WWE: Publicly Traded Since 1999: Why Pro Wrestling and Wall Street Don't Mix

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IMarch 4, 2012

Photo: wallstreetoasis.com
Photo: wallstreetoasis.com

The WWE is a world-recognized, multimillion-dollar company that is more than just professional wrestling or “sports entertainment.”

Since becoming a publicly traded company in October 1999, the WWE has re-branded itself on several occasions: World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, World Wrestling Entertainment and now simply WWE.

While the title changes over the years have been slight, the WWE’s corporate model has evolved, and it seems that the company’s focus has shifted significantly from its core fundamentals of sports entertainment to include so much more.

This obviously is the norm when companies have stockholders who have an actual vote on what they think will make the company successful as whole.

Even though the WWE uses the sports entertainment moniker and tries to hide the fact that they are rooted in professional wrestling, they can’t ignore that most wrestling fans to this day still see the WWE as a professional wrestling promotion.

It would appear that if Vince McMahon and the WWE shareholders could get away with it, they would abolish the wrestling ring entirely and just have WWE superstars running around speaking to each other in storyline-driven television.

That is a great concept if the WWE wasn’t rooted in pro wrestling. If it wasn’t for Vince McMahon Sr. and his determination to make the WWE the best wrestling promotion in the business, the WWE might not have had the opportunity to make it on Wall Street.

The WWE stockholders, and to a lesser extent Vince McMahon Jr., have totally ignored the fundamentals of professional wrestling on which the WWE has survived for more than 50 years.

This is an excerpt from the WWE’s Quarterly Report from December, 2011.

The unexpected loss of the services of Vincent K. McMahon could adversely affect our ability to create popular characters and creative storylines or could otherwise adversely affect our operating results.

In addition to serving as Chairman of our Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. McMahon leads the creative team that develops the storylines and the characters for our televised programming and live events. Mr. McMahon, from time to time, has also been an important member of our cast of performers.

The loss of Mr. McMahon due to unexpected retirement, disability, death or other unexpected termination for any reason could have a material adverse effect on our ability to create popular characters and creative storylines or could otherwise adversely affect our operating results.

From a business standpoint, the company would suffer a tremendous blow if Vince McMahon Jr. passed away or was unable to continue as principal owner and as part of the creative team of the WWE.

Stocks would go down, the company would lose money and the stockholders would lose profits, no question.

But from a professional wrestling standpoint, it would not mean the death of the company. Yes, Vince McMahon has a very creative mind for the business of professional wrestling, and his fingerprint is embedded in the company.

But the business of professional wrestling or sports entertainment would soldier on. Vince McMahon Sr. passed away, and a new heir took over. When Vince McMahon Jr. passes away or is no longer able to run the WWE, a new heir will carry the company.

If a non-pro wrestling fan were to read that excerpt, he or she would be under the impression that Vince McMahon is the only one who is able to hold the WWE together.

But most hardcore pro wrestling fans have at least a base knowledge on how storylines are created, how wrestlers’ characters evolve and how matches are put together.

Bottom line, the WWE needs people who know pro wrestling to be entrenched in the company. The WWE would survive if it was no longer a publicly traded company, but the stockholders and Wall Street would want people to believe that without them the WWE would not exist.

Professional wrestling and sports entertainment has survived as an art form for quite some time and would do just fine without the men in the red ties and dark suits trying to embed themselves in a business that they have no earthly idea on how it works.