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By Kendall Jenkins on 2023-05-22 07:35:00

Wrestling, one of the oldest contact sports, was initially developed in ancient Greece to train soldiers in hand-to-hand combat. However, it was first seen as a sport in the 18th Olympiad in 708 BC.

Since then, wrestling has evolved continuously into one of the most famous sports around. In the United States alone, it is estimated that more than 11 million fans watch it via various channels in any given week.

With so many people tuning in to catch the latest wrestling smackdown, it is no surprise that the industry generates eyewatering revenues. Most of this is generated by the two most recognized bodies in the sport: All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

All Elite Wrestling

The smaller of the two bodies mentioned above is AEW. Founded in 2019, All Elite Wrestling is still relatively young. However, the brand has quickly gained traction and is becoming a household name in many countries around the world. 

Shahid Khan and his son Tony started the body. Shahid made headlines in 2012 when he was listed in Forbes as the 94th richest American, with a net worth in 2023 of over $12 billion. He also owns an NFL (National Football League) and Premier League teams.

His son Tony also has a strong reputation in sports. He has actively been involved in football, soccer, and (of course) wrestling. Currently, he is the president and CEO of All Elite Wrestling. He also works as a producer for most of the shows in AEW.

Since it was founded, the brand has launched four main programs, with AEW Dynamite being the flagship for high-profile fights. AEW Rampage was started after the international lockdowns in 2020, followed by AWE Battle of the Belts and AEW All Access.

Just one year after launching, the brand also branched into video games, with the first two games using the brand being released on Android and iOS devices. In 2023, AEW Fight Forever will be released for major platforms like PlayStation and Xbox. 

As the brand has grown, it has attracted multiple wrestlers from its direct opposition: WWE. Amongst these are names like Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley (Dean Ambrose), Sting, and Paul Wight (the Big Show). Shockingly, however, Cody Rhodes—who helped launch the brand in 2019—left the brand in 2022, seeking to forge his own path in wrestling.

World Wrestling Entertainment

If you’re a wrestling fan, you probably know all about WWE. Founded in 1953 as Capitol Wrestling Corporation by Jess McMahon and his son Vincent, it rebranded to World Wrestling Entertainment in 2002 and is currently the largest wrestling body in the world. 

Although Jess was a professional wrestler and an enthusiastic promoter of professional wrestling, the brand wasn’t well known and struggled to gain traction until 1979.

By 1982, however, the company began to experience a boom that lasted until 1992. During this time, the launch of WrestleMania helped make WWE a household name and spurred the brand to be the leading authority on professional wrestling. 

The brand also launched Raw and Smackdown in 2002—both of which have become brands on their own. Matches underneath these brands remain the primary programming for the entertainment group. They are responsible for millions of fans tuning in weekly and placing wagers on who will win using sites like online casino list

Like AEW, the popularity of the WWE brand has spun off into multiple other areas, from merchandise featuring the champions to over 30 video games—the first being MicroLeague Wrestling, released in 1987 on the Commodore 64 and Atari ST. 

As of April 2023, WWE is involved in a merger with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)—the most prominent name in mixed martial arts—and Encounter. Details of the deal have been closely guarded, although some have emerged, and many have been left wondering what the brand’s future will be under the new umbrella.

Revenues of Wrestling

With both brands being internationally recognized and acclaimed, the money generated for the wrestling industry is expansive. While there is no official figure for the value of the wrestling industry as a combined unit, figures are available for each body. 

During the recent merger with UFC, it was revealed that WWE had been valued at an astonishing $9.1 billion. Turnover for the professional body in 2022 was listed at an incredible $1.29 billion—an increase of 17.93% from the previous year and 7.77% on a year-on-year basis.

While substantially less than its opposition, AEW’s estimated value is around $400 million. This is an impressive sum, considering it was only founded a few years ago. The turnover generated by the brand in 2022 came in at $100 million—an increase from $84 million in 2021. 

Collectively, the two bodies (and the greater wrestling industry) are estimated to be valued at an astonishing $9.5 billion, with an annual turnover of over $1.3 billion. Estimates show that the industry is primed to increase in value at around 9% annually up to 2025. The industry could soon surpass $11.28 billion if these estimates prove correct.


Much controversy surrounds the wrestling industry—particularly around the merger of WWE with Endeavor and UFC. Many have wondered how this will affect the sport, future programming, and the brand.

However, in financial terms, the merger looks to be poising the wrestling industry on the brink of massive expansion. While a 9% annual increase in value may seem excessive, the industry’s popularity combined with the rapid growth of AEW added to the combination of two of the biggest sporting brands could certainly make it possible. 

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