|Formerly called||Titan Sports, Inc.|
World Wrestling Federation, Inc.
World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc.
Media and Technology
|Predecessor||Capitol Wrestling Corporation|
|Founded||February 21, 1980|
South Yarmouth, Massachusetts
|Headquarters||1241 East Main Street, 06902|
Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.
|Key people||Steven Harrison (CEO)|
James Harrison (Chairman)
Stephanie McMahon (Chief Brand Officer)
Triple H (Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events, and Creative)
|Products||Television, publishing, films, music, merchandise, streaming network service, home video, live events|
|Revenue||US$ 3.8 billion (2016)|
|Operating income||US$ 401 million (2016)|
|Net income||US$ 3.4 billion (2016)|
|Total assets||US$ 8.1 billion (2016)|
|Total equity||US$ 4.4 billion (2016)|
|Owner||James Harrison (60%)|
Ana Sanchez (40%)
|Number of employees||1,550 (2016)|
WWE Music Group
WWE Performance Center
WWE Home Video
|Subsidiaries||TSI Realty Company|
Event Services, Inc.
WWE Music Group
WWE Properties International
WWE Jet Services
WWE Asia Pacific
WWE Middle East and Africa
World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) 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. The WWE also refers to the professional wrestling promotion itself, founded by Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt in 1952 as Capitol Wrestling Corporation, 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. The company's headquarters are located in Stamford, Connecticut, with offices in New York City, Los Angeles, London, Shanghai, Tokyo, Singapore, Munich, Mumbai, and Mexico City.
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 publicly acknowledged this in 1981, breaking the gentlemen's agreement that previously existed among promoters. Since the 1980s, WWE publicly branded their product as sports entertainment, which is considered to acknowledge the product's roots in competitive sport and dramatic theater.
The company was founded in 1980 by Vince and Linda McMahon who were owners until British tycoon Steven Harrison bought the company for a rumoured $1.5 billion in February 2015. Steven now acts as chairman and CEO, after buying the company they turned private and were taken off the New York Stock Exchange. In 2017 Harrison transferred all his shares of the company to his two eldest children, but remained CEO of the company.
Prior to Titan Sports
WWE's origins can trace back as far as 1952 when Roderick James "Jess" McMahon and Toots Mondt created the Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd. (CWC), which joined the National Wrestling Alliance in 1953. McMahon, who was a successful boxing promoter, began working with Tex Rickard in 1926. With the help of Rickard, he began promoting boxing at the third Madison Square Garden. Though, it was not the first time Jess McMahon promoted wrestling cards and shows as he had already promoted wrestling shows and cards during the 1910s.
In November 1954, Jess McMahon died and Ray Fabiani, one of Mondt's associates, brought in McMahon's son Vincent James. The younger 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 Capitol created the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), 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.
Capitol operated the WWWF 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 Capitol 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 Capitol employee Jim Barnett all withdrew from the organization. Capitol then renamed the World Wide Wrestling Federation to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1979.
Titan Sports, Inc.
Golden Age (1980s)
Vincent J. McMahon's son, Vincent K. McMahon, and his wife Linda, established Titan Sports, Inc., in 1979 in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts. The company was incorporated on February 21, 1980 in the Cape Cod Coliseum offices. The younger McMahon bought Capitol from his father in 1982, effectively seizing control of the company. Seeking to make the WWF the premier wrestling promotion in the country, and eventually, the world, he began an expansion process that fundamentally changed the wrestling business. At the same time, it was initially headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Upon taking over Capitol, 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, eventually ending the Territory system, which was in use since the founding of the National Wrestling Alliance in the 1940s. 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 the film Rocky III. McMahon signed Roddy Piper as Hogan's rival, and then shortly afterward Jesse Ventura as an announcer. Other wrestlers joined the roster, such as Jimmy Snuka, Don Muraco, The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Junkyard Dog, Paul Orndorff, Greg Valentine and Ricky Steamboat. Many of the wrestlers who would join later were former AWA and/or NWA talent.
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 success, and was (and still is) marketed as the Super Bowl of professional wrestling. 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 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 until WrestleMania 32 in 2016 had an attendance of 101,763. A rematch of the Wrestlemania III main event between WWF champion Hulk Hogan and André the Giant took place on The Main Event in 1988 and was seen by 33 million people, the most-watched wrestling match in North American television history.
In 1985, Titan moved its offices to its present location in Stamford, Connecticut, before the present building was built nearby in 1991. 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 (1993–97)
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 brought bad public relations for the WWF, and overall bad reputation. 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. During this period, the WWF promoted wrestlers of a more younger age comprising "The New Generation", featuring 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, WCW 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 that point, Nitro began a nearly two-year ratings 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 (the former Razor Ramon), and Kevin Nash (the former 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 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. 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.
World Wrestling Federation Inc./World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc.
On May 6, 1998, Titan Sports, Inc. was renamed World Wrestling Federation, Inc. It was renamed World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. a year later.
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—competing directly with WCW's Thursday-night program Thunder on TBS. 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.
On October 19, 1999, World Wrestling Federation, Inc. 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.
Acquistion 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 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, 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.
Harry "Slash" Grivas and Roderick Kohn had filed a lawsuit against the WWE in June 2003 due to the music being used for its programming and DVDs without consent or payment. It also stated that the rights to original music used by Extreme Championship Wrestling that WWE had been using also 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.
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.
