There was something I read the other day at 411wrestling that pissed me off. It was written by a leading wrestling columnist regarding WCW buyrates and the 1994 Bash at the Beach show. This self-proclaimed best-selling author, SK, has such a bias against Hulk Hogan it’s not even funny. He hates Hogan and blames him for everything that went wrong in WCW. Here I’m going to counter his arguments with something I like to call the facts. Here is what he said that pissed me off:
"while this show (1994 WCW Bash at the Beach) did a decent 1.0 buy rate, the next show did a laughable 0.5 buy rate without Hogan, showing that he had very little effect on the promotion as a whole."
What the hell is he talking about? Here is what happened with WCW in 1994. In February, Superbrawl with Flair vs. Vader got a .50 buyrate. In May, Slamboree with Sting vs. Vader got a .48. In July, Bash at the Beach with Hogan vs. Flair got a great 1.02 buyrate. In September, the next PPV without Hogan, Fall Brawl with Sting vs. Vader and Wargames got a .53. In October, Halloween Havoc with Hogan vs. Flair got a great .97.
The only obvious conclusion here is that WCW made twice as much money on the Hogan PPVs as they did with Flair, Sting, or Vader. For those looking to blame Vader for not selling, just look at February and March of 1995 when Hogan vs. Vader sold .95 and .96. The whole problem is that without Hogan on the PPV, nobody paid money to watch. How was he supposed to get Flair, Sting, and Vader to sell PPVs? Osmosis.
He says his point is,
“Hogan's effect was like a last place team signing a big star player and expecting him to carry them to the top by himself.”
His point is similar to blaming the best player on a bad team full of losers. This is like Toronto fans blaming Vince Carter for their sucky team. Or like the Orlando fans blaming Tracy McGrady for their sub-.500 record. “If McGrady would share the ball, Garrity would get more shots.” It is even more like the Texas Rangers blaming A-Rod for their team’s suckiness, just because they overpaid him. Like it’s his fault their pitchers keep getting shelled. Is he suggesting the last place team should be content with losing and saving their money? How are they supposed to get better without spending money on top players?
“The goal of spending all that money on him was to give the rub to WCW as a whole and thus allow them to draw buyrates on their own just by being associated with Hogan. Well, that didn't happen, and the company wasn't able to sustain any kind of momentum without Hogan until Savage & Flair got people interested nearly two years later.”
The Flair/Savage feud never sold PPVs without Hogan either. Check out the disaster known as Starcade 95 and it’s lowest numbers ever to that date, due to a Flair/Savage main event and no Hogan.
“If Hogan had come in and done business with someone like Flair or Vader -- that is, put them over and made them out to be a big threat to him -- then they could have created new stars instead of everyone looking like second-rate next to Hogan.”
Which new stars specifically would have been created? Flair or Vader, both in their 40’s at the time. How is Hogan supposed to do this within months of his WCW arrival? His jobbing on arrival wouldn’t help anybody. If you don’t like Hogan, that’s fine, many people don’t. But, if SK wants to blame him for the fact that WCW PPVs couldn’t sell without him, that is bullshit.
It reminds me of a true story from my work experience. One day at work, my boss didn’t show up. That morning everybody was stopping by my cube and asking me where my boss was: “Where is your boss?” “Why isn’t he here?” “Did he call you and explain himself?” I didn’t fall for the bait and kept my mouth shut. What I wanted to say was, “Look out the window dumbass, there’s a snowstorm.” (This is similar to how Test got depushed for not showing up to an event because of a blizzard. If you want to punish the guy, do it for the right reasons. His poor wrestling, lack of charisma, etc. Don’t punish him for bad weather or an act of god.)
Anyway, back to my work story. That day for some odd reason, we got many requests for special reports outside the normal scope of our jobs. We had trouble doing them without my boss, so he got blamed. Our controller called him up and yelled at him saying, “How come when you’re not here, this whole place turns to shit?” He was being blamed when really you could look at it and say it proves he’s a valuable worker. The same thing happened with Hogan in WCW.
