It’s probably the most great time of the yr! Wrestling Observer Corridor of Fame season is after we talk about and debate the most effective careers within the historical past of professional wrestling to find out who makes the minimize for entry into probably the most troublesome wrestling Corridor of Fame to be inducted into.
Probably the most difficult elements concerned with wrestling corridor of fame discourse is the shortage of stats, particularly when evaluating candidates from completely different many years whose careers occurred in considerably completely different industries.
With that in thoughts, I got down to create an evaluation that measures how nicely particular person wrestlers influenced enterprise for his or her promotion. The obvious metric that correlates to that is PPV buys. Not like dwell occasion gates, the place tickets may be offered months prematurely earlier than any matches are introduced or TV rankings which can be closely impacted by ranges of competitors on a given day (in addition to bigger cable business developments), PPV buys are immediately reflective of how motivated shoppers have been to pay to see a selected occasion.
Over the previous few months, I steadily put collectively an evaluation which tracks the will increase and declines of PPV occasions when in comparison with the identical occasion that occurred within the prior yr. Monitoring the developments of the identical occasion yr to yr is a greater metric to evaluate a wrestler’s drawing energy than simply taking a look at uncooked PPV purchase numbers or the purchase price itself.
purchase charges completely is flawed as a result of the PPV universe regularly expanded each yr from the 80s into the 2010s as extra households grew to become cable or satellite tv for pc subscribers. At occasions within the early 90s a 1% purchase price would equate to 150k buys. That very same purchase price a decade later might equate to 400k buys. This gradual PPV universe growth makes evaluating purchase charges years aside problematic as a result of an equivalent purchase price in a later yr displays extra buys than the identical purchase price from an earlier yr.
Translating purchase charges into uncooked PPV purchase numbers is crucial for this evaluation. Nevertheless, utilizing uncooked PPV purchase numbers completely additionally creates issues when measuring a wrestler’s drawing skill, as sure occasions will at all times do extra buys than others based mostly on custom and the quantity of effort the promotion places into them. For instance, WrestleMania and the Royal Rumble have been at all times larger than an In Your Home occasion. There are additionally time intervals when the identical variety of buys can inform a distinct story. A WrestleMania doing 560k buys would have been a large success within the mid-90s when WWF’s greatest occasion of the yr had fallen to ranges of 250k-450k. In 2003 although, WrestleMania 19 was a large disappointment with that very same quantity, as WrestleMania 18 had carried out 800k, and WrestleMania 17 was over 1,000,000. Context is a vital consideration when measuring a wrestler’s drawing affect on their promotion’s enterprise. Due to this, we’ll monitor will increase and reduces yearly on a proportion foundation.
The variety of buys for every occasion was decided by cross-referencing whole purchase estimates and purchase price information from a wide range of sources (supply listing offered on the finish of the column). There was sufficient information obtainable to incorporate PPVs from WWE (WrestleMania 2 till Elimination Chamber 2014), AEW, and WCW (Bunkhouse Stampede till Greed 2001). It will have been nice to incorporate TNA as nicely however sadly, their PPV metrics aren’t as available.
After establishing the variety of buys, the following step was to assign credit score (or blame) to the wrestlers headlining (or typically co-headlining) every occasion. There’s a diploma of subjectivity concerned on this and a few headliners have been a lot simpler to find out than others. Chris Jericho and HHH could have gone on final at WrestleMania 18, however everybody is aware of the actual predominant occasion was The Rock vs. Hollywood Hogan. John Cena and Batista could have been the World Champions going into SummerSlam 2005, however Shawn Michaels vs. Hulk Hogan was the particular attraction that made it the second greatest SummerSlam ever. CM Punk could have been WWE Champion at WrestleMania 28 and Excessive Guidelines 2012, however Rock vs. Cena and Brock Lesnar’s return from UFC have been the first drawing playing cards for these occasions. Figuring out who deserved credit score or blame for B-level PPVs through the model break up period and a number of the bigger WCW multi-man matches was admittedly tougher. When unsure, I unfold the credit score/blame to probably the most established stars concerned within the prime match or the highest two matches (prime 3 matches in very uncommon circumstances). I attempted to be most cautious when assigning credit score for occasions that had large will increase as there was often (however not at all times) an apparent match or program driving these constructive outcomes.
