WWE is a publicly-traded, privately-controlled integrated sports entertainment and media company dealing primarily in professional wrestling focusing on television, Internet, live events, and pay-per-view, with additional revenue sources from film, music, books, video games, product licensing, and direct product sales. Vince McMahon is the majority owner, chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company. Together with his wife Linda, his son Shane, and his daughter Stephanie McMahon-Levesque as Executive Vice President of Talent and Creative Writing, the McMahons held approximately 70% of WWE's economic interest and 96% of the voting power in the company before Linda, then Shane, left WWE in 2009.
The company's global headquarters are located in Stamford, Connecticut, with offices in Los Angeles, New York City, London, and Toronto. The company has previously operated as Titan Sports before changing to World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. in 1999, then becoming World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. in 2002, and finally WWE Inc. in April 2011.
In the past several decades, WWE has gone through numerous eras:
World Wide Wrestling FederationEdit
Launched as Capital Wrestling, Vince McMahon Sr., Gorilla Monsoon, and Arnold Skaaland were the owners of the WWWF, which was the enviably located territory in the Northeast, including New York City. Eventually, the company shortened its name to "World Wrestling Federation" in 1979 and the owners sold their shares to Vince McMahon in 1982 in a high-risk proposition, although the success of Hulkamania and WrestleMania enabled Vince Jr. to pay off the debt and obtain full control of the company. Vince McMahon kept many of the same people who the WWWF successful, including Andre The Giant, George Steele, Jimmy Snuka, Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Jesse Ventura, and others. Men like Monsoon, Classy Freddie Blassie, Skaaland, and Captain Lou Albano had "employment-for-life" privileges with the new WWF (only Albano was fired). Many of the stars of the WWWF have been inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Rock 'n' WrestlingEdit
Launched by Hulkamania, this era ended essentially around 1992 with the launch of the "New Generation." The biggest stars of the day were Hulk Hogan (by far), Andre The Giant, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Tito Santana, Superfly Jimmy Snuka, King Kong Bundy, Sgt. Slaughter, Randy "Macho Man" Savage with Miss Elizabeth, Bobby Heenan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, British Bulldogs, George "The Animal" Steele, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, The Iron Sheik, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, Hart Foundation, Honky Tonk Man, Ted DiBiase, Demolition, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, and The Ultimate Warrior. Men like Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Road Warriors, and Sting rose to fame concurrently in the NWA.
After the Rock 'n' Wrestling era faded (or rather, their stars went to other avenues), the WWF launched promotions for its New Generation era in 1992 where men like Bret Hart, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Yokozuna, Razor Ramon, Lex Luger, Bam Bam Bigelow, Sycho Sid, and Diesel became top draws. This era was best epitomized by the WWF's listing Disney as their primary business rival (in other words, they were competiting for family entertainment dollars, and the shows reflected that intent). This era was a transition period where Vince McMahon was often distracted outside the ring and its storylines were set to cruise control on an outdated formula. Consequently, WCW Monday Nitro launched in September 1995 and two years later, WCW had killed off the "New Generation" era (and almost the WWF itself). To the WWF's credit, very few wrestlers captured national attention outside of the WWF (although several stars from its previous generation had a resurrgance in popularity).
Essentially launched through the Monday Night Wars, back when the WWF was in survival mode, this "Attitude" era is marked as the time between 1997 and 2002. During the period, business went through its biggest boom since the Rock 'n' Wrestling era, and WWF had an IPO in the stock market. The biggest stars of the time were Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Vince McMahon (and the entire McMahon family), Triple H, Mankind, Undertaker, DX, Kane, Big Show, Owen Hart (unfortunately, mostly for his tragic passing), X-Pac, The Hardys and E&C Dynasty, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Jericho. Outside of WWF, men like DDP, Booker T, Goldberg, and Rey Mysterio set WCW on fire while Rob Van Dam, Raven, and others turned up the heat in ECW (even though all of them joined WWE after the Monday Night Wars ended).
Get The F OutEdit
In the years following the WWF Attitude, men like Brock Lesnar, JBL, Batista, John Cena, and Randy Orton gained more and more attention during WWE's 4-6 hours of original weekly programming, along with a mixture of the above-listed personalities. This period of time started after the WWF bought out WCW and ECW and the World Wildlife Fund won a lawsuit in England, which disabled the WWF from using "WWF.com" as its website address. Instead of changing to "WWFWrestling.com" (like "WCWWrestling.com" and "ECWWrestling.com"), Vince McMahon opted to rename the company "World Wrestling Entertainment." The next several years became an odd transition between its profitable WWF Attitude years and the coming WWE-PG years where they drained the well by relying on "shock TV." During this time, WWE separated its roster into brands (RAW and Smackdown, and later ECW). After years of trying to condition fans against calling the company "WWF," they finally opted to get the TV-14 rating out along with the F.
In 2009, CEO Linda McMahon left WWE to pursue political aspirations, and almost at the same time, WWE shifted its programming from TV-14 to PG (despite the late night timeslot on the USA Network), which was an improvement since the whole "Shock TV" concept was burned at both ends. While guys like John Cena and Rey Mysterio were already positioned perfectly to its new target demographic, men like Randy Orton, Triple H and Edge were noticeably toned down. Rising stars like CM Punk, The Miz, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, John Morrison, Wade Barrett, and Kofi Kingston had a seamless transition since they were not established in the WWF Attitude mentality. Other men like Batista, Jeff Hardy, Shawn Michaels, and JBL left WWE before the initiative reached full swing. Plenty of others (like Undertaker, Kane, and Big Show) have continued from one generation to the other without it affecting their characters one way or another.