I’ll give you guys the facts. Here are WCW’s buyrates from 1994 to 1999. Before 1994, I didn’t pay much attention to them because the WWF was the big leagues. After 1999, they fell down the crapper and were consistently lower than .26. We are talking below ECW’s PPV level here, so I’ll stop at 1999. I’ll list the date, the PPV, the buyrate, and the main event. Each buyrate point equals 400,000 buys. For those of you that are slow, this means the bigger numbers are better.
All of this advances my theory on how Hogan was responsible for nearly all of WCW’s success in the 90’s. Out of their 13 best-selling PPVs, only 2 of them took place without Hulk Hogan on the card. They could hardly sell a PPV without Hogan on the card. Out of their 10 worst-selling PPVs, only 2 of them took place with Hulk Hogan on the card.
Here you can see that Starcade 1997 was their biggest PPV and their biggest missed opportunity. Starcade 97: Hogan was defending the WCW title against Sting. This was supposed to be the big payoff where the NWO finally loses. Instead we get a controversial ending as the Montreal screwjob is revisited by WCW. It’s like a parent bragging about their kid getting suspended from school for fighting. Montreal was an event you should be embarrassed about, not something you take pride in. Nick Patrick gave Hogan the win after a fast count. Then Bret Hart interfered to avenge Montreal a month later. He acted as a referee to give Sting the win after Hogan “submitted” to the Sharpshooter/Scorpion Death-lock. Sting didn’t get the clean win he needed. WCW felt the need to justify the huge salary of Bret Hart by throwing him into this overbooked finish. The belt was later held up in the controversy. Most importantly WCW never got that big win they needed to end the NWO.
The success of Bash at the Beach also shows that Rodman and the Mailman did a great job promoting their match during their NBA Finals confrontation. Imagine the buyrate they could’ve gotten with Michael Jordan on that card. The success of Starcade 1998 proves that Goldberg was a big draw when his streak was intact. After he kept getting screwed, he lost his drawing power.
WCWs Worst Buyrates
1 *Dec-99 *Starcade *0.23 *Bret/Goldberg 2 *Sep-99 *Fall Brawl *0.35 *Sting/Hogan 3 *Dec-95 *Starcade *0.36 *Flair/Savage + Sting/Luger 4 *Jul-99 *Bash at the Beach *0.39 *Savage/Sid vs. Sting/Nash 5 *Jun-99 *Great American Bash *0.43 *Savage/Nash 6 *Nov-95 *World War 3 *0.43 *Three Ring Battle Royal won by Savage, Hogan appears 7 *May-98 *Slamborie *0.44 *Sting+Giant vs. Outsiders - Tag Titles 8 *May-96 *Slamborie *0.44 *Sting/Giant + LotR Tag Tournament 9 *May-97 *Slamborie *0.44 *Kevin Greene, Flair, Piper vs. NWO 10 *Nov-99 *Mayhem *0.45 *Bret Hart wins Tournament
One of the things to notice here is that Bret Hart wasn’t selling any PPVs. This was before he got injured. So let’s not pretend that without the injury he would’ve turned WCW around. Starcade 1999 should’ve done a better buyrate, but Russo’s booking really turned people off. Starcade 99 was a disaster on so many levels. Starcade 99: Goldberg was challenging for the WCW title against Bret Hart. Bret Hart had gone back and forth from heel to face so much that at this time he was a face the fans didn’t trust. A Goldberg superkick during the match gave Bret a career-ending concussion. For the finish, Russo had Roddy Piper as a ref, ring the bell as Bret had Goldberg locked in the sharpshooter. This was the Montreal screwjob Version 28 booked by Russo. One interesting note I read is that Russo originally wanted Earl Hebner to join WCW for that Starcade to screw Bret yet again. Hebner was even offered $100,000 for one night only, but he turned it down. His twin brother Dave also turned down the same offer because he was too scared to cross Vince McMahon.
