WWE reported its third-quarter earnings Thursday and the company’s profit was reportedly down.
Down 31 percent to be exact, according to the Associated Press.
There a number of factors that played into the drop in profit. Among them being higher movie losses because of a charge.
But even more telling was the reduced profits from Summerslam in August.
According to a report from PWInsider.com, Vince McMahon was asked about the reason the pay-per-view profit had declined and said that the pay-per-view business is an attraction-driven business. He added that the event was a “swing and miss.”
A swing and miss.
This leaves me with one question: What’s the reason the buy rate went down or maybe a better question is who’s to blame?
The main event of Summerslam was John Cena defending his WWE Championship against the quickly rising Daniel Bryan.
To the hardcore fan, myself included, this match was reason enough to shell out $55 to see the event.
Apparently, this match wasn’t enough of an “attraction” to bring in the casual wrestling fan.
Was the main event the reason for the drop? The main event is usually given credit for why an event is a success, but is it the reason for failure in this specific case?
Was it a poorly hyped under card that essentially had one other match to look forward to – CM Punk versus Brock Lesnar.
I have a feeling where the blame is going to be placed. Fairly or unfairly, it may be placed upon the shoulders of Bryan.
Cena is virtually untouchable. He is the company’s meal ticket whether people like it or not. The reason why he is the World Heavyweight Champion right now is because live event business was very bad with Alberto Del Rio carrying the title.
Cena will pay immediate dividends to the live gate carrying the title.
Summerslam is a big enough brand that it should sell itself to a certain extent. WWE promotes it as if it’s the No. 2 event on the calendar every year, which means there is no shortage of awareness of the event. People know when Summerslam is happening.
That leaves Bryan, whom the WWE apparently took a swing on by putting him in a high-profile main event.
Bryan delivered in the ring, as he usually does, and the match turned out great. Perhaps even better than I personally expected. But he apparently missed at the box office.
No matter how talented you are the WWE is a bottom-line business. They’re in the business of making money and whoever can help them do that will be pushed to the forefront.
There is a wealth of talented wrestlers in the world, but not all of them may have the ability to make money.
Unfortunately for Bryan, WWE may not have the patience necessary to make him into a top star, into a guy who can do well at the box office.
Fifteen years ago, before the WWE was a publicly traded company, the powers at be may have been a little more patient with Bryan’s growth. That’s mainly because they could afford to.
But now the WWE, McMahon included, has to answer to investors. These investors are less worried about the development of a new star and more worried about the bottom line.
That is the reason Cena is shoved down our throats. That is the reason the McMahons are still authority figures on television.
Bryan is in the middle of a major program right now that could make him into a top star. With Cena back from injury, the weight isn’t on his shoulders to draw crowds night in and night out.
Hopefully, this means Bryan is given time to warm up to the casual audience. But Summerslam was a set back for him in my eyes as WWE may begin to believe that he really isn’t good for business.