WWF vs. WWE
If you hear the term WWF, do you think of the World Wildlife Fund (cute animals, saving the planet, etc.) or the World Wrestling Federation (Hulk Hogan, piledrivers, etc.)? This confusion and uncertainty is at the root of the wrestling group changing their name from the WWF to the WWE. But how it happened and the history behind it is a little deeper.
What is the WWE?
WWE, which stands for World Wrestling Entertainment, is “an integrated media organization,” which seeks to offer global entertainment in the form of media, live events, and consumer products. You probably know the WWE best as a professional wrestling organization, but they consider themselves much more, branching out into other fields like movies, real estate, and other business ventures.
Wrestling is still at the heart of the WWE though, and the company is a dominating force in the promotion of wrestling. It organizes over 500 events a year, held the world over. These events are purely entertainment-driven enterprises, as opposed to being actual competitive bouts. The matches are often scripted or choreographed, with many of them featuring risky and crowd-pleasing moves. The wrestlers themselves are athletes though. They are professionals who require a great deal of athleticism to pull off often dangerous moves that can put them at risk if not performed correctly.
WWF to WWE
While the role and mission of WWE has always been the same – to offer world-stage wrestling entertainment to its viewers – the name under which it has operated has not always been so constant. In 2001, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) officially changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). In many ways, this was the start of a transition to a new era, including new top stars, new game attitudes, and new levels of entertainment.
However, this rebranding didn’t necessarily come voluntarily.
Why Did the WWF Change Their Name to WWE?
The company we know today as the WWE was incorporated in 1980, and was previously known as Titan Sports, Inc. In 1982, Titan would acquire Capitol Wrestling Corporation, which was then the holding company for a wrestling league called the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Vince McMahon, who had founded Titan, began to promote the WWF as the premier wrestling league in the world.
However, soon after beginning use of the WWF label, McMahon learned another company was using the same acronym. The World Wildlife Fund for Nature had been using WWF prior to McMahon and his wrestling league. In 1994, due to this conflict, McMahon entered a law-abiding agreement forbidding him from using WWF in relation to wrestling, and was only allowed to use it as spoken word on live broadcasts. The World Wildlife Fund agreed to drop any pending litigation against Titan Sports, Inc.
This seemingly amicable agreement turned sour in 2000 when the World Wildlife Fund claimed that the terms of the agreement had been violated, leading them to launch legal action. As a result, McMahon soon lost his rights to the use of WWF, and on an episode of Monday Night Raw in 2001, announced the official name change to WWE. The logo remained in a few shows and on some video games already produced until as late as 2003, before being completely left to the animals.
The WWE Today
While it may seem a bit trivial to swap one initial, the World Wildlife Fund was adamant about the change, especially given that the violent nature of wrestling was in stark contrast to the ethos of a company that prides itself on acts of compassion and humanitarianism. Ultimately though, it ended up working in favor for the wrestling side as well, as the name allowed the company to emphasize entertainment. And that, says McMahon, is “what our company does best.”