It's hard to follow the biggest wrestling show of the year, WrestleMania, with a show people are willing to pay to see just three or four weeks later. Rarely does WWE have an attraction that can draw well on pay-per-view after such a high watermark, usually lazily booking Mania rematches with stipulations attached even if there had been a clean finish already or diluting the issue by adding extra men to the feud. As you all know by now, for once that is not the case, since Extreme Rules will be headlined by a match strong enough to be the main event of next year's WrestleMania, John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar. So we are in uncharted territory here, but one thing is for sure, Brock Lesnar needs the biggest late April WWE PPV numbers in many years to justify his multimillion dollar guaranteed contract for such a limited dates schedule.
So what is the target Lesnar has to beat comfortably? Here's the North American buys for past B PPV shows at this time of year:
- Backlash 2008 - John Cena vs. Triple H vs. Randy Orton vs. JBL, 132,000 buys;
- Backlash 2009 - John Cena vs. Edge last man standing match, 116,000 buys;
- Extreme Rules 2010 - John Cena vs. Batista last man standing match, 112,000 buys;
- Extreme Rules 2011 - John Cena vs. The Miz vs. John Morrison cage match, 108,000 buys.
If Brock can't beat those paltry figures, then Vince McMahon would quickly sour on the deal and have sharp pangs of buyer's remorse. But there should be no fear of that. Even though the build could have been longer and hasn't been flawless, most notably the overly long final segment to the go home Raw where Brock was forced to speak for too long with a sterile script, they've done a good job of making the match feel special. It has a lot more going for it than merely Brock's first match back on American soil for over eight years, unlike The Rock's return at Survivor Series 2011 which did a disappointing 160,000 domestic buys after they completely blew the hype. So I expect it to beat that number, though not by much, as Raw's ratings haven't seen any noticeable boost from Lesnar's comeback, which suggest they won't get much in the way of buys from casual fans, but it should do better with their hardcore fan base than any minor PPV show did last year. What do you think Cagesiders, is that too optimistic for the current pro wrestling landscape, about right on the money or am I underestimating the PPV drawing power of Lesnar who always did monster business while competing for UFC?