NEW YORK (AP) - World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., made popular by the over-the-top "smackdowns" and wrestlers like The Undertaker, said Thursday that it is formally rebranding itself as "WWE" to expand beyond the ring as an entertainment company with a new TV network, scripted and reality shows and animated programs.
Its first reality show, "Tough Enough," debuted on the USA Network on Monday. It features contestants vying to be the next WWE superstar. The company said it will also pursue acquisitions and outsourcing of parts of its core business, such as TV and film production, live event production and licensing, to third parties.
"We will always be loyal to our core business that made WWE a globally known entity, however, the future of WWE will be the addition of new entertainment content opportunities beyond the ring," said Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon in a statement.
Shares of WWE climbed 17 cents to $12.82 in midday trading.