No matter what your age is, there is an era of the WWE logo that brings back an instant wave of nostalgia for most long-term wrestling fans. Whether it graced the box of your favorite wrestling figure, the loading screen of a classic video game, or more recently on the start-up of the WWE network, a lot of wrestling memories come complete with the company watermark sitting in the bottom corner of the screen. Let us take a stroll down memory lane and look at the story of the evolution of the WWF/E logo!
The Original WWF Logo
Rather than go back all the way to the days of the CWC and WWWF, our journey starts in 1979 when Vincent Kennedy McMahon began his ambitious project, founding Titan Sports and registering the trademark “WWF” for marketing purposes. The original WWWF name was a bit long for branding, especially when you realize “WWWF” actually contains more syllables than “World Wide Wrestling Federation”, kind of eliminating the point of an acronym!
The original logo is simple and served as a place holder until VKM’s masterplan came into full effect. Just W.W.F. in no thrills black font over a stretched globe, the same stretched globe that would be used on later versions of the Intercontinental title which also debuted in 1979. That decision wasn’t intentional, but a nice piece of trivia none the less!
The Classic WWF Logo
In 1982, Vince bought out Capitol Sports, WWF’s parent company, from his father Vince McMahon Sr, Gorilla Monsoon and Arnold Skaaland. His quest to acquire wrestling territories across the country and form a dominant brand was well underway.
Vince wanted WWF to be broadcast nationwide and so a new flag for the federation was needed, one that broke away from traditional pro wrestling designs.
The classic WWF logo featured two “W’s”, one on top of the other, with two lines on the right-hand side forming the “F”, a basic foundation that continues to this day. It emulated a logo more akin to that of a television network, a simpler design and one that was easier to sell on a global market.
The New Generation
After a mass company exodus of talent thanks to drug scandals and WCW buyouts in the early to mid-’90s, WWF tried to rebrand themselves as a younger company more focused on fresh talent. In 1994 they adopted a more “cartoony” way of identification whilst still keeping true to the legacy and reputation they had built over the course of the last 12 years.
The result was the New Gen logo, the same iconic design but on a cheeky tilt, colored yellow with a blue box background.
Recommended read: Todd Pettengill – The Face of WWE’s New Generation Era
The Attitude Era Scratch Logo
You all know the story. A combination of ECW’s extreme style and Hogan dropping the leg on Randy Savage turning heel and making bad guys cool forced the WWF to adopt a new “Attitude”, evolving as a company to contend with the competition.
The new “scratch” logo debuted in 1997 around the time of Survivor Series. The new logo design originally was placed on top of the old new-gen design as the company gradually changed into its new direction.
Speaking on the Unforgiven 1998 episode of Something To Wrestle, Bruce Pritchard had this to say:
“We had that block, kind of the yellow [logo] and it was a very clean look. I was in a meeting, it wasn’t a company-wide meeting but it was a department head meeting, and I remember scratching over it [on a scratchpad]. I would always scribble pictures and everything and I’m scratching through the logo just tracing it out, and Vince says, ‘GODDAMMIT, WE NEED ATTITUDE, WE NEED SOMETHING LIKE THIS!’ and he takes my paper and creative services took it literally!”
Prichard continued, “All it was was a scratch logo and I’m not saying I designed that, creative services came up with it, but it was from me basically destroying the logo on a scratchpad during a meeting with department heads and Vince kind of going off about ‘HAVING ATTITUDE, YOU GOTTA GET OUT THERE, I DON’T WANT CLEAN NEAT, I DON’T WANT PAINT WITHIN THE LINES!’”
“Do you know what the red underline is called? It’s not an underline! IT’S A SCAR!”
Eventually, the original backing logo would fade away leaving only the scratch and the scar to remain.
“Get The F Out!” – The first WWE logo
In May 2002, Vince didn’t screw Vince. A panda screwed Vince. WWF lost their much-publicized court case with the World Wildlife Foundation and had to change their name and everything affiliated with it, including the emblem. Rather than rebrand completely the new logo largely resembled the last one, but with the F removed as part of the “Get The F Out” advertisement campaign.
The Network Era – The current WWE logo
The current logo debuted in 2012 for the announced WWE Network and when the service launched in February 2014, it took its place as the company banner. It sports a similar look to the previous design, but with the scratching replaced with definitive bold lines, sharp corners and at a more symmetrical angle rather than tilt. Designed by graphic artist John Lefteratos to be encompassing and broad rather than go for a specific feeling or vibe, it went through many different concepts, some being a complete departure from what came before, until settling on a recognizable yet modern insignia.
Who knows what major change will come in the future for WWE, or what will be the catalyst for the next logo change. One thing is for sure though, WWE does know how to adapt with the times and the ever-changing company trademark is proof of that.