World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. WWE has also branched out into other fields, including movies , football , and various other business ventures. The WWE name also refers to the professional wrestling promotion itself, founded in the s as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation. As of , it is the largest wrestling promotion in the world, holding over events a year, with the roster divided up into various globally traveling brands ,  and is available to about 36 million viewers in more than countries.
The company's global headquarters is located in Stamford, Connecticut , with offices in major cities around the world. As in other professional wrestling promotions, WWE shows are not legitimate contests, but purely entertainment-based , featuring storyline -driven, scripted , and choreographed matches, though matches often include moves that can put performers at risk of injury, even death, if not performed correctly.
Since the s, WWE publicly has branded its product as sports entertainment , acknowledging the product's roots in competitive sport and dramatic theater. The current entity, incorporated on February 21, , was previously known as Titan Sports, Inc. It acquired Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd. Titan was renamed World Wrestling Federation, Inc. Since , the company has officially branded itself solely as WWE though the company's legal name was not changed. It is not certain of who the founder of the CWC was.
There are sources who stated it was Vincent J. Vincent J. The WWE traditionally views this date as beginning of their history. McMahon's son, Vincent K. The younger McMahon bought Capitol from his father in , 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. 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 NWA in the s.
In addition, the company used income generated by advertising, television deals, and tape sales to secure talent from rival promoters. In an interview with Sports Illustrated , McMahon noted:. In the old days, there were wrestling fiefdoms all over the country, each with its own little lord in charge. Each little lord respected the rights of his neighboring little lord. No takeovers or raids were allowed.
There were maybe 30 of these tiny kingdoms in the U. I, of course, had no allegiance to those little lords. 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 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. He invited celebrities such as Mr. 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.
The s "Wrestling Boom" peaked with the WrestleMania III pay-per-view at the Pontiac Silverdome in , which set an attendance record of 93,, a record that stood for 29 years until WrestleMania In , Titan moved its offices to Stamford, Connecticut , though the current building was built in Subsequently, a new Titan Sports, Inc.
The WWF was hit with allegations of steroid abuse and distribution in This was followed by allegations of sexual harassment by WWF employees the following year. McMahon ". Austin was slowly brought in as the new face of the company despite being promoted as an antihero , starting with his " Austin " speech shortly after defeating Jake Roberts in the tournament finals at the King of the Ring pay-per-view in On May 6, , Titan Sports, Inc.
NBC walked out on the venture after only one season, but McMahon intended to continue alone. 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.
With this purchase, WWF now became by far the largest wrestling promotion in the world. Although mainly caused by an unfavorable ruling in its dispute with the World Wildlife Fund regarding the "WWF" initialism, the company noted it provided an opportunity to emphasize its focus on entertainment.
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 ; later pushed back to However, the legal name of the company remains as World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.
In March , WWE decided to create two separate rosters, with each group of wrestlers appearing on one of their main programs, Raw and SmackDown! This was dubbed as the " brand extension ". Beginning in a draft lottery was held nearly every year to set the rosters, with the first draft to determine the inaugural split rosters, and subsequent drafts designed to refresh the rosters of each show.
The new ECW program aired until February 16, Beginning with the August 29, 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, The training facility is targeted at career and athletic development for the company's wrestlers. A draft took place to determine 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, , WWE introduced a new program specifically for their cruiserweight division wrestlers lbs. WWE currently has over wrestlers both male and female under various forms of contract, and stages over events a year around the world. WWE uses a variety of special terms in promoting their product, such as describing the wrestling industry as sports entertainment.
The fan base is referred to as "the WWE Universe". The contract with NBCUniversal expires in Each episode will be 20 minutes long and will air at 10 p. The company has actively marketed itself as a publicly traded company through presentations at investor conferences and other investor relations initiatives.
Goldfarb, President of Fullbridge, Inc. WWE signs most of its talent to exclusive contracts, meaning talent can appear or perform only on WWE programming and events. They are not permitted to appear or perform for another promotion, unless special arrangements are made beforehand.
WWE keeps all wrestlers' salary, employment length, benefits, and all other contract details strictly private. WWE classifies its professional wrestlers as independent contractors and not as employees. A study by the University of Louisville Law Review found that after applying the Internal Revenue Service IRS factor test, 16 factors "clearly indicate that wrestlers are employees".
However, as a result of WWE terming them as independent contractors, "the wrestlers are denied countless benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled".
The World Wrestling Federation had a drug-testing policy in place as early as , initially run by an in-house administrator. In , wrestlers were subjected to independent testing for anabolic steroids for the first time. The Talent Wellness Program is a comprehensive drug, alcohol, and cardiac screening program initiated in February , two months after the sudden death of one of their highest-profile and most popular talents, Eddie Guerrero , who died at years-old. After the double-murder and suicide committed by one of its performers, Chris Benoit , with a possible link to steroid abuse encouraged by WWE, the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform requested that WWE turn over any material regarding its talent wellness policy.
In August , WWE and its employees defended the program in the wake of several busts of illegal pharmacy that linked WWE performers to steroid purchases even after the policy was put into place.
Ten professional wrestlers were suspended for violating the Wellness Policy after reports emerged they were all customers of Signature Pharmacy in Orlando, Florida. According to a statement attributed to WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt, an eleventh wrestler was later added to the suspension list.
Because of the Wellness Policy, physicians were able to diagnose one of its performers with a heart ailment that would otherwise likely have gone unnoticed until it was too late. The ailment was discovered while Assad was going through a routine Wellness Policy checkup. On September 13, , WWE updated their list of banned substances to include muscle relaxers. During the s and s, Dr. 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.
This led to a series of lawsuits filed by both companies as the Monday Night War heated up. The lawsuit went on for years, ending with a settlement in The suit alleged that Wittenstein violated a non-disclosure agreement and shared confidential information with the WWE which represented a comparative advantage in negotiating with wrestling talent under contract with TNA.
WWF broke kayfabe by having television commentator Jim Ross repeatedly tell those watching live on pay-per-view that what had just transpired was not a wrestling angle or storyline and that Hart was hurt badly, emphasizing the seriousness of the situation. The cause of death was later revealed to be internal bleeding from blunt force trauma. The WWF management controversially chose to continue the event. In , fifteen years after his death, the WWE Network aired the event for the first time.
A small photo tribute is shown before the start informing fans that Hart died during the original broadcast. All footage of Hart was edited out of the event. The statement reads: "In Memory of Owen Hart May 7, — May 23, who accidentally passed away during this broadcast. The lawsuit centered on USA's contention that it did not have to match every aspect of a Viacom offer to satisfy a right of first refusal clause in its contract that allowed its deal with the WWFE to continue.
In , Titan Sports had entered into an agreement with the World Wide Fund for Nature also trademarked WWF , an environmental organization, regarding Titan's use of the "WWF" acronym, which both organizations had been using since at least March Under the agreement, Titan had agreed to cease using the written acronym "WWF" in connection with its wrestling promotion, and to minimize though not eliminate spoken uses of "WWF" on its broadcasts, particularly in scripted comments.
In exchange, the environmental group and its national affiliates agreed to drop any pending litigation against Titan, and furthermore agreed not to challenge Titan's use of the full "World Wrestling Federation" name or the promotion's then-current logo. Additionally, past references to the WWF trademark and initials in 'specified circumstances' became censored. Furthermore, the company could still make use of the full "World Wrestling Federation" and "World Wrestling Federation Entertainment" names without consequence.
It also asserted a violation of the rights to original music used by ECW that WWE had been using during the Invasion storyline of