We need to talk about the sticker shock many are experiencing upon seeing All Elite Wrestling’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view (PPV) going for $50. But in order to talk about it, we’ll need to jump back to 2014.
Back then, when WWE murdered its PPV system in cold blood in exchange for the WWE Network, we all salivated at the cheaper future. However, that meant WWE set a market rate that smaller companies, and those just starting out, could barely compete with.
Eventually, folks like IndependentWrestling.TV found that you could make similarly priced packages by getting like-minded promotions under the same umbrella. Likewise, some companies, like Riptide, NJPW, and more, found ways to sell subscriptions at similar rates, though it seemed like everyone else in the industry took forever to make that math work.
Whether or not WWE is taking a loss on the network, it’s clear that they’ve made it harder for other companies to charge as much for PPVs.
If companies are charging less, it makes it harder for wrestlers to be paid as well as they could be (One caveat to this: you’re probably going to make more sales when more people can afford your product).
Fans got used to these lowered price tags. So when we all saw the $50 price for Double or Nothing, we all started to weigh how much it mattered to us that we see this show. After all, $50 is not chump change.
If you look at Double or Nothing from a dollars to hours ratio, it doesn’t fare well. $50 for a 4 hour live wrestling show? You don’t need a degree in Steiner Math to know that’s more than one month of the WWE network per hour. That’s a trio of tickets to the movies, with change for a popcorn to share if you’re lucky.
But when you take a moment to pull back, there’s another way of looking at it. If we want to take AEW at its word about paying talent better, we need think about what that requires from us fans. It goes back to the ideas of wrestlers not making as much as they could with cheaper streaming models. The Khans might be Scrooge McDuck-rich, but they’re not in this out of the kindness of their hearts. For the wrestlers to get paid like they should, they need to make money.
At the end of the day, we all have to support the pro wrestling we want to see thrive. And I’m ready to take a chance on Double or Nothing, to see what their vision looks like.
In order to see Double or Nothing the way that it was meant to be watched, I’m going to tune in live. Nobody will tell you wrestling is better when you’re watching a pre-taped event. The spark is just not there.
And in order to tune in live, I’m plunking that $50 on PPV. (You can bet your ass I’m not touching B/R Live, which I trust about as much as the site it gets its name from). If I’m going to see what they’re up to, I’m going to watch it as it’s supposed to. Live on PPV, partying like it’s 2013.
That’s why I am spending my money on Double or Nothing. I want to see their vision and hopefully support a company who is going to support their wrestlers like they should. It helps that it’s a thumb to the eye to WWE’s anti-competitive pricing. Do I wish it were cheaper? Of course. And there’s always trying to get friends together to split the bill. But even if that’s not an option, AEW is getting my $50 tonight.
Well, we’ll have to see how tonight goes.