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With The Rock vs. CM Punk for the WWE championship headlining alongside the Royal Rumble match itself, you would think that pay-per-view would do bonkers business at the box office. And you would be wrong on that, and WWE isn't happy about it.
When WWE decided The Rock would be the man to dethrone CM Punk after his historic 434 day reign as WWE champion, the decision was made to have the match main event the Royal Rumble pay-per-view (PPV) this past Jan. 27, 2013, in Phoenix, Arizona. The idea, of course, was that with John Cena planned to win the Rumble match and Rock planned to win the title, the company could maximize the buyrate for a show that traditionally does very well while setting up the main event for the biggest show of the year, WrestleMania 29.
All of that was accomplished too, except for the fact that the powers that be aren't exactly thrilled with the returns on the show now that the numbers are in, according to the Wrestling Observer.
This year's Rumble PPV did 498,000 buys with 322,000 domestic and 176,000 outside North America. For comparison's sake, here are the numbers dating back to 2008, with the domestic number in parenthesis:
Royal Rumble 2008: 575,000 (403,000)
Royal Rumble 2009: 450,000 (288,000)
Royal Rumble 2010: 465,000 (259,000)
Royal Rumble 2011: 443,000 (281,000)
Royal Rumble 2012: 446,000 (272,000)
Sure, the show posted its best numbers since 2008 when Jeff Hardy challenged Randy Orton for the WWE championship and John Cena won the Rumble match but this year's show is considered a disappointment because it didn't do all that much better than last year's event, which didn't have nearly the hype.
The Rock winning the title was all but a foregone conclusion and with anticipation high for his match with Punk, it was expected the show could at least hit 500,000 buys. For the amount of money the company is paying "The Great One," the return on investment simply isn't good enough here.
It's the same story as Survivor Series 2011 when Rock teaming with John Cena cost the company more money than it made once the buyrate came in lower than expected.
Could we see a change in philosophy going forward if Rock continues to prove he may not be worth his price tag? Stay tuned, Cagesiders.