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By Mike Johnson on 2021-06-05 10:00:00


There’s been a lot of talk lately about someone buying WWE and potentially running it instead of or with Vince McMahon.  First of all, I don’t buy that Vince would ever sell, but even if he did, why would another company want it?  I don’t see NBC wanting to run a wrestling company when they can just keep licensing the TV and library.  Can you explain to me why they or anyone else would even consider this?  We saw what a trainwreck Turner was for WCW, to the point they don’t even want to own AEW now!

First, regarding Turner, I think a lot of people tend to forget that the current incarnation of WarnerMedia is not the old Turner Broadcasting.  That was TWO mergers ago and there is NO ONE from that era left in the current day management of what existed during the WCW era.  It’s the same company in lineage, but nothing else, so WarnerMedia not owning AEW has zero to do with WCW’s rise, fall, demise, etc.  It’s silly to claim otherwise, because there’s zero truth to that statement.

As far as why someone else might want to own WWE one day, let’s use NBCUniversal as our example.  I am going to take a page out of the classic Marvel comic series What If?, so I guess you can pretend I am Uatu the Watcher and we can dive into this alternative universe together.

Let’s say one day NBC buys WWE.  What could they do with it that WWE doesn’t already do?

Well, let’s look at how exactly NBC Universal describes themselves - “NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks, and a premium ad-supported streaming service. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.”

We have already reported that WWE President Nick Khan is taking the approach that WWE is an underutilized and undervalued company with a massive number of characters that can be used for intellectual property, similar to DC and Marvel.

So, let’s go down the list here and how WWE could fit into all of NBC’s different components:

News and Entertainment Networks: 

NBCU owns a number of cable networks and obviously Raw and WWE NXT are part of the USA Network now.  Total Bellas is on E!  If NBCU owned WWE outright, they could have a different WWE series on each network.  Miz & Mrs. moves to Bravo.  Bray Wyatt gets to host a Tales from the Crypt-like anthology on Syfy.  Total Divas gets revived for E!  NBC Sports gets their hands on all the documentaries to air as secondary programming.  You create animated series featuring Rey Mysterio and the Lucha House Party and other colorful characters for Universal Kids.  You do WWE-centric telenovelas for Telemundo, etc.    WWE is spread across the spectrum to hopefully raise the tide of all ships, or in this case, all networks.

Motion Picture Company: 

Obviously, there is/was WWE Studios, but Universal is a monster and we’ve already seen how they could handle WWE if they owned it: John Cena is already in the next Fast & Furious film.  Roman Reigns has popped up in that universe.  The Rock is already a major piece of that, so they could easily come up with ways to spin other members of the WWE roster into that world.  

They could produce a supernatural origin story film showing the true origins of The Undertaker, Kane, etc. which may sound strange on paper but a few decades ago, the idea of a Cinematic Marvel Universe sounded like a dream that could never happen.  Why couldn’t The Undertaker or a younger version of him played by someone else face off with Dracula or Frankenstein?

One way Star Wars has expanded their galaxy is animation.  NBCU could produce animated films telling the ‘untold’ stories of the Attitude Era with Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Triple H, etc.  voicing their own characters, capturing all the insanity of the era with none of the beatings they took back in the day.

In the years to come There will be countless Minions, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Monsterverse, etc. films and with WWE personalities as part of the NBC family, there’s no reason to not include them across the board as supporting stars or even giving some of them a chance to break out, as James Gunn did with Dave Bautista in Guardians of the Galaxy.  That’s called good synergy and it’s a way to grab casual fan’s attention and showcase awareness of WWE as a property.

Television Production Operations: 

WWE is already a television production unto itself, but imagine combining the work ethic of their team with the producers of NBC Sports.  By being part of the NBCU family, the profile of what WWE is within the entertainment world is raised above and beyond the reputation of pro wrestling being the red-headed stepchild and forced into a more legitimate realm.  With that comes lots of different ways the show can be shot, produced and handled.

Television Stations: 

All of these local stations need programming beyond what is already produced for them on a national level.  They will always need to fill hours.  

So, if NBC owns the entirety of WWE, how hard would it be for say, the Charlotte NBC affiliate to have WOO! Ric Flair’s Greatest Moments as a local series with the local sports anchor doing the host segments?  

WWE was more than happy to produce the Best of Madison Square Garden for the MSG Network years ago, so imagine localized series featuring classic Championship Wrestling from Florida airing on the NBC Florida affiliate, the best of Roddy Piper in Oregon, ECW in Philadelphia, etc.  

There are an infinite number of ways to dissect and cut up that WWE library to repurpose it over and over beyond a streaming service.  Remember, we are decades into PPV matches that have never, ever, for the most part, ever been seen on broadcast television.  You can’t tell me a weekly series of the best of Macho Man Randy Savage wouldn’t catch some interest.