The final step was categorizing the will increase and reduces into ranges for comparability functions. Ranges are additionally necessary since estimates are concerned, so a spread categorization will assist compensate if an estimate is off somewhat in both course. The ranges are additionally useful when illustrating the diploma to which a headliner influenced (or didn’t affect) curiosity in an occasion. After reviewing the frequency of assorted will increase and declines, these have been the ultimate classes/ranges I landed on:
- Approach Up – Improve of 30% or extra from the prior yr’s occasion
- Up – Improve between 10%-30% from the prior yr’s occasion
- Regular – Inside a ten% enhance or a ten% decline from the prior yr’s occasion (or an occasion didn’t have a previous yr comparability as a result of it was a brand new addition to the annual PPV schedule)
- Down – Decline of 10%-30% from the prior yr’s occasion
- Tanked – Decline of over 30% from the prior yr’s occasion
Now that the methodology is obvious, let’s dig into the outcomes. The complete spreadsheet is out there for viewing/obtain/filtering right here:
Listed here are the consolidated outcomes from WWE, WCW, and AEW filtered to exclude anybody with lower than 3 PPVs.
*On the 2022 Poll
***WON Corridor of Famer
|Whole PPV Occasions Headlined|
|Alberto Del Rio||0||1||3||3||0||7|
|Andre the Large***||2||1||3||0||0||6|
|Curt Hennig/Mr. Good||0||1||1||1||0||3|
|Hangman Web page||3||0||3||0||0||6|
|Rob Van Dam||0||1||2||2||1||6|
|Scott Corridor/Razor Ramon*||7||2||1||4||1||15|
After ending this, the primary query I had was, “Do these outcomes make sense?” I used to be relieved to see that probably the most profitable PPV attracts are precisely who you’d assume, though there are a number of shocking names. Right here’s everybody with double-digit will increase over 10% from the prior yr:
What can we be taught from this evaluation?
One factor that stood out to me is that even the strongest attracts have intervals the place they weren’t influencing enterprise in the correct course. Nobody is ideal right here… apart from Roddy Piper who had eight occasions up over 30% and with none declining over 10%. Whereas John Cena had 17 occasions that elevated over 10% from the prior yr, he additionally had 31 occasions that declined over 10%. HHH has related outcomes with 26 occasions with double-digit declines. Even Hogan, Austin, and The Rock had 19, 9, and 10 double-digit proportion declines. Ric Aptitude has double-digit 10%+ will increase to his credit score, however simply as many 10% declines. Right here’s the listing of headliners with double digit declines over 10%:
Fairly a number of Corridor of Famers really had extra double-digit declines than they did double-digit will increase when headlining PPVs.
Right here’s that listing:
- Brock Lesnar
- Chris Benoit
- Chris Jericho
- Eddie Guerrero
- John Cena
- Rey Mysterio
- Ricky Steamboat
Does this imply these names shouldn’t be within the Corridor of Fame? I wouldn’t essentially make that assumption. Although Brock Lesnar didn’t truthful nicely on PPV, he was the first drawing card on WWE’s greatest month-to-month community specials from the time it began in 2014 into the 2020s. Lesnar additionally set PPV purchase data for the UFC by drawing from his professional wrestling fanbase. For a number of years he was the UFC’s greatest draw. Benoit, Guerrero, and Mysterio have extremely robust in-ring Corridor of Fame circumstances. Jericho is analogous from an in-ring perspective however has 16 PPV occasions within the Regular class. For those who view preserving enterprise about the identical for WWE or establishing new PPV occasions for AEW as assembly the Corridor of Fame drawing standards, then he’d meet it.
