Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
World Wrestling Entertainment
World Wrestling Entertainment is a publicly-traded company, but the vast majority of voting shares are owned by chairman Vince McMahon, wife and CEO Linda McMahon, son Shane McMahon, and daughter Stephanie McMahon-Levesque. As of 2005, the headquarters of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. are located in Stamford, Connecticut, USA.
In 1915, Roderick James "Jess" McMahon, grandfather of current WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, co-promoted a boxing match between Jess Willard and Jack Johnson. In the fight, on April 5, 1915, Johnson lost his title to Willard in Havana. A decade later, in 1925, McMahon joined Tex Rickard in promoting boxing events from the old Madison Square Garden Arena, in New York, starting with the December 11, 1925, light-heavyweight championship match between Jack Delaney and Paul Berlenbach. Jess McMahon's enterprise focused on boxing and live concert/music promotion.
It was not until 1935, the same year Jim Crockett Promotions was formed, that the McMahon family moved into the wrestling business. His son, Vincent Jess McMahon, began to take an increasing role in the running of the business, especially on the wrestling side. However, the McMahon family was not able to promote wrestling matches at Madison Square Garden due to Rickard's dislike of the sport.
This "no wrestling at the Garden" policy ended in 1948, when Joseph Raymond Mondt (better known as Toots Mondt), backed by millionaire Bernarr McFadden, managed to promote a wrestling show at the famous arena. Mondt's doing so was facilitated, in part, by the elder McMahon. Ray Fabiani, who helped Mondt take control of the New York territory after the death of Jack Curley, was influential in drawing the younger McMahon into an alliance with Mondt.
Capitol Wrestling Corporation
In January 1953, Jesse's son Vincent J. McMahon and wrestling promoter Toots Mondt took control of the Northeastern United States wrestling circuit as part of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). The NWA is a broad group of wrestling companies that recognized an undisputed champion, who went from wrestling company to wrestling company in the alliance and defended the belt around the world.
McMahon's company was called Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC). While originally running shows from the 2,000-seat Turner's Arena, the CWC would eventually control the territories of New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It was able to do this after signing an agreement with WTTG Channel 5, in 1956, to air live CWC wrestling shows. These shows were then syndicated. Capitol dominated professional wrestling in the Northeastern United States during the mid-20th century, when it was divided into strictly regional enterprises.
World Wide Wrestling Federation
In 1963, "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers was the NWA champion and his bookings were controlled by Mondt. The rest of the NWA was upset with Mondt because he rarely let Rogers wrestle outside of the Northeast. It was decided that Mondt and CWC would part ways with the NWA, creating the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) in the process. Mondt and WWWF wanted Rogers to keep the NWA title, but Rogers didn't want to lose his $25,000 deposit on the belt; wrestling champions at the time had to pay a deposit to ensure they would honor whatever commitments that came along with their titles. Rogers lost the NWA title to Lou Thesz in Toronto on January 24, 1963.
In mid-April, Rogers was then awarded the new WWWF title after the WWWF claimed he won a (fictitious) tournament in Rio de Janeiro. He lost the title to Bruno Sammartino a month later on May 17, 1963 after supposedly suffering a heart attack shortly before the match.
The WWWF rejoined the NWA in 1971 and their world title was dropped to the status of a regional title.
The WWWF became the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in mid-1979. The name change was purely cosmetic; the ownership and front office personnel remained unchanged during this period.
World Wrestling Federation
WWF goes national
In 1983, Vincent K. McMahon, and his company, Titan Sports, Inc., took control of the WWF from his father, Vincent J. McMahon. After discovering at age 12 that the wrestling promoter was his father, Vince became steadily involved in his father's wrestling business until the latter was ready to retire. The elder McMahon had already established the northeastern territory as one of the most vibrant members of the NWA by recognizing that pro wrestling was more about entertainment than sport. Against his father's wishes, McMahon began an expansion process that would fundamentally change the sport, and place both the WWF--and his own life--in jeopardy.
Leaving the NWA for a second time in itself was not that big of a step; the AWA had long ago ceased being an official NWA member, and just over a decade earlier the WWWF itself had rejoined the NWA. But in neither instance did the defecting member attempt to undermine, and destroy, the Territory system that had been the foundation of the industry.
