World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. or more popularly the WWE is an entertainment company that has made a name for itself because of professional wrestling. In addition to wrestling, WWE is also involved in other fields like movies, real estate, and various other business ventures.
The company was founded by Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt in 1952, initially known as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation. And with the passage of time, it became one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world. Currently, it is the biggest promotional wrestling company. As of now, it holds more than 500 events a year. The show covers a staggering 36 million viewers in more than 150 countries.
The company’s global headquarters is located in Stamford, Connecticut, with offices in major cities across the world.
But unlike the usual wrestling events, the WWE are purely entertainment-based. The fights feature storyline-driven, scripted, and choreographed matches. However, the scripted fights do not undermine the dangers involved in the show. The fighters often suffer fatal injuries while pulling off scarcely-believable stunts. The fact that the fights are not legitimate was first publicly acknowledged by WWE’s owner Vince McMahon in 1989 to avoid taxes from athletic commissions. Since the 1980s, WWE publicly has branded their product as sports entertainment.
Vince McMahon, chairman and CEO of WWE, owns the maximum shares in the company. He retains 42% ownership of the company’s outstanding stock and 83% of the voting power.
As far as the company’s name is concerned, it has officially branded itself solely as WWE since 2011. Incorporated in 1980, it was called Titan Sports, Inc. It then acquired Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd., the holding company for the World Wrestling Federation, in 1982. Titan was renamed World Wrestling Federation, Inc. in 1998, then World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. in 1999, and finally the current World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. in 2002.
The company’s incredible journey began way back in 1952 when Roderick James “Jess” McMahon and Toots Mondt created the Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd. (CWC). In the following year, the company joined the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).
In November 1954, McMahon died and Ray Fabiani, one of Mondt’s associates, brought in McMahon’s son Vincent James. The move paid off as Vince and Mondt formed a very successful partnership. In 1963, McMahon and Mondt left NWA due to a dispute over “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers being booked to hold the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. The duo then found the WWWF, awarding Rogers the newly created WWWF World Heavyweight 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.
Mondt left Capitol in the late 1960s and although the WWWF had withdrawn from the NWA, Vince McMahon, Sr. quietly re-joined in 1971. In 1979, Capitol renamed the World Wide Wrestling Federation to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
Titan Sports, Inc.
Vincent J. McMahon’s son, Vincent K. McMahon, and his wife Linda, founded Titan Sports, Inc., in 1980 in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts. On February 21, 1980, the company was incorporated in the Cape Cod Coliseum offices. A couple of years later, the younger McMahon effectively seized control of the company after buying Capitol from his father. He soon set his sights on making WWF the premier wrestling promotion in the country, and eventually, the world.
A year later in 1983, the McMahons and former Capitol employee Jim Barnett all withdrew from the organisation. McMahon then tried to increase the company’s popularity by working to get WWF programming on syndicated television all across the United States. However, the move angered other promoters and disrupted the well-established boundaries of the different wrestling promotions, eventually ending the territory system, which was in use since the founding of the NWA in the 1940s. Not only that, the company also lured fighters from rival promoters by using income generated by advertising, television deals, and tape sales.
McMahon enjoyed a breakthrough when he roped in American Wrestling Association (AWA) talent Hulk Hogan. Hogan was arguably the most popular wrestler at that time. McMahon signed Roddy Piper as Hogan’s rival, and then shortly afterward Jesse Ventura as an announcer. Wrestlers like Jimmy Snuka, Don Muraco, The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Junkyard Dog, Paul Orndorff, Greg Valentine, and Ricky Steamboat soon joined the company.
The company then decided to start a venture which would see it tour nationally. However, the huge financial investment was a major roadblock. N0t surprisingly, it put 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. Fortunately, WrestleMania turned out to be a big hit.
North America was well aware with the concept of wrestling supercard. Prior to the WrestleMania, NWA had already started the Starcade. McMahon said that his idea differed from the previous ones because of its intention to be accessible to those who did not watch wrestling. In an attempt to make the company more appealing to the fans, he invited celebrities to take part in events McMahon also signed 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 popular culture and professional wrestling.
Riding on McMahon’s extensive planning and his trump card Hulk Hogan, WWF expanded at a fast pace. The introduction of Saturday Night’s Main Event on NBC in 1985 marked the first time that professional wrestling had been broadcast on network television since the 1950s, when the now-defunct DuMont Television Network broadcast matches of Vince McMahon Sr.’s Capitol Wrestling Corporation. The 1980s “Wrestling Boom” peaked with the WrestleMania III pay-per-view at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1987, which set an attendance record of 93,173, a record that stood for 29 years until WrestleMania 32.
In 1985, Titan moved its offices to Stamford, Connecticut, though the current building was built in 1981. Subsequently, a new Titan Sports, Inc. (originally WWF, Inc.) was established in Delaware in 1987 and was consolidated with the Massachusetts entity in February 1988.
