Essay, Research Paper: WWF Wrestling


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The company that I researched for this paper is the World Wrestling Federation
Entertainment. The company was organized and founded in the early 1940’s by
Vincent McMahon Sr. The current owner and CEO is McMachon’s son, Vincent
Kennedy McMahon Jr. The World Wrestling Federation (WWF) is headquarters in the
Titan Tower, in Stamford Connecticut. The WWF specializes in the area of Pro
Wrestling, which are “scripted fights” in which highly trained athletes
simulate a fighting experience. The “sport” of Pro Wrestling has been around
since the middle of the 19th century. In early times the “fighting” was real
(in fact Abe Lincoln was an early wrestling champion) but the fighting turned
“fake” in the early 1990’s. The performers in Pro Wrestling are regarded
as independent contractors who sign with an individual company to perform
exclusively with that company. There are currently no unions, benefits, or
retirement plans for any of the wrestling performers, a controversial topic in
the industry. This practice may change in the future. Today, Pro Wrestling is a
billion dollar business with its “performers” recognized throughout the
civilized world. The are a wide variety of products and services offered by the
WWF. The main service offered by the company is entertainment by way of
television programming. The WWF produces a number of television shows throughout
the United States and abroad, and have had a tremendous amount of success. Many
of their recent successes have been: - announced approximately a 230% increase
for television advertising gross sales for calendar fourth quarter at $33
million compared to $10 million in calendar fourth quarter 1998 ( -The
success of their flag ship program, RAW IS WAR, on the USA Cable Network. Which
is currently averaging around a 7.0 market share on Monday nights. It is the
number #1 show with the male 16-34 year old audience. ( -The WWF
recently introduced the newest show, SMACKDOWN, on the UPN Network, on Thursday
nights. The show is a run away success for the station and WWF averaging a
Neilson rating in the middle fours. -The WWF also produces two other successful
shows in Sunday Night HEAT, and WWF SUPERSTARS. And the company has shows in
national syndication with WWF Jakked and WWF Livewire. The WWF specializes in
Pay Per View broadcasting. The WWF has these “specials” once a month and
have run these specials since 1985, being the largest revenue earner in Pay 2
Per View history (Mike Tyson is second on the list). For example the past WWF
Pay Per View, “Royal Rumble 2000,” drew a 1.58 buy rate, which would
translate into about 600,000 buys. The special aired for $29.99 by most cable
and satellite dish providers. The WWF also does extremely well selling tickets
for these live events to be aired on television. They have a streak of roughly
around three years with straight sellouts for their “live feed” broadcast
(with include Raw Is War’s, Smackdown’s, and the Pay Per Views). The WWF
also put their stamp on other projects. They have a large hand in merchandising
souvenirs for their fans. Items such as shirts, hats, posters, keychains, beer
holders, etc... can be purchased at live shows, a local shopping mall, or at Recently the WWF has expanded its company. This past fall, the WWF
released several million IPO’s and gained over 1.5 billion dollars in capital
from the stock. With this increase in capital the WWF (for its second year)
purchased air time during the Superbowl. In 1999 the WWF was 3rd on the USA
Today “Best New Company Commercial” list. Also, this past month the WWF has
announced plans to create a new football league, titled the XFL. The league has
announced six of eight cities that will participate this January. The WWF also
dabbled in the realm of literature this past year. WWF superstar “Mankind”
a.k.a. Mick Foley and his book, “Have a Nice Day” spent 5 weeks at number
one a top the New York Times Best Sellers List. And WWF superstar “The
Rock,” a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson spent seven weeks in the N.Y. Times Best Sellers
Top Five.Overall this is a company with a wide variety of successful products
and services. THE FUTURE OF WRESTLING The future of this industry is very strong
as the WWF has destroyed its Compitition for the past three years, as I’ll
talk more about. With the substantial increase in capital from the IPO, the WWF
has vowed to improve their technical and television capabilities, which should
result in a growth for the company. However it is the view of many that the
popularity of the WWF has hit its peak. For example in the mid 1980’s the WWF
had the kind of success it has today, but suffered tremendously in the early
1990’s with the company running in the red. Due to a tremendous increase in
popularity in 1997, the company has thrived. The WWF has taken precautions
against trying to broaden itself past the “wrestling” part of the
entertainment. They have plans to run the XFL, and to expand into more
television and movie productions. As a whole the numbers (like Neilson numbers,
Pay Per View numbers,) 3 have been increasing with the “wrestling” boom of
the 1990’s. Even if Pro Wrestling loses ground in the new millennium, the WWF
has prepared to survive and thrive. It makes sense that the economy would have a
effect on the revenue of Pro Wrestling. After all as the economy suffers,
individuals would have less disposable income. With less disposable income,
consumers will spend less on entertainment. This could have be a factor in the
difficult financial period the WWF suffered in the early 90’s, which coincide
with the 1990-1991 recessions. However there is no substantial evidence to say
that the economy has a the kind of direct effect on the wrestling industry, than
it does, for example, on the auto industry. COMPETITION As I mentioned earlier
the WWF does have direct competitors. Its number one competitor is the Atlanta
based, World Championship Wrestling (WCW). The WCW owned by Ted Turner, and run
by Dr. Harvey Shiller. The WCW was purchased by Turner in the early 80’s from
Jim Crockett. Since that purchase Mr. Turner sunk millions of dollars into
making WCW a lucrative endeavor. And although the company did enjoy Neilson
success in the 90’s, the company has not shown much financial success.
