The look on CM Punk's face when he heard the news about the SummerSlam PPV buy rate. Photo via upload.wikimedia.org.
As I detailed two days ago, many people believe that the CM Punk angle jumped the shark soon after the Money In The Bank pay-per-view (PPV). If that was the case, then it would be reflected in the SummerSlam PPV buy rate, since the show was headlined by CM Punk vs. John Cena in a bout to decide the undisputed WWE champion with Triple H as the special referee. Even the Money In The Bank number was not as impressive as one would have thought given all the online buzz at the time, but at least it was still up significantly from the same show last year. If WWE's handling of the angle had done no damage, then one would have expected SummerSlam to comfortably beat last year's number too. Unfortunately that wan't the case.
Indeed, the preliminary estimates for this year's SummerSlam are almost embarrassingly bad. As PWTorch reports, the initial estimate is 301,000 buys, which would break down into 190,000 domestic and 111,000 international. To put the number into perspective, last year's initial estimate was a disappointing 350,000 total buys and 210,000 domestic, but even that mediocre number ended up being downgraded to a paltry 339,000 worldwide buys and 203,000 domestic. So as things stand, this year's SummerSlam did 11.2-percent less buys worldwide and 6.4-percent less buys domestically, which would be rock bottom for WWE's traditional second or third biggest PPV of the year. You would have to go back to the WWF's darkest days in the mid 1990s to find a SummerSlam that drew worse, at a time when the PPV universe was much smaller.
This is terrible news for CM Punk, who is probably going to be made the scapegoat for this atrocious number, but the heat should be on the creative team, not just for dropping the ball on such a hot angle, but also for doing such a lousy job with the rest of the line up. With less than a week to go before the show only four matches had been announced, none of which, other than the main event, was better than the standard fare that could be seen on any old pay per view or even for free on TV. Heads should roll for this, but it shouldn't be Punk's.
Fortunately SummerSlam's decline in PPV business should be more than made up for by a big Survivor Series number. Survivor Series has the potential to be the biggest non-WrestleMania PPV in recent memory thanks to The Rock's first wrestling match in almost eight years. But it's imperative for WWE to find a way to draw on PPV without The Rock's help, especially as his help will mean less and less as the novelty of seeing him wrestle will decline with each appearance. Given that WWE PPV business has largely been declining for the last decade, I'm not confident that the current creative team is up to the task of turning the sinking ship around.