Today, WWE is a global corporation, its many products reaching the eyes and ears of many all over the world. Its main export: Professional wrestling, but over the years they have dabbled in books, movies, video games and even music. But how did they start? What were their humble beginnings? Today we’ll be looking at just when the WWE got its start.
A Traveling circus
Professional wrestling has always been regarded by skeptics as just that…a traveling circus. A show on the road that stops from town to town and showcases some of the most out of this world personas, with incredible bodies or incredibly bad bodies—depending on how you look at it—and all to garner that shock factor from the crowd.
Over the years they shied away from that look, but many still have those same preconceived notions about the pro wrestling business and will dismiss it with either a scoff, or the same kind of laugh used when talking about a 16 year-old kid who still plays with toy soldiers.
And for the longest time, the pro wrestling business was believed to be real fighting and not at all scripted, as we all know today that it is. People actually believed the antics in the ring and really rooted for the good guys and hated, with a passion, the bad guys.
This is also why the secret was kept for so long, promoters afraid that the truth would ultimately be the ruin of their business. Of course the truth would be unleashed on one and all, and really it was like a storm that everyone fears from a distance finally come to pass, and in the end is instead a simple gust of wind; the industry exploded after that point and would gain mainstream success.
The NWA—a territory designation embodiment
To fully understand WWE, we need to first understand the pro wrestling industry from its roots, and I know you’ve got that paper to finish, that bus to catch, or even the kids to bring to band practice, but I’ll keep it brief…and this is important; especially if you want to impress your friends at the next WWE PPV party over wings and beer, so listen up.
The National Wrestling Alliance was at one time the territory designation embodiment for the entirety of the pro wrestling business, and that means that for all the territories set up in North America, it was the NWA that oversaw which territories a particular promotion could wrestle and put on shows in.
Yes, think of it in terms of the mafia, if you will. Past M Street belonged to this family…but between X and Y Streets belonged to this other clan, and so on and so forth.
The NWA designated these territories and if a territory or rather promotion wanted to be in good standing with the other promotions, then they needed to abide by the rules set up by the NWA.
Enter Vince McMahon Jr.
Yeah, he’s 77 now, but he’s still Jr. in the eyes of Vince McMahon Sr., who can look down and see just how far his boy took a company that started decades before. They didn’t always see eye to eye, as is the story provided by Hulk Hogan in his book, Hollywood Hulk Hogan, but Vince Jr. would take the wrestling business in general, to heights unimaginable when the old WWWF started.
Let’s take a look at just how that happened…How did WWE start?
WWE was first known as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation. That was all the way back in 1953. Many sources state that it was in fact Jess McMahon, Vince Jr.’s own grandfather, that started Capitol Wrestling. Some say it was Vince Sr., but it was definitely a McMahon. This is the info on Wikipedia. Amazing to me how none of the McMahons have come forward to clear up the issue, but whatever…
Regardless, it was McMahon, along with a gentleman by the name of Toots Mondt that would join up with McMahon the second they joined the aforementioned NWA. And once that happened, off to the races they went.
It was after a disagreement with the NWA over the NWA World Championship which all promotions back then vied for, and they (CWC) were accused of having Buddy Rodgers defend the NWA World Heavyweight title in only the cities they were allowed to distribute their product in. Because of this, McMahon and Mondt would leave the NWA and form the WWWF…the World Wide Wrestling Federation.
It was in 1963 that the first WWWF World Championship was created. Mondt left the promotion in the sixties and it was in 1971 that McMahon would rejoin with the NWA. This wouldn’t last all that long though, especially once Vince Jr. would attain power of the company.
Vincent Kennedy McMahon
It would be in 1979 that the WWWF would become the WWF, the World Wrestling Federation, as it was so commonly known in the boom that would follow…the eighties and the run of Hulk Hogan, which would of course bring the most attention to the company it had ever received and the industry as a whole.
Vince Jr. purchased the company from his father in 1982. It is interesting that he would retire 40 years and a little over a month that he purchased the company from under his father.
It wouldn’t take long for McMahon to make the first step in upsetting the rest of the promotions within the NWA designation system. This happened because McMahon Jr. wanted to bring wrestling to a national audience, essentially through television, bringing his wrestling promotion to the eyes and ears of those in other designated territories.
Many called it underhanded but technically he wasn’t going to these territories physically…so…
Eventually, WWE would break free from the NWA and for the final time, as did WCW back in 1993 as it states on Wikipedia. The NWA would ultimately fall as a territory designation embodiment. It was reestablished in 2017 as a singular promotion and is owned by none other than Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins.
His debt to his father paid and with ambition in his heart, McMahon Jr. would take the WWF to heights that were indeed unexpected even just a few short years before. Hulk Hogan and a legendary motley crew of characters would help him in that regard, and new eras would be unleashed and then the dawn of WWE…but that, friends, is a story for another time. Stay tuned.