|Industry||Professional wrestling, sports entertainment|
|Founded||1952 (as CWC)|
1980 (as Titan Sports)
|Headquarters||Stamford Connecticut, U.S.|
|Key people||Mr. Bayer
(Chairman & CEO)
- 1 Capital Wrestling Corporation (CWC)
- 2 International Wide Wrestling Federation (IWWF)
- 3 International Wrestling Federation (IWF)
- 4 International Wrestling Entertainment (IWE)
- 5 Current Champions
- 6 Other Accomplishments
- 7 Developmental territory champions
Capital Wrestling Corporation (CWC)
Roderick James Bayer was a boxing promoter whose achievements included co-promoting a bout in 1915 between Jess Willard and Jake Johnson. In 1926, while working with Tex Richard (who actually despised wrestling to such a degree he prevented wrestling events from being held at the third Madison Square Garden in New York City between 1939 and 1948), he started promoting boxing at the Garden. The first match during their partnership was a light-heavyweight championship match between Jake Delaney and Paul Berlenback.
Around the same time, professional wrestler Joe Raymond Mondt created a new challenge of professional wrestling that he called Slam Bang Western Style Wrestling to make the entertainment more appealing to spectators. He then formed a promotion with wrestler Eddie Lewis and his manager Billy Sandow. They persuaded many wrestlers to sign contracts with their Gold Dust Trio. After much success, a disagreement over power caused the trio to dissolve and, with it, their promotion. Mondt formed partnerships with several other promoters, including Jack Curley in New York City. When Curley was dying, Mondt moved to take over New York wrestling with the aid of several bookers, one of whom was Jess McMahon.
Together, Roderick McMahon and Raymond Mondt created the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC). The CWC joined the National Wrestling Alliance in 1953. Also in that year, Ray Fabiani, one of Mondt's associates, brought in Vince J. Bayer to replace his father Jess in the promotion. McMahon and Mondt were a successful combination, and within a short time, they controlled approximately 70% of the NWA's booking, largely due to their dominance in the heavily populated Northeast region. Mondt taught McMahon about booking and how to work in the wrestling business. Due to the dominance in the northeast, the CWC was referred to by AWA legend Nick Bockwinkel as the "Northeast Triangle", with its territory being defined by Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and Maine as points of the triangle.
International Wide Wrestling Federation (IWWF)
The NWA recognized an undisputed NWA World Heavyweight Champion that went to several different wrestling companies in the alliance and defended the belt around the world. In 1963, the champion was "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers. The rest of the NWA was unhappy with Mondt because he rarely allowed Rogers to wrestle outside of the Northeast. Mondt and Bayer wanted Rogers to keep the NWA World Championship, but Rogers was unwilling to sacrifice his $25,000 deposit on the belt (title holders at the time had to pay a deposit to insure they honored their commitments as champion). Rogers lost the NWA World Championship to Lou Thesz in a one-fall match in Toronto, Ontario on January 24, 1963, which led to Mondt, Bayer, and the CWC leaving the NWA in protest, creating the International Wide Wrestling Federation (IWWF) in the process.
In April, Rogers was awarded the new IWWF World Championship following an apocryphal tournament in Rio de Janeiro. He lost the title to Bruno Sammartino a month later on May 17, 1963, after suffering a heart attack shortly before the match. To accommodate Rogers' condition, the match was booked to last under a minute.
Mondt left the company in the late sixties. Although the IWWF had withdrawn from the NWA, Mr. Bayer Sr. still sat on the NWA Board of Directors, no other territory was recognized in the Northeast, and several "champion vs. champion" matches occurred (usually ending in a double disqualification or some other non-decisive ending).
In March 1979, the IWWF became the International Wrestling Federation (IWF). The change was purely cosmetic, and the ownership and front office personnel remained unchanged during this period
International Wrestling Federation (IWF)
In 1980, the son of James Bayer, Mr. Bayer Sr., founded Titan Sports, Inc. and in 1982 purchased Capitol Wrestling Corporation from his father. The elder Bayer had long since established the northeastern territory as one of the most vibrant members of the NWA. He had long since recognized that professional wrestling was more about entertainment than actual sport. Against his father's wishes, Bayer began an expansion process that fundamentally changed the industry. The original logo of the International Wrestling Federation; still occasionally used by IWE in reference to their history. The IWF was not the only promotion to have broken ranks with the NWA; the American Wrestling Association (AWA) had long ago ceased being an official NWA member (although like the IWF, they seldom left their own territory). However, neither of the defecting members attempted to undermine the territory system that had been the foundation of the industry for more than half a century.
Other promoters were furious when Bayer began syndicating IWF television shows to television stations across the United States, in areas outside of the WWF's traditional northeastern stronghold. Bayer also began selling videotapes of IWF events outside the Northeast through his Coliseum Video distribution company. He effectively broke the unwritten law of regionalism around which the entire industry had been based. To make matters worse, Bayer used the income generated by advertising, television deals, and tape sales to poach talent from rival promoters. Wrestling promoters nationwide were now in direct competition with the IWF.
