The history of the WWE dates back to the early 1950s and today, as the world's largest professional wrestling promotion, it is one that contains the most significant parts of professional wrestling history itself.
Capitol Wrestling Corporation 
Roderick James "Jess" McMahon was a boxing promoter whose achievements included co-promoting a bout in 1915 between Jess Willard and Jack Johnson. In 1926, while working with Tex Rickard, he began promoting boxing at the third Madison Square Garden. The first match during their partnership was a light-heavyweight championship match between Jack Delaney and Paul Berlenbach. A few years prior, professional wrestler Joseph Raymond "Toots" Mondt had created a new challenge of professional wrestling that he called “Slam Bang Western Style Wrestling”. At the time, pro wrestling consisted primarily of mat grappling; and while the sport had flourished a decade earlier under Frank Gotch, the fans had since grown tired of the painfully deliberate pace of the bouts. However, Mondt discovered a solution that would completely transform the industry, as he convinced Ed Lewis and Billy Sandow to implement a new form of wrestling that combined features of boxing, Greco-Roman, freestyle and lumber-camp fighting into what he deemed "Slam Bang Western-Style Wrestling." His next move was to form a promotion with Lewis and Sandow. They persuaded a lot of wrestlers to sign contracts with the newly named 'Gold Dust Trio'.
Eventually, the trio dissolved and the promotion did also, after a disagreement over power. Mondt formed partnerships with several promoters. Soon, Jack Curley was dying and Mondt knew that New York wrestling would fall apart. Realizing this, he gained help from several bookers, one of these being Jess McMahon.
Together, Jess and Mondt created the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC) in 1952. The company had offices in both Washington, D.C. and New York. There is not a lot of information on the early days of the CWC, but it is known that it joined the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) in 1953.
In 1954, Ray Fabiani, one of Mondt's associates brought in Vincent J. McMahon to replace his father Jess after he had died, and with this began to control the north wrestling circuit. Vince McMahon Sr. and Toots Mondt were a formidable combination: within a short time, they controlled around 70% of the NWA's booking and given what a far-reaching organization the NWA was, that was a significant achievement. Mondt taught Vince Sr. about booking and how to work in the wrestling industry. This was the start of the wrestling revolution. Due to the dominance in the Northeast, the CWC was referred to by AWA legend Nick Bockwinkel as the "Northeast Triangle", with its territory being defined by Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and Maine as points of the triangle. In 1956, the CWC signed a deal with WTTG to air live professional wrestling shows.
World Wide Wrestling Federation 
The NWA recognized an undisputed NWA World Heavyweight Champion that went to several different wrestling companies in the alliance and defended the belt around the world. The NWA generally promoted strong shooters as champions, to give their worked sport credibility and guard against double-crosses. While doing strong business in the Midwest (the Alliance's core region), these wrestlers attracted little interest in the Capitol territory. In 1961, the NWA board decided instead to put the belt on bleach blonde showman "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, a much more effective drawing card in the region. The rest of the NWA was unhappy with Mondt because he rarely allowed Rogers to wrestle outside of the Northeast. Mondt and McMahon wanted Rogers to keep the NWA World Championship, but Rogers was unwilling to sacrifice his $25,000 deposit on the belt (title holders at the time had to pay a deposit to insure they honored their commitments as champion). Rogers lost the NWA World Championship to Lou Thesz in a one-fall match in Toronto, Ontario on January 24, 1963, which led to Mondt, McMahon, and the CWC leaving the NWA in protest, creating the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) in the process.
In April of that year, Rogers was awarded the new WWWF World Championship following an apocryphal tournament in Rio de Janeiro. He lost the title to Bruno Sammartino a month later on May 17, 1963, after suffering a heart attack shortly before the match. To accommodate Rogers' condition, the match was booked to last under a minute.
A month after Rogers lost the title to Bruno Sammartino in a New York City match that lasted 48 seconds, Sammartino would retain the title for seven years, eight months, and one day, making his the longest continuous world title reign in men's wrestling history. At this time, and for most of this era, Sammartino was the face of the company, but some of fellow wrestlers such as Superstar Billy Graham and Bob Backlund were also popular. The WWWF gained notoriety in the 1970s by holding their biggest shows at Shea Stadium or Madison Square Garden and selling out almost every night. They leveraged former, but still popular, wrestlers such as Captain Lou Albano, Ernie Roth and "Classy" Freddie Blassie to act as managers for Sammartino's heel opponents. At this time, only babyface wrestlers were allowed to have long title reigns, such as Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales and Bob Backlund, who all retained for more than one year each. The heel champions, such as Ivan Koloff and Stan Stasiak were used to transition the title from one wrestler to another, and they generally kept the title for no more than a few months before dropping it to the next babyface. Graham was the only heel character to keep his title for more than nine months.