Related logic additionally extends to Cena and HHH who could have extra declines than will increase, but in addition have 32 and 33 PPVs within the Regular class along with all their double-digit proportion will increase. Ricky Steamboat was an all-time nice in-ring, and important parts of his profession occurred earlier than the PPV period had even been established. Steamboat additionally retired earlier than PPVs grew to become month-to-month occasions. Sting was on prime for lengthy intervals of decline in WCW, however he additionally had 10 occasions that have been up 30% or extra from the prior yr. The one individuals on the listing with extra will increase in that vary are Hogan, Austin, and Undertaker, which might qualify him as a Corridor of Fame-level draw. Lastly, there’s Vader, who in all probability isn’t a Corridor of Fame stage draw within the US alone, however whenever you mix his North American success along with his drawing document in Japan (much like Kenny Omega) is fairly plain as a candidate.
Now that we’ve checked out how Corridor of Famers carried out in these metrics, how do the candidates at the moment on the poll examine?
CM Punk is the candidate on the poll helped probably the most by this evaluation. He has 11 PPV will increase over 10% from the earlier yr. Everybody with greater than him has been inducted into the Observer Corridor of Fame aside from Kevin Nash (who’s mentioned in additional depth later). His WWE run accounted for eight of his double-digit will increase, and his AEW run offered three over 30% will increase. All Out 2021 really elevated over 100% from the prior yr, which is one thing that was actually solely seen in increase intervals just like the late 80s when PPV was nonetheless rising as an business or through the Perspective Period. His PPV success wasn’t restricted to his return match although, as Revolution and Double or Nothing in 2022 have been each up over 30% from the yr earlier than.
One of many criticisms typically levied towards Punk is that he lacks longevity on prime, however he was one of many major drawing playing cards on 26 PPVs, which is tied for seventeenth within the PPV period. That’s the identical as Bret Hart and Kurt Angle, one lower than Chris Jericho, greater than Mick Foley, and over twice as many as Rey Mysterio. By way of non-Corridor of Famers, it’s the identical quantity as Lex Luger and Massive Present, six greater than Kane, and 10-15 greater than Goldberg, Booker T, JBL, DDP, and Jeff Hardy.
It’s additionally price nothing that CM Punk introduced his professional wrestling viewers with him to the UFC. His debut added an additional 150k buys (or a 50% enhance). We are able to measure his affect by evaluating the variety of buys Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem had garnered for his or her fights each earlier than and after UFC 203 which included CM Punk’s debut.
- UFC 203 – Miocic Vs Overeem & Punk Vs Gall: 475k buys
- UFC 198 – Miocic Vs Werdum: 217k buys
- UFC 185 – Pettis Vs Dos Anjos & Overeem Vs Nelson: 310k buys
- UFC 209 – Woodley Vs Thompson II & Overeem Vs Hunt: 300k buys
- UFC 211 – Miocic Vs Dos Santos II: 300k buys
CM Punk meets the Corridor of Fame drawing standards based mostly on his historic comparisons, his quantity of being a constructive PPV draw whereas in WWE, and his peak shows of drawing energy in AEW and UFC.
As useful as these metrics are for Punk, they’re damning for Edge. Out of the 35 PPV occasions the place Edge could possibly be thought-about a major drawing card, solely two elevated greater than 10% for the prior yr. This isn’t to say that Edge was a failure as a predominant occasion act. 19 of his PPVs have been inside 10% of the prior yr, which is greater than his 14 occasions that declined 10% or extra. These numbers point out Edge was succesful as a headliner, however he wasn’t somebody that influenced PPV progress. Shopping for into Edge as a Corridor of Fame stage draw is seemingly reliant on the interpretation that preserving enterprise about the identical for the most important promotion on the earth qualifies as assembly the factors.
Goldberg’s outcomes are probably the most shocking.
Whereas he’s remembered as one of many greatest stars from some of the common eras of the business, he solely has three PPVs that elevated over 10%, which all got here throughout his run with WWE. Goldberg didn’t begin getting booked as a PPV headliner till after WCW had peaked. Whereas Starrcade 98 was the 2nd greatest Starrcade in WCW historical past, it declined greater than 30% from 1997. Halloween Havoc 98 that includes Goldberg vs. DDP and was additionally down over 10% from the Hogan vs. Piper match in 97. Then when you get into 1999, it’s all downhill.
