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Final Thoughts:

 

This show was a mixed bag. It had some good build, and it also had some weird and outright crappy booking. We’ll see what they do next week, but I’m not expecting a strong buy rate for Mania.

- Todd Martin

 

Oh Todd. I'm seriously shocked that anyone at this point thinks that the Wrestlemania buyrate has anything to do with how the matches are built. Maybe other WWE pay-per-views still do, but I'm even doubting that. WWE has never been about the storyline, they've been about the stars. People buy shows that have the stars on them and don't buy shows without the stars. Wrestlemania gets a strong buyrate because the stars are facing the stars. Whatever type of build they do for those matches doesn't really matter. Does anyone really think if the main event was HHH vs Orton, or HHH vs Cena, or Orton vs Cena, that it would make a noticeable difference in the buyrate? Mayweather admittedly probably has an affect in the same way Trump did, but just saying "Floyd Mayweather will wrestle the Big Show at Wrestlemania" without any altercations between them to build it up probably would have had the exact same affect on the buys.

 

Considering even the non-big five typically do the same numbers regardless of what's on them, mainly because WWE has educated their audience that they can afford to miss most pay-per-views, I think WWE's only way of affecting buyrates is to bury the Wrestlemania name itself. Yes, the card does make somewhat of a difference in the show, but Wrestlemania is about dream matches, not grudges. They make dumb booking decisions every year in the build and it never adversely affects the buyrate. Remember how everyone thought Hogan running over the Rock with a semi was going to kill that show? It didn't. I know it sounds weird to say, but with Wrestlemania, I really think it's all about fan whims once the card is finalized. There's little WWE can do to make people more or less likely to buy it, in terms of typical wrestling stuff like building grudge matches. Every year, the WM build feels arbitrary anyway.

 

I just really think these days, looking to PPV numbers to prove which wrestlers are and are not draws is a really outdated approach. Merchandise is the only barometer you have. House shows business is primarily based on how often WWE enters markets, and the hook is seeing WWE in YOUR town, not seeing the main event. Concept shows like Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble draw because the concepts are over, not because of who's involved. Cyber Sunday isn't as over as a concept, so it doesn't draw as strong, regardless of what's on the show.

 

The exception to that is returns. Wrestlers returning after a long absence usually makes a difference in buys. But even there, it's because they're returning, not because of the specific grudge.

 

I don't know where to congratulate WWE for creating a model for business where their ability to book effectively doesn't matter all that much, or be discouraged by it as a wrestling fan. But it's pretty unavoidable at this point. Because of having no competition, they're pretty much at a point now where they're more content to maintain their current level than create another boom, and they can maintain their current level probably forever, as long as they can find new guys to plug into main events every few years or so. Of course even then, that aspect is overrated, because HHH, Undertaker and Michaels have all been on top for 10 years or more, and none of them look to be retiring anytime soon. They'll probably all wrestle until they're Flair's age, so the turnaround time for headliners, which used to be maybe 5-7 years under good circumstances (Austin, Hogan, Rock, Bret) is now much longer, and Cena and Orton have 20 years of main eventing ahead of them, barring any type of freakish accident or drug overdose.

 

And if they don't last that long, it doesn't really do significant damage to WWE anyway.

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I agree with the sentiment. I think one thing WWE has done is create an environment where the name "WWE" itself is bigger than any individual star on the card. They can stomach the loss of virtually 95% of the individual wrestlers (not at once of course, but you get the idea). Even a Randy Orton going to TNA probably wouldn't make a bit of difference in the long run.

 

Of course even then, that aspect is overrated, because HHH, Undertaker and Michaels have all been on top for 10 years or more, and none of them look to be retiring anytime soon. They'll probably all wrestle until they're Flair's age, so the turnaround time for headliners, which used to be maybe 5-7 years under good circumstances (Austin, Hogan, Rock, Bret) is now much longer, and Cena and Orton have 20 years of main eventing ahead of them, barring any type of freakish accident or drug overdose.

Guys sticking around like those three are nothing new. Look how long Bruiser and Crusher lasted in the AWA. The short turnaround time of the main eventers of the attitude era such as Rock and Austin were due to two things, the high impact style and the heavy financial rewards and turnaround. That era is the exception, rather than the rule. Most big stars of the 1950s-80s such as Lou Thesz, Buddy Rogers, Bruno Sammartino, Terry Funk, Dory Funk, Dusty Rhodes, etc. wrestled WELL past their primes.

