PWInsider is reporting that WWE has purchased EVOLVE Wrestling promotion. As per the report from Mike Johnson, WWE “will have the complete right to use the EVOLVE brand name and produce EVOLVE events going forward, whether as live events or WWE Network programming.
The deal is said to have completed recently but the negotiations were going on for many months. The deal has also given WWE the rights over the EVOLVE and Dragon Gate video library. This would mean more content on the WWE Network. WWNLive video library is not part of the deal though.
PWInsider also reports that the existing talent contracts from EVOLVE are not part of the sale. But it is expected that at least four talents will be signed for WWE NXT from the current EVOLVE roster. Many from the current WWE roster have made their way through EVOLVE like WWE Champion Apollo Crews, Austin Theory, Drew Gulak, Keith Lee, Johnny Gargano, Matt Riddle, Ricochet and even Jon Moxley, among others.
Gabe Sapolsky, former ROH booker and Dragon Gate Vice President (USA), founded EVOLVE in 2010. The promotion has run 144 events with the last one coming on 18 January earlier this year. There was a show planned for WrestleMania weekend but that had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The promotion worked closely with Dragon Gate until 2015. After that partnership ended, after which their partnership with WWE started which saw NXT and EVOLVE use each other’s talents. EVOLVE’s 10th anniversary celebration event, EVOLVE 131, streamed on WWE Network last year.
The promotion was going through financial trouble even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent hiatus has made the situation far worse for them.
It is believed that at least one more party was interested in buying out the promotion but they could not have done so due to WWE’s involvement from earlier. WWE reportedly had the right to execute their purchase clause or allow EVOLVE to sell themselves to a suitable buyer.