Briefly, Goldberg’s time on prime coincided with the start of WCW’s decline. That’s to not say that Goldberg was the rationale for the decline, however he actually wasn’t increasing their PPV enterprise. In WWE, the story was somewhat extra constructive, as Goldberg’s showdown with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 20 was one of many greatest matches of that mega-successful occasion. He additionally did nice enterprise with HHH at Unforgiven 03 and Survivor Collection 03, which have been up 20% and 30% respectively. With that mentioned, his WWE run included some disappointments like his debut match towards The Rock at Backlash 03 (down over 10% from Hogan-HHH in 02) and Armageddon 03 (down 28% in comparison with HHH-HBK in 02). Although Goldberg proved he might spike PPV enterprise occasionally, he didn’t achieve this for lengthy sufficient or constantly sufficient to be thought-about a Corridor of Fame-level PPV draw. This doesn’t imply that Goldberg couldn’t have been a serious PPV draw had he been booked or positioned higher, however we will solely choose a candidate based mostly on what really occurred; not what might (or ought to) have been.
Randy Orton’s skill as a draw is at all times a debated topic throughout Corridor of Fame season. His supporters level to all the massive homes he headlined over his 20-year profession in WWE. His critics word that he could have been headlining rather a lot, however he wasn’t doing a lot to affect WWE’s client metrics in a constructive course. This PPV evaluation reveals Randy Orton’s drawing energy is…open to interpretation. On one hand, he has eight double-digit will increase over the prior yr, which is identical as Mick Foley and greater than Brock Lesnar and Chris Jericho.
Then again, he has 22 occasions that declined over 10% from the yr earlier than (third most all-time behind John Cena and HHH). Orton was a major drawing card on a staggering 59 PPVs (fifth most all-time). The vast majority of his occasions have been within the Regular class of inside 10% from the prior yr (29 in whole). For those who’re low on Orton, then you’ll be able to argue that individuals not within the Corridor of Fame like Batista (9), Massive Present (9), and Kane (8) have the identical variety of double-digit will increase and so they’ve by no means come near sniffing induction.
On this case, the context issues, as solely two of Massive Present’s 9 double-digit will increase got here throughout his total WWE tenure, and the opposite seven got here when he was a part of an ensemble through the WCW vs. new World order angle. His run as The Large earlier than Hogan turned heel was not profitable with a number of double-digit declines (two of which have been over 30%). Kane’s run is analogous, as six of his eight got here in tag or multi-man matches the place he wasn’t the first focus however nonetheless performed a big function within the storylines. When Kane was introduced as a headliner in singles matches, he wasn’t practically as efficient as a headliner. Batista nonetheless, has simply as a lot PPV success as Orton with out as many double-digit declines. You’ll be able to argue that if Orton is a Corridor of Fame Stage PPV draw then Batista must be as nicely. I’d tentatively say that Orton was a Corridor of Fame-level PPV draw since he managed to place up numbers similar to the 2nd tier headliners from the Perspective Period in an period the place WWE was a lot much less profitable general. Orton by some means managed to have extra 30% will increase (3) than John Cena (1), though a lot much less double-digit will increase general (17 to eight). Whenever you mix this with Orton’s longevity of headlining dwell occasions that drew over 10k individuals (not a straightforward job in any period), you may make a robust case that he’s a Corridor of Fame stage draw. Whether or not that’s sufficient to warrant induction by itself is a distinct query, as I wouldn’t assess Orton as a robust sufficient draw to get in on that alone or possessing robust sufficient historic significance to set off that criterion, so his case could come all the way down to how you’re feeling about his work.
