Recent reports suggest that the worlds of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts could be set to collide in a major way, with WWE and UFC rumored to be in talks to merge into a new publicly traded company named TKO. While the potential merger could result in significant corporate changes, fans are also wondering if it could spell the end of the PG Era in WWE programming.
Sources indicate that it was Endeavor, the parent company of UFC, that requested WWE Chairman Vince McMahon stay on board through the merger. McMahon has been a driving force behind the company’s PG Era, which has emphasized a more family-friendly approach to its product. However, the potential merger has left many wondering if this could change, especially considering that UFC programming is known for its more raw and intense content.
While WWE has been in talks with NBCU and FOX to remain their media partners, they are also exploring new opportunities to grow their brand. Nick Khan, the President and Chief Revenue Officer of WWE, has made it clear that the company is open to selling off ring assets for long-term sponsorship deals and is even considering bringing back the pay-per-view format.
Interestingly, AEW CEO Tony Khan was recently asked about the possibility of WWE allowing more blood in their programming. Specifically, he was asked about the controversial Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania where Finn Balor was busted open by Edge, and the match was halted. Khan’s response indicated that WWE is having conversations with its media partners about what they can do with their programming during the 10 to 11 PM time slot on RAW.
According to Khan, this time slot is considered basic cable and not broadcast, meaning there may be more room to experiment with content that is not as family-friendly. He believes that NBCU would be supportive of such changes, but it’s unclear if WWE has made a final decision on this matter.
Look, when we’re specifically talking about the 10 to 11 hour on RAW, we’re specifically talking to NBCU and ourselves about what we do what that moving forward. We ask, what do we do if we tweak this, that 10 to 11 hour, it is basic cable, it’s not broadcast, as you know. We think that NBCU would be supportive, but we’re not on a final conclusion on that.
Despite the potential changes on the horizon, Khan had high praise for Balor’s WrestleMania performance, particularly his resilience in continuing the match despite being injured. Balor had been nursing a torn calf muscle for weeks leading up to the Hell in a Cell match, making his performance all the more impressive. Whether the potential WWE-UFC merger will result in more intense and bloody programming for WWE remains to be seen, but it’s clear that the wrestling world is on the cusp of a major shift.