WWE issued this press release today:
WWE(R) Debuts in China at Expo 2010 Shanghai
STAMFORD, Conn., Jul 06, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. and Expo 2010 Shanghai today announced that they will present the first live sports entertainment event in China on Sunday, August 22 at 7 PM (local Shanghai time) in the Expo Cultural Center. The 90 minute event, titled "WWE Raw(R) Presents SummerSlam(R)" will feature WWE Superstars John Cena(R), Rey Mysterio(R), Chris Jericho(R) and others.
"WWE Raw Presents SummerSlam" is free of charge to Expo attendees on August 22. Tickets can be obtained at the Expo Cultural Center from 9:30am the day of the event. WWE expects to fill the 8,000 person arena capacity. WWE will be one of about 15 shows performing on the main stage at the Expo Cultural Center, which is the newest, most state-of-the-art arena in China.
"WWE is honored that the Chinese government and Expo 2010 Shanghai have offered us this rare, historic opportunity to perform at the successful Shanghai World Expo," said WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. "We are thankful to be allowed to entertain the attendees and our fans in the region at Expo 2010 Shanghai."
Expo 2010 Shanghai opened on May 1 to great international fanfare and will run until October 31, 2010. More than 240 countries and international organizations are participating in Expo 2010 Shanghai, with about 145 international pavilions. Many world leaders have attended during the first month, including United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, and many others.
Expo 2010 Shanghai expects to see more than 70 million visitors from around the world, and has already had more than 10 million attend.
The theme of Expo 2010 Shanghai is "Better City, Better Life," representing the common wish of the whole humankind for a better living in future urban environments. Through different sub-themes, Expo 2010 Shanghai will create blueprints for future cities and harmonious urban life styles, providing an extraordinary educational and entertaining platform for visitors of all nations.
WWE opened an office in Shanghai in 2007, introducing its unique brand of sports entertainment content to China, and has steadily grown in awareness and popularity. This will be the first opportunity for Chinese fans to sample the live event part of the WWE experience.
The expansion to China was one of Shane McMahon's pet projects before his departure from the company and had been talked about forever, going back to when it was a key part of the aborted plan to run full-time WWE territories all over the world. Dave Meltzer had the details in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter back in March '07:
Things are still in the preliminary stages but Vince McMahon has discussed it in detail with Stephanie, John Laurinaitis and others in the inner circle. The territories mentioned include a 'Pacific' region covering Japan, South Korea, China and Australia, a 'Hispanic' territory for Puerto Rico, Mexico and South America, and a European territory, with perhaps a Russian one at a later date. Meanwhile, in the USA, there would be two touring brands, most likely Raw and ECW, with Smackdown becoming the Hispanic brand as it is already well established in the market. Big pay increases would be given to senior agents and creative team members to move themselves and their families overseas, with potential performance bonuses depending on how well business goes. It would start off with a TV executive producer with experience of the region working closely with one agent and one writer who would be running the territory. There would also be a crew of wrestlers, who would also be expected to move their families overseas. Paul Heyman's name has actually been mentioned in connection to the Pacific region.
Shane McMahon, along with Selick, is working on a business plan for the venture, which remains in its formative stages. Potential drawbacks include the cost of producing WWE calibre shows, around $500,000 per week, and how TV stations in areas like Mexico would respond to the price. There is also the danger of international markets already beginning to get overexposed. Recent Japanese tours have not performed particularly well, there were concerns over the number of Australian tours, while advances for the next batch of Mexican dates have been well below expectations. Also, though WWE can get away with charging high prices for their shows at the moment as it is a novelty, doing so repeatedly would not help when taking on promotions like CMLL or AAA.
Six months later, WWE announced further expansion efforts:
STAMFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., the global leader in sports entertainment, has announced a new global organization. Shane McMahon, Executive Vice President, Global Media, is expanding WWE's operations into London, Shanghai, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Toronto and Sydney in an effort to tap into WWE's strong worldwide appeal.
The regional office in London will be led by Andrew Whitaker as the President of Europe, Middle East and Africa. Carl DeMarco will continue to focus on expansion through the Toronto office as the President of Canada, Latin America and China. Jonathan Sully will establish WWE's headquarters in Sydney, Australia, as the President of Asia Pacific.
"Whitaker, DeMarco and Sully will oversee integrated sales, marketing and digital initiatives as well as focus on new and emerging markets. This new structure will allow us to more quickly exploit business opportunities and leverage the strength of the WWE brand," said McMahon.
WWE showcases its unique cast of characters in more than 130 countries, putting smiles on faces worldwide.
The "territories" project was eventually scrapped, followed by the closing of most of the international offices. With Shane McMahon's departure from the company in January, not much had been reported on the subject recently. When he was rumored to be going to work for UFC, much of the speculation centered around his international contacts and helping them expand into China. All of this even led to one of the most bizarre Kurt Angle interviews of recent years (and think of the ground that covers), where he claimed that in addition to his value to WWE as a performer, his influence behind the scenes included "giving Shane McMahon the phone number for China."