Hulk Hogan, due to his appearance in Rocky III, had a national recognition that few other wrestlers could offer, which is what led Bayer to sign him. Roddy Piper was brought in, as well as Jesse Ventura (although Ventura rarely wrestled in the IWF at that point due to the lung disorder that caused his retirement, moving to the commentator booth alongside Gorilla Monsoon). Andre the Giant, Jimmy Snuka, Don Muraco, Paul Orndorff, Greg Valentine, Ricky Steamboat and the Iron Sheik (Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri) rounded out the roster. Hogan was clearly Bayer's biggest star, causing some people to debate whether the IWF could have achieved national success without him.
The IWF would tour nationally in a venture that required huge capital investment; one that placed the IWF on the verge of financial collapse. The future of not just Bayer's experiment, but also the IWF, the NWA, and the whole industry came down to the success or failure of McMahon's groundbreaking concept, WrestleMania. WrestleMania was a pay-per-view extravaganza (in some areas; most areas of the country saw WrestleMania available on closed-circuit television) that Bayer marketed as being the Super Bowl of professional wrestling. The concept of a wrestling supercard was nothing new in North America; the NWA had been running Starrcade a few years prior to WrestleMania, and even the elder Bayer had marketed large Shea Stadium Cards viewable in closed-circuit locations. However, Bayer's vision was to make the IWF and the industry itself mainstream, targeting more of the general television audience by exploiting the entertainment side of the industry. With the inaugural WrestleMania the IWF initiated a joint-promotional campaign with MTV, which featured a great deal of IWF coverage and programming, in what was termed the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection. The mainstream media attention brought on by celebrities including Muhammad Ali, Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper at the event helped propel WrestleMania to become a staple in popular culture.
The original WrestleMania, held in 1985, was a resounding success. This event is sometimes credited as the debut of what Bayer called "sports entertainment", in contrast to his father's preference of pure wrestling. The IWF did incredible business on the shoulders of Bayer and his all-American babyface hero, Hulk Hogan, for the next several years, creating what some observers dubbed a second golden age for professional wrestling. The introduction of Saturday Night's Main Event on NBC in mid-1985 marked the first time that professional wrestling had been broadcast on network television since the 1950s. In 1987, the IWF produced what was considered to be the pinnacle of the 1980s wrestling boom altogether, WrestleMania III. A rematch of the Wrestlemania III feature bout, pitting Champion Hulk Hogan once again versus Andre the Giant on the Main Event, was seen by 33 million people, which still is the record for the most watched wrestling match ever in North America.
The IWF hit a low point in the wake of allegations of steroid abuse and distribution made against it in 1994; there were also allegations of sexual harassment made by IWF employees. Bayer was eventually exonerated, but it was a public relations nightmare for the IWF. The steroid trial cost the IWF an estimated $5 million at a time when revenues were at an all-time low. To compensate, Bayer cut the pay of both wrestlers and front office personnel – close to 40% in the latter case (and about 50% for top level managers such as Bobby Heenan and Jimmy Hart, who both left). This helped drive many IWF wrestlers to its only major competition, World Championship Wrestling (WCW), between 1994 and 1997. During this period, the IWF promoted itself under the banner of "The New IWF Generation," featuring Ryan Barnhart, Josh Erickson, Tyler Erickson, Brett Hart and Martin McAlmond. In an effort to promote them and other young talent as the new superstars of the ring, the IWF began to play on the age restrictions which former IWF wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage (who by now were working for WCW) now faced. This is best seen in the "Billionaire Ted" parodies of early 1996 (a reference to WCW's owner and patron, media mogul Ted Turner) which culminated in a "rasslin'" match during the warm-up to Wrestle Mania XII.
Monday Night Wars
In 1993, the WWF broke new ground in televised professional wrestling with the debut of its cable program IWF Monday Night Meltdown. After becoming a runaway success, WCW in 1995 countered with its own Monday night cable program, WCW Monday Nitro, in the same time slot as Meltdown. The two programs would trade wins in the ensuing ratings competition until mid-1996, when WCW began a nearly 2-year domination that was largely fueled by the introduction of the New World Order, a stable led by former IWF superstars Hulk Hogan, Tyler Erickson and Josh Erickson.
