Whilst rumours of negotiations had been swirling for weeks, news is now emerging that the acquisition of Evolve Wrestling by WWE is now complete.
Mike Johnson of PWInsider reports that the entire promotion has been sold alongside the video library and of course, the rights to produce live events under the Evolve banner going forward.
Evolve Wrestling was the brainchild of Gabe Sapolsky and Sal Hamaoui and was founded in 2010 as an offshoot of Dragon Gate USA.
The company has provided a reliable pathway to WWE/NXT in recent years with a huge amount of talent passing through Evolve and to WWE. These include Johnny Gargano, Matt Riddle, Keith Lee, Austin Theory, Ricochet, Drew Gulak and many others. WWE will now have access to the video library for all these stars as well as footage of major AEW stars including The Young Bucks and Darby Allin.
Since 2016, the two companies have enjoyed a formal relationship which has seen talent move back and forth between the two companies and in July 2019, Evolve’s anniversary event became the first, and so far only, non-WWE event to broadcast live on the WWE Network.
Evolve, like many independent wrestling companies around the world have run on extremely tight budgets, with very little wiggle room in their annual budgets.
The Coronavirus pandemic dealt them a fatal blow. WrestleMania weekend events have become the lifeblood for many wrestling companies around the world. These are the events that provide the revenue to ensure they can operate successfully for the rest of the year.
The late cancellation of these events, alongside the ongoing bar on live events has financially crippled Evolve to the point that a deal with WWE was the only way to prevent the company from closure.
Sadly, they will not be the last indie to meet this fate over the coming months, and not all will be bought out by WWE.