For almost twenty years, the World Wrestling Federation ruld under the big top of sports entertainment... then it all came crashing down.
It started in early 2002, when ringmaster of modern wrestling Vince McMahon and his World Wrestling Federation were riding high with an audience of millions and a roster of the most talented and charasmatic personalities in the business. When the World Wildlife Fund won legal rights claim over the initials WWF, the change from 'World Wrestling Federation' to 'World Wrestling Entertainment' should have been merely cosmetic. But instead, the swapping of one letter for another heralded something far more serious: the imminent collapse of pro wrestling's greatest organization.
Following the name change, the fan base began to evaporate, television ratings and attendance numbers crashed, and high-profile named like The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin left the WWE and never looked back (while other stars were dropping dead or leaving because of drug problems). Before long, the already-bizarre storylines - both in and out of the ring - sank to new depths of depravity and downright stupidity, driving away all but the most hardcore fans. Even worse, no one in the legitimate media cared enough to get offended. The heyday of Vince McMahon's dream come true had become a financial and cultural nightmare.
But how did things get so bad so quickly? What really triggered the WWE's self-destruction? And how did a man acknowledged as a genius in business, promotion and entertainment, a latter-day P.T. Barnum of wrestling's greatest show on earth, become his own worst enemy within the space of one shockingly brutal year?
Step right up, ladies and gents - and learn the truth about...
Wrestling's One-Ring Circus!
Scott Keith, the author of 'Tonight... in This Very Ring' and 'The Buzz on Professional Wrestling', is an expert insider in the world of pro wrestling.