Wednesday, April 09, 2008

WWE collecting, storing for future Hall of Fame site, by Jim Varsallone - The Miami Herald - 8th April 2008

With World Wrestling Entertainment honoring its Class of 2008 recently at the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Orlando, WWE Executive Vice President of Global Media Shane McMahon discussed an actual WWE Hall of Fame facility.

''We've been close a number of times,'' McMahon said. ``We actually looked at a place in Orlando a few years ago. We don't know where it's going to settle, yet. I think it's probably still a couple of years away, but we're really anxious to do it.

``We've been collecting memorabilia. We have this warehouse that's under lock and key that we just collect every single little thing. We date it. We put it on there. So, when it opens, it will be really cool.''

• McMahon, 38, said further global expansion is the next step for WWE. The company has increased its international touring and has been discussing business with other countries including an emphasis on Latin America.

Legendary promoter/wrestler Carlos Colon of the World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico wants to work more with WWE. Other reps from Latin America including the Dominican Republic would like WWE to start a training program in its country, grooming wrestlers at an international WWE developmental territory or for a specific international WWE brand.

''[An international brand] is a potential,'' McMahon said. ``It's something, excuse the pun, we wrestle with. It's very hard because when you see this caliber of product with Raw and SmackDown! and even ECW, when you see the caliber of athletes and the production value and everything that we put in there with the storylines, that's hard to duplicate.

'My dad [WWE Chairman Vince McMahon] likes to call it, `America's greatest export.' It's hard to argue with him at certain things because we are pretty much ubiquitously distributed throughout the world.

``There could be another entity that develops. We'll have to see what happens.''

WWE is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Shanghai, Tokyo, Toronto and Sydney. The company also plans to open an office in Sao Paulo.

''The countries that we are in, we want to make better,'' McMahon said. ``The countries where we are not currently, which aren't that many, we want to get in, get the market and then bring all of our properties in there.

``The first thing that we do, from our game plan standpoint, is you have to get on the air. So you need television. Once you have a television partner, you start to build certain things with them. After that, you usually bring in a live event. That's usually the next hit. Then from there, you bring in your merchandising, your licensing and all the other intellectual property aspects, and that's how we build the marketplace.''

WWE's television programming can be seen in more than 130 countries around the world. Each year, more than 7,500 hours of WWE programming is broadcast in 23 languages throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America.

In January, WWE in conjunction with Bakus International thrilled Brazilians with the debut of the internationally renowned television programs WWE RAW and WWE SmackDown! on Sistema Brasileiro de Televisóo.

''We're excited to be teaming with Bakus International to get WWE programming on SBT, one of Brazil's top TV networks,'' Carl DeMarco, WWE President, Latin America, China and Canada, said in a release. ``The tremendous athleticism and charisma of the WWE superstars and Divas are going to capture the imagination of all Brazil.''

Gian Teppet, director of New Business Development and Board of Director member, said: ``SBT is proud to welcome WWE as the newest member of our great family. Knowing the Brazilian desire for quality entertainment and WWE's proven success in over 120 countries, we are certain that WWE will be a huge success.''

Bakus International's COO Bill Bakula said: ``The time has come for Brazil to experience WWE at full throttle. WWE is an experience, packed with plenty of thrills, action and fun for the entire family. WWE offers the greatest entertainment value in the universe.''

WWE programs reach more than 16-million total viewers domestically during the average week. WWE is rated among the top weekly cable programs especially in the male demographic.

• Signing wrestlers

WWE has 165 superstars under exclusive contracts, ranging from multi-year guaranteed contracts with established superstars to developmental deals.

''We welcome all styles because we want everybody to have a little something,'' McMahon said. ``What I got out of WWE is different than what you'll get out of WWE. Some people like bug guys. Some like small guys, high fliers, ground soldiers. So we always try to have a good eclectic mix.

``We welcome all of it, but they got to fit, first and foremost, in our locker. Because if you don't fit with our guys -- those are the guys you work with, travel the road with and you're competing against -- it's all about that. Sometimes I enjoy the Mexican style, but you look at what Rey Mysterio has done of adapting the high-flying aspect with the American style with much more of what we do with the psychology aspect.

``It's not just triple backflip into something else. Everything that we do has a meaning, and you're telling the story to the audience. That's one of the secrets of our business.

``Until people can adapt into that style, you won't see more. If those, who can come in, can adapt to it, great.''

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