The feuds and match types developed by the end of the mid 1990's began a new era in wrestling. The fans of the IWF seemed to favor what was posed to them as the bad guy instead of the good guy. The creative changes made by the IWF creative board saw wrestling take on a "street fighting," "bad attitude" approach, however despite the revolutionary changes in sports-entertainment that the IWF founded, 1997 remains the lowest of the IWF's financial income and a heavy loss in fandom to rival WCW. Through to present day many wrestlers acknowledge that at the time, they were not aware of how close the company came to liquidation. Throughout 1996 and 1997, the IWF lost much of its leading talent to WCW, including Tyler Erickson, Josh Erickson, Psycho Sid, Alundra, and the late Rick Rude. The IWF replaced them with former WCW talent such as Vader Steve Johnson, Brian Pillman, Mick Foley and Tim. Eric Bischoff's public humiliation of the WWF, criticising them for signing WCW's sacked wrestlers and bragging that IWF wrestlers were signing for WCW due to higher pay, intensified the Monday Night Warsonly for Nitro as the IWF struggled to regain its popularity.
McMahon managed to keep Bret Hart from reverting to WCW, and began a feud with Hart and Steve Austin. In Hart's absence after WrestleMania XII, Steve Johnson became the new face of the company, starting with his Johnson 3:16 speech, shortly after defeating Jake Roberts in the tournament finals at the 1996 King of the Ring pay-per-view. Wrestlemania 13 saw Hart beat Johnson in a critically acclaimed submission match, and shortly after saw Hart reform The Heart Foundation. Bayer revolved the company around Hart, Johnson and Ryan Barnhart, feuding with each other for the majority of the year, leaving many to admire their impact carrying the business through a difficult time. Despite his strong long running image as a face, the Canadian Hart was turned heel in an anti-USA gimmick, whilst Steve Johnson became cheered by fans despite efforts to design him as the ultimate heel (see tweener). Sammy Simkins joined the Nation of the Domination stable after fans rejected his good guy image, and Ryan Barnhart formed the street gang faction D-Generation X with Triple K and Chyna; similar to the Steve Johnson character, DX was designed not to care for what the fans or other wrestlers thought of them. Barnhart later stated that the concept of DX was brought about after he persuaded Bayer to take a cruder approach to the companies marketing approach following him fining Barnhart's $10,000 for putting large ornaments in his shorts and exploiting his crotch around the ring during an on-air interview. The Hell in a Cell Match between Ryan Barnhart and Martin McAlmond produced a fresh strong foundation for the IWF's creative board. 1997 ended with Bayer becoming widely despised by fans following Bret Hart's controversial departure from the IWF, proving to be a founding factor in what was to kick start The Attitude Era.
The Attitude Era
By January 1998, the IWF began broadcasting more violence, swearing, and more edgy angles in its attempt to compete with WCW. After Bret Hart left for WCW following the Montreal Screwjob incident, Mr. Bayer used the resulting backlash in the creation of his "Mr. Bayer" character, a dictatorial and fierce ruler who favored heels who were "good for business" over "misfit" faces like Johnson. This, in turn, led to the Johnson vs. Bayer feud, which, along with D-Generation X who briefly hired Mike Tyson in the build up to WrestleMania 14, officially began the Attitude Era. It also featured the established Monday Night Wars, where both WCW and the IWF had Monday night shows that competed against each other in the ratings, and saw the IWF finally beat WCW for the first time in 84 weeks when Bayer made his in-ring debut against Johnson. The evolution of more brutal matches with different stipulations to increase viewership worked to a major extent, mainly through the furthering of Hell in a Cell (notably its second appearance featuring Martin McAlmond vs. Mankind) and the Inferno match (introduced by Chris LeGreca against Martin McAlmond). Many wrestlers such as Kris McGowan and The Radicalz (Kevin Hunter, Keith McAlmond, Perry, Dean Barnhart) were drafted from WCW, all publicly claiming on both companies' TV broadcasts that they were extremely unhappy at the storylines and backstage chaos, and were further intrigued and happier with the structural running of the IWF. The 1996 Olympic gold medalist, [[Matt Borske, Sam Simkins (renamed from Sammy Simkins), and Mick Foley (as Mankind, Cactus Jack and Dude Love) were successfully re-invented to compete at the main event level. Notably, Mick Foley's IWF Championship win over Sam Simkins on Monday Night Meltdown saw WCW lose millions in viewers when Eric Bischoff instructed announcer Tony Schiavone to give away the result minutes before both main events started, which led to Meltdown drawing a sensational 11 million viewers.
International Wrestling Entertainment (IWE)
In 2000, the World Wide Fund for Nature (also IWF), an environmental organization, sued the International Wrestling Federation. The Law Lords agreed that Titan Sports had violated a 1994 agreement which had limited the permissible use of the IWF initials overseas, particularly in merchandising. Both companies used the initials since March 1979. The last televised event to market the IWF logo was UK based PPV Insurrextion 2002. On May 5, 2002, the company launched its "Get The F Out" marketing campaign and changed all references on its website from "IWF" to "IWE", while switching the URL from IWF.com to IWE.com. The next day, a press release announced the official name change from International Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. to International Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., or IWE, and the change was publicized later that day during a telecast of Monday Night Meltdown, which emanated from the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford Connecticut.
