Once upon a time, the Elimination Chamber used to draw money. Photo via upload.wikimedia.org.
WWE's corporate website has updated their key performance indicators to include the financial results from February and the news on the pay-per-view front is disappointing once again. According to Dave Meltzer on his radio show, the Elimination Chamber event was down 15% worldwide. Domestically it drew 126,000 buys, still better than what most B-show PPVs have been doing of late, but down 19,000 buys from last year.
To put this number into perspective, the first time they used the Chamber gimmick on the February PPV to determine World champions and or challengers headed into WrestleMania four years ago they drew 241,000 buys in North America alone. The numbers have steadily declined ever since, as interest in the WWE product has stagnated and the quality of hype has diminished.
Another important factor is that the World title matches at this year's Mania have been completely overshadowed by all the focus on The Rock vs. John Cena. In the big picture the Chamber show looked to be meaningless filler, not worth the $44.95 needed to plunk down to watch it without an appearance by Rock that could have promised a storyline twist to build the biggest match on the biggest WWE show of the year. That proved to be the case, as WWE booked a safe, conservative show with no significant surprises. All the major Mania feud developments happened on Raw in the weeks afterwards.
What this likely means is that after WrestleMania 28 WWE is probably on course to struggle for the rest of the year on PPV, especially as Rock, Triple H, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels will all be gone in two weeks time. Thankfully, Mania has a good shot at being so successful that it could more than make up for the expected declines, but long term this is a very worrying trend that needs to stop.
For more information on WWE Elimination Chamber 2012, please read Geno Mrosko's live rundown of the show.