Other promoters were furious when McMahon began syndicating WWF shows to television stations across America. McMahon also began selling videotapes of WWF events outside the Northeast. He effectively broke the unwritten law of regionalism around which the entire industry had been based. To make matters worse, McMahon would use the income generated by advertising, television deals, and tape sales to poach talent from rival promoters. Wrestling promoters nationwide were now in direct competition with the WWF.
According to several reports, Vincent Sr. warned his son: "Vinny, what are you doing?! You'll wind up at the bottom of a river!" In spite of such warnings, the younger McMahon had an even bolder ambition: the WWF would tour nationally. However, such a venture required huge capital investment; one which 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 sports entertainment concept, WrestleMania. WrestleMania was a pay-per-view extravaganza that McMahon marketed as being 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 to Wrestlemania. However, McMahon wanted to take the WWF to the mainstream, targeting the general public who were not regular wrestling fans. He drew the interest of the mainstream media by inviting celebrities such as Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper to participate in the event. MTV, in particular, featured a great deal of WWF coverage and programming at this time, in what was termed the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection.
The new formula of what McMahon deemed Sports Entertainment was a resounding financial success at the original WrestleMania. The WWF did incredible business on the shoulders of McMahon and his All-American babyface hero, Hulk Hogan, for the next several years, creating what some observers dubbed a second golden age for professional wrestling. However, by the 1990s the WWF's fortunes steadily declined as Hulk Hogan's act grew stale, hitting a low point in the wake of allegations of steroid abuse and distribution against McMahon and the WWF in 1994. McMahon was eventually exonerated, but it was a public-relations debacle for the WWF.
WWF: The Next Generation
Monday Night Wars
Under Eric Bischoff, World Championship Wrestling (WCW), the new name for NWA superterritory Jim Crockett Promotions after its purchase by Ted Turner, began using its tremendous financial resources to lure established talent away from the WWF. Beginning in 1994, these acquisitions included Hulk Hogan, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Lex Luger, Scott Hall, "Big Sexy" Kevin Nash, and many others. In 1995, Bischoff upped the ante, creating WCW Monday Nitro, a cable show on Turner's TNT network, to directly compete with the WWF's flagship show, WWF Monday Night RAW. Eventually, on the strength of its newly-acquired WWF talent and the groundbreaking nWo storyline, WCW overtook the WWF in television ratings and popularity.
McMahon responded by stating that he could create new superstars to regain the upper hand in the ratings war, and at the same time tightening contracts to make it harder for WCW to raid WWF talent. Despite this, the WWF was losing money at a rapid rate. WCW's reality-based storylines drew attention away from the WWF's outdated (and childish) rock and wrestling-era gimmicks.
The Montreal Screwjob
The WWF/WCW feud reached a new level in 1997, when McMahon decided to force then-WWF champion Bret "The Hitman" Hart out of the company. The previous year, Hart was offered a lucrative deal to jump to WCW. McMahon countered with an offer worth much less money, but for a 20-year term, and Hart agreed to stay. However, McMahon immediately regretted the deal. Claiming financial hardship, McMahon threatened to breach the contract and advised Bret to do his best to sign with WCW. However, as soon as the deal was in place, and at the last minute, suddenly McMahon claimed that he could pay out the whole contract as signed, and wanted Hart to stay. However, when asked about his plans for Hart's "Hitman" character, giving McMahon an option to entice Hart with interesting story ideas, the ideas put out by Vince made it clear to Hart that he was not part of McMahon's longterm plans, and he elected to sign with WCW.
While Hart's departure was not a surprise, the WWF was concerned about the fact that the man about to leave was the WWF Champion. Earlier in the WWF/WCW feud, the WWF women's champion, Alundra Blaze who would wrestle for WCW as Meduca jumped to WCW while in possession of the belt and threw it in a trash can on WCW Nitro (imitating a heavily-publicized act by heavyweight boxing champion Riddick Bowe). The WWF's worst nightmare would be for Hart to appear on WCW Nitro while wearing the WWF belt. Bret promised that no such thing would ever happen, and put an agreement in place that even the announcement of Hart's departure would be delayed until the belt could be transitioned to a new champion. McMahon, however, was too paranoid that the word would get out. Therefore, a way had to be found to get the belt off of Hart before the deal could be announced on WCW Monday Nitro.
