Just last month the charge that WWE carefully controls inventory and availability of merchadise to make sure John Cena stays on top of the sales charts came up again. That time, it was MSL telling a story about the Summer of Punk, and how in 2011, WWE undershipped CM Punk's merchandise despite demand.
A quick interaction on Twitter between Randy Orton and a fan who attended the WWE Live show in Birmingham, England has raised the issue again. A father asked why his son's only choice for child's size shirts at the event was between various designs for Cena, and The Viper responded in a way that seems designed to stir the pot:
#WWEBirmingham @WWE top nite. Only issue.. y no kid size t.shirts other than @JohnCena lil man wants @RandyOrton? pic.twitter.com/rkN0cUwfnH— ★KEVIN★ (@kev_jellis) April 12, 2015
Million dollar question. Thanks for asking. #givethekidsachoice #youthsmallmedlg https://t.co/Nu7kiWulAc— Randy Orton (@RandyOrton) April 12, 2015
In using the Punk example, MSL was making a case that Vince's control issues extended to trying to get the fan reaction he wanted (more support for Cena than for Punk) by manipulating merch inventory at live shows. But what would be the motivation here? Is WWE worried that Orton will outsell, or out-pop, the current United States champion?
Seems unlikely, but Randy's Tweet certainly makes it sound like an issue the boys in the back talk about. And I don't think it's too big a leap to consider his choice of phrase "Million dollar question" as an indicator of what wrestlers who get a cut of merchandise sales are focused on when they discuss merch availability.
What do you think, Cagesiders? More evidence that WWE is working the t-shirt stock, or just Orton working the conspiracy theorists into a huff?