Toots Mondt left the WWWF in the late sixties, and Vincent J. McMahon rejoined the organization in 1971. Later that year, The Mongols created controversy after they left the WWWF with the WWWF International Tag Team Championship. The titles would be considered inactive as a result until Luke Graham and Tarzan Tyler won a tournament to claim the titles. They then defeated the Mongols in November 1971, voiding any claim the Mongols had to the titles. In March 1979, for marketing purposes, the World Wide Wrestling Federation was renamed the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
World Wrestling Federation 
1980-1992: The Golden Era - Rise of Hulkamania 
In 1980, Vincent K. McMahon, the son of Vincent J. McMahon, founded Titan Sports, Inc. and applied for the initials WWF. In 1982, WWF purchased Capitol Sports from his father and associates Gorilla Monsoon and Arnold Skaaland. Capitol Sports already controlled most of the northeastern territory, but the younger McMahon wanted the WWF to be a national wrestling promotion; something the NWA did not approve of. He shortly defected his promotion from the NWA, much like the American Wrestling Association, which controlled the U.S. Northern Midwest. To become a national promotion, the WWF would have to become bigger than any promotion under the AWA or the NWA.
McMahon's vision for his promotion was starting to become possible when he hired AWA talent Hulk Hogan, who had achieved popularity outside of wrestling - notably for his appearance in Rocky III as Thunderlips, which he did against his father's wishes. McMahon signed Rowdy Roddy Piper as Hogan's rival, and shortly afterward signed Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Other wrestlers took part of the roster, such as André the Giant, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, The Magnificent Muraco, Junkyard Dog, "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik.
In 1984, Hogan was pushed to main-event status when he was announced as the number one contender for the Iron Sheik's WWF Championship. He defeated the Iron Sheik at Madison Square Garden on January 23, 1984 and thus evolved into one of the most recognizable and popular faces in sports-entertainment.
With reasonable revenue being made, McMahon was able to secure television deals, and WWF was being shown across the United States. McMahon also began selling videotapes of WWF events outside the Northeast through his Coliseum Video distribution company. This angered other promoters and disrupted the well-established 'boundaries' of the different wrestling promotions. The syndication of WWF programming forced promotions to come into direct competition with the WWF. The increased revenue allowed Vince to sign more talent, such as Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Brutus Beefcake, Tito Santana, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, The Honky Tonk Man, the British Bulldogs and The Hart Foundation.
For McMahon to truly turn the WWF into a national promotion, he would need to have WWF touring the United States. Such a venture was impossible with what revenue the WWF currently had, and Vince envisioned a way to obtain the necessary capital through a risky all-or-nothing gamble on a 'sports entertainment' concept, WrestleMania, in 1985. WrestleMania would be a pay-per-view extravaganza, viewable on closed-circuit television and marketed as the Super Bowl of professional wrestling. WrestleMania was not the first 'supercard' seen in professional wrestling, as the NWA had previously run Starrcade. However, McMahon's vision was to make the WWF and the industry itself mainstream, targeting more of the general television audience by exploiting the entertainment side of the industry. With the inaugural WrestleMania the WWF initiated a joint-promotional campaign with MTV, which featured a great deal of WWF coverage and programming, in what was termed the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection. The mainstream media attention brought on by celebrities including Muhammad Ali, Mr. T, and Cyndi Lauper at the event helped propel WrestleMania to become a staple in popular culture.
With the success of WrestleMania, other promotions which tried hard to keep the regional territory system alive started to merge under Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP). Starrcade and The Great American Bash were the JCP versions of WrestleMania, but even when operating outside of its territory, JCP had trouble matching the success of WWF. After Ted Turner purchased majority of JCP's assets, the promotion would eventually become World Championship Wrestling (WCW), providing WWF with a competitor until 2001, when WCW and its trademarks were legitimately purchased by the WWF. WrestleMania would become a WWF annual pay-per-view phenomenon, being broadcast in nearly 150 countries and in almost 20 different languages.
McMahon's focus on entertainment rather than sports, a policy that became the concept of sports entertainment, led to great financial success for the WWF. During the 1980s, Hogan would cross into mainstream as an all-American hero. Hogan and McMahon carried professional wrestling into success that was truly considered a sport. Hogan's time as face of the WWF would last until he left in 1993. Hogan was not the sole reason for success of the WWF, but rather the company's biggest draw. Other stars such as Piper, Savage, the Ultimate Warrior, Steamboat, Roberts, Orndorff, Volkoff and the Iron Sheik all helped make WWF a financial success. While these talents where recognizable as individuals, some talent became known for their teamwork as tag teams. Stables or groups such as Demolition, Strike Force, The Hart Foundation, the British Bulldogs, The Rockers and The Fabulous Rougeaus helped create a strong tag-team division for the WWF over its competitors; which by now where few.
The 1980s 'Wrestling Boom' peaked with WrestleMania III at the Pontiac Silverdome, which set an attendance record of 93,173. McMahon used the success of WrestleMania to create new pay-per-views, and traditions such as SummerSlam and the Royal Rumble were created, each with its unique stipulation match. The Royal Rumble, for instance, featured a 30-man over-the-top-rope elimination match that the pay-per-view was named after. The Wrestling Boom ended on a high note with great matches and well-received PPVs, but soon would give way to 'The New Generation' Era. Wrestlemania VI is the event that many fans consider the end of the Golden Era while some consider it to be Wrestlemania IX. This time would see many young stars be pushed into decent spots on the cards of the WWF.
