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Is Pride Joining Hands with World Wrestling Entertainment?

By Robert Rousseau,
First, the only thing we know for sure is that the Japanese based Pride Fighting Championships ( PRIDE ) and World Wrestling Entertainment ( WWE ) have recently met to discuss, according to an article at the WWE website, "potential opportunities." This meeting apparently took place at the WWE global headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut.

As many of you know, Vince McMahon is the Chairman of WWE.

Since we know little of the contents of this meeting; this entire article is admittedly pure conjecture. However, it would seem likely that if McMahon is admitting that meetings did in fact take place, then there is probably something already on the table. However, according to the WWE website, no definitive steps were taken during the aforementioned talks.

What to make of the negotiations between PRIDE and the WWE.

These negotiations may be tied to the fact that PRIDE recently lost its television contract with Fuji Network ( in fact, almost everything they do as an organization may be connected to this ). Without Fuji, PRIDE has no Japanese based television deal and are only able to make television revenues overseas through their pay per view carrier there, Sky PerfecTV. Thus, financial problems may be prompting their willingness to deal with an established money making organization like the WWE.

In terms of the content of their meetings(s), it could all be simply about wrestling. PRIDE has a wrestling promotion in Japan called, HUSTLE. Therefore, the WWE and PRIDE may simply be negotiating something related to what the WWE does best - professional wrestling.

Or, of course, they may be looking to establish a partnership that blends PRIDE's MMA venue with the WWE's popular wrestling outlets ( that are of course tied to television ). After all, such a partnership would bring PRIDE to America in a whole new way ( if you think PRIDE - The Real Deal meant something. . .).

This, however, brings up some concerns that may directly impact the sport of MMA, particularly in the United States. Just ask some of the hardcore fans.

Would a PRIDE partnership with the WWE do more damage than good for mixed martial arts?

When the WWE took on the XFL, it made, at least in the opinion of many true football fans, a spectacle of the sport. Football by itself was great enough; hence, it didn't need all the glitz, special rules, and overall fanfare to survive. In fact, all of the hoopla actually served to make the XFL less viable to hardcore football fans, which in the end was exactly the target group the WWE had to reach in order to sustain themselves.

They didn't succeed in doing this, and the XFL folded. In the end, attempting to evolve football into a spectacle rather than concentrating on the sport itself ( in other words, trying to change football into a football / wrestling hybrid ) just didn't work.

So now onto mixed martial arts. One can't find fault with Vince McMahon's business sense as a whole. After all, this man was the major force in building the WWE and professional wrestling itself into the huge money makers they are today. PRIDE also has some fine executives, President, Sakakibara Nobuyuki included.

So the question is, has Vince McMahon learned from past mistakes? Further, is PRIDE smart enough to avoid all the potential pitfalls that such a joint venture could bring?

Mixed martial arts and the Pride Fighting Championships have a worldwide fan base that is growing. The reason? It's real fighting at its best. To add in a bunch of trinkets won't do the sport much good. In fact, like with football, real mixed martial arts fans won't tune in to a bunch of hoopla; they just won't care to see it.

MMA fans want to see the truth; that's what appeals to them about the sport. Some staged hatred before the match is okay, but once in the ring, it all has to be totally viable. Two men enter with the same rules of combat, and one man leaves. Simple. And it's working.

It is in this way, perhaps, that these two athletic endeavors ( wrestling and MMA ) are starkly different. If any joint venture comes about, this is how they should be handled.


In sum.

A deal between the WWE and PRIDE could be good for both organizations. Further, there are very smart people involved here, which cannot be understated. If done right, the WWE's popularity in America and money base might truly benefit PRIDE and the sport of MMA quite nicely ( thus benefitting the WWE ). But these two sports - professional wrestling and MMA - should continue to be marketed separately. Separate but equal.

Most MMA fans won't want to see wrestling events and PRIDE events combined. In the end, they probably won't shell out the ticket price to watch four MMA fights and four professional wrestling matches on the same card when they used to get eight MMA matches by itself.

Simply because these two sports, though identical in some ways, draw different crowds when looked at more closely.

So, here's hoping that if the goal is to combine organizations they do it right ( which again, it may not be, remember, this is conjecture ). If so, this may work to push the sport of MMA in the right direction.

If not, mixed martial arts could lose some of its credibility and fan base; at least when it comes to PRIDE.

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