling Association (specifically, its trademarks and video library) from AWA founder Verne Gagne. Another smaller defunct wrestling company, Extreme Championship Wrestling (which closed its doors in April 2001), had its assets, including its video library, purchased in the summer of 2003.
Initially, WWE had planned to branch WCW into its own entity. The original plan was for RAW to be the WCW show, while SmackDown would become the WWE show. However, on July 2, 2001, at a show in Tacoma, the last 20 minutes of RAW were given to WCW. A match between Booker T and Buff Bagwell for the WCW Championship was met with negative criticism from fans. Attendees at the arena began chanting "This Match Sucks!" and "Boring!" A week later, the Invasion storyline began when ECW was added. In April 2002, about a month before the name change, WWE decided to create two separate rosters, one on RAW, the other on SmackDown! due to the overabundance of talent left over from the Invasion storyline (which involved talent from the absorbed ECW and WCW rosters interacting in WWF storylines). This is known as the WWE Brand Extension. For the first few months of the Brand Extension, the WWE Undisputed Champion appear on both shows. After SummerSlam 2002, Brock Lesnar who had won the Championship from the Rock, signed with SmackDown. With that, the Undisputed WWE Championship once again became the WWE Championship. A week later, Eric Bischoff introduced the Big Gold Belt that once represented the WCW Championship (also called the World Championship), as the World Heavyweight Championship for the RAW brand, and awarded it to Triple H. Following the Brand Extension, a yearly Draft Lottery was instituted to exchange members of each roster and generally refresh the lineups.
In August 2002, the company launched WWE Niagara Falls, a retail establishment in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
On May 26, 2006, WWE revived Extreme Championship Wrestling as its third brand with the new ECW program airing Tuesday nights on the Sci Fi Channel (now SyFy).
The final episode of WWE's ECW show aired on February 16, 2010. In that episode, the final ECW title match was held. Ezekiel Jackson won the bout and became the final man to hold the ECW title.
The next week, WWE aired a new breed of wrestling television show. WWE NXT aired on the SyFy network in ECW's stead. NXT has sinced been moved to a livestreaming internet format along with WWE Supertstars.
On August 29, 2011, it was announced that Raw would feature SmackDown Superstars full-time. As a result, the Brand Extension as well as the Draft, was discontinued. However, on May 25, 2016, WWE announced a new Brand Extension. On the July 19, 2016 episode of SmackDown, the Draft took place. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose was drafted to SmackDown. In response, Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley announced the creation of the WWE Universal Championship. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship simply became the WWE World Championship. At SummerSlam 2016, Finn Bálor defeated Seth Rollins to become the first ever Universal Champion.
Impact of COVID-19
On March 13, 2020, WWE began taping shows at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, FL, beginning with SmackDown. Three days later, they announced WrestleMania 36 would take place at the Performance Center, being moved from it's original venue, Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. Roman Reigns, one of the company's top stars, announced he would appear at the tapings, due to his comprised immune system in part to being a Leukemia patient. Reigns was scheduled to face Goldberg for the WWE Universal Championship, but was replaced with Braun Strowman, won the match. After WrestleMania 36, WWE was set to tape five weeks worth of programming, however when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis deemed WWE an essential business, the company decided to air live episodes of their programming instead. WWE, and more specifically Vince McMahon, came under much criticism for this decision. WWE's next pay-per-view, Money in the Bank, will take place at WWE Headquarters in Stamford, CT. Instead of being a traditional ladder match, the Money in the Bank ladder match will consist of the participants making their way up to the top of the building to a wrestling ring with ladders inside, and the Money in the Bank briefcase suspended above it. COVID-19 would also alter plans regarding WrestleMania. WrestleMania 37, originally scheduled to take place in Inglewood, CA, was rescheduled to take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, the original site of WrestleMania 36. It did so over the span of two nights, April 11 and April 12, 2021. It was also the first event to feature a live audience in over a year.
2021 Pay-Per-View/WWE Network Event Schedule
- WWE Superstar Spectacle
- Royal Rumble
- NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day
- Eliminaton Chamber
- WrestleMania 37
- WrestleMania Backlash
- NXT UK TakeOver: Dublin
- Survivor Series
Current championships and accomplishments
|Championship||Current Champion||Date Won|
|WWE Championship||Bobby Lashley||March 1, 2021|
|WWE Raw Women's Championship||Rhea Ripley||April 11, 2021|
|WWE United States Championship||Sheamus||April 11, 2021|
|WWE Raw Tag Team Champions||AJ Styles and Omos||April 10, 2021|
|Championship||Current Champion||Date Won|
|WWE Universal Championship||Roman Reigns||August 30, 2020|
|WWE Intercontiental Championship||Apollo Crews||April 11, 2021|
|WWE SmackDown Women's Championship||Bianca Belair||April 10, 2021|
|WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship||Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode||January 8, 2021|
|Championship||Current Champion||Date Won|
|NXT Championship||Karrion Kross||April 8, 2021|
|NXT North American Championship||Johnny Gargano||December 6, 2020|
|NXT Women's Championship||Raquel González||April 7, 2021|
|NXT Curiserweight Championship||Santos Escobar||May 27, 2020|
|NXT Tag Team Championship|| MSK
(Nash Carter and Wes Lee)
|April 7, 2021|
|Championship||Current Champion||Date won|
|NXT United Kingdom Championship||Walter||April 5, 2019|
|NXT United Kingdom Women's Championship||Kay Lee Ray||August 31, 2019|
|NXT United Kingdom Tag Team Championship|| Pretty Deadly
(Lewis Howley and Sam Stoker)
|Feburary 25, 2021|
|NXT UK Heritage Cup||A-Kid||November 26, 2020|
|Championship||Current Champion||Date Won|
|WWE 24/7 Championship||R-Truth||March 21, 2021|
|WWE Women's Tag Team Championship||Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler||January 31, 2021|
|Accomplishment||Latest Winner||Date Won|
|Royal Rumble (Men)||Edge||January 31, 2021|
|Royal Rumble (Women)||Bianca Belair||January 31, 2021|
|Money in the Bank (Men)||Otis||May 10, 2020|
|Money in the Bank (Women)||Asuka||May 10, 2020|
|Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal||Jey Uso||April 2, 2021|
|Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic (Men)|| MSK
(Nash Carter and Wes Lee)
|February 14, 2021|
|Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic (Women)||Dakota Kai and Raquel González||February 14, 2021|
- http://www.nyse.com/about/listed/wwe.html WWE
- Texas Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight Championship history
- Time Warner Inc.'s Worldwide Subsidiaries and Affiliated Companies List
- Eudy v. Universal Wrestling Corporation Inc.