1993-1997: The New Generation Era 
The WWF was suspected of steroid abuse and distribution in 1991 and there were also allegations of sexual harassment made by WWF employees in 1992. The company reported financial losses and McMahon decided to cut the pay of his wrestlers and his managers. This was added with the loss of Hulk Hogan and other big stars from the past to rival WCW. Therefore, the WWF decided to push younger stars into the spotlight. Stars like Bret "Hitman" Hart, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, Diesel, Lex Luger, Yokozuna and The Undertaker all became the stars of what WWF branded the "New Generation". This new era began in 1993 with the departure of Hulk Hogan and the rise of stars such as Yokozuna, Hart and Luger.
New WWF Champion Bret Hart became the face of this era until early 1996 when he lost a 60-minute Iron Man match to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII for the WWF Championship. Hart would take some time off and return to action later that year. Meanwhile, the WWF saw an unlikely draw in the form of Stone Cold Steve Austin, who previously wrestled in the WCW and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). Austin would begin his rise to popularity with the fans beginning with his King of the Ring win and famous 'Austin 3:16' speech, in reference to John 3:16 of the Holy Bible. Despite wrestling as a heel, Austin's popularity exceeded those of the top faces in the promotion. His face turn went full circle at WrestleMania 13, when he lost to Bret Hart in a submission match via knockout, having vowed never to tap out to Hart's Sharpshooter. However, Austin's career push was marred by a neck injury sustained at SummerSlam 1997 when Owen Hart botched a tombstone piledriver during their match for the Intercontinental title.
Another event that occurred during this era was the famous Monday Night Wars. In 1993, the WWF created their prime time cable TV program WWF Monday Night Raw on USA Network. Two years later, WCW countered with WCW Monday Nitro on TNT. In mid-1996, WCW began its two years of ratings domination, principally caused by the introduction of the New World Order (nWo), a stable led by former WWF performers Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall (a.k.a. Razor Ramon), and Kevin Nash (a.k.a. Diesel).
Despite having high quality talent and in-ring performances not seen since 1980, the WWE continued to lose profits as a result of the WCW's aggressive marketing tactics. This period of financial difficulties was made worse when the infamous "Montreal Screwjob" resulted in Bret Hart leaving the WWF for the WCW in 1997. This incident was believed by many fans to be the end of the New Generation Era and the beginning of the Attitude Era.
1997(Late)-2001: The Attitude Era 
In the mid-1990s, the WWF continued to lose much of its leading talent to WCW, including Ted DiBiase, Curt Hennig, Rick Rude and Debrah Miceli. Bret Hart, having just signed a long-term contract with WWF, began to doubt his future with the promotion when WCW offered him a more lucrative deal. At the 1997 Survivor Series, a real-life controversy occurred when McMahon forced referee Earl Hebner to call for the bell to ring and end the match as Shawn Michaels held Hart in the Sharpshooter submission hold (which was Hart's signature finishing move), even though Hart was close to reversing the hold. Michaels was declared the winner of the match and the new WWF Champion. This said, Hunter Hearst Helmsley encouraged Michaels to hurry out of the building on-camera, fearing a potential riot as a furious Hart spat at McMahon's face and destroyed video equipment outside the ring. Hart left the WWF and was welcomed into WCW with open arms. This incident was later known as the Montreal Screwjob. After that incident, McMahon created the "Mr. McMahon" character, a dictatorial and fierce ruler persona used to improvise on the heat McMahon received from costing Hart the match, although some exceptions were made in the case of the deaths of superstars such as Owen Hart, Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Benoit. This proved to be a founding factor in what was to officially kick start The Attitude Era.
WWF continued to lose other talent and experience financial burdens. Therefore, to regain popularity, they replaced former WWF talent with former WCW talent such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Vader, Brian Pillman, Mankind (Mick Foley), and Faarooq (Ron Simmons). In January 1998, WWF had invited boxer Mike Tyson to their shows and even placed him in a storyline feud involving him and D-Generation X (at that time consisting of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna) against Austin, though Tyson would eventually turn on DX at WrestleMania XIV and help begin Austin's very first reign as WWF Champion. Later in the year, new talent began to emerge for the WWF: The Rock, Triple H, and Kane strengthened the WWF's singles division while stables such as D-Generation X and Nation of Domination helped fortify its tag team division. WWF was able to target a more adult-aged audience and featured heavy violence, sexual themes, strong language, blood, gore, and adult-oriented entertainment that helped it compete with WCW's reality-based storylines. During this time, Austin became the face of the WWF and his character began to represent the Attitude Era, most principally from his infamous rivalry with Mr. McMahon. This feud helped the WWF rebound in its ratings and popularity, with Raw finally beating Nitro for the first time in 84 weeks. The creation of several types of matches, such as the Hell in a Cell, also helped the WWF draw more fans. On September 27, 1999, Raw achieved its highest viewership rating of 8.4 with a "This Is Your Life" segment featuring The Rock and Mankind.
The Attitude Era product, with its heavy violence and more storyline oriented entertainment, started to see a decline in ratings for the WCW in the opening year of the new millennium. New talent such as Kurt Angle, Mark Henry, Val Venis, and Gangrel, as well as former WCW wrestlers such as Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and the Big Show (who were unhappy with WCW's backstage politics) helped an already strong singles roster, while tag teams The Dudley Boyz, the Hardy Boyz, and Edge and Christian helped bring the tag team division to new heights. Wrestlers that were already present in the WWF, like The Rock and Foley (as Mankind, Cactus Jack and Dude Love), were promoted to the main-event status and won the WWF Championship. These new talents where able to see great pushes from WWF as it was missing bigger stars such as The Undertaker and Austin to injuries. Moreover, the WWF permanently dominated the Monday Night Wars on January 4, 1999. On that night, Nitro attempted to sabotage Raw's ratings by giving away the result of the WWF Championship main event between The Rock and Mankind, but the plan backfired when over 300,000 households changed their channels to Raw instead.