Beyond that, if NBC owns WWE, then it’s on them to make sure they are promoting the family.  We are talking about WWE personalities every year at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, WWE personality profiles on local news stations timed with monthly PPV specials or big TV weeks, WWE-themed holiday broadcasts, etc.  

Theme Parks:

Universal is already building a third theme park in Orlando and certainly will expand upon their existing parks in different countries.  Just this past week, Disneyland unveiled Avengers Campus featuring rides and attractions from the Marvel Universe.  Given how Nick Khan feels about WWE IP, you can’t tell me for a second that a WWE section of Universal Studios wouldn’t be part of NBC owning the company.

Just imagine the possibilities:

*The Undertaker haunted house, where you come across holograms, animatronic and even “real life” versions of The Fiend, The Undertaker, Paul Bearer, Kane, Giant Gonzales and other monsters of the Undertaker’s stories in a brand new adventure where you are the paranormal investigator trying to prove once and for all the origins of The Undertaker.

*The walk-through WWE Performance Center, where you can not only observe real life WWE training, but “cut a promo” in the interview room and upload it to YouTube, take your own “promo photos” and pay for copies of you as the character of your creation, meet a surprise WWE  performer at the end of the tour, watch videos of classic matches, design and print your own WWE character merchandise, etc.  

*The Austin 3:16 Rattlesnake roller coaster where you hear snippets of Austin promos as you go through the inversions, get doused with “beer” in mid-air and even fly into the mouth and down the throat of a giant rattlesnake before your big finale where Austin 3:16 whoops your ass with a crazy inversion in mid-air.

*You find WWE characters as you wander the land.  The entire staff are dressed a referees and in different corners are new, masked, costumed WWE characters created specifically for the park (who have since debuted on TV) and since these are unique personalities for the parks, they can have a multitude of performers rotating in costume to meet the fans, just as Spider-Man is available all day.

*Enter the WWE Studios where several times a day, WWE is presenting THE BUMP LIVE with WWE performers doing discussions and Q&A sessions, WWE Trivia Shows where the winner walks off with a special WWE Trivia Championship belt and of course, there’s an arena where Raw, Smackdown and NXT are all broadcast (whether live or taped), so there’s no need for touring the TV shows.  Terry Funk once wrote that if the fans could come to the wrestlers and the wrestlers didn’t need to tour, most of the problems that came with being on the road would dissipate.  This allows that to happen and allows for the WWE Universe to have a true, physical home for fans worldwide to look to as their destination.

*The 4D “A Day in the Life of a WWE Superstar” where you, the audience, are the ones everyone is talking to, reacting to, facing off with and every bump, punch, kick and dive is registered with the moving seats, special effects, etc. inside the theatre you are sitting in.

*The walk-through WWE Hall of Fame, featuring rotating artifacts, a foam wrestling ring for kids to dive in (stolen from the ever-popular one at AXXESS), interactive video exhibits, all those WWE statues that are unveiled every year and more, again with a surprise WWE performer to greet you at the end of the walk-through.

Obviously, the ideas for that are endless, because if NBC owns it all, it’s in their best interest to have a physical manifestation of the IP to push all aspects of it.  Hell, imagine Bray Wyatt getting his walk-through attraction at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights where you have to deal with not just The Fiend but Alexa Bliss and twisted life-sized versions of all the puppets, etc. as you wander through “the Swamp” that birthed him.

Streaming Service:

We already see that WWE is a part of Peacock the last several months, so imagine it a step further with NBCU rotating WWE content on and off the service depending on the month or theme or event that will be broadcast, plus WWE personalities plugged into different Peacock original movies and programming, etc.  Now, imagine them developing properties for WWE personalities to star in, such as the talked about Walking Tall reboot series for Charlotte Flair.

Of course, someone will point out that NBC doesn’t do live touring and that’s a big part of WWE’s machine.  That is certainly correct but if NBC bought WWE and didn’t want to do the touring themselves, they could easily sell the rights to the touring off to a company like Feld Entertainment, which handles tours for Jurassic Park Live (another NBCU property), Disney on Ice, Marvel Universe live, etc.  Feld would obviously promote them differently and probably do 1-2 shows a night in a market for several days with a self-contained start and end to the shows (as their tours for other properties do) but maximize merchandising, special meet and greets, etc. with NBCU getting a nice licensing fee and a piece of the profits, all without any of the touring overhead themselves.

Or, NBC could choose to just do PPVs in major arenas on a Saturday night once a month, allowing time for the talents to travel back to Florida for Raw, NXT, etc. 

So, there you go.

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