McMahon and WWE never satisfied, always evolving
When Vincent Kennedy McMahon bought out Capital Wrestling Corporation from his father, Vincent James, in 1982, no one would have predicted what the company has turned into today.
The younger McMahon was a visionary, seeing his company being the premier wrestling promotion in the country. His decisions were tough and calculated, but as of today, that vision and continually trying to improve his company into being the powerhouse it is today has paid off.
When McMahon took over his father’s company after establishing Titan Sports, Inc in 1979 with his wife, Linda, he made his first big decision in making the newly formed World Wrestling Federation available for syndicated television, thus eliminating the territories in wrestling industry using income gained from the television deals, advertising, and tape sales to secure talent from the rival promoters. One of his big acquisitions was that of one Hulk Hogan, an icon in the wrestling industry, along with talents such as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, the Iron Sheik, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, and Jesse “The Body” Ventura.
The WWF began traveling nationally and was also seen on NBC as the “Saturday Night Main Event”, beginning in 1985. During that time, McMahon came up with the idea of WrestleMania, a major success thanks to the buildup of it as the “Super Bowl” of the WWF and was an extravaganza with celebrities making guest appearances as well as coverage from MTV. The big turnout at the Pontiac Silverdome for WrestleMania III in 1987 was a sight to see as 93,173 were in attendance and the 33 million viewers on television, a record at the time for most watched in North America, were witnesses to the iconic matchup of Hogan versus Andre The Giant for the WWF Heavyweight Championship and Steamboat pitted against the “Macho King” Randy Savage for the Intercontinental Championship, which is still considered by many as the greatest wrestling match of all time.
In 1993, with the “New Age Era” in full effect with talents such as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Monday Night Raw was introduced. Later in the decade, Smackdown, with the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, aired on Thursday nights, and pitted themselves for airway supremacy with World Championship Wrestling (WCW). McMahon and the WWE took control thanks in part to his television feud with Austin and the emergence of The Rock. The loss of ratings, along with the merger of Time Warner and AOL, WCW was sold to McMahon and the WWE in 2001, as well as the bankrupt Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). McMahon’s vision had come true, as his newly formed WWE had become the biggest wrestling promotion globally.
That year wasn’t a complete success for McMahon as he tried to complete with the another huge sports corporation, the National Football League (NFL), with his formation of the XFL. The league folded after one year by not being renewed on television by NBC due to a financial loss and bad television ratings, it didn’t deter him from giving the idea a try. What he can take credit for is his league had on-the-field innovations that the NFL uses today that gives more access to the viewers at home with the on-the-field microphone used in real time and the different camera angles used throughout the game thanks to sky cam, the overhead camera which spans the length of the entire football field.
Speaking of access to fans, that was the WWE’s next great venture with the creation of the WWE Network in February 2014. A 24-hour channel which gives anyone access for a subscription of less than $10 per month. Fans get access to matches from past WWE shows as well as from WCW and ECW. The channel also includes live shows and pay-per-views, including this year’s WrestleMania in Dallas, TX. The network has been another huge success for the company with it being one the top five streaming channels in the world as it has reached people around the globe, another vision McMahon had that came to light.
McMahon can sit back and take in what he has built with his company. But as the past has indicated, he and the WWE will do no such thing and will continue to build new heights for the sports entertainment giant.