The Attitude Era saw the WWF expand its television coverage and its business structure. During this period, the WWF's parent company Titan Sports was renamed World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. (WWFE Inc. or WWFE) and on October 19, 1999 became a publicly traded company, offering 10 million shares priced at $17 each. On April 29, 1999, the WWF launched a secondary program known as WWF SmackDown! on the UPN network to compete with WCW Thunder. In 2000, the WWF, in collaboration with television network NBC, created the XFL, a new professional football league. XFL, however, was a failure, having only lasted a single year before closing its doors.
Head writer Chris Kreski replaced Vince Russo, who defected to WCW in 1999. Kreski's work was admired for well planned and detailed storylines, and the transitional period saw feuds and storylines such as the Triple H/Cactus Jack feud, the Triple H/Angle/Stephanie McMahon love triangle, and a TLC feud between the Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian, and the Dudley Boyz. The remainder of the year saw matches and angles such as The Hardy Boyz defeating Edge & Christian in a ladder match at No Mercy 1999 to earn $15,000 and Terri Runnels' managing services and Stone Cold Steve Austin being run over by Rikishi with a limousine at Survivor Series 1999.
Prior to WrestleMania 2000, the McMahon family had gone into an on-screen rivalry with each other, setting up the "McMahon in Every Corner" Fatal 4 Way elimination main event between The Big Show (managed by McMahon's son Shane McMahon), The Rock (managed by Mr. McMahon), Triple H (managed by his wife and McMahon's daughter Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley), and future WWF Commissioner Mick Foley (managed by McMahon's wife Linda McMahon). Triple H won after Mr. McMahon turned on The Rock and thus retained his WWF Championship. In the weeks leading up to No Mercy 2000, Stone Cold Steve Austin made his return to WWF to gain revenge on Rikishi. At No Mercy, the no holds barred match between Austin and Rikishi ended in a no contest when Austin attempted to run Rikishi over with his Chevrolet Silverado, but was denied by a police car and was (kayfabe) arrested. Austin would go on to win the next year's Royal Rumble match and come out victorious against The Rock for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania X-Seven with help from his former rival, Mr. McMahon.
On March 23, 2001, the Monday Night Wars came to an end when the WWF purchased WCW from AOL Time Warner. Three days later, Mr. McMahon made an appearance on both Raw and the final episode of Nitro, addressing to fans the fate of WCW. Then, at the end of Nitro, Shane McMahon entered the ring and revealed himself (kayfabe) as the owner of WCW. This, along with WWF's acquisition of the bankrupt ECW, led to the Invasion storyline, where the WWF roster faced a WCW/ECW Alliance (led by Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley). This in-ring war concluded at the 2001 Survivor Series with the WWF prevailing over the invaders.
No specific date defines the end of the Attitude Era, but it's been debated between either WWF's acquisition of WCW on March 2001 or the WWF's name change to WWE in early 2002.
World Wrestling Entertainment 
In 2002, a lawsuit initiated by the World Wildlife Fund over the trademark of WWF was settled in favor of the Wildlife Fund over the misuse of a previously agreed upon usage for the trademark. World Wrestling Federation was forced to rename/rebrand itself, and in May 2002 the company changed its business name to World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., shortened to WWE. Shortly thereafter, they eliminated all elements that used the term Federation, and this affected licensed merchandise such as action figures, video games, and home videos with the WWF "scratch" logo. The company adopted a new "scratch" logo and to facilitate public awareness of the change, the WWE adopted the slogan "Get the 'F' Out". The last-ever WWF-branded pay-per-view event was the U.K.-exclusive Insurrextion 2002.
Ruthless Aggression Era and Brand Extension(2002-2007) 
In 2002, with an excess of talent on the WWE roster as a result of having purchased WCW and ECW the WWE needed a way to provide decent exposure to all of its talent. This problem was solved by having a 'Brand Extension'. In the storyline, Ric Flair had come to own 50% of the WWE as a result of being sold Shane and Stephanie's stocks so they could purchase WCW and ECW. Mr. McMahon, the original owner, detested having to share his creation with Flair. As a result, the WWE board of directors came up with the decision to split the rosters into two "brands": Raw and SmackDown, named for the television programming of the WWE. Flair controlled the Raw brand, and McMahon controlled the SmackDown brand. The talent were assigned brands in a mock draft lottery, with the first being hand picked by either McMahon or Flair dependent on a coin toss. Wrestlers became show-exclusive, and eventually the championships: WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship, became show-exclusive too.
The Ruthless Aggression Era was a distinct one because it saw a less violent and less adult-oriented product as was seen in the Attitude Era. Because of this, some would also call it a toned down version of the Attitude Era.[by whom?] The faces of the company transitioned from Austin and The Rock to Triple H and newcomer Brock Lesnar, following The Rock's retirement from wrestling to continue his acting career. In this era, the WWE introduced a new stable named Evolution, which consisted of Triple H, Flair, Randy Orton and Batista. This stable was reportedly a remake of the Four Horsemen of both the NWA and the WCW and remained dominant in the WWE for mainly two years before jealousy within the group caused the faction to slowly dissolve.
