In the latest part of my WWE Review of 2012 series, we take a look at the success of the year’s pay-per-view events.
The criteria for judging success is based upon the PPV’s buyrates rather than their entertainment value, while it’s also worth noting that December’s TLC: Tables Ladders and Chairs PPV has not been considered as, at the time of writing, the official buyrate has not yet been released.
2012 performance will also be compared with 2011 figures, in order to better establish which shows made the most improvement during the past 12 months.
And while there are no prizes for guessing the most successful PPV of the year, there are some interesting patterns to notice elsewhere which produce some fairly surprising results.
Naturally, WrestleMania was the most successful PPV of the year. 1,217,000 buys made it not only the most-purchased show of the year, but it also surpassed the event’s all-time record of PPV buys, set by WrestleMania 23 back in 2007.
In second place comes the opening PPV of the year; the Royal Rumble. 443,000 buys sees the show retain its place ahead of its fellow “Big Four” PPVs of the WWE calendar.
While Brock Lesnar’s return may not have replicated his UFC success, his presence helped SummerSlam garner an impressive 358,000 buys. And speaking of Brock Lesnar...
Extreme Rules manages to chart a top-four finish with 263,000 buys. It was of course Lesnar’s first WWE PPV in eight years since his underwhelming appearance at WrestleMania XX, and saw the B-list show stand out as one of the highlights of 2012.
Despite surrendering its place in the top four, Survivor Series manages to make the list with the fifth-best buyrate of the year – 212,000. The November event is entrenched in history, though perhaps saw a dip in viewership due to a lack of star names and a short build-up time of just three weeks.
No real surprises with the company’s four biggest PPVs featuring in the top five, though Extreme Rules edging Survivor Series to fourth place could well be considered an upset.
This could be explained though by the exceptional circumstances of Brock Lesnar’s return, while a late decision to change the Survivor Series main event may also have a contributed to the show’s subpar return.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was one of the company’s newest PPVs that posted the lowest buyrate of the year – Over the Limit managed just 167,000 worldwide buys. This could be explained by the PPV’s lack of heritage, and the absence of a particular gimmick or theme to make it unique.
Having said that, a unique stipulation did Elimination Chamber no favours, as the show clocks in at No. 2 with 178,000 buys – despite being smack bang in the middle of WrestleMania season.
A mouth-watering WWE Championship match pitting CM Punk against Daniel Bryan in a no -disqualification match couldn’t prevent Money in the Bank from registering the third-worst buyrate of the year with 188,000. Perhaps this indeed offers evidence that the Best in the World is no more than an Internet draw?
Shortly behind MITB comes September’s Night of Champions PPV. This show essentially squashed the theory that a blockbuster main event is what makes a show, as not even John Cena vs. CM Punk for the WWE Championship could prevent a lacklustre buyrate of 189,000.
Finally, No Way Out posted the fifth-worst buyrate of 2012 with figures of 194,000. Not even the possibility of witnessing John Laurinaitis’ firing could persuade more of the WWE Universe to purchase the event.
It’s interesting to note that four of the five least successful PPVs of the year came during a five-month period between May and September. Does this indeed suggest that the WWE calendar has become over-saturated with PPV events?
Not only did WrestleMania set the top buyrate of the year, it was also the most improved PPV on 2011’s figures. The Showcase of the Immortals posted an increase of 158,000 buys...that’s almost as many as the entire Over the Limit PPV managed.
While it may have been the third most successful in terms of buys, compared to the previous year SummerSlam was in fact the second-most successful show of 2012. An impressive increase of 62,000 buys perhaps justifies the company’s exuberance in signing Brock Lesnar to a lucrative one-year contract.
The third-most improved PPV of 2012 was the year’s success story; Extreme Rules. A huge rise in buys of 54,000 marked a 25 percent increase on 2011’s total, and while Lesnar will take much of the plaudits for this, it would be unfair not to credit other matches on the card, such as the brilliant street fight between Chris Jericho and CM Punk for the WWE Championship.
While it may have been the fourth-least purchased show of the year, Night of Champions was in fact also the fourth-most improved upon buyrate of the year. A 28,000 increase could be explained by matches such as Team Hell No’s Tag Team title shot, or possibly due to the 2011 event being headlined by the rather unpopular Triple H vs. CM Punk feud.
Another show to post poor figures but still show improvement on the previous year is Over the Limit. 27,000 more buys make it the fifth-most improved show of 2012, and thus the show should really be considered a success considering it lacks an exciting gimmick theme.
Aside from the roaring success that was Extreme Rules, it’s noticeable that two of the least-bought events of the year were in fact two of the most improved of 2011. Perhaps year-by-year improvement is a more effective method of determining the success of a show?
Survivor Series may have charted in the top five for buys, but a decrease of 69,000 on 2011’s event makes it the biggest loser of the year. As mentioned previously, a short build time may have been influential, but one must also remember that the previous year’s event featured the Rock, and thus was always going to be a bigger draw.
Another PPV that will be remembered in 2012 as a failure will be Elimination Chamber. It was second on both lists for least-purchased and biggest fall in buys, with a 21,000 drop on 2011’s 199,000 buys.
Much like Elimination Chamber, Money in the Bank appears third in terms of least improved and lowest buys. A slight dip of 7,000 buys could perhaps be explained by the previous year’s stellar event, which of course came in the height of the Summer of Punk and saw the Second City Saint “leave” the WWE with the Championship around his waist.
443,000 may have been the second highest buyrate of the year, but the Royal Rumble in fact saw a 3,000 drop on its 2011 figures. As a result, the PPV charts in at no. 4 on the list of least improved shows when compared with 2011.
And despite seeing the buyrate increase by 10,000, Hell in a Cell was the fifth least improved upon show of 2012. However, given that Hell in a Cell in fact increased upon 2011’s total, but was still one of the year’s least successful shows in terms of improvement, we may be able to conclude that 2012 was indeed a better year for the WWE in terms of PPV performance.
In total, 2012 saw 3,609,000 PPV buys – which does indeed mark an increase on 2011 of 263,000.
So yes, we can conclude that 2012 was a better year on PPV for the WWE, and thus the company should be credited for that.
Furthermore, the 263,000 increase cannot be solely accounted for by WrestleMania. Other shows, including SummerSlam and Extreme Rules most notably, were also very much responsible for the successful year that was 2012.
Of course, buyrates is not the only factor that can determine the success of a PPV; however it is the most objective means of measurement.
So, do you agree with the PPV figures? Or was 2012 in fact a worse year in terms of PPVs for the WWE?
Comment below with your thoughts on this topic as well and your opinions on the article and the issues that were previously discussed.