The championship was defended around the world. The NWA generally promoted strong shooters as champions, to give their worked sport credibility and guard against double-crosses.
While doing strong business in the Midwest the NWA's core region , these wrestlers attracted little interest in the Capitol Wrestling Corporation territory. In , the NWA board decided instead to put the championship on bleach blond showman "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers , a much more effective drawing card in the region. He lost the championship to Bruno Sammartino a month later on May 17, , after suffering a heart attack shortly before the match.
To accommodate Rogers' condition, the match was booked to last under a minute. At this time, only babyface fan favorite wrestlers were allowed to have long championship reigns, such as Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales and Bob Backlund, who all retained for more than one year each. The heel champions, such as Ivan Koloff and Stan Stasiak , were used to " transition " the championship from one wrestler to another, and they generally kept the title for no more a single month-long program before dropping it to the next babyface.
Graham was the only heel character to keep his championship for longer than one month, as the WWWF felt it needed time to build Backlund up as championship material. McMahon assumed complete control of the organization in The championship would be considered inactive as a result until Luke Graham and Tarzan Tyler won a tournament to claim the championship.
They then defeated the Mongols in November , voiding any claim The Mongols had to the championship. Transition[ edit ] In , Vincent K. McMahon , the son of Vincent J. McMahon, founded Titan Sports, Inc. Seeking to make WWF the premier wrestling promotion in the world, he began an expansion process that fundamentally changed the industry. Each little lord respected the rights of his neighboring little lord. No takeovers or raids were allowed.
There were maybe 30 of these tiny kingdoms in the U. I, of course, had no allegiance to those little lords. This angered other promoters and disrupted the well-established boundaries of the different wrestling promotions.
In addition, the company used income generated by advertising, television deals, and tape sales to secure talent from rival promoters. Capitol Sports already controlled most of the northeastern territory, but the younger McMahon wanted WWF to be a national wrestling promotion; something the NWA did not approve of. WrestleMania would be a pay-per-view extravaganza, viewable on closed-circuit television and marketed as the Super Bowl of professional wrestling.
WrestleMania was not the first supercard seen in professional wrestling, as the NWA had previously ran Starrcade in However, McMahon's vision was to make WWF and the industry itself mainstream, targeting more of the general television audience by exploiting the entertainment side of the industry. 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, and the use of celebrities has been a staple of the company to the present day.
With the success of WrestleMania, other promotions which tried hard to keep the regional territory system alive started to merge under Jim Crockett Promotions JCP. McMahon's focus on entertainment rather than giving his product a legitimate sports feel, the policy that became the concept of sports entertainment , led to great financial success for WWF.
While these talents were recognizable as individuals, some talent became better known for their teamwork as part of tag teams. Zahorian, who was being charged with the illegal distribution of the drug. Just like in wrestling, in the end the good guys always win". The Hell in a Cell match has since become one of the most popular gimmick match in wrestling history. The Attitude Era[ edit ] Main article: Despite starting out as a villain , Austin's popularity would start to gradually exceed those of the top fan favorites in the promotion.
In , McMahon also informed Bret Hart that he could not longer afford to pay him what his contract stated, and suggested that he go back to the more lucrative deal that WCW had offered him.
McMahon character, a villainous extension of his status as promoter. McMahon character which began a long-lasting feud with Austin this feud would be very important in the WWF turning the tides in the ratings war with rival company WCW. Later in the year, new talent began to emerge for WWF: Ratings would continue to rise through and a minute match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Undertaker drew a 9.
It currently stands as the highest-rated segment in Raw history. Beginning on August 26, , the WWF program was aired weekly. XFL, however, was a failure, having only lasted a single year before closing its doors. Triple H won after Mr. McMahon, turning into a villain in the process. These wrestlers chose to sit out the duration of their contracts and be financially supported by AOL Time Warner rather than work for WWF for a cheaper salary. In the aftermath of the Invasion angle, WWF made several major changes to their product.
Jerry Lawler returned to the company after a nine-month hiatus, after his replacement on commentary Paul Heyman was fired on-screen by Vince McMahon. However, the storyline proved unpopular with fans and Hogan soon turned face at WrestleMania X8 after his classic match with The Rock. This became effective from April 01, on Raw, thus leading to a brand new era, and ending the Attitude Era.
World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. Shortly thereafter, they eliminated all elements that used the term Federation; this affected licensed merchandise such as action figures, video games, and home video releases with its previous logo, which was replaced by a new "scratch" logo. Ruthless Aggression Era[ edit ] Main article: This problem was solved by introducing a "Brand Extension", with the roster split in half and the talent assigned to either Raw or SmackDown! Wrestlers, commentators and referees became show-exclusive, and the shows were given separate on-screen General Managers.
Additionally, both Raw and SmackDown! This lasted until August , when the rosters were merged and the Brand Extension was quietly phased out. Edge would main event several shows including WrestleMania Triple H would also be featured prominently during this time, winning several of his fourteen world championships , as would The Undertaker whose WrestleMania win streak started gaining fame.
In August , Shawn Michaels would also return as a wrestler at SummerSlam after a hiatus of over four years. He would achieve great success, and won a World Championship in the first ever Elimination Chamber match at Survivor Series. He gained a large fanbase in on SmackDown! He remained the top wrestler of the company after winning the WWE title, until his untimely death on November 13, The circumstances of his death would provide a medium to his off-screen friend Rey Mysterio to emerge as a major main eventer and win the Royal Rumble match and the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania However the biggest breakout stars of the Ruthless Aggression era would be both John Cena and Batista.
Upon his debut, Cena quickly proved popular due to his "Doctor of Thuganomics" white rapper gimmick on the SmackDown brand, receiving a WWE Championship match against Brock Lesnar in the spring at Backlash in , and had a major feud with The Undertaker during the summer.
Cena's popularity soared when he was drafted to Raw, where he quickly became the face of WWE, a rise not seen since Austin and Hulk Hogan. Cena's popularity has led to him becoming the all-time record "wish maker" for the Make-A-Wish Foundation , granting over wishes as of August After returning and eventually winning another world championship, at WrestleMania 23 in , Batista would defend the title to The Undertaker in a classic bout.
Both Cena and Batista would not face each other for the first time until SummerSlam in , with Batista winning. Edge became a prominent superstar during this period, and would have a fierce rivalry with John Cena after cashing in his Money in the Bank contract on Cena to win the WWE Championship. The two would have several matches including a highly acclaimed Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match at Unforgiven , which Cena won.
The alliance lasted between In late Edge would start an on-screen affair with SmackDown! General manager Vickie Guerrero , that saw her hand Edge several unearned opportunities and take biased decisions in favor of Edge.
But the relationship would later suffer periodic mistrusts after Edge was caught to have been cheating on her. Throughout Edge would feud with The Undertaker, that ended with Undertaker defeating him in a Hell in a Cell match in the main event of SummerSlam. Money in the Bank[ edit ] Main article: The return of ECW[ edit ].