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I was referring to the amount of time wrestlers have typically been in a main event position in WWE more than I was referring to how long they've actually been wrestling. Lots of those guys wrestled way past their primes, but didn't stay in a main event position forever past their primes. Bret, Austin, and Rock had a five-year run. Not counting Hogan's extra three months in 1993, he was on top from 1984 to 1991. That's what I meant by that.

 

I just wanted to clarify.

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Backlund's run was about five years too. So really Bruno is the only old-time WW(W)F/E headliner who breaks that particular mold.

 

I just really think these days, looking to PPV numbers to prove which wrestlers are and are not draws is a really outdated approach. Merchandise is the only barometer you have. House shows business is primarily based on how often WWE enters markets, and the hook is seeing WWE in YOUR town, not seeing the main event. Concept shows like Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble draw because the concepts are over, not because of who's involved. Cyber Sunday isn't as over as a concept, so it doesn't draw as strong, regardless of what's on the show.

There are exceptions, though. Nobody will ever convince me that December 2 Dismember failed so miserably just because it wasn't over as a concept. Being a really lousy card which farted in the general direction of the old ECW fanbase had to have something to do with it.

 

I don't know where to congratulate WWE for creating a model for business where their ability to book effectively doesn't matter all that much, or be discouraged by it as a wrestling fan. But it's pretty unavoidable at this point.

It is kinda frustrating how they can break every rule in Booking 101 and do shit which should simply cause them to lose money in buckets, and yet still turn around and make a big profit.

 

Of course, before we talk about what a great business machine they are, let's remember that WWE stock has yet to make a profit for anyone who bought it at its original selling price. Wall Street does not count that as being successful.

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There are exceptions, though. Nobody will ever convince me that December 2 Dismember failed so miserably just because it wasn't over as a concept. Being a really lousy card which farted in the general direction of the old ECW fanbase had to have something to do with it.

I think that had Cena, DX, Undertaker, or Vince McMahon had a match on D2D, the buyrate would have been about the same as the other non-big five shows that aren't as over as Summerslam or the Royal Rumble. It goes back to this sentence:

 

People buy shows that have the stars on them and don't buy shows without the stars.

ECW itself is also a concept that isn't over, and the Elimination Chamber has yet to draw a decent buyrate as a gimmick, whether it involved big names or not.

 

Even though D2D was definitely a failure, it's a weekly TV show that averages slightly higher ratings than Impact, and obliterates any TNA buyrate. TNA would kill for the D2D buyrate.

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D2D failed for several reasons:

 

1. No "major" stars.

2. Only two matches were actually announced ahead of time...one of them not including any ECW wrestlers.

3. The dissimilarity to the old ECW.

4. Survivor Series airing the week before it.

 

And I could probably go on.

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Oh Todd. I'm seriously shocked that anyone at this point thinks that the Wrestlemania buyrate has anything to do with how the matches are built.

You wouldn't say that the excellent build of Batista/HHH in 2005 helped the buyrate? Because Batista wasn't exactly "there" as a main-eventer, and he didn't get there until the show itself, but 21 did a better buyrate than XX, headlined by Benoit/HHH/Michaels in the kind of three-way feud that doesn't get built up great because the focus on individual grudges gets lost in the shuffle. And they both did much better than XIX, which featured title programs of HHH vs Booker, who wasn't really perceived as a main event-level babyface, and Angle/Lesnar, both of whom were stars but not main-event-of-Wrestlemania stars, and then there was Austin/Rock for the millionth time, and Hogan/McMahon, which, well, I think the match was well-built but I don't know how well it drew, and if I suggest that it, a match between two old men, might have been a turnoff for the younger audience I'll be bombarded with "SORRY THEY DIDNT DO A SPACE FLYING TIGER DROP" posts so I'll stop now. But I still think the individual build helps with Wrestlemania, it's just that the show itself isn't going to bomb because it's Wrestlemania, and the fans have been conditioned to know that it's the one show of the year that can't be missed.
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It isn't just the stars though, it's the matches.

 

Wrestlemania 19 had pretty much the same wrestlers as Wrestlemania 18, but 18 drew the much bigger buyrate, pretty much exclusively because people wanted to see Rock/Hogan. Even Rock/Austin the next year didn't get anywhere near it, since it had been done before, and Hogan/McMahon wasn't interesting enough.

