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Life In A Vacuum

2nd time emailer, thanks for posting my previous question. Being 21 and a lifelong wrestling fan, I've recently become a "smart" fan so to speak.
I've seen you say a few times in your blog that "nobody really increases business in a vacuum anymore" and things of that nature.  Why do you think that is?  Are you essentially saying that only an EVENT like a wrestlemania regardless of who's headlining can pop a huge buy rate?  Do you ever see a transcendent wrestler coming along again who can change this or has the business just changed so much from the "Hogan or Austin vs anyone" being able to sell generate?   Is the WWE just such a juggernaut that they won't let anyone get that over again?

Yes to all of the above.  It's the Wrestlemania name that sells PPVs, and the difference that one person can make isn't significant unless it's someone REALLY expensive like The Rock.  Wrestling fans are creatures of habit, and WWE has indoctrinated everyone so much into the "WWE Universe" crap that the WWE brand name itself has become the only thing that is able to draw now.  Occasionally a hot angle or cold spell can move the needle 5-10% either way, but everyone who isn't HHH or Undertaker is so unprotected now that there's just no chance to get over and break free of the middle ground.  Plus I think Vince felt like he was burned one time too many by guys like Austin becoming bigger than his business and just leaving because he didn't want to deal with bullshit anymore, so I can understand where he's coming from.  


  1. I really don't think WM would sell if the main was Jinder Mahal vs. Johnny Curtis.

  2. I think the best possible test of this theory if anybody truly sells outside of Wrestlemania was John Cena at TLC last year because he wasn't on the card or when Cena was out for several months a few years ago.

  3. It depends, right? I mean, WrestleMania main events have a ton of buildup. Last year's main event was literally hyped for a FULL YEAR. Imagine if WWE dedicated a full year to building up Jinder Mahal, ordering the announcers to use his signature moves by name, get AJ in there etc., etc.

    The point is, all these guys were nobodies at one point. I'm still amazing WWE put so much effort into getting Daniel Bryan over. They could do the same with any of these small-timers, if they wanted. And in a few years, wrestling fans would get Stockholm Syndrome and start rooting for 'em, same as always.

  4. It would still do OK. A lot of people buy it not knowing (or even caring) about the card, just because it's Wrestlemania.

  5. I think Scott's last sentence is a very valid, underlooked point.  Vince has clearly spent the last 10 years making the WWE a sustainable business, which naturally eliminates a lot of risk-taking that could cause a boom or, conversely, lead to a major bust.  WWE just kind of chugs along doing what they do, making what they make, and it's going to to take a massive change in the company's philosophy for there to be another truly hot period in the business...

  6. "Plus I think Vince felt like he was burned one time too many by guys
    like Austin becoming bigger than his business and just leaving because
    he didn't want to deal with bullshit anymore"

    Hasn't this been reported in the dirtsheets as the reason there's so much 50/50 booking these days, albeit with Lesnar and Bobby Lashley as the impetus instead?

  7. It's the stupidest thing ever that they're afraid to do big pushes because Lesnar and Bobby Lashley left. Guys have left ALL the time! The Ultimate Warrior made a habit of it! Sid was barely reliable in the 90s! And if wrestlers don't leave, sometimes they can be like Batista who spent half the year on the shelf during his time on top due to injuries.

    So what do you do? You keep on making NEW stars to replace the old! Sure, it's annoying that all the time invested in a prospect turns out for naught but at least the fans can get interested in new faces making the climb. And who knows, maybe they'll get lucky and unearth the next star who can carry the company in the next few years. You don't know until you mother-fucking TRY!!!!!!

    It's better than seeing a new guy introduced with hype like Brodus Clay or Ryback who just do the same thing for months.

  8. They didn't put much work into getting Bryan over.  He got his cup of coffee run with the title that was pretty lukewarm and only got that hot because Big Show brought his A game for a few months.  They took the title off him in humiliating fashion and only acknowledged that they screwed up because the fans used about 5 of the next 6 hours of WWE programming to cheer for him.