For the second straight Starcade Goldberg suffered a screwy loss and the fans were sent home pissed off. So, who does this booking benefit? It turned Goldberg into a sympathetic figure instead of an unstoppable monster. It lost Bret some face heat as he was turned into a guy given the belt out of sympathy. He didn’t deserve it and wasn’t healthy enough to defend it. It turned Piper into a guy forced into being a heel; the fans cared about him less and less. All of the heel heat from this main event went straight to Vince Russo, a man who has no business in wrestling.
Starcade 95 featured WCW against a bunch of New Japan stars. It’s low rate proves that people don’t want to pay to see a bunch of Japanese no-names. Slamborie has the tradition of being one of their consistently lowest rated PPVs.
WWE Q3 2003 Buyrate Analysis:
Well, the numbers just came out. According to reliable news sources, the last 3 PPVs (Survivor, Armageddon, and Rumble) averaged a buyrate of 1.08. They averaged 1.33 in the prior year, so this is a decrease in viewers of 19%. Of course now they are charging $35 instead of $30, so PPV revenue is only down 11% for the quarter. Even these low numbers look pretty good when compared to the WCW PPVs listed above.
In their totals for the last nine months, their PPVs are averaging a buyrate of 1.00. They averaged 1.28 a year ago, so this is a decrease of 22% viewership. An interesting note in their forecast is that they project this year to have a total of 5.4 million PPV viewers. For the first nine months they admit to only 3.6 million viewers. This means they expect 1.8 million people to buy the next 3 PPVs (No Way Out, Mania, and Backlash). This must be why they are pulling out all the stops for these 3. To get to these 1.8 million people, they would have to do a buyrate total of 4.5. So let’s give 1.5 to No Way Out, 2.0 to Mania, and 1.0 to Backlash. Last year Mania did a 1.6 and Backlash did a .8 so they are expecting a 25% increase for each PPV. Those are some aggressive projections. If they don’t make them they will have some explaining to do to their stockholders next quarter.
The following post expresses the opinions of a raving Jerichoholic. He is biased, opinionated and bitter. You have been warned.
Well, I'd say that they've got a pretty good shot at it with Mania and Backlash. Just look at the card they seem to be setting up.
Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle (my early pick for MOTY) Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon (Hulkamania finally conquers all) Booker T vs. Triple H (the dominant heel champion is finally dethroned) The Rock vs. Steve Austin (2 of the 3 biggest stars ever collide...again)
That right there is 4 main event caliber matchups. Plus, look at the immense talent list that doesn't have anything carved in stone.
Chris Benoit Los Guerreros Team Angle Rey Mysterio RVD Kane Chris Jericho Shawn Michaels
Think of the matches that these guys could do. Plus, there's the ever-possible return of Goldberg, either for Mania or Backlash. If WWE puts their collective heart and soul into making this the best PPV ever, it will be.
The preceding post expressed the opinions of a raving Jerichoholic. He was biased, opinionated and bitter. You were warned.
>It’s low rate proves that people don’t want to pay to see a bunch of Japanese no-names
I think you meant to say "It’s low rate proves that people don’t want to pay to see a bunch of horribly badly promoted Japanese no-names" - when the focus of your PPV is hyped mainly hyped on your C-Level show it tends not to matter where or who they are.
I don't think that Bret Hart in '99 would've turned it around either, but maybe the '98 version could've made a difference - given a co-main event of two guys who didn't make the top 10 list otherwise (and Savage is all over that bottom 10), he and Flair managed to carry it to 8. And Mayhem '99 and Starrcade '99 were as much Russo torching the company as the ones the following year that aren't included. Bret was probably no savior but they sure seemed to waste a lot of potential there.
I'm surprised Havoc '99 didn't make the list, come to think of it.
First, Starrcade '95 needs an asterisk placed by it, as it was the only Crockett/WCW PPV after Starrcade '87 that was on a weeknight (Wed. 12/27/95). Plus, WCW did a pisspoor job of promoting it. And despite that, it didn't do a much worse buyrate than WW3, which was built with the Hogan working the dirtsheets by wearing black angle.