New Generation (1993–1997):
In 1992, the WWF found itself in hot waters after being accused of using steroid as well as distributing it. A year later, the company faced allegations of sexual harassment by WWF employees. McMahon eventually came out clean from the allegations. However, the turn of events put the company in bad light as the allegations affected the company’s reputations.
The steroid trial cost the company an estimated $5 million at a time of record low revenues. This helped drive many WWF wrestlers over to rival promotion World Championship Wrestling (WCW), including 1980s babyface hero Hulk Hogan. At this time, the company’s new generation cropped it. It groomed youngsters like Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Razor Ramon, Bret Hart, and The Undertaker in an effort to promote new talent into the spotlight.
In January 1993, the WWF debuted its flagship cable program Monday Night Raw. WCW countered in September 1995 with its own Monday night program, Monday Nitro, which aired in the same time slot as Raw. The two programs would trade wins in the ensuing ratings competition (known as the “Monday Night Wars”) until mid-1996.
At one stage, Nitro earned the bragging rights after dominating the ratings for almost two years. The reason behind it was the introduction of the New World Order (nWo), a stable led by former WWF performers Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall (the former Razor Ramon), and Kevin Nash (the former Diesel).
The Attitude Era (1997–2002)
At a time when the Monday Night Wars were at their peak, the WWF decided to take a huge step. The company decided to transform itself from a family-friendly product into a more adult oriented product, known as the Attitude Era. The era was spearheaded by WWF VP Shane McMahon (son of owner Vince McMahon) and head writer Vince Russo.
1997 ended with McMahon facing real-life controversy following Bret Hart’s controversial departure from the company, dubbed 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. Austin was slowly brought in as the new face of the company despite being promoted as an antihero, 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.
In the following year on May 6, the Titan Sports, Inc. was renamed World Wrestling Federation, Inc. In 1999, it was renamed World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc.
On April 29, 1999, the WWF made its return to terrestrial television, airing a special program known as SmackDown! on the UPN network. The Thursday night show became a weekly series on August 26, 1999—competing directly with WCW’s Thursday night program Thunder on TBS.
The WWF soon ventured in a new area. In 2000, it collaborated with television network NBC to launch XFL, a new professional football league that began in 2001.The league had high ratings for the first few weeks. However, it soon lost its popularity and the ratings fell to disappointed levels. After the setback, NCB pulled itself out of the partnership. However, McMahon decided to continue with it. But the failure to strike a deal with UPN compelled McMahon to shut down his venture.
Acquisition of WCW and ECW:
A year before the turn of the new millennium, WWF had earned the bragging rights of Monday Night Wars thanks to the Attitude Era. On the other hand, WCW was going through a turmoil. 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.
McMahon pounced upon the opportunity and 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 in 2001. The WWF then took another big step after WrestleMania X-Seven. It 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.
World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. / WWE
On May 5, 2002, the World Wrestling Federation announced it was changing both its company name and the name of its wrestling promotion to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). One of the reasons behind the change was the dispute with the World Wildlife Fund regarding the “WWF” initialism. Another one was that the company noted it provided an opportunity to emphasize its focus on entertainment.
In 2011, WWE announced that the company would cease the use of the full name World Wrestling Entertainment. Consequently, it would be only called WWE. 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.
In March 2002, WWE decided to create two separate rosters. According to the new system, each group of wrestlers was required to appear on one of their main programs, Raw and SmackDown!. The company had to take the decision due to the overabundance of talent left over from the Invasion storyline.
Initially, the rosters were formed nearly every year by draft lottery. On May 26, 2006, WWE announced the relaunch of ECW as a third WWE brand. The new ECW program aired until February 16, 2010. All ECW wrestlers at that point became free agents that could sign either Raw or SmackDown.
In August, the WWE announced that Raw would feature talent from both Raw and SmackDown, and would be known as Raw Supershow. In July 2012, the “Supershow” suffix was dropped. Championships previously exclusive to one show or the other were available for wrestlers from any show to compete for; The reunification ended the brand extension.
In 2013, the company collaborated with the Full Sail University from Winter Park to build the sports medicine and training facility WWE Performance Center in east Orange County, Florida. The establishment helps them company’s wrestlers to develop. On the other hand, Full Sail is the base to WWE’s developmental brand NXT.
Second brand split:
The second split in the company took place on May 25, 2016. The company once again announced the relaunch of brand extension, thus confirming that Raw and Smackdown would feature differently. It was called the “New Era”. The new introduction saw the use of unique rosters, announcers, ring sets/ropes, and championships for Raw and Smackdown. The company also held a draft to finalise which wrestlers would appear on what show. SmackDown also moved from Thursdays to Tuesday nights, which began on July 19 (the night of the aforementioned draft), and airs live instead of the previous pre-recorded format.
On November 29, 2016, WWE introduced a new program specifically for their cruiserweight division (wrestlers 205 lbs. and under) called WWE 205 Live. The program focuses exclusively on those wrestlers who qualify for the division. The cruiserweights – who first became a fixture in WWE with the Cruiserweight Classic tournament – were originally exclusive to the Raw brand at the onset of the 2016 brand extension, before landing their own show (though they still also appear on Raw, as well as working on the NXT brand).
