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Pro wrestling to go public

The World Wrestling Federation hopes investors flip for a chance to buy a piece of the popular "sport."

Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and a cast of other professional wrestlers are out to slam Wall Street.

The World Wrestling Federation plans to raise $172.5-million in an initial public offering, according to documents filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

While the WWF's image may seem a little low brow for Wall Street, the 110 wrestlers and other performers, who specialize in staged mayhem, have helped turn WWF into a media and entertainment juggernaut. The WWF's Monday night cable television program, RAW is WAR, is wildly popular, drawing about 6-million viewers each week. Millions more tune in to monthly pay-per-view matches that cost about $30.

Moreover, the programming is attractive to advertisers because it reaches men ages 18 to 34. In 1998, RAW is WAR doubled its number of viewers in that group, while ratings for mainstay sports shows, including Monday Night Football, were stagnant.

Wade Keller, publisher of the Pro Wrestling Torch Weekly, said even people who are not fans of the muscle-bound wrestlers and their salacious story lines may want to invest in the WWF.

"I think the WWF _ even though it's something of an outlandish company in terms of the product it promotes _ can be evaluated just as any other IPO should be. It's got a track record like any other company," Keller said.

In its filing with the SEC, the company listed net income of $56-million and revenues of $251.5-million in the fiscal year that ended April 30.

The terms of the IPO have not yet been determined. The company said it will apply to have the shares listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol WWFE.