WWE has acquired yet another wrestling company, albeit not a competitor like WCW but a partner they have been workng with for years.
PWInsider's Mike Johnson confirmed Thursday that WWE has completed a purchase of Philadelphia-based EVOLVE Wrestling from co-owners Gabe Sapolsky and Sal Hamaoui after several months of negotiations. No financials were disclosed.
As of this writing, WWE has not responded to a request for confirmation or comment.
Hamaoui also owns the indie wrestling streaming service World Wrestling Network (WWN) which is not part of the deal and will remain operational under his watch. It's unclear what Sapolsky's future is, but he has been a WWE consultant since 2018.
It's unclear whether WWE plans on continuing with events under the EVOLVE name or whether this was simply a play for WWE Network content. Johnson said that it is believed WWE now owns the entire EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA tape library in addition to some other content which includes early Full Impact Pro footage. He reported that any content involved in the deal will be removed from WWN in a month.
He also said there's a belief "several contracted EVOLVE talents will be signed and enter the WWE NXT system" but that isn't confirmed.
EVOLVE and WWE began a working relationship several years ago with a litany of talent currently and formerly under contract having worked there like WWE Champion Drew McIntyre, Matt Riddle, Ricochet, Timothy Thatcher, Johnny Gargano, Austin Theory, Keith Lee, and more. Johnson noted that out of 100 talents signed to EVOLVE deals, nearly half were signed by WWE. EVOLVE's 10th anniversary show aired live on WWE Network last July.
After 146 events, EVOLVE'S final show was on March 1st of this year with other scheduled shows canceled due to the pandemic.
The sale had been rumored for some time as Dave Meltzer noted in a mid-June Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
"There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks regarding the future of Evolve and WWE. It’s not a secret Evolve had major financial issues and the canceling of WrestleMania week was catastrophic to them. They’ve been quiet, having not said anything. There were reports of them selling their tape library and pretty much everything to WWE but when asked, neither Evolve nor WWE would confirm or deny the story"