(Orlando, Fla.) In a shocking move, Vincent Kennedy McMahon, majority owner and chairman of publicly traded company World Wrestling Entertainment (NYSE: WWE) sold his wrestling promotion to Panda Energy International, the major stakeholder in rival promotion Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.
The two parties had engaged in secret negotiations in the weeks prior to Wrestlemania 26 and kept the deal shielded from the public eye. The WWE's board of directors approved the transaction at 10:32 PM EST last night and the deal is expected to be approved by the SEC and finalized later this week.
Dixie Carter, President of TNA, issued a public statement about the deal. "We would like to thank the McMahon family for being cooperative throughout the whole process. We want them to remain on board as we begin an exciting new chapter in the history of professional wrestling."
In recent years, the McMahons had reportedly grown tired of running the company. Shane McMahon resigned to pursue an endeavor in Mixed Martial Arts, Linda McMahon announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate, and Stephanie McMahon became pregnant with her second set of octuplets.
The company was originally known as the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). It shortened the name to World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1979. In 2002, as a result of legal troubles with the World Wildlife Foundation, the company became known by its present name, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Panda Energy expects to change the brand's name to the National Extreme World Championship Wrestling Federation of Honor (NEWCWFH). This brand will have a five-sided ring and its own show on the Food Network.
There have been numerous controversies within the company throughout the years, especially regarding steroids and the health of its performers. There has been speculation that the new owners will harden its stance on the use of performance enhancing drugs.
"We will create a leadership council made up of top talent from both promotions," said Jeff Jarrett. "This council will be responsible for setting up rules and regulations regarding drug use. They will monitor behavior and report any violations to ownership." So far, it has been reported that Sean Waltman, Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio Jr, Scott Hall and Scott Steiner will lead the council.
It is also expected that TNA will integrate WWE wrestlers into a storyline where the WWE invades "The Impact Zone" and try to take it over. It is expected that team WWE will be led by A.J. Styles, Sting, Kurt Angle, Hornswoggle, and John Cena. Cena, the former WWE champion, lost his title to Ric Flair in a double retirement match at the WWE's last house show.
Ric Flair incidentally was happier than anyone about the purchase. There had been a great deal of tension between Flair and McMahon dating back to Flair's stinct as co-owner of the then World Wrestling Federation. In 2001, Flair led a consortium of investors who purchased 50 percent of WWF's controlling shares. This led to a violent street fight between Flair and McMahon which was captured on tape at the 2002 Royal Rumble.
Later on, Flair was defeated in a winner-take-all match and was forced to sell his share of the WWE back to McMahon. This led to the supreme court case (Flair vs. McMahon) where the nation's highest court decided, 7-2, that Brock Lesnar F5ing Flair during the match, did not constitute a material breach of contract.
Though reaction around the WWE locker room has been mostly positive, not all of its superstars are happy. Paul Levesque, who wrestled under the moniker Triple H, sharply criticized the company's new owners. "TNA continuously engages in nepotism," said Levesque. "The Jarretts constantly give themselves world titles and they and refuse to put over the young guys."
To alleviate Levesque's fears of being held back, they plan on having him form a group with John Morrison, Awesome Kong, and Verne Troyer, who starred as "Mini-Me" in the Austin Powers Series. They hope that this completely original stable can entertain viewers with humorous PG segments.
The business world has taken particular interest in this deal. Free from the responsibility of running a wrestling company, Vince McMahon is trying to start his own Curling League, The XCL (Xtreme Curling League). The league, expected to compete directly against Olympic Curling by 2014, will combine smashmouth hardcore curling with miscellaneous shots of half-naked Curlers in the women's locker room.
It has also been reported that readers of the Bleacher Report have been tapping their feet impatiently, waiting for the inevitable...
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