In the Pre-Hogan PPV's, remember two important elements. 1) WCW did a very poor job of building/hyping the PPV's. 2) After the disaster that was 1993, it was going to take a little while to rebuild confidence in the fan base.
Now, a number I'd like to see is the PPV in between Hogan/Flair retirement match at Havoc '94 and Hogan/Vader at Superbrawl in February '95. That of course is Starrcade '94, which was headlined by Hogan vs. Ed Leslie. Repeat, Ed Leslie, main event, Starrcade.
Hogan/Flair, until it got beat badly into the ground, was an easy PPV sell. Only a baboon couldn't figure out that it was a money making match. Oh wait, sorry only genius Vincent K. McMahon Jr. couldn't see what an easy money match those two had.
Now, my problem with Hogan in this era. After the Vader match at Superbrawl, he defended the belt ONCE on TV or PPV over the next six months, vs. Vader at Bash at the Beach (the UnCensored match was non-title, as WCW did not recognize the events occurring that night, plus Hogan pinned a retired Ric Flair). When Hogan could have been solidifying the company from mid '94-beginning of Nitro in '95, he was barely on the radar screen. And while he was gone, he was burying the World Title in the process. I do find it comforting though to see who had the lowest PPV match. Maybe someone should forward that buyrate to Titan Towers so they don't sign that individual.
Ole Anderson booking is a weapon of self inflicted mass destruction.
I’ve got a hard time defending Starcade 94. It got a .60 buyrate, a bad rate for a Hogan PPV, but a decent rate overall. In theory, the fans wouldn’t recognize Brutus Beefcake and would think he was the Butcher, a random heel being fed to Hogan.
I got used to Hogan not defending his title in ‘87 and ‘93 with the WWF, so it was nothing new to me.
I’d also like to forward that Starcade ’99 buyrate number to Jarrett so they dump Russo. That PPV had Russo’s fingerprints all over it.
CubsFan and Redsoxnation both make a good point on Starcade 95. It sure was badly promoted.
When I first saw it on tv seven years ago; I didn’t like it. I thought it sucked. I asked my friends, casual wrestling fans, what they thought and they all said it sucked too. Then when I went back to college and got on the internet, I read online that everyone liked it. People were calling it the best PPV of the year. I was shocked at this great divide between the marks and the smarks. Hardcore internet wrestling fans love Japanese wrestling. To me, the only wrestler from Japan I knew of was Great Muta and he wasn’t on the card. It looked like the WCW stars vs. the New Japan no-names.
Now looking back on it, there were some very good matches. Alex Wright vs. Koji Kanemoto was easily the underrated, match of the night. The PPV set-up as a whole was very weak. They had Sonny Ono as the mouthpiece from Japan talking about how the Japanese wanted to control everything in America. He did a good job in setting up the feud, but you need more. The guys from New Japan needed more of an introduction on Nitro to set up the feuds.
A PPV now between WWE and NJPW stars could work, but only if they gave the Japanese stars the proper buildup.
Havoc ‘99 got .52 with Goldberg/Sting. Halloween Havoc is usually one of WCW’s more successful PPVs. It gets more buys than the September or November ones. I think it’s because it has a pretty good gimmick tying in to Halloween and usually having Sting in a good match.
I just read that the WWE is even more rosy predicting a buyrate of 2.13 (850,000 buys) for this year’s Wrestlemania. That would be an increase of 33% over last year’s number. It would put it between WM 2000 = 2.08 and WM 2001 = 2.18.
I can see it being a great Maina. But, I also see Triple H retaining because I expect Hogan, Austin, and Lesnar to go over and I need a heel to win to balance things out. I also would like Jericho/HBK. I think they could break 2.0 buys only if they brought in Goldberg. (If everyone else is busy, put Goldberg against the Undertaker.) Otherwise Rock/Austin-3 would have a heavy load to carry especially since it’s a non-title match.