In 2016, the WWE took a giant step in exploring the market of United Kingdom. It announced that it was establishing a new WWE United Kingdom Championship. The winner was to be decided by a 16-man tournament to air on WWE Network featuring wrestlers from the UK and Ireland during January 2017. WWE executive Paul “Triple H” Levesque said the eventual plan with the new title and tournament is to establish a UK-based brand with its own weekly TV show.
Drug scandal in 1990s:
During the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. George Zahorian allegedly distributed steroids and other drugs to WWF wrestlers. Reports suggested that the company owner Vince McMahon had given the go ahead to the move. The repercussions soon followed. McMahon was indicted in federal court after the steroid controversy. He also had to temporarily cede control of the WWF to his wife Linda.
The case went to trial in 1994, where McMahon himself was accused of distributing steroids to his wrestlers. One notable prosecution witness was Nailz (real name: Kevin Wacholz), a former WWF performer who had been fired after a violent confrontation with McMahon. Nailz testified that McMahon had ordered him to use steroids, but his credibility was called into question during his testimony as he repeatedly stated that he “hated” McMahon. The prosecution’s intended star witness was Hulk Hogan, but this backfired when Hogan testified that McMahon never told him to take nor tried to sell him steroids. Eventually, McMahon walked out of the court without any charge.
Owen Hart’s death:
On May 23, 1999, Owen Hart attempted a fatal stunt. He fell to his death in Kansas City during the Over the Edge pay-per-view event. The officials made several attempts to revive Hart but failed. The cause of death was later revealed to be internal bleeding from blunt force trauma. The WWF management controversially chose to continue the event.
Four weeks after the event, the Hart family sued the WWF, claiming that the stunt was dangerous and not well planned. After over a year and a half into the case, a settlement was reached on November 2, 2000. As per the agreement, WWF gave the Hart family US$18 million.
Harry Slash and the Slashstones lawsuit:
In 2003, Harry “Slash” Grivas and Roderick Kohn filed a lawsuit against WWE due to the music being used for its programming and DVDs without consent or payment. It also asserted violation of the rights to original music used by ECW that WWE had been using during the Invasion storyline of 2001. The case was resolved on both sides with a settlement that saw WWE purchase the catalogue outright in January 2005.
|Championship||Current champion(s)||Reign||Date won||Days held|
|WWE Universal Championship||Brock Lesnar||2||November 2, 2018||26|
|WWE Intercontinental Championship||Seth Rollins||2||August 19, 2018||101|
|WWE Raw Women’s Championship||Ronda Rousey||1||August 19, 2018||101|
|WWE Raw Tag Team Championship||AOP||1||November 5, 2018||23|
|WWE Cruiserweight Championship||Buddy Murphy||1||October 6, 2018||53|
|Championship||Current champion(s)||Reign||Date won||Days held|
|WWE Championship||Daniel Bryan||4||November 13, 2018||15|
|WWE United States Championship||Shinsuke Nakamura||1||July 15, 2018||136|
|WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship||Becky Lynch||2||September 16, 2018||73|
|WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship||The Bar||1||October 16, 2018||43|
|Championship||Current champion(s)||Reign||Date won||Days held|
|NXT Championship||Tommaso Ciampa||1||July 19, 2018||132|
|NXT North American Championship||Ricochet||1||August 18, 2018||102|
|NXT Women’s Championship||Shayna Baszler||2||October 28, 2018||31|
|NXT Tag Team Championship||The Undisputed Era||2||June 21, 2018||160|
|Title||Current champion(s)||Opponent (s)|
|Money in the Bank (Men)||Braun Strowman||Defeated Kevin Owens, Bobby Roode, Finn Bálor, Samoa Joe, Rusev, The Miz and Kofi Kingston to win.|
|Money in the Bank (Women)||Alexa Bliss||Defeated Ember Moon, Sasha Banks, Natalya, Lana, Naomi, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair to win.|
|Mae Young Classic||Toni Storm||Defeated Io Shirai at Evolution in the tournament final to win.|
|Royal Rumble (Men)||Shinsuke Nakamura||Last eliminated Roman Reigns to win.|
|Royal Rumble (Women)||Asuka||Last eliminated Nikki Bella to win.|
|Mixed Match Challenge||The Miz and Asuka||Defeated Bobby Roode and Charlotte Flair in the tournament final to win.|
|Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic||The Undisputed Era||
Defeated The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) and Pete Dunne & Roderick Strong in a Winner Take All Triple Threat tournament final (with the NXT Tag Team Championship also at stake) to win.
|André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal||Matt Hardy||Last eliminated Baron Corbin to win.|
|WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal||Naomi||Last eliminated Bayley to win.|
|WWE Greatest Royal Rumble Championship||Braun Strowman||Braun Strowman won by last eliminating Big Cass in the 50-man Royal Rumble.|
|WWE World Cup||Shane McMahon||Defeated Dolph Ziggler in the tournament final to win.|