When Brock Lesnar was kicking ass and taking names under the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) banner, he never appeared on a pay-per-view (PPV) that did any less than 600,000 buys. He was, without a shadow of a doubt, the largest drawing fighter and champion in the history of mixed martial arts (MMA). Four of his eight fights inside the Octagon did at least one million buys.
So when the preliminary estimates for his first match back in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) were revealed today by the Wrestling Observer, it came as a bit of a shock.
Indeed, according to the Observer, WWE Extreme Rules 2012, which took place on Sun., April 29, in Chicago, Illinois, drew a total of 251,000 buys. That breaks down to 147,000 domestic (within North America) and 104,000 outside North America. I thought Todd Martin brought up a great point on how this is a failure for WWE on Twitter shortly after the numbers were revealed.
"Prelim. estim. is Brock Lesnar's WWE Extreme Rules PPV return drew 35,000 more buys than last year's ER show headlined by Miz-Cena-Morrison," Martin tweeted. "WWE barely popping a # for the return of the biggest non-boxing PPV attraction is a strong indictment of their booking and business strategy. Money in the Bank was up 41,000 last year, compared to 35,000 for Extreme Rules. CM Punk booking himself made more money than WWE booking Brock Lesnar."
That's quite the shock to the system and it's difficult to argue Martin's point that this is a strong indictment of WWE and its inability to book the biggest star in MMA history. Extreme Rules 2011, which was main evented by John Cena vs. The Miz vs. John Morrison for the WWE championship, did 216,000 PPV buys and while any upkick is nice, the feeling is there should have been a much bigger jump than this.
There are any number of reasons that can be given for why the number isn't higher. Lesnar did leave UFC on a terribly low note, having been embarrassed in consecutive fights by both Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem. Simply put, this appears to confirm that WWE made a huge mistake putting Lesnar on a "B-show" instead of waiting for a major event like SummerSlam. The Rock's return match at Survivor Series 2011 did 281,000 buys, which means a meaningless tag team match with Rock teaming with Cena against The Miz and R-Truth sold better than Lesnar vs. Cena in Brock's first match back since 2004.
This is all quite incredible to me, Cagesiders. What are your thoughts on the matter? And will this mean Lesnar won't have a big effect on the buyrate once he returns for SummerSlam in a rumored match against Triple H?