Bill Goldberg appears to be eyeing a WWE comeback. Daniel Bryan – the WWE champion is injured, which puts the title reign in doubt. John Cena is falling back to the mid card and is not a true championship contender anymore. But most of all, Vince McMahon is bleeding money.
Should the wrestling populous be worried that the once iron-covered owner of wrestling’s giant promotion is bleeding green, not red?
In a story on yahoo.com, it was reported that the WWE’s shares had ascended in the early months of 2014, gaining 89 percent in value. That helped McMahon amass a fortune on paper of $1.6 billion in mid-March. But a variety of negative factors chopped away at that valuation. WWE’s new online streaming network has picked up only an estimated 700,000 subscribers, and WWE conceded that it could lose as much as $52 million this year. That announcement cost McMahon another $325 million in March.
While McMahon has pockets deeper than most businessmen in the world, losing that kind of cash is still huge and detrimental for the man, his ego, his family, the WWE and the business in general. With a less than enthusiastic pay-per-view on the horizon on Sunday (Payback), what happens if McMahon’s losses reach $100 million?
One of the key downward forces was the announcement of a new TV deal between the WWE and NBCUniversal. Analysts estimated the $150 million deal was a 50 percent increase from the previous agreement, but had expected the deal to be double or even triple the prior one. The announcement of that agreement forced WWE’s share price from a high of about $20 to the $11 range, where it remains to this day.
The story of McMahon’s rise in the business is the stuff of lore and personal success.
Throughout the 1970s, McMahon became the prominent force in his father’s company, and over the next decade, Vince assisted his father in tripling TV syndication. He pushed for the renaming of the company to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). The young McMahon was also behind the Muhammad Ali versus Antonio Inoki match of 1976. In 1979, Vince purchased the Cape Cod Coliseum, where he promoted hockey games and concerts in addition to pro wrestling, as he began to prove that he was capable of running the WWF after his father’s retirement.
By 1980, McMahon had become chairman of the company, and Titan Sports was incorporated; in 1982, a 37-year old McMahon led Titan’s acquisition of the Capitol Wrestling Co. from his ailing father (who died in May 1984), as he and his wife Linda took control of the World Wrestling Federation.
With the company in limbo like it has never been before, it can only be inferred there will be more loses.
Bryan is on the mend. CM Punk is MIA. The Undertaker is not a viable everyday competitor. Brock Lesnar is lurking somewhere – but not on television and the idea of Kurt Angle coming back to the company is not one McMahon wants to examine. Since the end of the “Attitude Era,” wrestling has not been the popular reality program it once was. This can be attributed to cross branding, lack of competition and the retirement of good talent (Shawn Michael, Edge) and the continual use of veterans on a part-time basis (The Rock, Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Lesnar). Everything had a price.
The summer months look like their will be hotter than wrestling match in an arena near you.
Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71
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