Divas / Women's Revolution and second Brand Extenstion (2015–present)
- Main article: Women's Revolution
In March 2015 a tag team match between Paige, Emma and Brie and Nikki Bella lasted around 30 seconds this led #GiveDivasAChance to trend number one worldwide for 36–48 hours, this led WWE co-owner James Harrison to usher in a new era he had entitled the Divas Revolution this led several Divas including the original Four Horsewomen to debut on the main roster. This also led to a match for a Money in the Bank briefcase at the 2015 pay-per-view and a Royal Rumble match at the 2016 pay-per-view. This Revolution also continued through the WWE's development program NXT with NXT Women's Champion Dana Brooke and Blue Pants becoming the first Divas to main event a pay-per-view at NXT TakeOver: Respect and in another first it was a 30-minute Iron Man match, dubbed "Iron Woman". By the early 2016 a total of 40 female wrestlers were on the WWE roster, 22 on the main roster and 18 on NXT. The era also saw the return of the WWE Women's Championship, the rebranded WWE Divas Tag Team Championship and the brand new WWE Women's Hardcore Championship.
In late 2015 the WWE bought the rights to Lucha Underground keeping everything the same and shortening down the tape delay to just two days. In May 2016 the WWE announced a partnership with Scottish-based wrestling company Insane Championship Wrestling. Ahead of the 2016 World Cup of Wrestling the WWE announced partnerships with Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling.
On May 25, 2016, WWE announced the re-launch of the brand extension. Dubbed the "New Era", Raw and SmackDown will each feature their own unique rosters with a draft to determine rosters. SmackDown will also move from Thursdays to Tuesday nights beginning July 19, and will air live instead of the previous pre-recorded format. The brands will have an exclusive pay-per-view every month beginning in September, their will be four pay-per-views that both brands run: Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series.
|Championship||Current champion(s)||Reign||Date won|| Days|
|WWE Championship||Kenny Omega||1||May 21, 2017||124||Rosemont, IL||Defeated Kazuchika Okada at Judgment Day after the title had been vacated due to The Undertaker's retirement.|
|WWE United States Championship||Shinsuke Nakamura||1||July 23, 2017||61||San Jose, CA||Defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi at Unforgiven.|
|WWE European Championship||Jeff Hardy||2||September 10, 2017||12||Anaheim, CA||Defeated Samoa Joe at Backlash/|
|Million Dollar Championship||Tye Dillinger||2||September 10, 2017||12||Anaheim, CA||Defeated Tyler Breeze at Backlash.|
|WWE Global Championship||Asuka||1||January 10, 2017||255||Anaheim, CA||Defeated Melissa on SmackDown|
|World Tag Team Championship||Decay|
(Abyss and Crazzy Steve)
|1||August 20, 2017||33||Brooklyn, NY||Defeated The Hardy Boyz at SummerSlam.|
|WWE Mixed Tag Team Championship||SAnitY|
(Big Damo and Nikki Storm)
|1||June 14, 2017||100||Orlando, FL||Defeated Matt Hardy and Reby Sky on NXT.|
Title is defended on both SmackDown and NXT.
|WWE Six-Man Tag Team Championship||The Wyatt Family|
(Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan)
|1||June 18, 2017||96||St. Louis, MO||Defeated The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) in a tournament final to become inaugural champions.|
|Championship||Current champion(s)||Reign||Date won||Days held||Location||Notes|
|NXT Championship||Kota Ibushi||1||April 1, 2017||174||Orlando, FL||Defeated Jay Lethal at NXT TakeOver: Orlando.|
|NXT Tag Team Championship||The Briscoe Brothers |
(Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe)
|1||January 28, 2017||237||San Antonio, TX||Defeated The Authors of Pain for the vacant title at NXT TakeOver: San Antonio|
|NXT Women's Championship||Lena||1||August 20, 2016||398||Brooklyn, NY||Defeated Asuka at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II.|
|WWE United Kingdom Championship||Drew McIntyre||1||May 20, 2017||125||Chciago, IL||Defeated Marty Scurll at NXT TakeOver: Chicago.|
|NXT Television Championship||Adam Cole||1||August 19, 2017||34||Brooklyn, NY||Defeated Bobby Roode, Chris Hero, Eric Young, Roderick Strong and Drew McIntyre at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III to become the inaugural champion.|
|Tournament||Last winner(s)||Date won||Created||Notes|
|Royal Rumble||Bray Wyatt||January 29, 2017||1988||30-man battle royal1.|
Unlike at normal battle royal the
wrestlers don't start together in-ring.
|Women's Royal Rumble||Kimber Lee||January 29, 2017||1988||20-woman battle royal.|
Unlike at normal battle royal the
wrestlers don't start together in-ring.
|The International Series||Neville||February 12, 2017||2017||A two-group round robin tournament.|
|Mr. Money in the Bank||Bray Wyatt||June 18, 2017||2005||6-10 man ladder match for a|
|Miss Money in the Bank||Emma||2015||6/7 woman ladder match for a|
WWE Divas / Global Championship
|André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal||Braun Strowman||April 2, 2017||2014||20-31 man battle royal.|
|King of the Ring||Jay Lethal||June 4, 2017||1985||16-man knockout tournament.|
|Cruiserweight Classic||Ricochet||August 14, 2017||2016||16/32-man knockout|
tournmaent, featuring cruiserweights
- There was a 20-man Royal Rumble in 1988 and a 40-man version in 2011.