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Former WWE Executive Recalls Hearing Early Talk of WWE Network In 2011

July 30, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
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While the WWE Network was launched in 2014, there were discussions about it a few years before as former executive Doug LeBow remembers. LeBow, who was an Executive Creative Director at WWE from 1999 through 2006 and came back in 2011 as Vice President of Development & Special Projects, appeared on AJ Kirsch’s Tough Talk and recalled how he was told about early plans when he returned about a WWE Network — although it was different than what eventually came out.

“We switched networks from Spike to USA, there were some redundancies in my department so the company asked me to do some work internationally, which I didn’t want to do, and they were very generous in letting me go,” LeBow said of his initial exit (per Fightful). “They said, ‘this is not the last (time we’ll see you).’ Six years later, I get a call saying, ‘We’re starting a network, we would love for you to be a part of it. By the way, your first project will be the revival of Tough Enough.’ That six years away, I ran my own business and was able to learn production outside of WWE because WWE is very particular in the way they do things. Arguably, the best in the business, but very particular. I was able to learn outside techniques and able to learn so when I went back, I was more prepared to execute what was asked of me by WWE.”

He went on to say, “[The WWE Network] was an idea. Tough Enough was 2011 and almost immediately, they were like, ‘We’re going to do this first, but your real role will be transitioning into being an executive on The Network.’ It wasn’t an OTT plan at the time. They weren’t sure how they were going to do it, and this is above my pay grade and you can’t quote me on it, but there were rumblings that they were going to buy Oprah Winfrey’s cable station. There were a couple of other ideas floating around. As they often do, they chose wisely and created something that was the first of its kind. They really were trail blazers in that regard.”

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WWE Network, Jeremy Thomas