Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Fixing the WWE's 4th Quarter Programming (especially Survivor Series)
By Mr. Tito
May 31, 2015 - 1:33:18 AM

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This column is a direct follow-up to my last column about whether or not Brock Lesnar has been a draw since he debuted in 2012 following Wrestlemania 28 which you can read by CLICKING HERE. Many of my critics took it as "here is Tito ripping on the current WWE product again", but the column's intent was a valid research column. I took real RAW ratings and Pay Per View buyrate data and put real financial and statistical analysis to them. My conclusion was that Brock Lesnar was (a) a decent draw for RAW and (b) a good draw on Pay Per View only when facing the top-tier guys or longtime veterans (specifically John Cena and Triple H). The numbers don't lie...

But aside from Brock Lesnar, what I found especially troubling was the WWE's 4th Quarter performance. My analysis showed that WWE's viewership drops significantly during the months of October, November, and December when testing data from 2012 to 2014 in my sample. To my point of my prior column, Brock Lesnar has barely touched those months for appearances. But if you look at numbers beyond just my 2012-2014 sample, the same trend holds without Brock Lesnar. Some of the worst drawing WWE Pay Per Views of all time, before the WWE Network was put in place, occurred during the 4th Quarter.

RAW definitely has a rough competitor on Monday Nights known as the National Football League (NFL). Starting in September, the NFL plays games during the crucial latter 2 hours of RAW between the times of 9pm and 11pm. As their numbers show, the NFL's popularity continues on an upward trend overall as a league...

HOWEVER - ESPN's Monday Night Football games are rating as strong as they did on ABC. Why? The invention of Sunday Night Football on NBC. When the television contracts were redone over 5 years ago, ESPN went from owning Sunday Night Football to Monday Night from ABC. NBC bought the Sunday Night game and working with the NFL, they've made this the "peak" game of the week. Monday Night Football has actually been demoted to what ESPN's Sunday Night Football used to be. This particular season saw ratings downfalls because the games were awful. Not the best year for NFL competitiveness but ESPN had a weak schedule with poor drawing match-ups. THUS, if NFL's ratings were decreasing, couldn't those viewers possibly flip over to watch RAW?

Besides - We never heard of NFL Monday Night Football EVER being a factor during the Attitude Era. NEVER. Only when the ratings started to get below 4.0 (RAW was consistently getting around 6.5 during 1999-2000) that the NFL became a reason for blame on low ratings.

As I stated in my previous column, during 2012-2014, RAW's ratings had an average of a 2.73 during the months of October, November, and December. That's in comparison of the 1st Quarter, 2nd Quarter, and 3rd Quarter being at or slightly above 3.0 within the same sample. My estimates suggest that roughly 200,000-300,000 fewer wrestling fans are watching RAW during the 4th quarter than the other months.

But that's not the real source of erosion... Check out the Survivor Series Pay Per View buy history, the Pay Per View which airs during November (thank you 2xzone for tabulating the data!):

YEAR PPV Buys % Change
1998 478,000
1999 448,000 -6.3%
2000 400,000 -10.7%
2001 450,000 12.5%
2002 340,000 -24.4%
2003 450,000 32.4%
2004 325,000 -27.8%
2005 400,000 23.1%
2006 383,000 -4.3%
2007 325,000 -15.1%
2008 319,000 -1.8%
2009 225,000 -29.5%
2010 244,000 8.4%
2011 281,000 15.2%
2012 208,000 -26.0%
2013 179,000 -13.9%

Ouch... Consistently pulling above 400,000 during the Attitude Era then holding above the 300,000's during the mid-2000's to just pathetic afterward.

Survivor Series used to be the legit #2 or #3 Pay Per View only behind Wrestlemania. In fact, it was the first ever Pay Per View event created by the WWE after Wrestlemania starting with the 1987 show. When the Team Concept seemed to bore wrestling fans, the WWE changed things up and always put a legitimate WWE Title match on the show. Starting with the Survivor Series 1991 show, we got to see the Undertaker defeat Hulk Hogan for the WWE Title (thanks to Ric Flair's help despite Undertaker being about a foot away from the canvas/chair for that Tombstone).

Then, I'd argue, the show became the #2 most important show between 1996-1999. Those shows were serious as their developments helped shape the WWE to what it is today. 1996 had Bret Hart legitimizing Steve Austin as an opponent. Everybody credits "Austin 3:16" as the recipe for Austin's WWE success. While it was a nice marketing tool, it was Bret Hart's work legitimizing Austin as a real in-ring threat that made Austin. This was a hard fought match for Bret and he showed real vulnerability by letting Austin trash his character in promos. Bret made further good on his building of Austin by that amazing Wrestlemania 13 match. I also love that Sid won his first WWE Title at the 1996 event. Not going to lie, but I mark for Sid Eudy. When I hear either the Skyscrapers (WCW tag team) or the Sycho Sid WWE theme because the "Master and the Ruler of the World" is about to come out...