Hart had a clause in his WWF contract which gave him a substantial measure of control over his booking in the last 30 days of his deal, which would end with that year's Survivor Series pay-per-view in Montreal, Canada. He let it be known to WWF management that he would willingly drop the title, but not to "HBK" Shawn Michaels in Montreal, with whom he had a somewhat strained relationship, and who had let it be known that he would never be willing to return the favor to Bret. Indeed, earlier in the year he had faked an injury and surrendered the belt rather than face Hart. Hart offered to drop the belt to any of a number of wrestlers, or to Michaels outside of Canada, but not to Michaels at the Survivor Series. He even offered to forfeit the belt, but McMahon was insistent that the belt would go to Michaels at the pay-per-view in Montreal. This would set the stage for the turning point in the WWF/WCW feud.
At the Survivor Series, after a meeting with McMahon, Hart and McMahon agreed that he was to stay in Shawn Michaels' Sharpshooter, which was Hart's standard finishing maneuver, for a few seconds without tapping out. He would soon after regain control, and retain the WWF Title via disqualification when his brother and other members of the Hart Foundation interfered. They would then deal with the championship at a later date. However, Michaels and referee Earl Hebner were secretly informed that when Michaels put Hart in the Sharpshooter, Hebner would call for the end of the match, and Michaels would be awarded the title. Michaels later denied knowledge of the plot, only to admit it years later during an interview on TSN's "Off The Record". This incident was also documented in the film Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows.
McMahon watched the match from ringside, an uncharacteristic move for the owner, who was known to the WWF audience as an announcer. When Michaels put Hart in the Sharpshooter, McMahon yelled at the timekeeper to "ring the fucking bell!" Michaels left the ring with the belt immediately after the bell rang, without the traditional post-match celebration. Hart walked out of the promotion in disgust, and went so far as to punch out McMahon backstage after the event. The event was known to wrestling fans as the Montreal Screwjob or more recently as the Montreal Incident, and caused considerable uproar. McMahon used the backlash from the event to cast himself as the evil company owner "Mr. McMahon" in WWF programming, a dictatorial ruler who favored wrestlers who were "good for business" over "misfits" like Stone Cold Steve Austin. This led to the Austin vs. McMahon feud, which was the cornerstone of the new WWF Attitude concept.
Running with the momentum from the Montreal Screwjob, McMahon took the WWF in an edgier, reality-based direction he called WWF Attitude. Borrowing many of the exciting wrestling and storyline styles from then-insurgent wrestling promotion ECW, the WWF Attitude Era was based largely on the growing popularity of the wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin. Popular with the fans ever since winning the King of the Ring tournament as a heel in 1996, Austin's rough-and-redneck style won over enough fans that the WWF was forced to turn him into a fan favorite at Wrestlemania XIII in spring 1997 (in a rare double-switch in which the increasingly whiny Bret Hart turned heel after a legendary match between the two wrestlers). During the summer and fall of 1997, Austin enhanced his status as a rebel willing to challenge any authority by giving his Stone Cold Stunner finishing move to WWF announcer Jim Ross, then-Commisssioner Sgt. Slaughter, and eventually WWF owner Vince McMahon himself. Hints of the Austin-McMahon feud in WWF storylines began after Stone Cold won the 1998 Royal Rumble to become #1 Contender for the WWF Title at Wrestlemania. McMahon said in a pre-Wrestlemania press conference that he was not comfortable having Austin as his champion. The relationship would deteriorate over the next few years of WWF programming.
The Attitude era kicked off in earnest at WrestleMania XIV, when professional boxer Mike Tyson appeared as a special guest referee for the WWF Title match between Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin. The highlight was the verbal confrontation between Austin and Tyson ending with Austin flicking off Tyson. Fans who purchased the pay-per-view were amazed by what they saw; this certainly was not the childish Rock and Wrestling era they still expected from the WWF. Many more fans who had not bought WrestleMania, including fans of WCW, tuned in to watch RAW the next day and in subsequent weeks. This was the start of the epic feud between "evil promoter" Mr. McMahon and Austin. For the first time in 18 months, the edgier WWF would beat the weekly WCW Monday Nitro in the ratings.
Over the coming year, the WWF would see new fan favorites. The Rock would become one of the most popular professional wrestlers in history. Where earlier WCW's edgy WCW vs. nWo angle managed to almost lead the WWF to financial ruin, it was now becoming stale, and fans turned back to the WWF.
