This past week the main event for the first DGUSA IPPV was officially announced (BxB Hulk vs. Shingo for the Open the Freedom Gate title) on October 29th. With Ring of Honor having such success with their recent Glory by Honor show it was only natural that their competitor in the indy market Dragon Gate USA would follow by trying the IPPV medium themselves. This week I ask why WWE doesn’t and TNA run Internet Pay per View…you’re reading “Wrestling Rumblings.”
Let’s face it guys we are in the middle of one of the worst recessions in decades. The dollar jus doesn’t go as far as it used to and with so many forms of entertainment people are a little bit more tentative in what they choose to spend their hard earned cash on. After all there are a lot of free forms of entertainment so something better be good when you pay any sort of premium for it. It is especially more difficult to justify paying for that entertainment when it is 40 plus dollars. I was talking to a friend of mine earlier in the week and he was telling me just how much he felt the wrestling industry has oversaturated itself in the last ten years. We were talking about how much of a treat PPV was when we were younger because it was truly one of a handful of times a year you would see wrestlers take on marquee opponents. We grew up in the era of enhancement talent where it was standard fare to watch a show with nothing but squash matches as that show was really just an infomercial to build up to PPV and house show events. Than a funny thing happened when the Monday Night War started up in the mid to late 90’s. PPV quality matches were on TV all the time and it became more difficult to make PPV matches really count for anything.
Think about it, this past week on Raw we were told over and over again how it was the first time ever in the history of Raw that Randy Orton faced off with Chris Jericho. However those guys have faced off on PPV before. We are leading into a Hell in a Cell main event of Kane vs. The Undertaker and those guys have literally wrestled hundreds of time on PPV and on TV for the past 13 years. Why should you pay for a match you have seen before? Especially when the price of PPV continues to increase? It just doesn’t make sense to me and it’s probably one of the reasons why the PPV business is down. As a matter of fact I am sure it is the main reason that the PPV business is down. Say what you want about UFC but most of what they put out is original match making. When it comes time to rematch the rematches make sense and aren’t done to death. I don’t think there have been any more than 4 meetings between any pairings of fighters in one single MMA company and there is a reason for that. Now I am not saying that you have to do that same concept in wrestling as you can always stir up interest in multiple meetings between wresters but my point is MMA doesn’t wear out those moments and well pro wrestling does.
What does this have to do with IPPV you ask? Well I believe that even though many of these matches have been done to death there is still a strong percentage of wrestling fans out there who want to watch wrestling no matter how many times guy match up and it’s simply the quantity and costs of these PPV’s that are driving them not to order them. Between WWE and TNA we have 25 PPV’s a year. You’re talking close to 1000 bucks to be a wrestling fan. Mind you I am not talking about buying DVD’s, going to live events or following any other promotion other than WWE or TNA. That’s a tall order if you ask me, but Ring of Honor and Dragon Gate USA are able to put on these IPPV shows for less than half the price of a WWE or TNA show and seem to be happy with it.
Now I am not saying that ROH or DGUSA are raking in the cash because they are obviously not but at the same time they don’t have the resources that WWE and TNA have at their disposal and they are still turning a profit. I don’t know about TNA but I do know that WWE does offer there PPV’s over WWE.com for the same price that they offer it on PPV. Why anyone would want to pay the same exact price to watch a PPV on their computer that they can watch on TV is beyond me but I imagine some might not have cable and choose to follow programming exclusively on the internet and pay for it. Can you imagine how many more might if WWE was to reduce those prices? What if WWE was to just offer an internet exclusive PPV? What if Hell in a Cell a PPV that many would say is not going to do well with two weeks of promotion was offered exclusively on the internet? At a discounted price on the internet I am guessing more fans may be inclined to purchase this show on the internet than would on PPV.
Everything is going to the internet anyway. Print media is not what it used to be and it wouldn’t surprise me to see newspapers and magazines become something of a memory in the next ten years. Even CD’s are becoming a distant memory as the Ipod is to the CD what the CD used to be to the cassette. Entertainment is shifting towards everything being digitized and wrestling needs to stay ahead of the market. In the case of WWE what would they really have to lose by trying an internet exclusive PPV? As it is you have to figure that half of the price of a PPV goes to the cable operator with another sizable portion going to production costs and then you have to factor in talent on the royalties as well. WWE already has their own site that they are obviously paying costs for monthly anyway. Why not cut out the cable operators and keep that other 50%? In the case of TNA it would make more sense since they are probably doing near what Ring of Honor is doing on IPPV anyway. This way they could keep that other 50% and well TNA can use all the revenue it can get right now when you consider that they can’t even charge admission to most of their televised events.
Of course everything is always not as easy as it sounds and such would be the case with this. There are politics that exist with everything and I am sure cable operators wouldn’t appreciate companies trying to cut them out to put content on the internet. In the case of WWE something like that could haunt them down the line when they try to push things like WWE Classics on Demand and the 24 hour wrestling channel that they wish to launch in the next few years. Contracts for PPV are negotiated I imagine way in advance and there is always a chance that the format doesn’t do well and well how do you go back and negotiate with those cable operators when you took a bath in IPPV afterwards? You would sort of leave those guys with all the leverage and may do more damage to your brand than help. Not to mention all those wrestlers who look forward to some of those PPV payoffs. There are wrestlers on the roster who make six figures plus on a Wrestlemania pay off can you imagine if those numbers were reduced by a decimal point due to the show being streamed online and not doing much better than it did on PPV with reduced costs to boot? That would surely kill morale.
In TNA’s case it might make more sense though since you would have to argue that they just aren’t making money with the cable operators anyway. Maybe Spike TV can help finance these IPPVs and well if you really stop and think about it the internet is probably what makes up most of TNA’s audience as I can’t buy too many fans tuning into TNA and understanding what is going on half the time. Maybe when their current PPV contracts are up TNA should think about revamping TNAwrestling.com and streaming 6 events from there a year at $18 a pop. You would have to think if they were successful WWE would soon follow suit and well cheaper events are better for fans and what’s better for fans is what is ultimately better for wrestling nine times out of ten anyway. TNA is going to have to make that leap though. WWE in my opinion has too much to lose since it has carved out the PPV brand and in many ways pioneered it over the past 27 years. TNA has already lost enough, what’s one more risk for them?
In closing I guess I am going to take an informal poll. I am going to ask all of you reading this would you be more willing to order a cheaper PPV over the internet than on Cable? Why and well why not? I think some of the responses I get would be very interesting. I will say this if the numbers I have heard for a promotion like Ring of Honor are true can you imagine what a company like WWE, TNA and eventually Boxing and MMA could pull? The internet is the future and that future is now.
OK time to wrap up but of course I have to give you all something to do. Mick Foley’s new book “Countdown to Lockdown” is out and well I have just finished reading it and while I won’t call it his best book I found it to be significantly better than his last and I highly recommend reading it. If you haven’t gotten a chance I have listed my official Fall/Winter wrestling reading list on the Wrestleview VIP blogs so be sure to check that out if you are a VIP subscriber and well if you know of a book coming out that I left off be sure to let me know as I would love to know about it being an avid collector of wrestling books. How can you do that? Well you can email me of course at firstname.lastname@example.org and well that’s it for this week, next week I will try to do better, and until then I am out.