    He wins about 1 match a month and he's currently in a nothing feud with Kane that's a placeholder for a failed feud with Charlie Sheen.  Think about that for a second.

    I mean yeah it's better than not being on TV but they didn't get behind him nearly as hard as they should have.  Almost all of his success comes from his crowd reaction and his wrestling (and the fact that his opponents are delivering the goods in acting segments). 

  9. I've never gotten the logic behind not making superstars because they leave.  The two times there have been mega stars in Hogan and Austin the company has done better business than ever before.  I'm not sure I get how that's a worse result than no boom at all.

  10. It brings up an interesting point actually -- if they put on a bad card, is WrestleMania as a show is insulated from doing a
    bad number at this point because of how strong they've made the brand

    Historically WrestleMania has been among the top five selling PPVs overall each year, but I think momentum plays a factor too, but they've definitely laid a few eggs too, with the two biggest bombs since the 1990s being WrestleMania 13 and WrestleMania 19.

    WrestleMania 13 did only about 200,000 buys, meaning half of the WCW shows that year did more buys than WrestleMania, with Starrcade doing three times as many buys.  For modern WrestleManias, WrestleMania 19 was the last show to really bomb, doing about 560,000 buys when 18 and 20 did an average of 863,000 buys.  WrestleMania 13 I think was a case of a weak card plus the WWE just being cold -- but weak cards at WrestleMania 11 and 12 probably did no favors for the brand and WrestleMania 18 was also a total one match show following a very popular show in X7.

    So I don't know that it is a potential home run no matter what they throw out there -- it could catch up to them eventually.

  11.  I'd bet a good buck he'll have a Cena program sometime in fall or winter before the build to the Rumble, a lot of times when people have random TV matches they're just testing the waters to see if they can do a full run and that went pretty well.

  12.  public companies and shareholders are risk averse.  No secret there.  Right now the company makes money doing what it does.  Trying for a transcendent angle may upset the apple cart.  Why try when you can make money for the next 20 years doing the same  damn thing with no risk?

  13. Austin also MADE MONEY. He left, sure, but he also left lots of money in his wake. How is that a bad thing?

  14. Look at the last few guys who've feuded with Kane:

    CM Punk, Randy Orton, John Cena.

    It may seem drab to viewers, but these days feuding with Kane is basically the Vince Seal of Approval.

    If Vince doesn't like you, you don't *feud* with Kane, he just breaks your back and moves on to the next guy.

  15. WM19 was the show with five main events, but as the saying goes, if you have five main events, you don't have A main event.  Angle/Lesnar, Hogan/Vince, Jericho/Michaels, HHH/Booker and Austin/Rock III were all big matches and good-to-great in-ring matches but I'm not sure if any of them really had a special dream match feeling. 

    Ironically, despite those two low buyrates, WM13 and WM19 didn't do much to hurt the Wrestlemania brand.  WM13, while a poor show overall, did indeed feature arguably the greatest and most influential match in company history.  WM19 was top-to-bottom a very strong show and often cited as one of the best Wrestlemanias ever.  Customers who bought either 13 or 19 couldn't have been all that dissatisfied with their purchase.

  16. Yeah it worked out in the end, but I think it does go to show that you're only as good as your last show -- although maybe WrestleMania has built up the kind of cachet though where you are as good as your last two or three WrestleMania's.  It'll be interesting to see how the buys do in subsequent years, especially domestically once Rock is out of the picture for those shows.

  17. Austin ruined his neck and knees for Vince while making the man a shitload of money. If he wanted to leave because he didn't want to deal with Vince's crap or he felt that they were burning through a PPV main event on live TV without any promotion, I think he earned the right to do just that.

  18. If a wrestler gets over, they get power and leverage.  The ONLY reason Austin was allowed to become what he was was because Vince was getting his ass kicked by WCW.  Now WWE is on top, with no challengers anywhere close.  Vince and HHH are both too insecure to let someone get that level of power again.  Yeah, there's Cena, but he seems like such a company man that he probably shines Vince's shoes.


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