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World Wrestling Entertainment Historical Timeline
Vincent McMahon Sr.
A detailed look at the growth of the Capitol Wrestling Corporation into the World Wide
Wrestling Federation, the forefather of the WWE, can be found in the book: National
Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly that Strangled Pro Wrestling.
In March 2001, World Wrestling Entertainment became the only major promotion in the
United States by overtaking it’s last bit of competition. When the WWE, then the WWF,
purchased World Championship Wrestling, it ended years of wrestling wars on Monday
nights and behind-the-scenes. Vince McMahon had done the unthinkable. Where twenty-
years earlier, there were dozens of respected booking offices throughout North America,
now there was only one dominant promotion light-years ahead of the independent scene.
The uphill fight for McMahon and his brand of sports entertainment started slowly and took
years to perfect, but today, he reeps the rewards for battling the world. He is the only man
The McMahon Family legacy in sports promotions stretches back to the 1920s when
brothers Roderick “Jess” and Eddie McMahon promoted boxing and wrestling in New York.
The world of promotions proved to be in the blood when it continued with Vincent J.
McMahon, Jess’ son.
Vince McMahon had a new outlook for the professional wrestling world and by 1950, he
was well-known as player in the sports world. He formed a partnership with Joe “Toots”
Mondt, a successful wrestling booking manager out of Manhattan. Mondt was one of the
most controversial figures in wrestling, but one with a lot of clout. The McMahon-Mondt
partnership carried a bond between Washington D.C., where McMahon was based, and
New York City. Together, they would form the Capitol Wrestling Corporation.
McMahon took over the reigns as the main promoter in Washington on January 7, 1953
and used the old Turner’s Arena. He would use wrestlers from Jack Pfefer’s stable early
including The Zebra Kid and The Golden Terror. Booking out of the Franklin Park Hotel,
McMahon established a strong east coast promotion. Not before long he was receiving
heavyweight talent from Chicago and Fred Kohler, a man who McMahon would have a long
partnership with. Kohler sent the likes of Verne Gagne and Hans Schmidt into
Washington. Continuing the string of top talent, Antonino Rocca came in for the first time
on February 25. With talent coming in from Mondt, Pfefer and Kohler, McMahon’s success
Washington D.C. did see rival promoters come into McMahon’s territory only be turned
away. In January 1956, Ray Fabiani entered the capitol with Buddy Rogers headlining.
Rogers was one of professional wrestling’s most talented grapplers. He was one of the
business’s top draws and someone many promoters had wanted to wear the NWA World
Title. In 1956, Rogers was an enemy combatant to McMahon. He was working for a rival
promoter and trying to take away from the business the Capitol Wrestling group had built.
Four years later, in March 1960, Rogers would make his debut for the Capitol Wrestling
Corporation. His signing with the McMahon-Mondt organization would change history.
Between April and May, the “Nature Boy” began to make more and more appearances in
the northeast, including programs at Madison Square Garden. Rogers was often billed as
the U.S. Heavyweight Champion for many of his northeastern dates.
With Rogers headlining, McMahon began to see gate figures increase. McMahon was
soon working with the National Wrestling Alliance to schedule a match for Rogers with Pat O’
Connor, the World Champion. Through Kohler in Chicago, arrangements were made for a
huge Comiskey Park spectacular. On June 30, 1961, Rogers beat O’Connor and captured
the NWA World Title. 38,000 fans were in attendance, paying $125,000.
According to records, the NWA President controlled the bookings for the World Champion.
In the case of Buddy Rogers, his bookings were also partly controlled by the Capitol
Wrestling Corporation and McMahon. It wasn’t long before the rest of the NWA was feeling
the effects from the Rogers win in Chicago. The new champion’s schedule was dominated
by appearances in the northeast, where he was making the CWC money. Rogers did
venture out onto the NWA circuit for short periods of time, but he remained loyal to his
handlers in the northeast. Some promoters who usually received visits from the NWA
Champion were receiving none. The CWC had control of the NWA.
Buddy Rogers was the World Champion, but was still vulnerable and the target of ire from
many. It wasn’t long before the NWA wanted the World Title back under their control. At
that time, he would be in danger of a shoot if he went into the ring against the wrong man.