Then, Survivor Series 1997... Seriously. We were able to get Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels II for the WWE Title. Better yet, it was Bret's last WWE match as the WWE opted out of his 1 year deal and Bret was hinting towards joining WCW. Well, Vince McMahon couldn't have that and actually did an unscripted finish of having Shawn Michaels making Bret Hart submit at the hands of Bret's own finisher. If you need more information on this event, just CLICK HERE to read all about it. The following year, Survivor Series 1998, the Rock won his first WWE Championship in a highly entertaining WWE Title tournament. When Shane McMahon "screws" Mick Foley, it's classic. And then to get many amazing Foley vs. Rock battles after this event? Solid gold.

I personally like the 1995 Survivor Series headlined by Diesel vs. Bret Hart. The heel turn by Diesel afterward helped give birth to the badass Kevin Nash WCW would receive during 1996. Ooops, WWE. Oh, and by the way, for those of you set to enjoy the Elimination Chamber this Sunday, the FIRST EVER and possibly the BEST EVER Elimination Chamber match was held at Survivor Series 2002. Concept was weird at the time it was introduced but the wrestlers inside the chamber brought it that night.

Since then, the show has become just another Pay Per View... And the buy numbers prove it.

Sure, the WWE has tried a few things recently such as bringing the big 5 on 5 matches back and trying to put a "sense of urgency" onto those matches against the Nexus (remember them?) and the Authority. Just isn't clicking... Years upon years of not taking the Survivor Series seriously has let the event erode as a Pay Per View. I was SHOCKED when the WWE gave the show away for FREE last year as a WWE Network giveaway.

Worse yet for the 4th Quarter are the October and December months. Hell in a Cell and Tables, Ladders, and Chairs should be spontaneous events. If 2 or more wrestlers are unable to settle the score in a typical wrestling match, then the special gimmick appears. Go see Wrestlemania 28 if you don't believe me. Undertaker and Triple H had a battle at Wrestlemania 27 but needed an extra measure added to their rematch. Thus, the Hell in a Cell was placed around the ring. And what happened? The match was awesome. Can anybody recall a 4 or 5 star classic from these Hell in a Cell Pay Per Views? Yeah, I did like Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins last year until Bray Wyatt randomly interfered, but other than that, forgettable. Ditto Tables, Ladders, and Chairs... The Money in the Bank Pay Per View, which also involves Ladder Matches, has made this show redundant. Furthermore, it's 2015... Nobody is jumping off ladders like the Hardys, Dudleys, or Edge/Christian.

So here are my solutions to FIX the months of October, November, and December:

(1) Survivor Series - Create a Main Event level 5 on 5 Survivor Series Main Event with the purpose being that the WINNING Team gets spots #26 through #30 in the Royal Rumble. The LOSING Team then receives spots #1 through #5 in the Royal Rumble. OUCH.

Then, on the RAW events to follow during December, each of those groups of 5 would have mini-Rumbles to determine who gets the specific spots of #1-#5 and #26-#30. That simple. Puts a major "sense of urgency" on that Survivor Series match-up that keeps giving afterward. Heck, RAW could have elimination matches BEFORE Survivor Series just to determine who gets a spot in that 5 on 5 match-up.

(2) No More Hell in a Cell or TLC Pay Per Views - Renamed for former WCW Events Two of WCW's biggest Pay Per Views of the year were Halloween Havoc and Starrcade. There you go... Naming perfection. Utilizing those names could perk the interest of many former WCW fans who adored those shows. If the WWE is thirsty for gimmicked matches, the Halloween theme during October creates many possibilities.

(3) Shift Focus to WWE Smackdown, stack the cards. Fine, if you truly believe that the NFL is taking away viewership, then why not cater to your fans? With Smackdown coming to the USA Network, this becomes easier for 2016 and beyond. Granted, the NFL does put football games on NFL Network/CBS now... Uh oh.

(4) Just do a better damn job. Sorry, but Randy Orton vs. Big Show to headline Survivor Series 2013 does NOT cut it. That show was a joke and it should have featured Daniel Bryan driving a dagger into Orton or Triple H's heart to remain WWE Champion. Nope... The Authority angle just isn't cutting it unless Triple H agrees to become a full-time wrestler again. It just feels like the WWE is in sleep mode between SummerSlam and Royal Rumble and numbers show it.

