Vince McMahon Talks About WWE 24/7, WCW, The Rock, Steve Austin, Rowdy Piper, more

The following is an article from

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World Wrestling Entertainment is hoping to put a choke hold on a new generation of fans with pro-wrestling superstars of the past like Haystacks Calhoun, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Andre the Giant.

Starting on Thursday, the company known for its Wrestlemania, Smackdown and Monday Night Raw events will begin shopping a new video-on-demand channel to cable television operators as part of an attempt to create new businesses out of its 75,000-hour library of vintage footage.

"A lot of these stars our fans have not seen in a long time, or have never seen before," said WWE chairman Vince McMahon, in an interview with Reuters. "Now they are going to come to life again."

Subscribers to the new channel, named WWE 24/7, will be able to choose among 20 hours of programing, which will be rotated each week.

A generation of wrestling fans raised on Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock will get to see high-flying Antonino Rocca, a wrestling star of the 1950s known for devastating double leg kicks to the head.

McMahon says WWE will use their four hours of prime time programing to promote the network, including real-time updates on what's available on WWE 24/7.

Also planned is a merchandising push to capitalize on the cult following enjoyed by wrestling's iconic heroes and villains.

Over the past three years WWE has quietly acquired the libraries of other national and regional wrestling promoters, including the defunct World Championship Wrestling and American Wrestling Association, to build archives for the channel.

"This is a brand new toy chest and we are going to open it," McMahon said. "The merchandising and licensing opportunity is enormous."

WWE founded a new business unit, WWE Enterprises, to find new profit sources for the old footage. The group, headed by WWE executive Tom Barreca, will negotiate carriage agreements with cable and satellite television operators.

McMahon said profits made from vintage footage would be shared with the retired wrestlers featured in the videos.

New RAW/Smackdown Roster Trades Revealed, Kurt Angle's Future Plans As Smackdown GM, Heyman's ECW Stable & Stephanie McMahon's Return Date!