This could be interesting… From WWE.com:
Earlier today, WWE officials and members of the group PRIDE had a meeting at WWE global headquarters in Stamford, Conn. The meeting focused on the possibility of the two groups doing some form of business together in the future.
World Wrestling Entertainment is a multimedia conglomerate with a presence in films, music, and sports-entertainment around the world. Known for its unique brand of competition, PRIDE is a major championship mixed martial arts organization based in Japan.
According to Dave Meltzer of WrestlingObserver.com, there has been interest in some sort of business relationship from both sides for about a month, back when WWE began negotiating with Bob Sapp. Both companies see UFC as competition, with WWE internally reacting by getting very upset with a recent Newsweek story about the growth of UFC pay-per-view buyrates (particularly strong when comparing them to non-Wrestlemania WWE buys).
Meltzer says that WWE was planning on promoting Sapp as a pro wrestling and MMA superstar, but that storyline has been given to someone else due to snags hit in contractual negotiations. He went on to say that “there is no way there will be a joint show in the U.S. of Pride fights and WWE matches on the same bill” due to athletic commission issues and a history of mixed cards not doing well in the past in Japan.
This meeting may come as a surprise to some, but Pride – owned by Dream Stage Entertainment, who also runs the HUSTLE pro wrestling promotion – lost TV in Japan some time ago, and has been struggling, while seeing UFC blowing up in the U.S. If a partnership (or WWE purchase) could be agreed to, a huge benefit to Pride would be WWE’s help getting on TV in the U.S. and the pro wrestling company’s long history of “making characters” that fans will pay to see fight. Of course, the most notable negative is that Shane McMahon and Paul Heyman are the only two people in WWE corporate with any knowledge of mixed martial arts, Vince has a history of micromanaging his ventures (particularly pet projects like the failed WBF and XFL) but no real MMA knowledge, and shoot fighting when done in WWE hasn’t really gone well (Brawl for All, The Miz vs. Puder boxing match, etc.).
ECW’s Bobby Lashley and shoot fighters Kevin Randleman and Phil Baroni are possible stars in any WWE/Pride cross-promotion, plus some would assume that such a venture would lead to WWE pushing harder to being in Sapp (or even looking to negotiate with Brock Lesnar or Daniel Puder — hey, “never say never”).