This change was not without critics. Many family groups were outraged at the graphic violence employed by the WWF. They, along with feminist groups, found the regular use of scantily-clad women to attract viewers as offensive. One group, the Parents Television Council, waged a sustained boycott campaign against the WWF. However, the controversial new presentation made the WWF more appealing than ever to its core audience.
The death of Owen Hart
Tragedy struck on May 23, 1999, in Kansas City, Missouri. Owen Hart, as his "Blue Blazer" superhero character, was scheduled to make a dramatic appearance on that night's Over the Edge pay-per-view telecast, "flying" into the ring by being lowered from a harness attached to the roof of the arena. As Hart was being lowered into position in preparation for this entrance, his harness suddenly disengaged, sending him plummeting almost 80 feet to the ring below.
Those watching the pay-per-view telecast at the time were spared the sight of Hart's death only because the director cut away to a pretaped interview just before the accident occurred. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. A stunned Jim "J.R." Ross made the solemn announcement to the pay-per-view audience once word had reached the arena. The fans in attendance at Kemper Arena were not informed of Owen's death. The decision to continue the event was, and still is, a controversial one.
The following night, the WWF dedicated its entire two-hour RAW telecast to Owen's memory, as various WWF performers and employees shared memories of their fallen friend.
On April 23, 1999, the WWF launched a special program known as SmackDown! on the fledgling UPN network. The show became a weekly series on August 24, 1999. It has remained UPN's most successful program overall ever since.
Off the back of the success of the Attitude era, on October 19, 1999 the WWF's parent company, World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc., became a publicly traded company. WWF announced its desire to diversify into other businesses, including a nightclub in Times Square, film production and book publishing.
In 2000 the WWF, in collaboration with television network NBC, announced the creation of the XFL, a new professional football league, but the league had dismal television ratings and NBC pulled the plug after a year.
Acquisition of WCW
With the massive success of WWF Attitude, WCW's financial situation deteriorated significantly, and its newly-merged parent company AOL Time Warner looked to cut the division loose. In March 2001, WWF Entertainment, Inc. acquired WCW from AOL Time Warner for $7 million. During the final WCW Monday Nitro, McMahon (as the character Mr. McMahon) took over the broadcast during the last half hour and Monday Night Raw was seen on TNT. Months later, McMahon and Bischoff reconciled their personal differences, and Bischoff signed with WWE to perform as the storyline General Manager of Raw.
Since WCW's peak in the late 1990s, wrestling fans had dreamed about a feud between the two federations. The original plan was to have WCW "take over" RAW, turning it back into WCW Monday Nitro. However, many big-name WCW stars such as "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger, Kevin Nash, Goldberg, and Sting were still contracted to WCW's former parent company (McMahon decided not to buy them out), and all chose to sit out the duration of their contracts rather than work for McMahon for less money. The lack of major WCW star power, combined with McMahon deciding that WWF wrestlers generally should not lose to WCW wrestlers, ended the "WCW Invasion" angle quickly. Even the inclusion of ECW wrestlers and trademarks did not save it.
Many people believe that the story would have gone much better if WWE and McMahon waited a couple of years, as many WCW and ECW superstars joined after the end of the WWF vs. WCW feud.
Some people think the WWF Attitude era ended at the end of Wrestlemania 17 and others say November 2001 when WWF beat WCW. It is still a debate amongst wrestling fans.
World Wrestling Entertainment
Following a lawsuit from the World Wildlife Fund (also WWF), the Federation changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE. Its parent company, World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, also chose to adopt this name. The lawsuit dealt with the wrestling company's breaching of an agreement with the Fund over use of the initials "WWF" in the United Kingdom. Rather than attempt a financial settlement with the Fund, McMahon changed the name of the company. The logo was altered, and a promotional campaign called "Get The F Out" was used to publicize this change. Also, all verbal and visual references to "WWF" and the World Wrestling Federation logo from the "Attitude" era were edited out from old broadcasts. Some observers saw the new name as further acknowledgement by the company on its emphasis towards the entertainment rather than athletic aspects of professional wrestling.
The brand extension
Without WCW as competition, the WWE decided to split the promotion into two "separate" brands based on its two largest television shows, RAW and SmackDown! Under this "split brands" arrangement, each brand maintains a separate and non-overlapping roster of wrestlers, has championships exclusive to that brand (example: the WWE Championship on SmackDown!, and the World Heavyweight Championship on RAW), and is run by a different onscreen general manager.
