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This Day In Market History: WWE Admits Pro Wrestling Is Performance, Not Sport

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Wayne Duggan
·1 min read
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Each day, Benzinga takes a look back at a notable market-related moment that occurred on this date.

What Happened? On this day in 1989, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWE) admitted professional wrestling is a performance rather than a sports competition.

Where Was The Market? The S&P 500 was at 292.02 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 2,286.07.

What Else Was Going On In The World? In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that flag burning is free speech protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution. A Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) chemical complex explosion in Houston killed 23 employees. The average cost of a new house was $120,000.

WWF Comes Clean: At the time, the World Wrestling Federation and CEO Vince McMahon were committed to presenting the company’s product as genuine wrestling competition rather than a scripted show for the audience. However, an article published by the New York Times on Feb. 10, 1989, revealed that a spokesperson for the WWF had testified to the New Jersey State Senate that professional wrestling was merely an exhibition.

The testimony came as part of WWF’s push to get pro wrestling deregulated in New Jersey.

The headlines angered many wrestling industry insiders who had fought hard to maintain the illusion of wrestling as a true competitive sport. However, the fans certainly didn’t care.

WWF continued to grow over the next decade and ultimately went public as WWE in 1999. Today, WWE has a $3.7 billion market cap, its own streaming service and even produces feature films.

Photo by John McKeon via Wikimedia Commons

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