The WWE network this week aired their premiere episode of their new documentary ‘Ruthless Aggression’ Looking back on a period in wrestling which WWE has never really gone in depth before and in reality hardly discussed.
They have avoiding this period because of numerous reasons, one being it wasn’t a very successful period for the company. Looking at their accounts via @Wrestlenomics WWE lost roughly $23 million in the year 2003. It wasn’t a successful period in the ring or outside it. Three Wrestlemania were held inside indoor arenas where before they were outside in stadiums like now.
The second main point they avoided this time period is because at Wrestlemania XX in 2004 Chris Benoit was the champion and was a main focus of the show every week. When they avoid and delete the history of a man who was all over a show it will take some work to rewrite history of not involving Benoit.
But the documentary did manage to rewrite history on one subject and that is the change in the company name from WWF to WWE. The narrator Michael Rapaport (Yes Phoebe detective boyfriend from Friends) says that it was Vince McMahon idea to create a change in strategy that lead to the company going back a letter in the alphabet. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. WWE or WWF then lost a court battle with the World Wildlife Fund over the use and trademarks of WWF.
The Fund didn’t pick up on the fact that a wrestling promotion used the same initials as themselves until Vince McMahon around the mid 80s started going nationwide with his product. The first time the Fund took McMahon to court was in 1989 when McMahon and his Titan Sports Inc files for a trademark using the WWF initials. A settlement was agreed to suit both parties but it wasn’t long before McMahon broke the agreement and Titan and the Fund we’re back in court in 1994
Another agreement was made in which David Bixenspan explains in an article he wrote that WWF had to go by these practises after the agreement.
- Stop using the WWF initials in printer, written, or other visual form, as well is in connection with their business in general. Allowances were made for merchandise and publications approved for production before a certain point.
- No longer filing trademarks the WWF initials and cancel existing registrations except for those of Titan’s block logo in any colors.
- Cease speaking the WWF initials orally, though they could use it occasionally in contexts like referring to “the current WWF champion.”
- Notify business partners that they must exclusively be referred to by the name “World Wrestling Federation.”
But with the new media of internet on rise Titan Sports now World Wrestling Federation Inc opened up the website WWF.com. This and the new scratch logo which debuted around the same time period would be the downfall and the last straw for the Fund. In 2002 they would end up in court and with McMahon legal team stating that when they opened the website, they wouldn’t have known the real powerhouse the internet would become. The judge didn’t buy it and is quoted as saying
“If the Federation wanted to develop a worldwide trade, whether through the Internet or any other means, the letters WWF were a very risky base on which to build it. When it established its website, it was, or should have been, fully aware of that fact. The costs of ‘rebranding’ now, after some five years of development, are entirely attributable to its own decision to take that risk. The scratch logo may be less significant in itself, but it was part of the same strategy. It was likewise a clear breach of the agreement, and the risks were apparent.”
So Vince McMahon and his shareholders were left with no other choice but to Get The F Out and they became officially known as World Wrestling Entertainment or now know more as WWE. This occurred in May 2002 and even had the Rock appear on a episode of Monday Night Raw to really emphasis the change in brand in the weeks afterwords.
On Raw and Smackdown adverts were played with the slogan Get The F Out. Wrestlers wore T-Shirts and WWE was branded everywhere.
For years afterwords WWE would have to edit out the WWF logo on all its previous shows, they would blur out the logo and make viewing sometimes difficult on certain shows. Whoever idea it was for all the camera men and photographers to wear WWF T-Shirts at all time must have regretted that discussion in 2002.
I can see why the WWE have rewritten their history to suit a narrative they prefer. They own so much of the wrestling library they can create a history that suits their agenda and one that makes them look more powerful and kind. Unfortunately for them their are many of us in the wrestling community who have a voice and a memory who can share the truth and inform new fans that their is a different version of history within the WWE.
If you would like to discuss this topic or give feedback please do, you can contact me on Twitter @Thewresbook
sources – @Wrestlenomics and @davidbix