In parallel, WWE wanted to make an evolution with their program as they tried to recreate the WCW in a WWE program, but mainly failed in their attempt. After the Invasion storyline, the WWE brought back the nWo on February 2002, but the reunion was short-lived as McMahon announced the stable's dissolution on the July 15 episode of Raw. In that same episode, he also brought in former WCW vice president Eric Bischoff as the show's new General Manager. The year 2003 saw moments such as Lesnar defeating Angle for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XIX, the WWE wrestling debut of Goldberg at Backlash 2003, and the unmasking and subsequent attacks of Kane. In early 2004, Chris Benoit was pushed to main-event status when he matched Shawn Michaels' achievement of winning the Royal Rumble as the first entrant. He would go on to defeat Triple H and Michaels in a triple-threat match to become the new World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania XX. At the same period, Eddie Guerrero defeated Lesnar to become the WWE Champion. The WWE signed in WCW alumni Diamond Dallas Page, Scott Steiner and Rey Mysterio, to varying results. The Great American Bash, originally a WCW pay-per-view event, made a return in the WWE, but was not a commercial success.
In 2005, WWE did a pay-per-view event called ECW One Night Stand which featured alumni from the original ECW. It was a success, which led to another one in 2006 and then have its own brand that lasted til 2010 due to the creation of NXT.
For most of the 2000s, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) was WWE's development territory where they developed young wrestlers with hopes that they would become stars. Some of the newer talents, such as John Cena, Orton, Mysterio, Batista, Bobby Lashley, Rob Van Dam, and Edge were put on the spotlight when they became main-eventers and won world championships. While there was a reduction in adult-oriented storylines, the in-ring product remained essentially the same. The product storylines also became heavily 'championship' driven, with more emphasis placed on the championships of the company. Storylines such as conflict with on-air authority figures, sexual harassment, supernatural, and championship bouting defined the early part of the Ruthless Aggression era. By 2007, many of the on-air talent that had drawn crowds in the 1980s and 1990s had departed: they had either retired or left for other promotions. Viewership also changed as fans of the '80s and '90s product grew older and with the rise in popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which offered real violence and had less of a stigma on it than the WWE, attracted growing numbers of WWE viewership. This essentially left the WWE audience as children, and adults who knew wrestling were staged but enjoyed the entertainment it offered. In 2005, young hopefuls Batista and Cena won the World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Championship, respectively, at WrestleMania 21, thus resulting in both wrestlers being almost routinely booked in main-event matches. WWE then reinserted Saturday Night's Main Event on their schedule in 2006, albeit for only two nonadjacent days. In 2007, Cena took the role as the face of the company and achieved considerable mainstream success. WWE also ventured outside of its wrestling product, expanding to movies and music, with its most successful film being The Marine, an action film starring Cena. During that same year, Jeff Hardy was beginning to be pushed to main-event quality matches after defeating Triple H at Armageddon 2007 to become Orton's opponent for the WWE Championship title at the 2008 Royal Rumble. Though he failed to take the title away from Orton on that night, he would receive yet another push after earning the WWE Championship at the next Armageddon, defeating Edge and Triple H in a triple-threat match. McMahon unveiled a new global strategy, with plans to open offices around the world such as in Sydney, Australia.
PG (2008-2013) 
In 2008, WWE acknowledged that 60% of its audience was now made up of women and children. As a result, WWE programming shifted towards family friendly content, doing away with most of the "vulgar" language, heavy violence and adult themes that gave it a TV-14 rating. One example of the WWE's self-censorship is a screen change to black-and-white if a wrestler blades in front of the camera. Many fans began to call this age the PG era.
Second Monday Night Wars 
In late 2009, Hogan and Bischoff signed with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). A short time after, Hogan announced that TNA Impact! (TNA's weekly program) would go head to head with Raw on Monday, January 4, 2010. The so-called Monday Night Impact! featured the debuts and the returns of numerous wrestling personality, such as Sting, Jeff Jarrett, Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy and Ric Flair, as well as Hogan and Bischoff. On the same night, Raw featured the return of Bret Hart, who had not stepped into a WWE ring since the 1997 Montreal Screwjob. On March 2010, TNA Impact! moved to Monday nights to compete with Raw full-time, but moved back to Thursday nights two months later due to dismal ratings.
Social Media Era (2013-present) 
In February 2011, The Rock, who was a prominent figure during the company's edgier Attitude Era, returned to WWE. He then proceeded to insult John Cena, who was a prominent figure during the company's more calm, family friendly late Brand Extension Era, using vulgar language that was prohibited during the late Brand Extension Era such as "bitch" and "ass". Another major change was that WWE was no longer split. Superstars from Raw and Smackdown were now just superstars and appeared on both shows. It was the end of the Brand Extension.
