In a major story, WWE has reportedly officially acquired ownership of EVOLVE Wrestling. According to PWInsider, WWE has closed the deal to purchase the flagship promotion of WWN Live after several months of negotiations. The news confirms reports back in June from the Wrestling Observer that EVOLVE was looking to sell to WWE. Those reports heated up later when Gabe Sapolsky told the EVOLVE roster that there are no plans for the company to run shows going forward.
Pwinsider reports that the discussions started after the COVID-19 pandemic caused WrestleMania weekend to be shut down. That shutdown, while necessary, was a huge financial blow to independent promotions who rely on the weekend to help them stay in business throughout the year. The situation was exacerbated as the pandemic forced companies to shutdown and with no money coming in, EVOLVE had to refund ticket sales and pay talents who were contracted to them. That led to the company being in a massive financial hole with no way to get back out. This situation led to WWN entering into discussions with WWE, and WWE has closed a deal that will result in them acquiring the promotion as well as EVOLVE’s tape library. The site notes that the deal will also result in WWE owning all of Dragon Gate USA’s tape library as well. It is believed that some other material may have been purchased, perhaps including the earlier Full Impact Pro content, but how much is not currently confirmed. The material is expected to be removed from WWNLive.com in about a month.
WWE is acquiring the new LLC that EVOLVE created when they signed a deal together; they are not acquiring WWN Live, which will continue on and see Sal Hamaoui focus on the remaining promotions under the company umbrella like Full Impact Pro, SHINE and ACW. The sale also means that Sapolsky and Hamaoui are ending their professional relationship in what is being described as an amicable parting. Sapolsky is sticking with EVOLVE and will not be involved with the WWN Live promotions. The door does remain potentially open for WWE to work with WWN down the line if the two sides decide to do something. As for the talent, the belief is that several contracted EVOLVE talent will be signed and enter the NXT system. It’s not certain how many but it is believed there will be at least four and perhaps more. No specific names have been confirmed as of this time. There was, reportedly, at least one other party interested in buying EVOLVE. However, EVOLVE’s contractual agreement with WWE gave the company first rights to buy the company.