Monday, April 11, 2011

WWE Rebranding

It's been a busy week but I wanted to comment, before Raw comes on, on the biggest news coming out of WWE last week - perhaps, going forward, superceding even Wrestlemania itself. World Wrestilng Entertainment announced last week that, in a KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) type move, it will be rebranding itself as strictly WWE, and an edict has been issued that no one affiliated with the company, from the mailroom to the boardroom, talent, etc. is to refer to 'wrestling' in association with the WWE.

The company's statement laying out this shift in direction states that

Two key components to WWE’s brand expansion will be the active pursuit to acquire entertainment content companies and the outsourcing of WWE’s core competencies – television and film production, live event production and licensing. As part of the new business model, the company will also focus on the development of new television products including scripted, non-scripted and animated programs, as well as the launch of a new WWE network in the next 12-18 months. The first new program of the brand expansion is Tough Enough®, WWE’s non-scripted program that debuted on the USA Network on Monday.

Vince McMahon went on to add:

“The new business model of the company better reflects what WWE is all about, being a global entertainment company,” stated Vince McMahon, Chairman and CEO, WWE. “We will always be loyal to our core business that made WWE a globally known entity, however, the future of WWE will be the addition of new entertainment content opportunities beyond the ring.”
Colour me dubious - it's no secret that Vince McMahon has wanted a level of legitimacy, for a long time, beyond 'pro rasslin'. And there's no question that WWE TV production, and the potential to employ their characters and other resources to other forms of media - cartoons, reality TV etc. - is strong. However, at the end of the day, their bread is buttered in the ring, and to ignore that reality - to take a 'no, but ...' instead of a 'yes, and ...' approach here, is foolhardy, and an insult, at the end of the day, to the folks who keep their company solvent. While WWE Films, for example, has been more successful than I anticipated, let's call a spade a spade here; that is NOT what made Vince a billionaire, nor is it what will keep him there.

Having said that - other than the entrenching and further obstinacy in denying WWE's wrestling core, I don't think this is a bad idea in terms of expanding Vince's purvue as a promoter extraordinaire, with an unbelievable production facility at his fingertips, etc. I also want to give kudos to their new 'Talent Development' department, headed by Paul Levesque (Triple H), who intends to expand the global scope of recruitment and liaise with organizations like Florida Championship Wrestling more effectively. Sin Cara, formerly Mistico, is the first new recruit under this department.

Definitely a time of development and change for the 'Bigger, Badder, Better' WWE. I guess my only question remains, if we are to no longer refer to 'Wrestling', what do we call the WWE's biggest show of the year going forward? ;)


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