So much for the notion that featuring “Stone Cold” Steve Austin on WrestleMania 29 would have been overkill.
WWE revealed a very disappointing buyrate for April’s version of the wrestling spectacular, confirming the initial buyrate at 1.048 million. While more than enough to assure millions of dollars in profit for WWE, the number is considerably short of both expectations and last year’s impressive mark.
While last year’s show, which easily exceeded 1.2 million buys, benefited from the inaugural match between The Rock and John Cena, the 2013 edition offered both their rematch and one between Brock Lesnar and Triple H. WWE’s annual MVP CM Punk, meanwhile, took on The Undertaker, giving WWE a legitimate three-pronged attack for viewer interest.
WWE also anticipated dividends from booking the show in the New York City market. Since New York is such a media hub, WWE–and most wrestling insiders–anticipated a swarm of national (and international) coverage, which ideally would have led to a swollen buyrate.
Unfortunately, criticism that WWE’s creative angles were not clicking proved true and damming for WWE. WWE could not generate optimal interest in the rematch, either of the two other headline bouts or anything on the undercard. As a result, despite all the talent on the card, excitement for the April show seemed to bank largely on the WrestleMania name itself, which is not the ideal scenario for achieving record pay-per-view performance.
Prior to the show, WWE forecast a record 1.3 million buys, but it curbed that suggestion last month by calling it the top-earning WrestleMania in history and noting that its buys would exceed 1 million and possibly flirt with 1.2 million.
Unless a major upward adjustment is coming, that 1.2 million figure looks distantly out of reach. And if the current 1.048 million mark holds, WrestleMania 29’s buyrate would fall short of numbers for WM28 (Rock-Cena I), WM23 (McMahon vs. Trump proxy hair match), WM27 (The Rock as guest host) and WM21 (Triple H vs. Batista, show “Goes Hollywood”) on the all-time list.