August 3, 1999, New York, New York
In a move that would have long-lasting effects on both the company and the professional wrestling industry as a whole, Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation files the necessary paperwork to go public with its stock options. Concurrently, the WWF also officially renames the corporate title of the company from Titan Sports to World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc.
The decision to take the company public came some seventeen years after Vincent Kennedy McMahon purchased the World Wrestling Federation from his father, Vincent James McMahon. Of course, soon after acquiring the company from his father, Vince McMahon went on to take the already highly successful territorial promotion to new levels of popularity, primarily on the strength of Hulk Hogan and the “Rock n’ Wrestling Connection” during the mid-Eighties. However, it wasn’t until the explosion of popularity that followed the meteoric rise of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock during the late-Nineties that the company found itself in a position wherein it could actually offer its stock to the public and trade its shares on Wall Street.
While making WWFE a publicly traded stock seemed to many at the time to be an entirely positive development, in retrospect, the decision has proven to be a substantive limiter in terms of what the company can, and more importantly, cannot, do creatively. However, there is no denying the financial windfall that the company has enjoyed since it went public, as well as the increased legitimacy it has lent to WWE when dealing with sponsors and broadcast partners.