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The WWE and the WWF, A Brief History

How old is the WWE?

Roderick James "Jess" McMahon was a boxing showman whose achievements included co-promoting a bout in 1915 between Jess Willard and Jack Johnson.

In 1926, while working with Tex Rickard (who actually hated wrestling to such an extent he prevented wrestling events from being held at Madison Square Garden between 1939 and 1948), he began promoting boxing in Madison Square Garden in New York. The first match during their partnership was a light-heavyweight championship match between Jack Delaney and Paul Berlenbach.

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Around the same time, professional wrestler Joseph Raymond "Toots" Mondt created a groundbreaking style of professional wrestling that he called Slam Bang Western Style Wrestling to make the sport more attractive to spectators.

He then organised a promotion with wrestling champion Ed Lewis and his manager Billy Sandow and managed to persuade many wrestlers to sign contracts with their Gold Dust Trio.

However, after much success, a disagreement over power caused the trio to resolve and, with it, their advancement. Mondt formed partnerships with several other showmen, including Jack Curley in New York City. When Curley was dying, Mondt moved to take over New York wrestling with the help of several bookers, one of whom was Jess McMahon.

Together, Roderick McMahon and Raymond Mondt produced the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC). The CWC got in the National Wrestling Alliance in 1953 and also in that year, Ray Fabiani, one of Mondt's associates, brought in Vincent J. McMahon to replace his father Jess in the promotion.

McMahon and Mondt were a successful combination, and within a short time, they possessed about 70% of the NWA's books, largely due to their dominance in the heavily populated Northeast region. Mondt taught McMahon about booking and how to work in the wrestling business.

World Wide Wrestling Federation

The NWA recognized an unchallenged NWA World Heavyweight Champion that went from wrestling company to wrestling company in the alignment and opposed the belt around the world. In 1963, the champion was "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers.

The majority of the NWA were unhappy with Mondt's management though because he rarely allowed Rogers to wrestle out of the Northeast and they required Rogers to keep the NWA World Championship, but Rogers was had to pay a $25,000 deposit on the belt (title holders at the time had to pay a deposit to check they would honour their commitments as champion).

On January 24, 1963 Rogers lost the NWA World Championship to Lou Thesz in a one-fall match in Toronto, Ontario, which led to Mondt, McMahon and the CWC leaving the NWA in protest and creating the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF).

In April, Rogers was presented the new WWWF World Championship following a suspicious tournament in Rio de Janeiro. He lost the title to Bruno Sammartino a month later on May 17, 1963, after suffering a heart attack concisely before the match. To accommodate Rogers' condition, the match was reserved to last under a minute.

Mondt departed the company in the late sixties for blurred reasons, likely due to old age.

Although the WWWF had retired from the NWA, Vince McMahon Sr. still modelled on the NWA Board of Directors, no other territory was recognized in the Northeast, and several "champion vs. champion" matches happened (usually ending in a double disqualification or some other non-decisive ending).

In March 1979, the WWWF went to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). The change was mainly cosmetic, and the ownership and front office personnel remained unchanged during this period.

World Wrestling Federation

The World Wrestling Federation logo that was used from 1998 - 2002 is now prohibited from being used after an agreement with the conservation organization WWF, that had sued the World Wrestling Federation for using the WWF moniker.

Business advances

On April 29, 1999, the WWF made its recall to terrestrial television by launching a special program known as SmackDown! on the fledgling UPN network. The Thursday night show became a weekly series on August 26, 1999.

On the back of the success of the Attitude Era, on October 19, 1999 the WWF's parent company, Titan Sports (by this time renamed World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. ) became a publically traded company, offering 10 million shares priced at $17 each. WWE declared its desire to diversify, including creating a nightclub in Times Square, producing feature films, and book publishing.

In 2000 the WWE, in collaboration with television network NBC, announced the creation of the XFL, a new pro football league that debuted in 2001. The conference had amazingly high ratings for the first few weeks, but initial interest waned and its ratings dumped to dismally low levels (one of its games was the lowest-rated primetime show in the history of American television). NBC walked out on the hazard after only one season, but McMahon fought to continue alone. Nevertheless, after UPN demanded that SmackDown! be cut by half an hour, McMahon shut down the XFL.

Acquisition of WCW and ECW

With the success of the WWE and the Attitude Era the WCW's already unsecured financial situation and popularity deteriorated even further, only surviving because Ted Turner maintained control over it as a result of Turner Broadcasting System's merger with Time Warner.

However, after Time Warner merged with AOL, Turner's power was considerably decreased, and the freshly merged company determined to shed its dead weight, namely the WCW, which was losing of millions of dollars every year.

In March 2001, WWE, Inc. gained World Championship Wrestling Inc. from AOL Time Warner for a reported $7 million. With this acquisition the WWF became the largest wrestling promotion in the world, and practically the only one in North America, and would remain so till the start of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling in 2002.

The WWE also acquired the Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) by in mid-2003 after it filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2001.

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