WWE Pays Out Millions In Salary & Wants To Reach Out To Internet Fans

WWE stockholders received their Annual Report yesterday and here are the highlights.

While usually WWE Annual Reports are very nice-looking and professional, this year they have been toned down. The cover features 3 small pictures of John Cena, Chris Jericho, and Rey Mysterio, Jr. “reaching” for the ropes as he’s trapped in a leg submission by Chavo Guerrero, Jr. The word “REACH” is written in big letters horizontally and vertically. The back cover says “WWE Reach”.

The first 3 pages of the Report are full-color and have several pictures, most notably of Chris Benoit and Eddy Guerrero celebrating in the ring together. These are from Wrestlemania XX. The last page has a black & white photo of Triple H. Every other year, the entire Report was full-color and glossy, so WWE is definitely cutting back on expenses this year.

Linda McMahon wrote the “Letter To The Shareholders”. She’s happy with WWE’s international expansion. She called WM XX a “staggering success”, garnering 885,000 PPV buys and making the company more than $20 million from PPV revenue alone. She said PPV buys in general exceeded expectations for the fiscal year. She liked the buy rates for the Raw- and SD!-only PPVs and said that was an indication of the success of the brand extension and the reason why WWE will be introducing two new PPVs next year. She said TV ratings have stabilized and talked about the key demos Raw and SD! excel in. She said WWE has begun to capitalize on the demand for “classic” programming and talked about WWE owning the rights to WCW, ECW, and AWA footage and put over WWE 24/7. Hilariously, after years of putting down Internet fans, Linda said that she realizes that WWE fans are “early adapters” who “love” the Internet, which is why they’re going to make WWE.com more interactive in the future. She also put over the sales of WWE video games and albums, the “Smackdown! Your Vote” campaign, the “Smackdown! From Baghdad” episode, and the new “WWE Experience” show. She wrapped it up by saying how great 2004 was and how they will have continued success in 2005.

The shareholders’ meeting will be held on September 23 at the Weston Hotel in Stamford, CT. Obviously, only shareholders are invited.

The 3 issues that will be voted on are:

1. To elect 8 members to the Board of Directors (Vince, Linda, Robert Bowman, David Kenin, Joseph Perkins, Michael Solomon, Lowell Weicker, and Phillip Livingston).

2. To appoint Deloitte & Touche WWE’s independent auditors.

3. To approve a stock option exchange, which would require a long and boring explanation that no one would be interested in.

Here are some salaries for fiscal year 2004:

Vince: $1,085,000 with a $1,085,000 bonus
Linda: $750,000 with a $750,000 bonus
Kevin Dunn: $517,692 with a $300,000 bonus

Vince owns 98.8% of the Class B common stock.

Here’s everyone’s favorite part: the lawsuits!

1. The World Wide Fund for Nature case is discussed in detail.

2. A company called Shenker & Associates filed a complaint relating to the unlawful termination of an agency agreement (a company that did merchandise sales for WWE).

3. Marvel filed a complaint against WWE and Universal Wrestling Corp. (formerly WCW), but not because of Hulk Hogan. They’re alleging that WWE breached the terms of a license agreement regarding the rights to manufacture and distribute WCW action figures. The case was dismissed but is being appealed.

4. A class action suit against WWE was filed with regards to their alleged violations of SEC laws relating to their IPO. A settlement has been reached.

There’s lots of other numbers to digest, but those are the main points.

Credit: Steven Rossi & Dave Scherer, PWInsider.com