He was a showman, a great performance wrestler. Even in the dressing rooms he was
unprotected in some situations. After a show in Columbus, Ohio on August 31, 1962,
Rogers was in a confrontation with Karl Gotch and Dr. Bill Miller, two formidable wrestling
shooters. Rogers suffered a broken arm in the incident. Needless to say, he would never
return to work for Al Haft.
In November 1962, Rogers suffered a broken ankle during an NWA World Title defense in
Montreal against Killer Kowalski. Kowalski claimed the championship and Rogers was on
the shelf until late December 1962. The NWA had arranged for Rogers to have wrestled
Lou Thesz on December 14 in Houston. Thesz was a wrestling hooker, perhaps the
greatest grappler in history. He was the man the NWA had tagged to retreive the World
Title from Rogers, at all costs. Thesz would have worked and shot on a uncorporative
Rogers if need be, winning the match no matter what. Due to the injury, Rogers had
missed the match in December. There was another date on the calender which everyone
viewed as important, it was January 24, 1963 in Toronto. Rogers was facing Thesz for the
Buddy Rogers’ managers in the northeast were not caught off guard and knew what was
Many people consider January 24, 1963 to be the date in which the actual World Wide
Wrestling Federation was formed, but it only marked the day of which Lou Thesz beat
Buddy Rogers in Toronto to capture the National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight
Championship. Buddy Rogers had been the top draw as a heel in the northeast and
promoters in that region continued to recognize him as the World Champion after this loss.
Promoters Willie Gilzenberg, Joe “Toots” Mondt, Vincent J. McMahon and the Capitol
Wrestling Corporation were all members of the NWA. It has been cited that these
promoters didn’t recognize the January 24th win by Thesz because it was only a one-fall
match. Other facts were that Rogers was making big money for promoters in the northeast
and according to some sources, they attempted to book Thesz in their territory, but could
not get into his already busy schedule. Buddy Rogers had been booked by the CWC and
Lou Thesz was booked by Sam Muchnick, the NWA President.
Read more in the WWE Historical Timeline here.
During the ’80s, he went national and began to slowly dominate. The smaller promotions
could not keep up with the Hulk Hogan’s or the Andre the Giant’s McMahon had on
television. Before anyone could do or say anything about it, the WWF had completely
taken over. Jim Crockett and then Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling was the
last leg of his takeover. When the WWF purchased WCW in March ’01, the battle was
over. Vince McMahon and his Sports Entertainment stood alone. He had created an
empire out of wrestling which will never be matched.
In early May 2002, the WWF officially changed it’s name to “World Wrestling Entertainment.”
The road to the top was not an easy one or one without snags along the way. The World
Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) was originally named in 1963, but it’s lineage goes
back through the National Wrestling Alliance and that organization’s history stretching back
Other Historical Notes:
In November 1969, McMahon told the Washington Post and Bob Addie that Bruno
Sammartino had "never earned less than $100,000 a year for the last 10 years and the
average wrestler can make between $40,000 and $50,000 a year." McMahon explained
that General MacArthur once told him that he always watched the Thursday night wrestling
show. He also said that he watched an interview by Ed Murrow of Mrs. Harry Truman after
she'd left Washington and the White House. Murrow asked her what she missed most
about Washington, and she answered, "the televised wrestling shows."
On September 27, 1971, Vincent McMahon announced that weekly professional wrestling
shows in Washington, D.C. were being discontinued at the National Arena, "effective
immediately," ending a lengthy run of which programs were staged in the city. Washington
in years past, had been the headquarters of the McMahon promotion, and taped programs
were being shown in as many as 30 cities in more than 10 states. McMahon reportedly had
a 40-man wrestling stable at the time. Washington, from this point on, was going to see
footage taped from Hamburg (on Wednesdays), used to still promote the monthly programs
at the Washington Coliseum. McMahon claimed that his attendance dropped following the
death of Martin Luther King, according to his comments in the September 28, 1971 edition
of the Washington Post.
McMahon still wanted to run weekly programs, but the Coliseum was too large to do so, and
he didn't have another option at the time.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|(WWWF) World Wide Wrestling Federation Territory