WWE has made the official announcement that World Wrestling Entertainment is no more. Well, at least in terms of the company name. It is now simply WWE.
Ultimately, this is not only a wise move, but also the timing could not be better.
To many of us, this shift is no big deal. Since the core product is the same, there’s no concern that all of a sudden we’ll end up with no ring and no athletes. But to others, it’s a slap in the face of tradition.
Let's be real about something though: Tradition has done little for growth.
For the better part of 30 years, Vince McMahon, and all of us who love wrestling, have been fighting an uphill battle against stereotypes and misconceptions that are ignorant and disrespectful to the fans, the wrestlers themselves and the industry in general.
Professional wrestling has no one else to blame for this. Years of "protecting the business" may have been good for local territories before cable TV and the double-edged sword of the Internet, but the inevitable future arrived with Vince McMahon trying to undo the damage to the larger pop culture picture caused by actually pretending wrestling was a real sport.
Yet in 2011, there are still critics who just don’t get it.
I believe that Vince McMahon has admitted defeat in trying to change the public perception of the words "pro wrestling" by endlessly promoting "sports entertainment" while "wrestling" was still in the company name.
You can lead a horse to water…you know the rest.
Removing "wrestling" from the name allows the core business to stay the same while attracting advertisers and business partners, and enabling other ventures which may have been put off by the inclusion of the word.
Even a billion dollar empire can be hurt in its expansion and diversification because of the uneducated and ignorant opinions of other people who happen to offer lucrative opportunities.
So why make this change now?
The chances are pretty good that Vince and his inner circle have been planning this for some time but have been waiting for the right climate to make a profound corporate shift.
With The Rock capturing the imagination of wrestling fans and the entertainment world, the positioning is perfect for maximum impact, hot on the heels of WrestleMania 27 and a blockbuster announcement for The Rock versus Cena at WrestleMania 28.
In other words: People are paying attention.
This is a perfect time to seek expansion opportunities as business critics have often been soft on WWE stock due to a lack of growth potential. An understandable outside analysis of the business having an inherent glass ceiling, has never been in a more vulnerable position to be proven wrong.
With a WWE television network looking likely next year, and a fairly new film division (not to mention new television properties like Tough Enough debuting so strongly), the company has never been better poised for explosive growth.
These pieces were not in place before now. To re-brand with little mainstream fanfare around the product and only hints of new potential revenue streams, would have been futile.
This was THE strategic moment to make the simple but bold move of making the corporate name WWE.
With almost no debt and still healthy cash reserves, striking while the iron is hot is exactly what WWE needs to do. No one knows how to take calculated risks like Vince McMahon, and when entertainment stocks are down but public perception is high, the opportunity for corporate re-branding should be seized.
The previously mentioned cash reserves have dwindled in recent years, but that is even more reason to make this move now. The money is there to be reinvested so that the reserves can grow and the company can expand. Money does no one any good if it stands still.
The old adage that you have to spend money to make money has never been more appropriate.
With a concerted effort to eliminate the last vestiges of stereotypical stupidity, the sky is indeed the limit.
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