According to Prowrestling.net, WWE released its pay-per-view numbers for the first quarter of 2010, and while the Royal Rumble scored higher this year than in 2009 (462,000 vs. 450,000), and the Elimination Chamber PPV that replaced No Way Out improved upon its predecessor’s number (285,000 vs. 272,000), WrestleMania 26 was down almost 100,000 views from WrestleMania 25 (885,000 vs. 975,000).
(Side note: WrestleMania 24, with the Ric Flair retirement match and Floyd Mayweather as a special attracton, drew 1,058,000 buys, while WrestleMania 23, featuring Donald Trump as a guest celebrity, pulled in 1.2 million buys. I’m glad WWE’s profits continue to rise despite buyrates and TV ratings sliding.)
Let’s do some 20/20 hindsight-type stuff here: This says to me that Bret Hart was not the draw WWE hoped he’d be; Edge not catching fire as a babyface might have hurt his draw; not capitalizing on a hot heel Batista vs. an always-popular Cena (in favor of and alongside the — truth be told well-done — Hart-McMahon feud) was a mistake; not having Triple H and Randy Orton in marquee match-ups may have been short-term mistakes (but helpful in the long term, possibly); and in my opinion the Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker retirement stipulation seemed very rushed in a desperate move to squeeze out a few more buys and didn’t seem to work. Now granted, McMahon may have had a point during a recent shareholders meeting when he suggested that just as many eyeballs saw WrestleMania this year but because of “communal” WrestleMania parties, the buyrate went down. Heck, I watched the PPV at the apartment of a friend, in a room full of people I’d never met in my life, because I didn’t want to spend $55 or whatever it was to watch it myself, so rather than lay the blame on shaky booking, I could blame Wes for buying the PPV, Ben for inviting me over and that dude with the dreads for not installing a second satellite dish in their pad. Oh well, thanks anyway, you guys, but I think Vince wants us to break up the shindig next year. -Eric