In the late 1980s, wrestling had developed into a tremendously popular entertainment. At the beginning of the wrestling business there was the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). It had rival entities but none of them came close to the nationwide attention that WWF had achieved. Here’s how to understand the history of WWF.
WWF was the brainchild of promoter Vince McMahon. It started when Roderick James "Jess" McMahon decided to enter the wrestling business in 1915. Of course, several divergences and conflicts were encountered by the late Jess in putting up the business. It was not easy promoting wrestling when there was boxing. Jess died in 1976. The company was taken over by his son Vincent K. McMahon in 1983.
The late McMahon had previously established the northeastern region as one of the most lively constituents of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) by distinguishing that professional wrestling was more about amusement than sport. In the wrestling industry, territory is paramount. Vincent K. McMahon had an audacious vision. He was planning to take a venture that would put both the WWF, and his own life, in danger.
Vincent let the WWF leave the NWA for the second time which set the groundwork for his audacious experiment. Other wrestling promoters got angry when Vincent K. McMahon started marketing and syndicating WWF shows to TV stations across United States of America. McMahon also started advertising video tapes of WWF events in the outer northeast. In short, he effectively ruined the spoken commandment among the American wrestling industry. McMahon would even use the earnings generated by advertising, tape sales, and TV deals to pirate talent from rival promoters. What happened was Wrestling promoters nation-wide versus McMahon and the WWF.
Vincent K. McMahon managed to tour a wrestling federation nationally, which takes an enormous fund investment, and which eventually placed the WWF on the brink of a financial downfall. Then there was WrestleMania, a pay per view show that McMahon advertised as being the Super Bowl of professional wrestling. It was a financial victory that almost took McMahon to bankruptcy, but the second golden age of wrestling would never have happened if McMahon had been afraid to soar.
One of the talents that McMahon recruited was a young Terry Bollea, from Verne Gagne’s AWA. He bestowed Bollea the Hulk Hogan gimmick.
The period of rock and wrestling gimmick was also pioneered by Vincent K. McMahon. During WrestleMania 1, McMahon launched cross promoting with MTV with various music stars like Alice Cooper and Cyndi Lauper starring at the pay-per-view. Wrestle Mania was colorful, bright, star-studded, and at times filled with appalling circus-like gimmicks. It became an annual event, while Hulk Hogan leads the WWF’s golden age on camera.
Needless to say, McMahon’s huge ambition paid off after all. Other member promoters of the NWA could not keep up. They couldn’t try to win with McMahon’s budget, or they would eventually be forced out of business. NBC then started airing WWF shows nationwide. The WWF became the prevailing wrestling federation in North America throughout mid 1990s. That is until McMahon faced the new competitor in the person of Ted Turner’s WCW under Eric Bischoff.
WCW started pilfering talent from the WWF and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). McMahon took action by creating new superstars in order to regain the ratings war; superstars like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon (Scott Hall), and Diesel (Kevin Nash). Ultimately, CWC pirated most of these wrestlers.
The feud between two wrestling industry giants arrived at a new height in 1997, when the present WWF champion Bret Hart jump to WCW. The WWF was very alarmed about the new development, not just because of Hart’s popularity, but that some gimmicks inside the ring would be ruined since Bret Hart would be leaving. McMahon still managed to get out of that dilemma. WWF then set about introducing new characters again, but this time, they would be more extreme. Wrestlers like The Rock, Mick Foley, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and the D-Generation X stable all started from extreme wrestling. McMahon thought that the edgier stars would be enough to triumph to ratings supremacy from WCW. He was correct.
The Federation changed its name to WWE, or World Wrestling Entertainment after losing the lawsuit from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2002.