This week in Nerd History: WWE drops an F-bomb.
Okay, more like a bomb-shell. When on May 6, 2002, the World Wrestling Federation, better known then as the WWF, dropped the F from their name, rebranding as WWE – World Wrestling Entertainment.
CEO at the time, Linda McMahon, announced “As World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, we have entertained millions of fans around the United States and around the globe. Our new name puts the emphasis on the E for entertainment, what our company does best. WWE provides us with a global identity that is distinct and unencumbered, which is critical to our US and international growth plans.”
In more clearer reality, the decision was made after the other WWF – the World Wildlife Fund – was successful in a court case against them in Switzerland and was threatening to take it around the world. Why? Well, this all occurred around the time the “Attitude Era” began, when the once more wholesome, family-friendly version of WWF wrestling was now trying to outdo their competitors in WCW by being more risqué and adult. However, even before this, there were also concerns over various harassment scandals coming from the company. The World Wildlife Fund entered into an agreement with the World Wrestling Federation that the wrestling company would stop referring to themselves by their initials internationally. So nobody would confuse news stories and companies when it came to negative headlines generated by the wrestling company.
However, a few years later, when the McMahon clan bought WWF.com and introduced a new logo, the World Wildlife Fund rightly saw this as a breach of that agreement. Of course, this change was no easy feat, and it took a while to catch on. I still hear the occasional slip-up reference to WWF over 20 years later. In many classic video collections and clips, you’ll see the WWF logo either covered by the new WWE version or just completely blurred out, which would sometimes include every turnbuckle pad, microphone, jacket, lapel, title belt, and more, because they slapped that logo on everything just in case you forgot who the heck you were messing with, Jack.
Only in the last few years have they been able to unblur those logos and celebrate with classic throwback logos on merch, no doubt largely because of a return to a more family friendly PG playbook.
I’m Radio Matt, see you next time for more Nerd History.
Nerd History is an LTN Radio audio short that shares some fun facts about different things from nerd culture’s past.