Currently the WWF is dominating the WCW in every phase, demonstrated by the fact
that WCW changed in flagship show “WCW Monday Nirto” in order to get out of
direct Compitition with the WWF. WCW still however runs shows under TNT and its
sister station TBS, along with many shows in syndication. A smaller competitor
has been the Philidaphia based Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). This
company is owned and operated by Paul Heymen. The company recently signed a
television contract with The Nashville Network, but continues to lag behind the
WWF and WCW as a serious competitor. Overall the number one factor in judging a
company’s success in this industry is revenue. The WWF and its Compitition are
the most competitive when it comes to the Neilson Ratings wars, and the battle
for television advertisers. At any respected wrestling website, the Neilson
ratings for each WWF program is broken down for fans and investors. For example,
when the WWF and WCW went head to head on Monday Nights, websites would break
the Neilson Ratings down by 15 minute intervals, in order to see which
performers scored big with TV audiences. The competition became almost absurd.
The intensity of the competition has died down since WCW bowed out, and moved
their programming away from the Monday Night 9pm to 11pm eastern spot, but
ratings are still 4 posted all around the Internet. The success of the wrestling
industry is also judged on the success of merchandise sales. This is also a hot
competition among the performers due to the fact that royalties are distributed
to performers for sales of products with their likenesses. Also the Pay Per View
buyrates and revenue from the audience profits have been used to judge the
success of the companies in this industry. The global market has had a distinct
effect on the industry. The WWF sends its programming to over 50 countries world
wide. They hold a large percentage of their live shows in Canada. They have held
two exclusive Pay Per Views in the United Kingdom (their strongest overseas
market). The WWF recently has gained popularity in Japan. Japan was also witness
to a strong wrestling boom in the 1980’s with two very popular companies, New
Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling. The Japanese culture, differs
in regards to wrestling, as opposed to North America. A handful of performers in
Japan, from the 1980’s, were actually elected to the equilivalent to the
United States Senate, in Japan. Today, the Japanese wrestling boom has died down
but remains steady, and is a very attractive market for the WWF to reach in the
future. As far as employment in this industry, the available jobs are as broad
as the products themselves. The most difficult employment opportunity to obtain
is that of a performer. There are hundreds of “wrestling schools” across the
country loaded with hopeful performers who hope to hit it big. Many of these
hopefuls travel the country performing in “independent” organizations (any
company outside the WWF,WCW,or ECW) trying to make it in the big time. MTV
recently aired a special where they followed some older wrestlers who had been
trying to enter the big leagues for many years, unsuccessfully. These performers
usually barely earned enough money to cover their expenses. To earn a profitable
spot as a performer is extremely difficult and most hopefuls do not succeed.
However, due to the increasing success of the World Wrestling Federation, many
business jobs are opening up in the industry. The WWF runs just like any other
big time corporation. They have a very stong marketing, advertising
departments,an accounting department, a human resources department all which
have lucrative employment opportunities.At the WWF headquarters in Stamford, the
company has many employment opportunities in the TV production field, such as
writers, producers, camera, make-up, etc..... WHY I CHOSE TO RESEARCH THIS
INDUSTRY I chose to research this topic due to the love of professional
wrestling since my early childhood. I have followed wrestling since the days of
“Hulkamania”, up to the present status 5 of the WWF. I would say that I am
discouraged from pursuing a career in pro wrestling because of my major being
criminal justice. I took this class as an elective hoping to gain more knowledge
about the business world. With graduation creeping up this May, I plan to work
either in the field of politics or law enforcement as a future profession. I
recently interned in politics with the Community-Oriented Policing Services
(COPS) congressional relations division of the United States Department of
Justice. I have also interned in law enforcement with the Cleveland Heights
Police Department Detective Bureau. For the past couple of months I have applied
for jobs with the Department of Justice, and also many police departments around
the Cleveland area. I hope to get a job soon after graduation and see if it is
right for me. If not, move on to another profession that I enjoy working in. The
background needed for a job in politics would be either a major in political
science, criminal justice and/or an internship and knowledge in that area. I was
very fortunate to get the internship with the Department of Justice and learned
a great deal about Congress and Legislature. for a job in law enforcement,
background may vary. Police departments require an associates degree or high
school diploma. For federal law enforcement a bachelor’s degree and a couple
of years experience is required for appointment.
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