Streaming media has been one of the most important roles of the WWE.com "New Media" department and the output of videos is immense. With over fourteen million played video streams a month, WWE.com is a major contributor of online media.
The WWE has a large media repository dating back to the late 1960s and their goal was to stream most of this content online using a subscription service. Unfortunately, the lawsuit from the World Wildlife Fund has kept WWE.com from showing any content from the "Attitude Era" (1998-May 2002). Furthermore, WWE.com provides the same services for its online pay-per-view content.
Shane McMahon is Executive Vice President of Global Media within World Wrestling Entertainment and is in charge of WWE.com.
Televised WWE shows
- RAW - WWE's flagship show, airs live on Monday nights at 9 PM EST on Spike TV in the United States, live in Canada on TSN, and live in the United Kingdom on Sky Sports.
- Sunday Night Heat - Sister show to RAW, airs Sunday nights at 7 PM EST on Spike TV.
- Bottom Line - Syndicated show that recaps the past week's events on the RAW brand.
The Spike TV deal will expire in September, 2005, and Viacom has announced they will not seek to extend it.  On April 4, 2005, WWE announced a new 3-year agreement with NBC Universal to air RAW on the USA Network once again, a deal that also reportedly included occasional WWE programming on Telemundo and NBC. In addition, WWE will broadcast a twice-yearly 90-minute "special event" on Saturday nights on NBC. 
- SmackDown! - WWE's secondary show, airs Thursday nights at 8 PM EST on UPN in the United States and in Canada at 7 PM EST on The Score.
- Velocity - Sister show to SmackDown!, airs on Saturday nights at 11 PM EST on Spike TV.
- Afterburn - Syndicated show that recaps the past week's events on the SmackDown! brand.
- The WWE Experience - A show aimed at the younger audience that recaps the past week's events in WWE. Airs Sunday mornings at 11 AM EST on Spike TV.
- Tough Enough - WWE's version of a reality show. It followed groups of men and women who were competing to become a WWE wrestler. This resulted in many new wrestlers being added to both brands. It aired as a separate show on MTV for three seasons, but integrated itself into regular SmackDown! programming in its fourth iteration, with a $1 million-dollar (US) contract awarded to the winner over four years. Daniel Puder, an Ultimate Cage Fighter, won the $1,000,000 Tough Enough.
- WWE Confidential - This was a "behind the scenes"-type show hosted by "Mean" Gene Okerlund and featured many exclusive stories on WWE wrestlers. The final episode of this show aired on April 24, 2004.
- WWE 24/7 - In 2004, the WWE officially announced a new video on demand service for digital cable users, allowing subscribers to the service access to matches in the promotion's extensive video library.
WWE is currently one of the leaders in pay-per-view content for cable and satellite television.
- 15 live shows for the U.S. market.
- 4 live shows for the European market.
- 2 live shows for the Asian market.
- 4 live shows for the Australian market
All pay-per-views can be purchased and viewed on WWE.com as well.
Wrestling and movies
Since 2003, WWE has produced its own movie productions. Instead of focusing on wrestling movies, WWE is planning to produce movies that are non-wrestling related (excluding the first movie under the WWE Films name, which was a short documentary on Wrestlemania XIX included on the WrestleMania XX DVD).
WWE Films is located in Hollywood, California and their first feature is named "The Marine", starring John Cena. WWE Films will also produce "Goodnight" with WWE wrestler Kane. Stone Cold Steve Austin recently signed a three-movie deal with WWE Films in January, 2005. His first movie will be titled, "The Condemned".
WWE and Vince McMahon were credited for production of the films The Scorpion King 2002, The Rundown 2003 and Walking Tall 2004 all starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. This was due to the fact that, at the time, the WWE owned the rights to the name "The Rock". Since then, The Rock's contract with WWE has expired but he can still use "The Rock" as his stage name because he has dual-ownership of that name with WWE.
- Vince McMahon
- List of WWE Champions
- List of World Heavyweight Champions
- List of professional wrestlers employed by WWE
- Annual WWE pay-per-view events
- WWE Hall of Fame
- Ohio Valley Wrestling (WWE developmental territory)
- WCW-ECW Alliance
- Official WWE site
- Official WWE RAW Page
- Official SmackDown! Page
- Official Pay Per View Page
- Official WWE Corporate website
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