On June 2011, CM Punk cut a worked shoot criticizing Cena and the then-current product, speaking about demanding a change in the product before breaking kayfabe. This is considered as the "official beginning of a new era". Following the now-infamous "Pipebomb Promo", the product remained edgy, storylines began breaking kayfabe and took a more mature turn, and the company began involving social media into their shows, feuds, and storylines, such as Twitter and Tout; thus fans began using the name "Reality Era", (although CM Punk used the term in a radio interview and could take credit for the name as well). The "Reality Era" wasn't only started because of CM Punk. The Rock and John Cena's feud also helped start the era. Their promos talked about real-life events, such as The Rock coming and going from Hollywood. Superstars began using more vulgar, adult language during this era, which was something that was prohibited in the late "Brand Extension Era".
On May 2012, TNA filed a lawsuit against WWE and former TNA employee Brian Wittenstein, claiming that he took "confidential trade secrets" to WWE and helped WWE gain an "unfair" competitive advantage in negotiating contracts with TNA talent. According to the suit, TNA was informed of Wittenstein's breach three weeks later by a WWE official, after which the promotion fired Wittenstein. According to TNA, Ric Flair attempted to terminate his TNA contract two days after Wittenstein's firing. The exact allegations filed by TNA in the suit include "interference with existing contracts", breach of duty of loyalty, conversion, breach of contract, civil conspiracy, unfair competition, and violation of the Tennessee Uniform Trade Secrets Act.
On September 2012, WWE announced that it was removing "dated and edgier" footage from its official website and media platforms after co-founder Linda McMahon's political opponent used clips in an attack ad. "To better reflect our current family-friendly brand of entertainment, WWE is removing some dated and edgier footage from digital platforms," said Brian Flinn, WWE's Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, in a statement. "Some of this footage has been misused in political environments without any context or explanation as to when it was produced. This damages the corporate reputation of our company. WWE is well within its rights to protect its intellectual property for fair use." Flinn said the footage removal is not related to an ad released Wednesday by Rep. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat running for Senate against McMahon, which featured WWE footage while slamming her for allegedly off-shoring profits to avoid taxes and failing to provide health coverage for their performers. Rather, it was part of a re-branding effort.
On October 2012, WWE formed a partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to promote breast cancer awareness. As part of the campaign, WWE adorned their sets with pink ribbons, put a pink middle rope on the ring, filmed numerous PSAs, and sold special John Cena "Rise Above Cancer" merchandise. All of these efforts culminated in a donation from WWE of $1 Million, which was presented to Susan G. Komen representatives in an in-ring ceremony during the October 29, 2012 episode of Raw.
Legends program and WWE Hall of Fame 
The Legends program began informally with the return of the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony in 2004, held annually during WrestleMania weekends. The introduction of WWE 24/7, WWE's on-demand television service, and the success of career retrospective DVDs such as The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection, Roddy Piper: Born to Controversy, and Brian Pillman: Loose Cannon has invested WWE's present product with a sense of heritage, and allows a new generation of wrestling fans to witness matches and events they may only previously have heard of.
The WCW/ECW "Alliance" Invasion and the nWo 
In the InVasion storyline, Shane McMahon (kayfabe) acquired World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and WCW personnel invaded the WWF. For the first time since the Monday Night Wars, the WWF's purchase of WCW had made a major American interpromotional feud possible, but the InVasion (as it was called) turned out to be a disappointment. One reason was that many of WCW's big name stars were under contract to WCW's old parent company, AOL Time Warner, rather than WCW itself, and their contracts were not included in the purchase of the company. These wrestlers chose to sit out the duration of their contracts and be financially supported by AOL Time Warner rather than work for the WWF for a cheaper salary.
On July 9, 2001, the stars of WCW and Extreme Championship Wrestling (acquired by Stephanie McMahon in a related storyline) joined forces, forming "The Alliance" with WCW owner Shane McMahon and the new owner of ECW Stephanie McMahon, and supported and influenced by original ECW owner Paul Heyman. At WWF InVasion, Stone Cold Steve Austin turned on the WWF and helped the Alliance win the 'Inaugural Brawl'. This act caused Austin to turn heel. A memorable moment took place at Unforgiven 2001 when Austin defeated Kurt Angle in his Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania hometown to win the WWF Championship, celebrating in the ring with his legitimate family members after the match. At Survivor Series 2001, the WWF finally defeated WCW and ECW in a "Winner Takes All Match" and this concluded the angle. In the aftermath of the Invasion angle, the WWF made several major changes to their product. Ric Flair returned to the company as a "co-owner" in storylines, feuding with Vince McMahon. Jerry "The King" Lawler returned to the RAW broadcast booth, after quitting earlier in the year, and immediately after his temporary replacement, Paul Heyman, was fired on-screen by Vince McMahon. Several former Alliance stars were absorbed into the regular WWF roster, such as Booker T, The Hurricane, Lance Storm, and Rob Van Dam.
After the WWF bought WCW in 2001, Vince McMahon brought back Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall as the nWo, at the No Way Out pay-per-view on February 17, 2002 in response to having to (kayfabe) co-own the WWF with Ric Flair, and wanting to 'inject' the WWF with 'a lethal dose of poison'. Over time, more members joined the nWo such as X-Pac (formerly known as Syxx in WCW), Big Show (formerly known as The Giant in WCW), Booker T, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair and Goldust as semi-members. The storyline failed when the WWF fans refused to recognize Hogan as a heel and right after his match with The Rock at Wrestlemania 18 Hulkamania was reborn.
