After a years-long working relationship, pro wrestling giant WWE has purchased prominent indie fed Evolve Wrestling.
After a years-long working relationship, professional wrestling giant WWE has officially purchased prominent independent federation Evolve Wrestling.
As confirmed by PWInsider, WWE has acquired ownership of Evolve following negotiations spanning several months. Rumors of such an acquisition have been circulating for some time, though the deal was evidently finalized only recently. Going forward, WWE will have the full rights to use the Evolve name, as well as produce future events under the promotion’s banner, be they live or on the WWE Network. Additionally, WWE has obtained Evolve’s entire existing video library.
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Evolve was founded in 2010 by Gabe Sapolsky, former booker for WWE developmental brand NXT and Vice President of Dragon Gate USA. Since its inception, Evolve has been the flagship promotion of Sal Hamaoui’s company, World Wrestling Network, which also governs over Shine Wrestling and Full Impact Pro. In light of the acquisition, Evolve footage currently available through WWN is likely to be removed in the next month.
Evolve began a working relationship with WWE in 2015, which allowed the latter to scout the indie promotion for new talent to sign. Moreover, Evolve’s wrestlers were featured on WWE’s website, while numerous WWE wrestlers and authority figures have made appearances for Evolve over the years. Evolve also held qualifying matches for WWE’s 2016 tournament, the Cruiserweight Classic. Finally, Evolve’s 10th Anniversary show was broadcast on the WWE Network, becoming the first indie, non-WWE-owned program on the streaming platform.
While Evolve has gained a reputation as one of the star promotions of the indie wrestling scene, the company has endured financial woes and, as PWInsider notes, most likely would have folded in 2016 had it not been for its relationship with WWE. Evolve was hit especially hard by the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic this year. The promotion was in store for a major payday during WrestleMania week. Due to WrestleMania week being all but thrown out the window as a result of COVID-19, however, Evolve was dealt a crushing blow, made only worse by the fact that the promotion was unable to run the additional shows necessary to stay afloat as the global health crisis continued. This led to the negotiations that ultimately resulted in WWE exercising its clause the buy the promotion outright.
Over the course of its existence, Evolve ran a total of over 140 events and served as a stepping stone for such would-be WWE and NXT talents as Johnny Gargano, Apollo Crews, Drew Gulak, Keith Lee and Ricochet, among others.
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