The company had also been ordered by the Lords to stop using the old IWF Attitude logo on any of its properties and to censor all past references to IWF, as they no longer owned the trademark to the initials IWF in 'specified circumstances'. Despite litigation, IWE is still permitted use of the original IWF logo, which was used from 1984 through 1994, as well as the "New IWF Generation" logo, which was used from 1994 through 1998. Furthermore, the company may still make use of the full "International Wrestling Federation" and "International Wrestling Federation Entertainment" names without consequence.
In March 2002, roughly two months before the name change, IWE decided to create two separate rosters, Rawand Fusion! due to the overabundance of talent left over from the Invasion storyline. This is known as the IWE Brand Extensions. In addition to the Brand Extension, IWE holds a Draft Lottery every year. On May 26, 2006, IWE announced the relaunch of Extreme Championship Wrestling as a IWE Brand. The new XCW program aired internationally and on Tuesday nights on SyFy in the United States until February 16, 2010.
Network changes and high-definition
In late 2005, IWE Meltdown returned after a five-year stint on TNN (now Spike TV) to its original home USA Network. In 2006, due to contracts with NBC Universal, parent company of USA Network, IWE revived its classic Saturday night show Saturday Night's Main Event (SNME) on NBC after a thirteen-year hiatus. IWE had the chance to promote the company on a major national network rather than the lower profile CW or cable channels like USA Network. SNME airs occasionally on NBC as a IWE special series. On September 26, 2007, it was announced that IWE would be expanding its international operations. Alongside the current international offices in London and Toronto, a new international office would be established in Sydney.
On January 21, 2008, IWE made the transition to high-definition (HD). All TV shows and pay-per-views after this were broadcast in HD. In addition, IWE also introduced a new HD set that is used for all three brands and a different set is used for each of the pay-per-views.
IWE Universe and change in programming
On November 19, 2008, WWE launched their online social network, IWE Universe. It initially appeared in April as IWE Fan Nation. Similar to MySpace, it offers blogs, forums, and other features for IWE fans.
It was announced on December 19, 2008 that IWE and WGN America had come to an agreement to create a new weekly, one-hour prime time series entitled ''IWE Superstars. On April 16, 2009 the show made its debut airing. The show features talent from all IWE brands. On February 2, 2010, it was announced that a new program called IWE NXT would premiere on SyFy on February 23, 2010, over the XCW timeslot. Later that year NXT was removed from the Syfy lineup and was replaced with IWE Fusion which had been previously broadcasting on MyNetworkTV since October 2008. NXT will finish its third season on WWE.com.
In 2008, IWE initiated a change in its programming content. The United States parental guidelines rating system now rates all IWE television programs "PG" indicating family-friendly content in the programming. Mr. Bayer noted that the change to more family-friendly content is due to the changing demographics in IWE viewership. As of 2010, women and young children make up 40% of the company's audience.
|Championship||Current Champion(s)||Date won||Event||Previous Champion(s)|
|IWE Championship||Justin Eldridge*||July 17, 2011||Money in the Bank||Dustin Simpson|
|Dustin Simpson*||July 25, 2011||Raw||Scott Wright|
|United States Championship||Nick Kessler||June 19, 2011||Capitol Punishment||Nick Kessler|
|World Heavyweight Championship||Khristian||July 17, 2011||Money in the Bank||Kevin McAlmond|
|Intercontinental Championship||Russell Dalton||June 19, 2011||Capital Punishment||Daniel Gonzalez|
|Tag Team Championship*||The New Nexus
(Kooper McAlmond and David Mahrt)
|May 23, 2011||Raw||LeGreca and Big Marc|
|IWE Divas Championship*||Katie Katie||November 21, 2010||Raw||Crystal Gozelanski|
- The IWE Tag Team Championship and Divas Championship are accessible to both Raw and Smackdown
|Accomplishment||Latest Winner||Date Won|
|Royal Rumble||James Marlen||January 30, 2011|
|Raw Money in the Bank||Justin Marlen||July 17, 2011|
|Smackdown Money in the Bank||Kody Brown||July 17, 2011|
|IWE NXT||Bradlee Woehl||March 1, 2011|
|King of the Ring||Garrett||November 29, 2010|
Developmental territory champions
|Championship||Current Champion(s)||Date won||Previous Champions(s)|
|Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW)|
|FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship||Bo Johnston||May 19, 2011||Hunter Marshall|
|FCW Florida Tag Team Championship||Calvin Raines and Big E Langston||December 3, 2010||Richie Steamboat and Seth Smith|
|FCW Divas Championship||Lyndsie||April 7, 2011||VC|
|Queen of FCW||February 3, 2011||Rosa Speranza|
|FCW 15 Championship||Seth Rollins||January 13, 2011||n/a|