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Whitman buries tax on wrestling events with help of Undertaker

March 17, 1997

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Standing beside popular World Wrestling Federation performer Undertaker, Gov. Christie Whitman on Monday buried a special New Jersey tax on televised professional wrestling.

Officials say the move will bring more pay-per-view wrestling events _ including the WWF’s ``Summerslam″ in August _ and more revenue to the state. It also ends regulation, treating the events as entertainment rather than sport.

``I am delighted that with the help of Undertaker, I now can put this tax to rest and may it rest in peace forever,″ Whitman said as the grim-faced costumed wrestler towered over her at Continental Airlines Arena.

She signed the bill after he delivered it to her in a tombstone-like folder reading ``RIP″ with the day’s date. He dropped his persona briefly afterward, thanking Whitman in a soft-spoken voice.

Linda McMahon, WWF’s co-chief executive officer, said the tax had ``prevented the World Wrestling Federation from bringing some of our major events to our fans in New Jersey. We had lots of letters from lots of fans who wanted us to be here, so we wanted to push forward to make that happen.″

Like boxing, professional wrestling had been regulated by the State Athletic Control Board. Under the Media Tax Act of 1989, its televised events became subject to the special assessment.

McMahon said that meant an extra $100,000 for a pay-per-view event televised in New Jersey. While WWF events continued in New Jersey, no pay-per-view event has been held here by the Stamford, Conn.-based organization since 1989.

``We play arenas all around the country and to have to miss one of the prime arenas that there are available for one of our prime events I think was a shame,″ McMahon said.

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