World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (d/b/a WWE) is an American publicly traded, privately controlled entertainment company that deals primarily in professional wrestling, with major revenue sources also coming from film, music, product licensing, and direct product sales.
WWE also refers to the professional wrestling promotion itself, founded by Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt in 1952 as Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd. As of 2014, it is the largest wrestling promotion in the world, holding over 300 events a year, and broadcasting to about 36 million viewers in more than 150 countries. The company’s headquarters are located in Stamford, Connecticut, with offices in major cities across the world. The company promotes under two main roster brands Raw and SmackDown, developmental division NXT.
As in other professional wrestling promotions, WWE shows are not legitimate contests, but purely entertainment-based, featuring storyline-driven, scripted, and choreographed matches, though they often include moves that can put performers at risk of injury if not performed correctly. This was first publicly acknowledged by the WWE’s owner Vince McMahon in 1989 to avoid taxes from athletic commissions. Since the 1980s, WWE publicly has branded their product as sports entertainment, acknowledging the product’s roots in competitive sport and dramatic theater.
The company’s majority owner is its chairman and CEO, Vince McMahon. Along with his wife Linda, children Shane and Stephanie, and son-in-law Paul Levesque (known professionally as Triple H), the McMahon familyholds approximately 70% of WWE’s equity and 96% of the voting power. As of August 2014, Eminence Capital, a New York-based hedge fund, acquired a 9.6% stake in WWE while the McMahon family retains 90.4% interest.
The current entity, incorporated on February 21, 1980, was previously known as Titan Sports, Inc., founded in 1979 in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts. It acquired Capitol Wrestling Corporation (the holding company for the World Wrestling Federation, WWF) in 1982. Titan was renamed World Wrestling Federation, Inc. in 1998, then World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. in 1999, and finally World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. in 2002. Since 2011, the company has officially branded itself solely as WWE though the company’s legal name was not changed.