WWE: Vince McMahon should feature Invicta Fights women's MMA on new network
Why does Vince McMahon fail at every business endeavor he attempts other than pro wrestling?
Because unlike the squared circle, every other time the WWE chairman tries something he forgets the business model that made him a (at least short-term) billionaire: buy low, sell high.
In his dad's Northeast regional promotion, the WWWF, McMahon saw the potential to create a global wrestling brand, something that had never before existed. There were untapped possibilities for merchandising. international gate receipts, etc. For all the regional promotions in the United States and all the successful foreign organizations, there was still plenty of market share no one had yet captured -- in business often referred to as "white space."
Now, let's look at the other things McMahon has dipped his toe into professionally.
World Bodybuilding Federation: McMahon started this project in 1990. By then, Mr. Olympia was already a global brand. There were muscle-head magazines galore. The Arnold Classic had started a year earlier, spotlighting the name most linked with the genre.
XFL: McMahon tried pro football in 2001. At the time, the NFL was right in the middle of television pacts with its four network TV partners that was paying the league in the neighborhood of $17-$18 billion over the lives of the contracts. Uh, $18 billion before a single ticket was sold, a single game program hawked, a single swipe of a Visa for a $75 jersey.
WWE Studios: This company offered up its first theatrical release in 2006. It continues to try and squeak out a sliver of market share in an industry that produced 758 rated theatrical and non-theatrical releases in 2011, according to the Classification and Ratings Administration. WWE continues to lose millions trying to make the endeavor work, with McMahon saying publicly earlier this year he'll shut down this money pit if a new WWE Studios business model doesn't work.
See a pattern? Vince McMahon's legacy of beating "Billiionaire" Ted Turner's WCW notwithstanding, the truth is that most of the time the vaunted Mr. McMahon goes up against Goliath, his sling snaps.
McMahon would do himself a lot more good looking for an undervalued product with potential that he can take to the next level.
That would be women's mixed martial arts, specifically the newly formed Invicta Fighting Championships. WWE is looking for all kinds of programming for its new network. Zuffa, the WWE of mixed martial arts, has no interest in women fighting for its UFC brand, and in Strikeforce Zuffa uses women much the way NFL teams have used Reggie Bush: a change of pace, but not the backbone of a winning formula.
Invicta's debut show on April 28 dispelled a key misnomer about women's MMA: lack of depth. Kaitlin Young vs. Leslie Smith, which wasn't even the semi-main, put most men's bouts to shame. There are plenty of female fighters that can entertain, but only a couple of them ever get a look at any one time. Here's where WWE can capitalize.
Let's say only three of 10 MMA fans would regularly watch a women's card. On WWE Network as first-run programming, that kind of following would still easily beat the number that the 19th airing of "No Holds Barred" would garner. And with Invicta still in its infancy, either a nominal rights fee or a profit-sharing agreement could be agreed to fairly easily.
Moreover, in Invicta WWE would be partnering with an entity that could help the wrestling product. Real wrestling fans are tired of the beauty pageant contestants WWE has taught four moves to and put in the ring. In Invicta WWE could scout some real athletes that could make the transition to WWE when their MMA careers are over.
WWE continually gets accused of objectifying women. It would be hard for folks to continue to lay that attack on WWE if the company got behind a women's sport trying to find respect and equality in much the same vein as women's tennis during the Billie Jean King years.
Last Saturday night Triple H was trying to put himself over at the Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight. The next combat show he needs to be at is Invicta's second card in Kansas City July 28. If he wants to follow in Vince footsteps of bringing a form of entertainment out of wilderness and into the stars, this is his chance.
Follow Josh Stewart on Twitter @JoshNASCARWWE.