I was asked the following question on Quora:
It’s not impossible, but it is unlikely.
WWE possesses a number of institutional advantages that effectively preclude encroachment from competitors. It is a publicly-traded, billion dollar company with a sizable amount of cash on hand. It retains the ability to hire the best performers and staff. Its revenue streams are relatively (for wrestling) diversified in that they profit from television rights fees, merchandise, movies, DVDs, books, magazines, its website, pay-per views and the WWE Network. It would be difficult for any company starting from scratch to surpass that.
WWE is so entrenched as the “worldwide leader in sports entertainment” that when people think of pro wrestling, they think of WWE. This is similar to people thinking of UFC when they think of MMA. This is not a matter of WWE being a subset of pro wrestling – for many fans they are one in the same. The last major competitor to WWE, WCW, went out of business in 2001. For fans 18 and younger, this means WWE is pretty much the only wrestling company they’ve ever known. Loyalty and familiarity will make it challenging for another company to usurp them.
Changing that mindset will take a tremendous amount of time, effort and money, all of which are unlikely to materialize. As an example of this power, realize that WWE is able to leverage the infrastructure of cities to run their events. If they need police escorts to get their buses from one place to another, they can get it.
WWE also possesses the most comprehensive pro wrestling video library in history. In addition to its own conent, it also owns the footage from World Championship Wrestling (WCW), Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), the American Wrestling Association (AWA), World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) and others. This allows it to leverage and monetize the entire history of the business. No company will ever be able to match that institutional advantage.
Some might argue that WCW almost unseated WWE and another company might be able to do so again. However, the competition from WCW was unique and unlikely to be duplicated. WCW started as part of the old territory system in which pro wrestling was mostly local to each region. When Ted Turner’s WCW became the primary territory for the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) it already had a huge, well-established fan base. It entered as an equal to the then-WWF, which offered it a unique position that no other company will ever be able to hold again.
I would further contend that the only reason WCW even came close to unseating WWE was that it attracted “fad-fans” interested in the novelty of the New World Order (nWo), i.e. a group of WWE wrestlers invading WCW. These fans spiked viewership numbers during the late 1990’s but have not returned since.
Even if a smaller promotion like Total Nonstop Action (TNA), Ring of Honor (ROH), Evolve or Dragon Gate USA (DGUSA) is able to grow its own fanbase, history has shown these will likely remain niche products designed for a very specific wrestling-centric (as opposed to a more general entertainment-centric) audience. Top stars from those promotions will consistently migrate to WWE for greater money and international exposure. Fans of these smaller companies tend to also be fans of WWE, so in a sense they cannot even be considered true competitors.
The only plausible scenario in which WWE disappears from prominence is a hostile takeover or a complete buy-out. A company like Disney, for example, could decide that pro wrestling fits into its business model and offer WWE an offer too good to refuse, especially if WWE’s product begins to flounder significantly. At this point WWE would be absorbed into a larger conglomerate whose new owner could do with it as it wishes.
However in the near term, I would rate the chance of Vince McMahon, who is WWE’s primary stockholder, agreeing to cede control of his life’s work to someone outside of his own family as next to nil. For his family to do so also seems unlikely given how deeply entwined their lives are with their business.