Professional (or “pro”) wrestling is arguably one of the most American pastimes around. Sure, wrestling was invented thousands of years ago through French cave drawings, and pro wrestling got its start in 19th Century Europe, but the most popular wrestling organizations to ever exist all started in the United States.
Each year, pro wrestling events attract millions of attendees around the country, while millions more watch the events at home. In 2106, pro wrestling giant WWE ($WWE) attracted a record 101,763 fans at their WrestleMania event (the SuperBowl of pro wrestling). A large percentage of these fans not only spend money on attending wrestling-related events, but also buy licensed merchandise, memorabilia, and pay-per-view events on a regular basis.
Best of all, a couple of the most popular wrestling companies are publicly traded on the stock market. Whether you’re a fan or see potential growth, pro wrestling could potentially help you make some sweet gains.
But should you invest in pro wrestling? Let’s take a look.
Most American pro wrestling organizations are privately owned.
New Japan Pro Wrestling, the second-most-popular wrestling organization based out of Nagano, Tokyo, is owned by card company Bushiroad. Impact Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Chikara Pro, and many other American pro wrestling companies are either owned by a partnership or by a private parent corporation. They make money through event sales, home video sales, and merchandise/licensing sales, among other avenues of revenue.
WWE is often cited as the wrestling company, as they cornered the market and dominated competitors years ago.
For the longest time, wrestling companies held different territories in America, and certain wrestling promotions would be exclusive to certain states. In the ’80s, Vince McMahon bought what was then the WWWF from his father and opted to bypass the territory system by syndicating his company’s show across the country. Eventually, the company became WWF (now WWE), landed a cable and pay-per-view deal, put other wrestling companies out of business, and became a multi-billion-dollar entertainment brand. It launched the careers of personalities like The Rock and Ric Flair. It also helped Linda McMahon (Vince’s Wife) land a spot in President Trump’s cabinet.
WWE makes money by selling subscriptions to their streaming media service and pay-per-view events. Buying a $50 pay-per view event is not cheap, but buying a subscription for $10 a month is a more attractive offer. While millions of people attend WWE events, buy WWE merchandise, and tune into the company’s commercial-sponsored broadcast, the company has over a million people worldwide paying them $10 a month for special WWE event programming. This helps them compete with the privately owned Ultimate Fighting Championship, while gaining revenue they never had from former pirates and people who couldn’t afford $40 to $50 per pay-per-view event.
WWE’s stock is slightly up from their 1999 IPO, but the company’s success in the last five years has helped it grow.
When WWE filed for an IPO, their stock was valued at $17 per share. As of this writing, their stock is valued at $19.53 per share. While their stock has dropped over the years to some pretty staggering single-digit lows, $WWE grew by 16.67% in the last year and 103.01% in the last five years.
Ring of Honor is a lesser-known pro wrestling company owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group.
After being founded by Rob Feinstein in 2002 and owned by Cary Silkin, the organization was purchased by Sinclair ($SBGI), a regional telecommunications company. The company puts on a weekly TV show (syndicated by Sinclair, of course), along with pay-per-view and non-televised live events. They also generate revenue through home media and licensed merchandise, though to a much lesser degree than WWE. To put it into perspective, Ring of Honor is an investment for Sinclair, but the company makes more money on their telecommunications endeavors than wrestling. WWE, on the other hand, is just a wrestling company.
Should you invest in pro wrestling? If you invested in WWE when they filed for IPO and still have their stock, you would’ve actually lost money. If you invested in the last few years, however, chances are you probably saw some sweet gains. Sinclair, however, performed pretty well on the market in the last several years.
If you think that either company’s performance is right for your portfolio, be sure to do your research. Both companies’ financial filings are publicly available, as is any news pertaining to operations. If you don’t think investing in pro wrestling is for you, you might want to invest elsewhere.