WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE TLC 2013 and Battleground Buyrates Disappoint

The WWE released some interesting financial information on Thursday. The most interesting of course were the pay-per-view buyrates for Q4 of 2013. Buyrates for Tables, Ladders, and Chairs and Battleground 2013 are great examples of lost opportunity and creative miscalculations  in the current era of WWE booking.

By all rights WWE Tables, Ladders, and Chairs 2013 should have had a big buyrate. While the buyrate was up from last year’s reported buyrate of 170,000 buys worldwide, it was not a number that the company should be proud of. The big event reportedly sold 181,000 buys which has to be a big disappointment considering the magnitude of the main-event. Keep in mind that is only 3,000 more buys than TLC 2011 which was headlined by CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. The Miz and did not include John Cena.

The WWE finally pulled the trigger on what should automatically have been one of its big guns at TLC. After over ten years, the WWE booked a championship unification match between the WWE championship and the WWE world heavyweight title. The company’s two flagship stars met in a match promised to crown one champion and all they could muster up were 11,000 more buys than last year.

There are some great lessons to be learned here by the WWE. First and foremost is that the lack of buildup for this match took it from something special to just another PPV headliner. To be fair the company pushed it real hard as something special but that promotion was only for a couple of weeks. Imagine how big this would have been with a longer, more strategic build than a match some considered a throwaway.

The lack of clarity here in the creative was probably the worst it had been in years. Up until the show, fans were still not clear whether this was a title unification match, what the rules were, and how it would be decided. Triple H did a number of interviews on the website but there was no consistency between him, the announcers, and the promos. I can’t recall seeing anything produced as sloppy as this by the WWE in years or maybe even ever.

I also think that the booking of the previous main-events had a big negative impact on the show. Remember, the WWE had just come off of several pay-per-view main-events that were booked with screwy finishes. In the case of Daniel Bryan, he won and had it taken away from him the next night. The problem with this title unification match is that no matter how hard they promised, I don’t think many people believed they were getting a clean finish here. Many believed going into this that there was no way that the WWE was going to deliver a clean finish here. It is okay to do screwy finishes once in a while but they were ripping off fans on a monthly basis at this point in time.

I also think that no matter how you slice it and whether you like him or not, Randy Orton isn’t working as the top heel. I don’t know if there was anyone else who could have done better with Cena on this show but the bottom line here is that you have now had a whole five months with Orton as the top heel and he hasn’t meant a thing. To be fair to Orton, the WWE really went out of their way to marginalize him the last few years, reducing the perception that he was one of the elite stars. His push back to the top came out of nowhere with no real build so while Orton isn’t working, it’s not entirely his fault.

The Daniel Bryan phenomenon is not exactly a phenomenon either. His headliner with Randy Orton at WWE Battleground drew the second lowest buyrate in the last seventeen years with 114,000 total buys. No matter how much you like Daniel Bryan you cannot argue that he is a draw. He had his shot and while he was poorly booked, the cream should rise to the top. He was a flat out bust as a draw and while I know that isn’t a popular thing to say, his “Yes” chants have not meant a thing where it counts to the bottom line.

In my opinion the most accountability for these disappointments has to be creative. They are doing a tremendous job with Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns but they really dropped the ball in 2013 as evident by their failures to optimize Orton, Bryan, and the title unification storyline. The buck stops at the top and at some point Vince has to reevaluate the writing across the board.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an M.B.A. from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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