WWE Officially Acquires Independent Wrestling Promotion

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PWInsider has confirmed that WWE has officially purchased EVOLVE Wrestling, ending months of rumors and negotiations between both parties. According to the report, the deal was finalized recently.

WWE has worked with EVOLVE in the past, and the deal seems like a natural progression for both companies. WWE hosted an EVOLVE pay-per-view on the WWE Network last year, possibly to counteract an All Elite Wrestling event that took place on the same night. To this day, it remains the only non-WWE promotion to stream on the platform. This doesn’t include companies such as WCW and ECW, which were previously acquired.

EVOLVE has had a close working relationship with WWE for several years now. It’s not uncommon for NXT stars to appear at EVOLVE shows, and the independent promotion has also served as a feeder system for the company. It remains to be seen if EVOLVE will remain its own entity or become merged with NXT.

EVOLVE’s business method until now was to host shows throughout weekends in popular wrestling hotbeds. These shows were often boosted with the presence of WWE superstars, including Matt Riddle and other popular competitors. According to the report, EVOLVE generated a lot of revenue by hosting meet and greet sessions with WWE stars as well.

The report states that WWE will have access to EVOLVE’s library of content, which will likely be hosted on the company’s streaming service moving forward. The EVOLVE library also gives WWE access to fresh content from current superstars during their independent days, including Daniel Bryan, Walter, and Kyle O’Reilly.

EVOLVE’s decision to sell to WWE is likely the result of the COVID-19 pandemic hurting the independent wrestling industry. Companies outside of the major promotions are struggling to sustain themselves right now, and EVOLVE may have triggered the clause in their agreement with WWE, which gives Vince McMahon’s company first refusal to acquire them.

WWE has potential acquisition agreements in place with other promotions around the world, though EVOLVE appears to be the only company to exercise the clause at the time of this writing. There have been rumors of WWE expanding NXT territories abroad in recent times, and those deals could be a part of those ambitions.

However, the company’s decision to purchase EVOLVE during a pandemic might raise a few eyebrows. WWE has been cutting back on costs in order to cope with the economic uncertainty of COVID-19, which resulted in multiple employees losing their jobs.