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Is WWE getting into the MMA business?

By Zach Arnold | October 22, 2006

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By Zach Arnold

PRIDE US announcer Mauro Ranallo did interviews on both the Observer Live and Live Audio Wrestling radio shows on Sunday. According to this post, Ranallo indicated on the LAW interview that WWE is interested in getting involved in promoting MMA.

You can read my thoughts about this in full-post view.

Update: One quick thought… remember last week’s rumors that McMahon was interested in getting Ken Shamrock? Could Shamrock potentially be Vince’s “ace” for his MMA (or worked MMA) promotion if he starts it up?

Update II: Mike Sawyer at F4W Online reports the salaries for the PRIDE Las Vegas show:

Emelianenko Fedor ($100,000) def. Mark Coleman ($70,000)
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua ($25,000) def. Kevin Randleman ($40,000)
Josh Barnett ($60,000) def. Pawel Nastula ($20,000)
Butterbean ($30,000) def. Sean O’Haire ($15,000)
Dan Henderson ($50,000) def. Vitor Belfort ($30,000)
Phil Baroni ($15,000) def. Yosuke Nishijima ($15,000)
Kazuhiro Nakamura ($10,000) def. Travis Galbraith ($2,000)
Robbie Lawler ($10,000) def. Joey Villasenor ($3,000)

If my math is right, that adds up to a payroll of $495,000 USD. I think McMahon could pay that much for a fight card.

Thoughts: Considering that WWE has been internally watching UFC’s TV ratings very carefully, they view UFC as a threat to them. UFC targets the demographic WWE covets the most, which is men in the 18-34 year old demographic. UFC is hurting them there big time. If WWE does get involved in the MMA business, they will have a significant amount of resources to really challenge UFC.

The end result is that WWE is a far bigger threat to UFC than PRIDE is. From the perspective of the casual American fan who isn’t a hardcore fan and doesn’t follow MMA religiously, WWE is considered the gold standard for production values. Whatever advantage PRIDE may have in production value at events could be quickly negated by WWE. This leaves PRIDE having to compete on a fight quality level. They can certainly do that, but fight quality isn’t entirely what sells (see: UFC). It’s marketability. If WWE gets involved in the MMA business, this really hurts PRIDE in America more than it hurts UFC short-term.

PRIDE cannot compete with WWE in the American marketplace. However, the one advantage PRIDE has over WWE is that PRIDE is willing to make Las Vegas its homebase. Nevada is not a state that Vince McMahon runs many wrestling shows in (he did run a house show recently in Reno) because the Nevada State Athletic Commission holds onto the money from the gates of each show and releases the money at a later date. Therefore, Las Vegas is somewhat of a safehaven for PRIDE (at the moment). However, if UFC can manage to push PRIDE out of Las Vegas or diminish the amount of money they can make there, then the options start getting limited. WWE running MMA events is not what PRIDE needs right now in the American marketplace.

Topics: All Topics, Media, MMA, PRIDE, Pro-Wrestling, UFC, WWE, Zach Arnold | 22 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

22 Responses to “Is WWE getting into the MMA business?”

  1. Ivan Trembow says:

    If WWE does ever start an MMA promotion, it will fail miserably, not only because of the stigma that the “fights must be fixed” since Vince McMahon is behind it, but also because the McMahons have failed miserably at everything outside of their core business of pro wrestling. It would be the XFL, WBF, Raw Diva Search, Manhunt, and WWE Films all over again.

  2. Luke says:

    I would agree with Ivan. I don’t think McMahon could resist working the fights, or doing some whacky gimmick match.

  3. Royal B. says:

    I’ll throw my 2 cents.

    Vince doesn’t have the balls. No, really. He doesn’t have the balls. Not only is this a static buisness which no aspect is controlable, I don’t think he’d like to spend triple digits on a fight per fight basis. Add to that, the man doesn’t have the “eyes” to pick talent. How many tall, walking hulks does it take to kill a card?

    I bet this was Johnny Ace’s hair brained idea.

  4. PizzaChef says:

    I agree with Ivan. Also don’t forget that Vince said UFC should start fixing matches to put over younger talent.


  5. ditch says:

    You can add WWE’s plans for Japan to the list of failures.

    I don’t see this actually happening.

  6. ryan says:

    I think it’d be foolish to discount the McMahons … it makes sense for them to make this move, and they’re famous for branching out and taking every open source of revenue. Would they pull it off properly? That’s the big question. But if they put the money behind it that they blew on XFL I wouldn’t be surprised if they became very big very fast.

    Oh the terror. This post just in time for Halloween

  7. sooperstardj says:

    What was Manhunt?

  8. Rich says:

    A failed faux reality show.

  9. JThue says:

    Learn a lesson from NJPW, Vince. Please.

