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Exclusive: Is WWE Off The Mat?

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In late June, a tragedy involving pro-wrestler Chris Benoit sent the sports world reeling. Police believe Benoit killed his wife and child before taking his own life. Since that time, shares of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) have been off some 7%. Will the tragedy continue to haunt WWE?

Dylan Ratigan explains that on Thursday, WWE released earnings that topped Street estimates and showed a 15% jump in revenue, in part because of the huge success of WrestleMania.

World Wrestling Entertainment Chief Executive Linda McMahon joins the guys for this conversation. Here are excerpts from what was said.

What’s working?

“Everything – if you look across every revenue platform we have growth in every area,” replies McMahon. “It was a very good quarter for us.”

The perceived competition for you is Ultimate Fighting. Is it a threat?



“Anything that competes for the entertainment dollar is our competition,” replies McMahon. “And mixed martial arts are clearly having some commercial success… on Pay-Per-View.

She adds “What I think you have to look at is longevity. We have been here a long, long time – since the advent of network television and I think we’re going to be here a lot longer. I can’t speak for the others.”

Is the steroid controversy a concern for you?

“Anytime that you’re going to answer a Congressional inquiry you take it seriously,” says McMahon. “We have received a request and will respond appropriately. I think the tragedy with Chris kind of notched things up a bit.

She adds, “But you have to look at our drug policy – which has been in place long before this tragedy. We just can’t seem to make that known very well. We’ve had a wellness policy in place since 1987.”

I noticed that you did 84 shows over 90 days. Any thoughts to paring the schedule back in the interest of wellness?

“Our talent works 4 days on and 3 days off – for those who are booked. And they’re not all booked all the time,” explains McMahon. “So you might have that many events… (but) not all talent are working on all those days. So we really do look at a rotation schedule and try to maintain proper scheduling. Sometimes we get stretched when we have a long international tour and that’s tough, but that’s part of the business that we’re in today.”

Dylan Ratigan asks the guys what they think of WWE stock?

Eric Bolling regrets telling the panel not to own it right now. He feels WWE is dealing with too much of a PR nightmare.

Jeff Macke agrees with Eric.

Guy Adami and Pete Najarian like WWE for its leadership.

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Trader disclosure: On Aug 2nd 2007, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Macke Owns (ATVI), (HAS), (DIS); Bolling Owns (MPEL), (BP), (T), (XOM),Gold; Bolling Is Short Natural Gas; WWE Programs Air On Networks Of NBC Universal; NBC Universal Is The Parent Company Of CNBC