It started in 1982, when Vince McMahon bought his father’s business, Capitol Wrestling. Then the World Wrestling Federation became World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Now known solely as WWE since 2011, this sports entertainment, media and merchandising conglomerate continues to evolve.
Paul “Triple H” Lévesque explains the evolution by saying, “social media is the conversation, WWE creates conversation ... and the conversation continues 24 hours. We are closing in on the 900 million to a billion social media followers, we have the number one sports channel on You Tube, the number one overall channel of anything on You Tube.”
Roman Reigns will be participating in his fourth straight WrestleMania next month in New Orleans, he says, “to be a family company and then go to publicly traded company .. we're now in millions of millions of households and there are only so many forms of entertainment that can say that. The growth and progression has been crazy.”
McMahon has always been credited with being ahead of the curve, infusing new personalities to add to the drama. This year, it’s former UCF Fighter Ronda Rousey, who will go by the name “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. She says coming to the WWE was just meant to be, “When I was fighting my heart out in the UFC, I had no idea that WWE was in my future ...and I think that all of these experiences have given me faith that everything happens for a reason.”
WWE has announced its bringing WrestleMania 35 back to Met Life Stadium, for April 7th 2019. It will be a weeklong celebration, including events at Barclays Center like Monday Night RAW and Smackdown LIVE. Having a WrestleMania in the New York Area connects with its history. Stephanie McMahon, Chief Brand Officer of WWE, talks about her father’s Vince’s vision, “my dad had the vision of WrestleMania, which is our version of the Super Bowl ... and unfortunately my grandfather passed away ... right before it happened, and to and my parents mortgaged everything they owned to make WrestleMania one happen, that's how much my dad believed it.”
The WWE and the New York arena have had a long time love affair, going back to WrestleMania One at Madison Square Garden in 1985, where it became a Pay Per View Pioneer in live sports programming. In 2013, at Met Life Stadium, WrestleMania 29 grossed over $72-million. What could WrestleMania 35 do next year? The numbers could be astounding. Stephanie McMahon says, “WrestleMania will drive north of a hundred million dollars in economic impact for any of the regions that we visit.”
WWE never denies it’s matches are purely entertainment and story line driven. John Cena has forever taken advantage of the storylines, especially when they become real life for him, saying “I asked a woman to marry me and she said yes. It does not get any better than that.”
Now more than ever, WWE is part of the mainstream, and Roman Reigns sees the difference, saying “you can go to a lot of our events and you look in the front row and you see a lot of celebrities and I think it's cool to see and get that respect from other entertainers.”
The respect comes online as well. The WWE streaming network has over 1.5-million subscribers, where they’ll be watching WrestleMania 34 on Sunday, April 8th, Live from New Orleans.