WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE Name Change Recalls A Series Of Past Entertainment Bombs

Vince McMahon has changed the name of the WWESo the WWE has again changed its name. What was once the World Wide Wrestling Federation, World Wrestling Federation, and World Wrestling Entertainment is now just WWE. Well, WWE as an abbreviation is simpler, and in the grand scheme it won’t change whether plotlines are good or wrestlers get over.

But from a symbolic point of view, the move of the company to be known just by its initials is yet another strange step in Vince McMahon fleeing from his core product. It’s as if he’s embarrassed about wrestling.

You don’t often hear the word “wrestling” on Monday Night Raw or SmackDown. Instead, it’s “sports entertainment.” And the athletes are not wrestlers, they are superstars or divas. You can’t even call a championship a belt any more.

And did any of you catch the exchange that a writer from TVWeek.com had with a WWE spokesperson? According to that writer’s account, the spokesperson actually preferred that TVWeek.com remove a brief about the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony because the headline to the blurb mentioned pro wrestling.

People have compared the WWE’s name shortening to what Kentucky Fried Chicken did in 1991 when it simply became KFC. But Colonel Sanders never insisted that people refer to his product as “poultry protein” instead of chicken. And ironically, KFC reverted back to Kentucky Fried Chicken in 2006, although anyone who eats at these restaurants was never fooled in the first place.

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McMahon said in a WWE press release that the WWE wants to become an entertainment company. The WWE’s track record is littered with McMahon failures in this regard, whether it’s the current movie division, the XFL, the World Bodybuilding Federation, the 1989 film No Holds Barred, or the terrible Wrestling Album from 1985. Through it all, McMahon is desperate to be what he is not.

If Vince acted less like the Mr. McMahon character in real life and more like a normal Joe, his luck might be better. McMahon should borrow Chris Jericho’s notes on how to successfully branch out without people scoffing at him. Jericho knows how to leave the wrestling persona behind and act like a professional in his other lives as a rock singer, dancer, or game show host. And it’s clear Jericho studies his new passions. In contrast, I don’t think any of us could reasonably say that McMahon has ever studied what makes for a good movie.

So what’s next? It sounds like McMahon is serious about expansion, so new deals must be coming. But for wrestling fans in particular, based on past patterns, I seriously think WrestleMania may be the next emasculation. I would not be surprised to hear that event’s name become truncated to “WWE Mania” within a few years.

Scott Wallask has followed wrestling for 30 years and writes about growing up watching the WWF in the 1980s on his blog Boston Garden Balcony.

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Scott Wallask

Scott Wallask has followed wrestling for 30 years and writes about growing up watching the WWF in the 1980s on his blog the Boston Garden Balcony.

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