Something has to be done during the WWE's 4th Quarter to improve things. In my opinion, it starts with improving the QUALITY of the 3 Pay Per View shows during October, November, and December. Improve those shows and the RAW episodes hyping those shows improves.

Onto your questions...



Where is Sting and do you believe his WWE debut was handled poorly?

Don't know where Sting is and I'm not sure what else the WWE has for him. I have to say, the Wrestlemania 31 match and outcome left a bad taste in my mouth. If I were Steve Borden (Sting), I would be upset at that match. The whole heat was for the "vigilante" Sting to take down the bully, Triple H, in that match. What the match reverted to, and I now agree with Pat the NES Punk's take on the events, was a WCW vs. WWE Monday Night Wars extension. Just the ridiculous booking of Triple H's real life friends, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, and one of Sting's mortal enemies, "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan, trying to help Sting was bothersome. Then, the excessive interference that followed and Sting, of course, losing. All marketability to use Sting in the future is GONE.

What did WWE have to gain by having Triple H win? I'll never know...

If I were to guess, Sting has retired and would only come back if Sting vs. the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 32 happens.

Do you believe that WWE will ever put a game on Nintendo's Wii U or 3DS Systems? Maybe WWE Network too?

I would say "no", but the Nintendo 3DS did receive a WWE All-Stars port...

But the Wii U, hell no on either count. My guess is that the WWE saw the sales numbers for their last few games on the regular Wii system and like many other Third Party companies, they backed the hell away after the Nintendo Wii U's poor launch. As many Third Party companies learned during the Nintendo 64 and especially with the GameCube, Nintendo moves systems to a much different audience than say Sony or Microsoft. Those to latter companies cater almost exclusively to adult gamers whereas Nintendo caters to younger gamers or loyalists to certain franchises like Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, Pokemon, etc. (that's me!). The regular Wii sold like hotcakes when Wii Sports took the world by storm, but the buyers of those systems were schools, nursing homes, and families who weren't hardcore gamers to begin with.

2K Sports, the maker of the new WWE games, has already backed away from the Nintendo Wii U for their sports games and will presumably back away from making any WWE game for the Wii U. There are about 10 million Wii U systems owned in the world right now with Xbox One having just above that (but shorter time out) and Playstation 4 leading the charge with 22 million units. Even worse for Nintendo, 2K Sports still produces WWE games for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It's not happening for games.

WWE Network on the Nintendo Wii U or even the 3DS? Nah... As much as I'd argue that it would be a great idea, particularly reaching Japan fans in another way, Nintendo has kept their streaming services very basic to just a few options (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.). While creating a WWE App would probably be low cost, it could be more of a matter of Nintendo being picky and not wanting the Network on there.

In my opinion, the WWE should consider creating a WWE No Mercy port for either the Wii U or Nintendo 3DS. I've argued this before... Both systems are capable of playing N64 ports and to republish this game with an roster update would be amazing. Particular to the 3DS, which many younger gamers have, many fathers in their late 20's or beyond could share a great game with their kids. I played the heck out of Wrestlemania 2000 and No Mercy from 1999-2001 and now I have little ones who may play games. I could show them a great game that we could play together. It's easy money and the porting of the N64 game is low cost to produce. WWE couldn't just give us No Mercy as a port as-is because Chris Benoit is on that game. OK, give us Wrestlemania 2000...

Could you imagine ONLINE play with Wrestlemania 2000 or No Mercy? Unreal...

Could AJ Styles succeed in the WWE?

If and only if Triple H gets a bigger say on the WWE's main roster, yes... Otherwise, AJ would perform well in NXT. Fact is that Vince McMahon still has a bruised ego about other wrestling companies, even ones who are barely threats to him. AJ Styles has turned down a few offers made by the WWE in the past and Vince holds grudges on that stuff. He just does... See my first question about Sting. Vince would be damned if he let Sting win his first WWE match ever on Vince's show, Wrestlemania.

Furthermore, AJ Styles is 5'11 in height and Vince might consider him "short". But what I think really hurts him from making it in the WWE is his character and mic skills. He reminds me too much of John Morrison or Dolph Ziggler in the WWE with their strong in-ring ability but missing other intangibles that WWE wants with personality and mic skills. However, AJ Styles is a credible wrestler with legit title victories now in TNA and New Japan. But I still think Vince McMahon would be petty more with him than Samoa Joe. Joe has that hoss look to him that Vince likes and I'm guessing TNA paid Joe just enough to keep him all of these years.

I don't think AJ Styles joins WWE... He's doing just fine where he is.


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