Jan. 10, 2015
WWE is Founded in 1952
On January 7, 1952, the precursor to what is now WWE(World Wrestling Entertainment) was founded. It was on this day that Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt created Capitol Wrestling Corporation that later become what we know now as WWE.
Jess McMahon was a very successful promoter in the first half of the 20th Century booking a range of sporting events. He was the co-promoter for the famous heavyweight boxing championship match between champion Jack Johnson and challenger Jess Willard in Havana, Cuba in 1915 where Willard dethroned Johnson. Besides boxing, he booked basketball events and with the help of Tex Rickard, he began promoted boxing events at Madison Square Garden.
Toots Mondt was a successful wrestler that got his big break from wrestling pioneer Farmer Burns. Before 1919, it was common to wrestling matches last 60 minutes with the majority of the action taking place on the mat which was a large reason it eventually went to time limit draws to speed up the offense and predetermined finishes. Thus he created a promotion called “Slam Bang Western Style Wrestling” that introduced a new form of wrestling with Greco-Roman and freestyle mixed in.
With the help of wrestler Ed Lewis and manager Billy Sandow, they convinced many wrestlers to join their Gold Dust Trio in their new promotion. Over time, the relationship dissolved and Mondt formed partnerships with other promoters and bookers with one of them being Jess McMahon.
So with McMahon and Mondt, they formed what would eventually be called Capitol Wrestling Corporation in 1952. The next year, the two decided to join the NWA(National Wrestling Alliance). In 1954, Jess died and Mondt’s partner Ray Fabiani brought in Vincent James McMahon as they soon had majority control of NWA’s booking.
Long before CPC was formed, Mondt could not book in New York City because rival promoter Jack Curley prevented him and Fabiani from booking there. After Curley’s death, Mondt had a plan of taking over New York which was vital to survival in the industry.
Jess’ promoter Tex Rickard hated wrestling so much that he blocked events from taking place at Madison Square Garden for over a decade until 1948 when a card headlined by “Gorgeous” George, who would later become the industry’s biggest draw and star ever, won the main event that night as the featured attraction on the card.
In 1949, he had a star by the name of Antonio Rocca that drew crowds in numbers at Madison Square Garden on a consistent basis and was the main event on nearly every card there. With financial backing and huge star power from Rocca, Mondt and McMahon had control of the biggest market which led and helped them to create Capitol Wrestling Corporation.
In 1963, both Mondt and Vince McMahon Sr left the NWA in dispute over the booking of Buddy Rogers as heavyweight champion. As a result, they formed World Wide Wrestling Federation(WWWF) with Rogers as their champion before he lost to Bruno Sammartino later in the year. Sammartino demanded a match with Rogers after on-going issues with McMahon Sr. Sammartino’s run as champion ended up being the longest ever in WWE history after defeating Rogers in just 48 seconds.
Mondt would eventually leave the company in the late 1960s and they had rejoined the NWA in the early 1970s. They were doing well business-wise and had Sammartino as a huge draw for them throughout the 1970s in heavily populated northeast. By 1979, the World Wide Wrestling Federation became World Wrestling Federation.
Around the same time, Vince McMahon’s son Vince K. McMahon, started a company called Titan Sports, Inc before it became incorporated in 1980. Two years later, he bought out his father’s operations and moved its headquarters to Greenwich, Connecticut. In 1985, he moved its headquarters to Stamford, CT.
Sadly, Vince Sr wouldn’t be around to see how huge the promotion would be after dying in 1984.
McMahon eventually withdrew from the NWA in 1983 and began a process of expanding his company not only national, but worldwide. Although he angered promoters and was moving into other established territories, McMahon immediately worked on getting syndicated television across the nation. As income increased due to advertising and television deals, he began to use that to lure in talent for his promotion.
McMahon worked to bring back Hulk Hogan after he was working in the AWA and had previously worked for Vince Sr. But after achieving fame for his role as Thunderlips in Rocky III, he was seen by McMahon as the face of the company. More stars like Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Jesse Ventura, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, Iron Sheik, Junkyard Dog, and Paul Orndorff came to the WWF as they gained momentum across the country.
But it was a grand idea that McMahon had for WrestleMania in 1985 that was to make or break the company he took over. Although the idea for a super card was nothing new, it was something that had to be accessible to those that didn’t follow wrestling for it to work. That same year, wrestling was broadcast on network television for the first time since the 1950s with Saturday Night’s Main Event being introduced to NBC.
The expansion process worked and it forced many territories and promoters out of business while talent jumped ship to McMahon’s promotion. He changed the industry with the expansion as the wrestling boom of the 1980s hit its peak with the highly successful WrestleMania III event in 1987.
However in the early 1990s, the company was hit with a PR nightmare when steroid allegations came to the forefront. Although McMahon was found not guilty in distributing them, it cost the company dearly. They did have testing done by an administrator before it stopped in the mid-1990s, but after the death of Eddie Guerrero in 2005, the WWE Talent Wellness Program was implemented.
In 1993, WWF introduced Monday Night Raw which became so much of a huge success that their main competitor, WCW, started one of their own a little over two years later with Monday Nitro.
The Monday Night Wars began.
Although WCW had momentum in 1996 on the heels of the nWo angle, stars such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Mick Foley were brought in after working for the competitor. "The Rock" Dwayne Johnson would also become a big draw after he first debuted in 1996 and would later become a huge movie star. Austin would become the company’s biggest draw although the huge turning point came with the Montreal Screwjob finish that led to the controversial exit of long-time associate Bret Hart from WWF to WCW.
By 1999, WWF turned the tide on WCW. Two years later, WCW(who was owned by Time Warner AOL after their merger) was bought out by McMahon and with it became the largest promotion in the world. They later purchased ECW after their filing for bankruptcy as well.
In 2002, the company changed its name and promotion to World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. The Corporate office announced in 2011 that they were WWE and not the full name of World Wrestling Entertainment.
Over the years, the company would split the brands up with stars on Raw and Smackdown before that was done away with due to the number of stars on the roster after buying out WCW.
In 2013, a facility for sports medicine and training was built after a partnership with Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL which is used to help with the development and athletic performance of incoming talent.
The WWE Network was launched in February of 2014 and includes past events from its library to go along with it being a 24/7 streaming network.
The company is also known for its Tribute To The Troops campaign that is done every year as well as other charitable causes such as the Susan G. Komen for the Cure for breast cancer every October since 2012.
Vince K. McMahon’s daughter Stephanie as well as son-in-law Paul Levesque(known as Triple H) have key roles in the company. Stephanie is the Chief Brand Officer while Triple H is the Executive Vice President. Vince’s son Shane also worked for WWE as a performer, referee, and as Vice President of Global Media before resigning in 2010.
What started out in the heavily populated northeast as Capitol Wrestling Corporation has turned into the largest wrestling promotion around the world. Though it has had significant obstacles to overcome in its path here, it is available to watch in nearly every country on the planet. Even in recent times of struggle, it has always found a way to avoid financial collapse. It’s still the worldwide leader in the wrestling industry and it’s hard to think what the industry would be like if not for the chance Vince K. McMahon took to make it national and worldwide.