The death of Eddie Guerrero 
On the morning of November 13, 2005, Chavo Guerrero checked into a hotel with his uncle, Eddie Guerrero, in Minneapolis, Minnesota where they were both scheduled be a part of a planned Raw and SmackDown! "Supershow" (a show where both Raw and SmackDown! would take place the same night in the same arena). After Eddie missed a wake-up call, security opened his hotel room and Chavo found his uncle unconscious. Chavo attempted CPR, but 38-year-old Eddie was declared dead at the scene. Vickie Guerrero, Eddie's wife, later announced that an autopsy ruled the cause of death to be massive heart failure.
Guerrero's death fell on the day that he had been scheduled to compete in a match for the World Heavyweight Championship versus Batista and Randy Orton. The company held tributes to Guerrero on both Raw and SmackDown during the week following his death. On April 1, 2006 at the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremonies during WrestleMania 22 weekend, Guerrero's wife Vickie accepted his posthumous induction into WWE Hall of Fame by Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit and Chavo Guerrero.
Following Guerrero's death, Vince McMahon announced a new drug policy under which performers would be subject to random drug tests by an independent company and would receive regular medical physicals with an emphasis on cardiovascular health.
The return and cancellation of Extreme Championship Wrestling 
By 2005, WWE began reintroducing ECW through content from the ECW video library and a series of books, which included the release of The Rise and Fall of ECW documentary. With heightened and rejuvenated interest in the ECW franchise, WWE organized ECW One Night Stand on June 12, a reunion event that featured ECW alumni. Due to the financial and critical success of the production, WWE produced the second ECW One Night Stand on June 11, 2006, which served as the premiere event in the relaunch of the ECW franchise as a third WWE brand, complementary to Raw and SmackDown.
On May 26, 2006, WWE officially announced the relaunch of the franchise with its own show on NBC Universal's Sci Fi Channel, later to be known as Syfy, starting June 13, 2006. Despite initial concerns that professional wrestling would not be accepted by Sci Fi's demographic, network President Bonnie Hammer stated that she believed ECW would fit the channel's theme of "stretching the imagination". Syfy is owned by NBC Universal, parent company of USA Network and exclusive cable broadcaster of WWE programming.
On June 13, Paul Heyman, former ECW owner and newly appointed figurehead for the ECW brand, recommissioned the ECW World Heavyweight Championship to be the brand's world title and awarded it to Rob Van Dam as a result of winning the WWE Championship at One Night Stand 2006. Under the WWE banner, ECW was presented in a modernized style to that when it was an independent promotion and was produced following the same format of the other brands, with match rules, such as count outs and disqualifications, being standard. Matches featuring the rule set of the ECW promotion are now classified as being contested under "Extreme Rules" and are only fought when specified otherwise. The brand would continue to operate until February 16, 2010, when the brand was rendered defunct and the talent of ECW became free agents.
Chris Benoit's double-murder and suicide 
In June 25, 2007, the Fayette County Police notified WWE around 4:15 p.m., informing them that they had discovered three bodies of Chris, Nancy, and their seven-year-old son Daniel Benoit at their home in Fayette County, Georgia, and the house was now ruled as a "major crime scene". WWE canceled the scheduled three-hour-long live Raw show on June 25 (which, coincidentally, was supposed to be a scripted memorial for the Mr. McMahon character), and replaced the broadcast version with a tribute to his life and career, featuring past matches, segments from the Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story DVD, and comments from wrestlers and announcers from the RAW, Smackdown! and the now-defunct ECW brands. Shortly after the program aired, many of the aired comments were posted on WWE.com. It was not until the program was nearly over that reports surfaced that police were working under the belief that Benoit murdered his wife and son before killing himself over a three-day period.
The next night, after some of the details of the deaths became available, the company aired a recorded statement by its Chairman Vince McMahon before their ECW broadcast.
|“||Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Last night on Monday Night Raw, the WWE presented a special tribute show, recognizing the career of Chris Benoit. However, now some 26 hours later, the facts of this horrific tragedy are now apparent. Therefore, other than my comments, there will be no mention of Mr. Benoit's name tonight. On the contrary, tonight's show will be dedicated to everyone who has been affected by this terrible incident. This evening marks the first step of the healing process. Tonight, WWE performers will do what they do better than anyone else in the world: entertain you.||”|
Following the double-murder suicide allegedly committed by Chris Benoit and possible link to steroid abuse, the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform began investigating the WWE regarding their talent Wellness policy.
WWE Online 
In 1998, Shane McMahon helped form WWE's digital media department and launched WWF.com on May 21, 1998 (now known as WWE.com), a site that receives more than seven million visitors a month.
On September 25, 2006 WWE announced the creation of the official Japanese WWE website, and has stated that they may start a number of other official WWE websites in foreign languages in the future .
On November 17, 2006, WWE.com reported that WWE officials and officials of DSE, the parent company of Pride Fighting Championships, had a meeting at WWE global headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. The meeting focused on the possibility of the two groups doing some form of business together in the future  . But on March 27, 2007, Nobuyuki Sakakibara, president of DSE, announced that Station Casinos Inc. magnate Lorenzo Fertitta, also one of the co-owners of Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC, had made a deal to acquire all the assets of PRIDE FC from DSE after Pride 34: Kamikaze in a deal worth about USD$70 million, and therefore the deal between DSE and WWE has reportedly been called off.