 

So you can have all the stars you want...but the card has to give people something unique and different, and there is nothing on this show that gives us that. The Triple-Threat main event isn't different; they did the same thing in 04, and not only that, the three guys here have wrestled each other time after time. I honestly think a huge blowoff to the Orton/Cena feud would have drawn better.

 

The only 'unique' match here is Edge/Taker, and that isn't going to excite anyone. So it's going to be up to Mayweather to sell the show.

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the Elimination Chamber has yet to draw a decent buyrate as a gimmick, whether it involved big names or not

You're mistaken, as the Elimination Chamber matches at New Year's Revolution 2005 and 2006 both drew huge buyrates for a non big 4 PPV.

 

So you can have all the stars you want...but the card has to give people something unique and different, and there is nothing on this show that gives us that.

Not really. There wasn't much unique or different about the main event of WrestleMania 2000, but it still did a monster buyrate, which just goes to show that the overall hotness of the company is much more important than the freshness of the matches on the card.

 

Even if the talking point was true, it's a silly point to bring up this year when they've got a celebrity wrestling in the main event of the card, which has only happened twice before in WrestleMania history.

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and the Elimination Chamber has yet to draw a decent buyrate as a gimmick,

I'm pretty sure that when I was looking at HHH as PPV draw one of the points that I wanted to make is that he does seem to be a cage draw (not arguing that he's a better cage worker than Rusher or Dusty but bigger cage draw). For better or worse I think I used some elimination chamber numbers as part of that argument.

 

This may have just been Summerslam and Rumble numbers which would back your original theory...but I thought Elimantion Chambers with HHH did well as a rule.

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You wouldn't say that the excellent build of Batista/HHH in 2005 helped the buyrate? Because Batista wasn't exactly "there" as a main-eventer, and he didn't get there until the show itself, but 21 did a better buyrate than XX, headlined by Benoit/HHH/Michaels in the kind of three-way feud that doesn't get built up great because the focus on individual grudges gets lost in the shuffle.

I think one reason Wrestlemania XXI did better than the two previous WMs is that the focus was scattered all over the place and there was no clear main event for the two previous years. Shows with one match bigger than all the rest tend to do better than shows with several equally big matches. That's a point I'll concede.

 

And they both did much better than XIX, which featured title programs of HHH vs Booker, who wasn't really perceived as a main event-level babyface, and Angle/Lesnar, both of whom were stars but not main-event-of-Wrestlemania stars, and then there was Austin/Rock for the millionth time, and Hogan/McMahon, which, well, I think the match was well-built but I don't know how well it drew, and if I suggest that it, a match between two old men, might have been a turnoff for the younger audience I'll be bombarded with "SORRY THEY DIDNT DO A SPACE FLYING TIGER DROP" posts so I'll stop now.

It sounds like a stupid WWE defense to say it, but I really do think the fact that we were about to go into a war affected this buyrate. Lots of young males (and women, but I emphasize males because they're a bigger part of the WWE audience) were being shipped overseas, and priorities are going to be different for fans. Most of the time, I don't really buy excuses like that when WWE presents them, but I really do think that defense for that show is valid.

 

But I still think the individual build helps with Wrestlemania, it's just that the show itself isn't going to bomb because it's Wrestlemania, and the fans have been conditioned to know that it's the one show of the year that can't be missed.

Definitely helps, but it isn't make or break. The Wrestlemania X-7 build featured some really distracting and ill-conceived skits involving Debra, and still delivered. Hogan/Rock featured a phenomenal interview segment and heel beatdown, followed by an incredibly ridiculous parking lot skit with Hogan running over an ambulance with a semi. Rock was back within three weeks with a band-aid. The other big matches for that show were feuds built around murdered house pets, cinderblocks, and Japanese shampoo commercials. The show was still a success.

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It isn't just the stars though, it's the matches.

 

Wrestlemania 19 had pretty much the same wrestlers as Wrestlemania 18, but 18 drew the much bigger buyrate, pretty much exclusively because people wanted to see Rock/Hogan. Even Rock/Austin the next year didn't get anywhere near it, since it had been done before, and Hogan/McMahon wasn't interesting enough.

 

So you can have all the stars you want...but the card has to give people something unique and different, and there is nothing on this show that gives us that. The Triple-Threat main event isn't different; they did the same thing in 04, and not only that, the three guys here have wrestled each other time after time. I honestly think a huge blowoff to the Orton/Cena feud would have drawn better.