  10. Richard says:

    MMA annalists/journalist know exactly what Vince McMahon is capable of. It would be foolish to think his idea would fail miserably. If many of you don’t know he has already showed his might by forcing the UFC to scramble and spend a good penny on keeping Mike Goldberg at the announce table. And this took place right around the time the UFC decided to go head to head with the WWE on a Monday night, the UFC has not since aired a live production head to head with the WWE. For those of us who know the guys up in Stamford it was his way of letting the UFC know not to mess with the McMahon’s.

    It was quite interesting to note Shane McMahon was rumored to be in attendance in Las Vegas at Pride “The Real Deal”. Watching Fedors entrance one couldn’t help but make comparisons with the WWE style entrance that could only rival the Undertakers. Pride roots come from Pro-Wrestling, the fact is Pride needs a partner to compete with the UFC in the states, what better partner than you guessed it Vince McMahon?

  11. Royal B. says:

    spend a good penny? Wha?

    Goldie didn’t work for the E because it would cut the extra revanue he gets from FSN. That and the angle they wanted him to do was stupid ridiculious.

  12. Royal B. says:

    Forgot to add…

    Who will the E take if they did went against them on Mons.? “Oh look! Forrest Griffin in the crowd!” No way is Vince going to let a fighter go Strong Style on his “superstars.” Even if he did snatch talent, they’d be stuck in developmental hell. And believe me, if they couldn’t get Dan Puder over in OVW…they sure as hell ain’t going to do it with any other fighter.

  13. Mr. Roadblock says:

    I think the reason you won’t see WWE get into MMA is that the MMA guys would be getting more money than the wrestlers and it would lead to discontent in the wrestling promotion.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vince try to do an MMA-like wrestling promotion similar to UWFi. He could transition one of his 3 shows to that style if he chose to.

  14. Mike says:

    If Vince McMahon ran a successful MMA promotion, it would be the first non-wrestling business he ran that wasn’t a miserable failure.

  15. Shaolin says:

    Come on mr. insider, how can you be so nieve now, but so intelligent when it comes to prides failures.

    Those numbers are about as accurate as k-1’s when it comes to total pay. I believe rampage once said pride pays alot of it in cash, also this is almost as funny as ray sefo making about 8 grand when he fights here.

  16. Will Ziacoma says:

    If those payouts are accurate, it completely puts an end to the Pride pays more than UFC talk. We’ve heard Dana say for years that he pays just as much if not more than Pride. Yet Fedor only gets $100,000 for his fight with Coleman? Tito Ortiz got $1MM for his 3rd fight with Ken becuase there was no PPV revenue to share. The main difference I see here is that the lower end of the scale is a bit lower in the UFC although Galbraith and Villasenor didn’t do too well on Saturday.

  17. Keith says:

    I feel that the WWE is all crap now anyway. I have actually just started too watch UFC and I really like it alot! HELL I LOVE IT! I really like how it is not fake like the WWE. I can respect the superstars in the WWE for the show they can put on…..but lets face it WWE is fake, UFC is all real!!! We don’t want Vince too come and turn a good combat sport into a circus show do we? Thumbs up too the UFC!!!!!!You have a new and loyal fan and what ever you do….please keep it real!

  18. rHBa says:

    I can’t see any dedicated MMA fan being interested in any worked/choreographed/fake fights so if Pride moved to the US under McMahon and staged worked fights they would loose their entire US PPV audience who would switch to UFC if they don’t watch it already. They would also loose most of their Japanese audience (I’m assuming it would last about as long as Legend of Kingdom)

  19. hamrjamr says:

    Can anyone out there imagine a WWE like Pride event? The UFC is getting close to WWE, but there is hope that they see the light before it is too late. Let’s just hope that McMahon was sitting in the Pride stands to simply watch a quality show….and nothing more!!!

  20. pt_mck says:

    Pride-WWE partnership makes sense from both sides.

    Rasslin’ peaked in the ’90s and has been declining ever since with repetitive storylines and comic shtick. If McMahon wants to grow his business he will need to expand. MMA is a natural extension of his existing business. The partnership with Pride makes sense as they have a common enemy in UFC. WWE could handle the marketing, television and North America logistics of 4 PPVs per year even setting up a North American division while Pride could handle the fight operations. WWE could be used as a marketing tool to promote Pride fighters and Events in North America on the condition there are no crossover storylines.

  21. Dennis says:

    WWE will definately infect what is now the fastest growing phenom in the world! How can they resist?

    What’s worse? My biggest fear has always been that guys like Tito & Rampage will propagate this virus throughout the UFC.

    I continue to hope that someone will start an omnipresent MMA channel that not only keeps a rein on this type of carnival act routine, but also arranges fights between organizations, keeping the brotherhood together.

    Otherwise, new organizations will keep being formed, and the fighters will keep jumping ship for more money, and the quality of fights will deminish until the masses will tune in to WWE because of the presentation, and the fight quality will no longer be a factor.

    Warning… The next generation will not even remember what boxing is…..

  22. UFCFan says:

    I certainly hope WWE is not going to start a MMA we dont need to take mma into a show.


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