On November 19, 2008, WWE.com announced the launch of its next generation video player. Since its launch, video viewing has increased 77% on the site and video ad impressions are up 95%.
Social Media and WWE HD 
World Wrestling Entertainment began broadcasting in high-definition video (trademarked WWE-HD) in 2008, starting with its Raw show on January 21, followed by ECW on Syfy the day after, then Friday Night SmackDown on January 25, with the 2008 Royal Rumble being the first wrestling pay-per-view event to be presented in HD.
On November 19, 2008, WWE.com officially launched their online social network, WWE Universe. It silently appeared in April as WWE Fan Nation, and adopted its current name a few months later. WWE Universe was similar to MySpace, with blogs, forums, photos, videos, and other features. Despite a heightened popularity the site was shut down on January 1, 2011 and has since replaced with WWE InterAction. However, they've subsequently since launched a Facebook page with 39 million likes as of October 2011.
The launch of NXT and the NXT Invasion 
On February 12, 2010 launched a new Program on SyFy, called NXT. This reality-like show was based on new stars being mentored by their Pros. The very last episode of the NXT Season 1 was on June 1, 2010. The winner of the season was Wade Barrett. Six days after the end of the first season, the Rookies interfered in the Raw main event match between John Cena and CM Punk, attacking both competitors as well as the announcing team before dismantling the ring area and surrounding equipment. During the segment, Bryan strangled ring announcer Justin Roberts with the announcer's own tie, which WWE reportedly felt was too violent for their kid-friendly TV-PG programming. As a consequence, WWE announced via their official website four days later that Bryan had been (legitimately) released from his contract. The following episode of Raw, the storyline continued with general manager Bret Hart (kayfabe) firing Barrett, revoking his contract and guaranteed title match, as a consequence to the previous week's incident. A week later, WWE chairman Vince McMahon fired Hart and announced the hiring of a new general manager, who changed the decision, hiring all seven rookies and reinstating Barrett's title shot. During an in-ring promo later that night, the rookies announced that they had formed an alliance called the Nexus, a stable that was originally created to destroy the WWE, but after CM Punk took over the leadership responsibilities of the group, he changed the motto to 'Faith'. Shortly afterward, the Nexus disbanded, leaving Punk alone as a singles wrestler again.
WWE Network 
In 2011, WWE announced they are planning to establish a network of their own some time in 2012. It was announced that WWE Network will come out sometime in Fall 2012.
See also 
- Ellison, Lillian (2003). The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle. ReaganBooks. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-06-001258-8.
- The Spectacular Legacy of the AWA DVD
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter. July 20, 2011.
- History of WWE at the Internet Movie Database
- Powell, John. "Steamboat - Savage rule WrestleMania 3". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2007-10-14.
- Foley, Mick (2001-07-01). Foley is Good: And the Real World is Faker Than Wrestling. HarperCollins. p. 9. ISBN 0-00-714508-X.
- Reynolds, R.D.; Baer, Randy (2004-10-01). WrestleCrap: True Stories of the World's Maddest Wrestlers. Blake Publishing. p. 201. ISBN 1-84454-071-5.
- "WWF Enters the Stock Market". 1999-10-19. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "Take up thy wrestling boots and walk - Now and Then". lordsofpain.net. Archived from the original on 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2008-01-07.
- "WWE History - History of the WWE World Wrestling Entertainment". Prowrestling.about.com. 2012-11-18. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
- "World Wildlife Fund and Titan Sports, Inc. legal settlement". Contracts.onecle.com. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
- Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE: History of WrestleMania. p. 58.
- "WWE brings ECW to Sci Fi Channel". WWE. Retrieved 2006-06-02.
- "Sci Fi grapples with summer wrestling series". Retrieved 2006-05-21. "It will have a nice little twist that will fit in the brand"[dead link]
- "PRIDEFC Official Website". Pridefc.com. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
- "WWE Goes HD". WWE. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
- "'Redefining' television with WWE HD". WWE. Retrieved 2008-01-24.
- "WWE HD, Part II: Reinventing the wheel for WWE TV". WWE. Retrieved 2008-01-24.
- "WWE.COM LAUNCHES MUCH ANTICIPATED ONLINE SOCIAL NETWORK". WWE. Retrieved 2008-12-29.
- Graser, Marc (2008-11-18). "WWE unveils social networking site". Variety.com. Retrieved 2008-12-29.
- "The Official Destination for WWE Superstars". WWE.com. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
- Wortman, James (2010-06-07). "As you like it". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2010-06-08.
- Martin, Adam (2010-06-12). "New update on Danielson's release from WWE". WrestleView. Retrieved 2010-06-12.
- "Daniel Bryan released". World Wrestling Entertainment. 2010-06-11. Retrieved 2010-06-12.
- Adkins, Greg (2010-06-14). "Pains, growing". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2010-06-15.
- Greg Adkins (June 21, 2010). "Results: Seven deadly sinners". Archived from the original on 2010-06-25. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
- Official WWE website
- Official SmackDown! website
- Official RAW website
- Official NXT website
- Official WWE Corporate website
- Official Japanese WWE website
- Official WWE Universe website
- WWE Stock