The art of true living in this world is more like a wrestler’s than a dancer’s practice.Marcus Aurelius
As most of you know, WWE changed the name in the early 2000s, although many fans, particularly the younger or casual ones, might not be aware of the reasons behind that change.
In this post, we will learn the reasons why WWF changed to WWE, its impact on the brand and product, and of course, the positive and negative effects related to that change.
Why WWF Changed To WWE? – It All Starts
To better explain why WWF changed to WWE, I will take you to the early 80s and start our story there.
If Vice McMahon, the chairman of WWE, had internet when in 1980 he founded Titan Sports, that will most likely save him some troubles.
Quick research and he would find out immediately that another organization was already using the acronym “WWF” in the US.
Unfortunately, he didn’t possess such a magical tool back in the day, so as you might guess, the good old Vinnie ends up giving the acronym “WWF” to his brand new founded company.
Things were doing well for Vince McMahon and Titan Sports, with WWF (World Wrestling Federation) assuming itself as the juggernaut of pro wrestling at a global scale.
That success associated with the acronym “WWF” led the organization who was using the same acronym before Titan Sports to reclaim to themselves the exclusive right to using it eventually.
The acronym’s owner was World Wide Found for Nature, an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961, that besides working to reduce the human impact on the environment and wilderness preservation, it also likes to have a panda on their logo.
Important to refer as well, since 1989, the organization uses its full name outside the United States.
A Quick, Bad, And Short Term Solution
In 1994 Vince McMahon entered a law-binding agreement with WWFN, where Titan Sports are forbidden to use the acronym “WWF” in everything related to pro wrestling.
The “good” part of the agreement was Titan Sports could keep using the words “World Wrestling Federation” on their logo and live broadcast. Overall it was, in the words of the chairman, a “terrible deal for WWF.”
Once again, things were doing fine for the good old Vinnie. After years of rating wars with WCW that he won, his WWF was regaining the pro wrestling monopoly, putting themselves in an excellent position to the arrival of a new century and a new era in pro wrestling.
But in 2000, WWFN claimed that Titan Sports had violated the terms of the agreement and took legal actions. In 2001 WWFN got the W on the court, and as a result, Titan Sports lost the right to use the acronym “WWF.”
After the lost WWF publicly informed their fans on an episode of Monday Night Raw that the company was changing the name to “WWE” (World Wrestling Entertainment).
Although the “WWF” acronym was used for the last time in 2002 on the PPV “Insurrextion,” the abbreviation still appeared in some video games already produced.
In late 2003 the good old “WWF” was finally replaced at his full extension by the new “WWE” acronym.
Long Live To WWE
The first impact of that change was the beginning of a very catchy slogan, to say the least from WWE called “Get the F out”… ahh, the good old Vinnie at his finest!…
This was a period of changes in the world of wrestling too, WCW that fought for years with WWE for the ratings just have been bought by their rivals, and some bonafide stars retired or stepped aside from the ring to embrace other projects, names like The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin were on that group.
Simultaneously, some other wrestlers started to have their time to shine in the company like John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton, Kurt Angle, etc.
A new era was arriving replacing the Attitude Era, the Ruthless and Aggression Era, and Vince McMahon capitalized on it and used it in his favor when the time of acronym’s change arrived.
For the less attentive fan, the change might have been related precisely with the beginning of a new era, when, in reality, it was just a happy coincidence.
In conclusion, we can say that despite Vince McMahon being extremely happy with the timing of the change of acronym and the arrival of a new era, which helped him make that transition way smoother, we cannot take anything from him in how he managed the situation.
In the opinion of many, WWF didn’t lose their identity, but actually, the brand new “WWE” acronym and its meaning fitted better the vision that Vince McMahon had for his product.
After all, to the good old Vinnie, he is not in the pro wrestling biz but the entertainment one.
Changing for WWE? Was It For The Best?
Vince McMahon always had his image of what pro wrestling should be and how it should be referred to and presented. Over time plenty of terms, some of them sacred among the wrestling community, were replaced by terms of his taste.
Some good examples are:
- A pro wrestler should never be referred to as “pro wrestler,” but as a “sports entertainer.”
- The fans are always referred to as the “WWE Universe.”
- The championship title should never be referred to as a “belt.”
- The last example and maybe the more debatable is that the expression “pro wrestling” cannot be used in any form by anyone in the company. And unless uncle Vinnie gives the green light (which rarely happens), the expression to be used is “sports entertainment.”
All these examples show how relentless Vince McMahon is when he wants to impose his ideas, and like it or not, WWE, with the time, became a product that most of the traditional wrestling fans don’t feel connected to. It became a more friendly product, mainly since they became PG in 2008.
What we can sum up from this is that Vince McMahon is trying his best to establish his product aiming instead of the entertainment that the athletic component of the business.
If that’s the path that he chooses for his company, does “World Wrestling Entertainment” sounds better than “World Wrestling Federation”?
I did my best to expose the facts as they happened and gave you my thoughts on the matter, but as always is up to you, the reader, to decide if you agree that the change was for the best or not.
To help you out with that decision in the next chapter, I will present you with a list of Pros and Cons resulting from the name’s change.
The Pros and Cons
The list I will present you doesn’t have a particular order nor a fixed number of reasons, so let’s start with the pros.
- General speaking reflects better the present product of WWE;
- It’s more appealing for fans in general;
- It helped the transition to a new era;
- It contributed to establishing newcomers stars;
- Helps the product in moments aiming to nostalgia;
- It did wonders for Vinnie’s ego after all; another significant change happened in pro wrestling thanks to him;
- There was a loss of identity, especially among older fans;
- Contributed to the end of the Attitude Era, one of, if not the most significant era of all time;
- It became less appealing for hardcore fans;
- Once again, a change in pro wrestling happened thanks to Vinnie, this time via a loss, that for sure hurt the ego of the old V;
My Two Cents
There you have it, my list of Pros and Cons on the matter. I hope it helped you to understand the reasons for the change, and make up your mind if the impact of WWF changing their name to WWE brought more positive or negative consequences.
I acknowledge that not everything was perfect. On the opposite, as we saw in some aspects, it was quite harmful, but in my opinion, the change in the long term can be positive looking at the path WWE has been following for some decades now.
Ah, and let’s not forget that the most important thing was achieved, the pandas will not be confused with pro wrestlers anymore!
I do hope you had enjoyed this post. Don’t forget to take a look at some other content, and as always, if you’d like to add, agree or disagree with something, don’t hesitate to superkick me in the comments below, and I will be pleased to chop you back!
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Founder of Against the Ropes.