As my colleague Geno Mrosko reported last week, the initial industry estimates for the WrestleMania 29 pay-per-view (PPV) buyrate were not looking good at all and it was clear that the show wouldn't come close to breaking records in terms of the total number of purchases as WWE management had once hoped for.
According to f4wonline.com, WWE has now published a mildly disappointing first PPV buys figure for the show:
"WWE released its updated estimate of buys for WrestleMania, the first official company number, which was 1,048,000 worldwide."
As things stand, this would be a drop of 171,000 buys from last year's event and would put it fifth on the all time list of the most bought WWE PPV shows in history (behind WrestleManias 23, 28, 27 and 21, respectively).
Any time WWE tops a million buys on PPV for WrestleMania, it's a respectable number, but with mainstream stars like The Rock and Brock Lesnar wrestling on the show and The Undertaker's streak being on the line again, which grows in importance every year, a better number could and should have been obtained.
The build and lineup can partially be blamed, as two of the three key matches (John Cena vs. The Rock & Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H) were both rematches that had less interest than the first time they faced each other.
Moreover, CM Punk was a weak opponent for The Undertaker after high profile losses to both Cena and Rock, and the WWE creative team left it to the last minute to create a grudge between the two. When Paul Bearer shockingly died on Mar. 5th, WWE took the low road and exploited the death for all it was worth, building to a go home angle where Punk dumped ashes from Bearer's symbolic urn all over The Undertaker after clocking him repeatedly with the mysterious object. It can't be ruled out that this put a bad taste in some viewers' mouths and led them to fail to order WrestleMania as they had previously planned to do.
Another factor may have been the $5 price increase for WrestleMania from last year to $69.99 for HD and $59.99 for standard definition. However, the extra revenue gained from the price rise would be equivalent to just over 80,000 buys at last year's cost, so once all is said and done and late buys are accounted for, total pay-per-view revenue from this year's show should only be very slightly down from last year's event. That would be more than offset by the record live gate, so WrestleMania 29 will still go down as the most lucrative wrestling extravaganza in history, but it's a much tighter lead than originally anticipated. Nonetheless, the profits from the show may not be record breaking, due to the exorbitant price tags of both Brock Lesnar and The Rock, on top of paying the usual cast of WrestleMania stars.