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Lessons Learned From WWE Payback 2013 Buyrate

WWE released their second quarter financials recently and an interesting story has developed. Experts have analyzed the pay per view buyrates and disappointing Payback 2013 numbers have fans and media pointing fingers.

According to Dave Meltzer on a recent F4Wonline.com podcast, the Payback buyrate came in at around 101,000 domestic buys, 186,000 total with international. In his newsletter he detailed the decrease from No Way Out (which did 111,000 domestic and 91,000 international). “Payback is down 7.2% domestic and 6.7% international at this point.” The numbers are a big disappointment as pay per view revenue, down from last year’s June event. Who is to blame, what does this tell us, and what can we learn from the numbers?

Overall the 186,000 buys sound good. Yet when you dissect it and take away 101,000 domestic I think that is a big fail for the company. The number is down from the 194,000 last year for No Way Out. Is it Cena’s fault? Is it Ryback’s fault? Is it Punk’s fault? Nope, look no further than Extreme Rules.

I think the buyrate can be attributed more to the Extreme Rules fiasco than anything else. What I mean by fiasco is that bogus finish delivered in the Cena vs. Ryback Last Man Standing Match. I remember writing at the time that it would be interesting to follow the numbers and see whether the finish discouraged fans from buying the next event. I think it did.

You can only get away with so much when it comes to screwing over your wrestling fans. Maybe they’ll forgive you for dropping a stipulation in a few weeks, especially when it is in favor of a babyface. But what they won’t forgive you for is delivering a non-finish with zero logic in a match they paid money to watch. Save those finishes for RAW unless you want to drive away your hardcore base like you did a few weeks ago.

The finish saw Ryback and Cena need medical assistance after the match. Ryback got on his feet first while Cena was stretchered out. Technically Ryback should have won the match. He didn’t. On top of that, no explanation was given nor was the controversy ever even addressed. It was as if the match didn’t even exist. To add insult to injury you had Cena after the match being interviewed on the post-show barely selling the injury. Who would want to pay money to watch them wrestle again after this poor attempt at creative storytelling?

Dave Meltzer also brought up an interesting point in that CM Punk is not a draw. Punk was kept off of television for almost three months and did nothing to help boost the number. A return by a star his perceived caliber should have boosted the numbers. I remember fans at the time tweeting and blogging that Punk’s match was the real main-event. It was a great match but he made no difference and that is not a good sign if you are pulling for Punk to be in the WrestleMania main-event.

This also tells me that the WWE bragging about their social media and their app is more of an embarrassment than anything they should be proud of. They keep touting (no pun intended) these numbers and mocking other sports and entertainment franchises for not being on par with their social media initiatives. At the end of the day these numbers have meant zero in regards to business and that is a fact.

The biggest lesson here is that you can’t book scared. Don’t book a match if you don’t want to deliver a finish. So you didn’t want to have Ryback or Cena lose? Fine, than book a different match! Don’t screw your fans and expect them to come back the next month like lap dogs and give you their money. Treat your fans with a little more respect and maybe, just maybe, they’ll continue to repeat business. It’s not that hard to comprehend.

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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 MBA from Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

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Welcome to the Camel Clutch Blog. The CCB was born in 2007 and features blogs from over 50 different writers. Articles from the Camel Clutch Blog have been featured by some of the world's most respected websites including; CNNSI.com, Foxsports.com, Yahoo News, Business Insider, MSNBC, NBCsports.com, and more.

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