 

The only 'unique' match here is Edge/Taker, and that isn't going to excite anyone. So it's going to be up to Mayweather to sell the show.

To their credit, Flair/Michaels seems to be the big draw, but more among the hardcores than casual fans who make the difference in buys regarding whether the show will set records. But 2000 was a huge show without Steve Austin or the Undertaker. 2007 was a huge show without HHH. And all the shows sold the majority - or all - of their tickets before the card was even partially announced.

 

To me, if any individual wrestlers were major draws in the past few years (not in terms of merchandise), the shows would suffer without them. I don't think anyone's absence in WWE has that type of bottom line impact, except maybe specific demo draws like Rey Misterio or Jeff Hardy. Even then, the company is capable of being successful without them.

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the Elimination Chamber has yet to draw a decent buyrate as a gimmick, whether it involved big names or not

You're mistaken, as the Elimination Chamber matches at New Year's Revolution 2005 and 2006 both drew huge buyrates for a non big 4 PPV.

Key words being a non-big 4 PPV. I was overstating my case (to a point where it made what I said wrong) in saying it had yet to pop a decent buyrate, but it shows that the Elimination Chamber is not over enough as a concept to carry a show. Or more accurately, it's not as over as the Royal Rumble, as an example.

 

There wasn't much unique or different about the main event of WrestleMania 2000, but it still did a monster buyrate, which just goes to show that the overall hotness of the company is much more important than the freshness of the matches on the card.

Exactly. The question I have is -- what is it that determines the overall hotness of the company?

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I think the worst it can do is second best of all time. The WrestleMania brand is good for almost a million buys nowadays due to the much increased international PPV business of the last 5 years. For the show to be worse than the fourth biggest of all time would mean Mayweather wrestling on the show sold almost no extra buys.

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Oh please. Wrestlemania is always worth the price, even if John Cena is in the main event or they have a boxing guy on the card or whatever stupid reason the "hardcore" fans have for hating this show.

 

UFC and boxing PPVs have always charged at least $10 more for HD PPV, so it's no shock WWE is following suit. Most people paying for HD PPV are going to have a party and split the cost with friends, which is another thing most "hardcore" fans can't relate to since the reason bars aren't showing WWE PPVs anymore is cheap ass wrestling fans who sit there for 4 hours with their bottomless glass of Sprite.

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Oh please. Wrestlemania is always worth the price, even if John Cena is in the main event or they have a boxing guy on the card or whatever stupid reason the "hardcore" fans have for hating this show.

 

UFC and boxing PPVs have always charged at least $10 more for HD PPV, so it's no shock WWE is following suit. Most people paying for HD PPV are going to have a party and split the cost with friends, which is another thing most "hardcore" fans can't relate to since the reason bars aren't showing WWE PPVs anymore is cheap ass wrestling fans who sit there for 4 hours with their bottomless glass of Sprite.

 

Wrestlemania isn't always worth the price especially for people who aren't rich and to be honost I hope there's a backlash to the price of it like there was a backlash to the price of the PS3. It would serve them right.

 

I'm not going to hate the show and I will probably enjoy whatever parts I decide to watch like the Undertaker's match for example. However, there's just nothing special about the way WWE does things. There's no reason for me to care about anything they do anymore. There's nothing magical and certainly nothing worth paying $70 for. Imo, there's no movie, wrestling or sporting event that's worth $70. It's beyond stupidity

 

I don't exactly know what you're saying in your second paragraph but there's a reason why people go to bars or split the costs with friends. It's way too expensive.

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What I'm saying is that people buy boxing PPVs all the time that are always $54.95 for big name fights, and they have parties where their friends all come over and everyone chips in.

 

Compared to wrestling PPVs, which are no longer being shown by bars and restaurants because fans will come in and sit all night and spend no money.

 

 

The HD price is probably excessive, but in most cases if someone can afford an HDTV they can probably afford to spend stupidly high prices for a 4 hour HD PPV show.

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Guest KCook

I don't know, I have an expensive HDTV and wouldn't dream of paying $70 for a UFC PPV let alone a WWE one. I also think WWE shouldn't bank on being socially respectable enough for guys to invite the fellas over to split the costs what with the murders and deaths and steroids and all; seems a PPV party would just consist of people who would have individually shelled out the full price, no?

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