The WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) is an American publicly traded, privately controlled entertainment company that deals primarily in professional wrestling, with major revenue sources also coming from film, music, videogames, product licensing, and direct product sales.
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1. WWE’s origins can be traced 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 (NWA) in 1953.
2. 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. It was not the first time he had promoted wrestling cards, as he had already done so during the 1910s.
3. In November 1954, McMahon died and Ray Fabiani, one of Mondt’s associates, brought in McMahon’s son Vincent James.
4. 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.
5. In 1963, McMahon and Mondt had a dispute with the NWA over “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers being booked to hold the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
6. Both men left the company in protest and formed the WWWF in the process, awarding Rogers the new WWWF World Heavyweight Championship in April of that year.
7. He lost the championship to Bruno Sammartino a month later on May 17, 1963, after suffering a heart attack a week before the match.
8. 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.
9. After gaining a television program deal and hiring Lou Albano as a manager for Sammartino’s heel opponents, the WWWF was doing sellout business by 1970.
10. Mondt left Capitol in the late sixties and although the WWWF had withdrawn from the NWA, Vince McMahon, Sr. quietly re-joined in 1971.
11. Capitol renamed the World Wide Wrestling Federation to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1979.
12. Vincent J. McMahon’s son, Vincent K. McMahon, and his wife Linda, established Titan Sports, Inc., in 1979 in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. The concept of a wrestling supercard was nothing new in North America; the NWA had begun 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. McMahon was eventually exonerated, but it brought bad public relations for the WWF, and overall bad reputation.
24. 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.
25. During this period, the WWF promoted wrestlers of a 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.
26. 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.
27. As the Monday Night Wars continued between Raw Is War and WCW’s 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.
28. 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”.
29. 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.
30. On May 6, 1998, Titan Sports, Inc. was renamed World Wrestling Federation, Inc. It was renamed World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. a year later.
31. 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).
32. 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.
33. 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.
34. A few times each year, we see a superstar suspended for violating WWEs Wellness Policy. It’s been made clear that the WWE will not tolerate any form of substance abuse. This applies to everyone, including the referees. The referees are just as much a part of the show as the Superstars. Therefore, that should be handled in the same way.
35. Only about 1% of the world’s population can perform everyday tasks perfectly with both their arms and legs. Shawn Michaels is one of the lucky few who have been blessed with this ability.
36. Shawn Michaels is known as Mr. WrestleMania for a reason. Just not the reason you may think. With a record of 6-11, HBK has one of the worst WrestleMania records of all time. Shawn Michaels has stepped foot on the grandest stage 17 times. He’s only captured six wins, but put on some of the greatest matches in wrestling history.
37. When Batista debuted back in 2001, he was known as the enforcer for Reverend D-Von Dudley. His character was quiet and destructive. On Chris Jericho’s podcast,“Talk is Jericho,” Batista revealed the idea for his debut character. He elaborated that his character was full of anger and hateful of everyone because he had no father and his mother was sexually assaulted.
38. Over the past 19 years, people have been under the impression that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin broke his neck after a pile driver from Owen Hart at SummerSlam 1997. This was not the case. While it was a devastating injury to his neck that forced him to change his wrestling style, Austin has cleared up on his podcast that he didn’t actually break his neck. He had a bruised spinal column and temporary paralysis.
39. No one in WWE history has come close to doing what The Undertaker has done. Although The Undertaker’s undefeated streak came to a heart breaking end at WrestleMania XXX, thanks to Brock Lesnar, there is one streak left that The Undertaker holds at WrestleMania: he’s fought at WrestleMania in 16 consecutive years from 2001 through 2016.