In a fascinating turn of events, the professional wrestling scene has been churning with news concerning WWE, UFC, and TKO Group Holdings.
Early indications from PWInsider suggest that WWE, under the leadership of CEO Nick Khan, is bracing itself for a new wave of staff layoffs as part of the reshuffling following the merger with UFC and the post-sale transition to Endeavor. Khan has sensitively approached the potentially disruptive process and has ensured that all staff conversations are handled privately and respectfully.
Meanwhile, at the BofA Securities Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, FOX CEO Steve Tomsic showed a firm and clinical approach and declined to comment about a potential renewal of FOX’s media rights deal with WWE for SmackDown. Tomsic emphasized their priority to secure long-term extensions for what they deem “foundational rights.”
On the recruitment front, WWE has announced a new Campus Rush collegiate athlete recruitment tour for their WWE NIL program, which is slated to take place across six universities and colleges from September 14th to December 6th. This exciting development suggests that even amidst a period of restructuring, the WWE is committed to scouting fresh talent and promoting their brand at a grassroots level.
In recent WWE news, it was learned that Bayley, a popular WWE wrestler, is putting her ring worn gear up for auction to support animals affected by the Maui wildfires. At the same time, a piece of not-so-great news arises from reports of WWE having had a rough plane flight to and from India, causing talent performance and rest issues during the Superstar Spectacle 2023 event.
In the world of stocks, TKO Group officially opened at a price of $102 per share and closed slightly up at $103.05. The financial side of the WWE-UFC merger saw bonuses being awarded: WWE CEO Nick Khan received $15 million, WWE Executive Producer & Head of Global Television Distribution Kevin Dunn got $7 million, WWE CCO Paul “Triple H” Levesque and WWE CFO Frank Riddick each received $5 million, marking the closure of WWE’s sale to Endeavor.
Opinions regarding the WWE-UFC merger have been tossed around with comments from UFC senior vice president Lawrence Epstein and UFC President Dana White both talking about the fan exchange possibility. Epstein hopes for a mutual overlap in fanbases, a sentiment not shared by White who dismisses the idea entirely, referring to it as one of the “dumbest statements.”
Looking beyond that, WWE’s Nick Khan sees a future with UFC fighters having “extended careers” with TKO Group and WWE. Khan illustrated the potential for UFC fighters to transition into the wrestling ring once their MMA careers reach their natural end.
In this period of transition, one thing is clear: the wrestling business is on the cusp of a pivotal evolution.