The vast majority of Sgt. Slaughter’s profession occurred earlier than his PPV-era WWF run, so these metrics don’t affect his case a lot both manner. The Slaughter-Warrior title match at 1991 Royal Rumble elevated enterprise over 10% from the 1990 Rumble which didn’t have a World Title match, however his WrestleMania 7 with Hogan was down 27% from WrestleMania 6 with Hogan-Warrior. SummerSlam 91 was additionally over 20% down from 1990. I wouldn’t name this late-career WWF run successful, nevertheless it doesn’t replicate Slaughter’s enterprise affect throughout his peak.
The Outsiders – Kevin Nash & Scott Corridor
For those who have been stunned by how extremely Corridor and Nash ranked on this train, then you definitely’re not alone. I used to be as nicely. Kevin Nash is notoriously thought-about the worst-drawing WWF Champion of all time and was additionally continuously on prime whereas WCW entered its loss of life spiral. Scott Corridor wasn’t a constant headliner yr in and yr out. In breaking down their numbers, I found that whereas Kevin Nash and Scott Corridor will not be robust Corridor of Fame candidates as people, The Outsiders are.
Right here’s a breakdown of how Corridor & Nash carried out as PPV drawing playing cards on their very own in comparison with how they drew when working collectively:
|Approach Up||Up||Regular||Down||Tanked||Whole Occasions|
The default intuition when fascinated with the brand new World order is that it was so profitable as a result of “Hulk Hogan turned heel.” Hogan’s heel flip performed a serious function in WCW’s increase interval, however how vital have been The Outsiders in that equation? To inform the story of how The Outsiders influenced WCW’s enterprise we’ve got to take a look at the context the place their occasions occurred.
When Hulk Hogan joined WCW he had an indeniable affect on their PPV enterprise. Bash on the Seashore 94 was probably the most bought PPV in WCW historical past. Halloween Havoc 1994 was up over 100% from 1993. Starrcade 94 was even up 13% when Hogan was working along with his good friend Ed Leslie as a substitute of a longtime predominant occasion stage heel. The Hogan-Vader feud within the first half of 1995 additionally did nice enterprise with will increase of 100% at SuperBrawl, 93% at Uncensored, and 23% at Slamboree. Although the cage match between Hogan and Vader at Bash on the Seashore 95 was down 15% from Hogan’s debut in 94, it was nonetheless a comparatively robust efficiency contemplating they have been on their 4th PPV assembly in a moderately one-sided feud. After that feud with Vader ended although Hogan’s drawing energy begins to say no.
Fall Brawl 95 was about the identical as 94, regardless that 95 featured Hogan, Randy Savage, and the newly acquired Lex Luger in comparison with 1994 which was headlined by a Struggle Video games with groups lead by Dusty Rhodes and Terry Funk. Hogan’s feud with The Large garnered over 30% declines at Halloween Havoc 95 and Superbrawl 96. Uncensored 96 was additionally down over 20% from 95. The non-Hogan PPVs additionally struggled throughout this time interval as Starrcade 95 was down 26% from 94 (perhaps it wanted extra Ed Leslie) and Slamboree 96 was down 15% from 95.
In abstract, Hogan’s novelty in WCW lasted a yr after which grew to become impaired, providing regularly diminishing returns.
Enter The Outsiders.
Whereas Bash on the Seashore 1996 falls into the Regular class when in comparison with Hogan-Vader from 1995, it had the very best purchase price for a non-Hogan WCW PPV since Halloween Havoc 1992 (Sting vs. Jake Roberts) and probably the most whole buys for a non-Hogan WCW PPV since Sting-Aptitude on the 1990 Nice American Bash. Bash on the Seashore did as many or extra buys than a variety of Hogan headlined PPVs that got here each earlier than and after (Starrcade 94, Slamboree 95, Fall Brawl 95, Halloween Havoc 95, World Struggle 3 1995, Superbrawl 96, Uncensored 96, Highway Wild 96, Fall Brawl 96, Halloween Havoc 96). Since Hogan was not marketed for Bash on the Seashore 1996 and his heel flip was a shock, this establishes that The Outsiders themselves have been a big draw on PPV that heated up a promotion which had been going chilly with Hogan as its centerpiece. The Outsiders have been simply as vital to the brand new World order’s success as Hogan.
The Outsiders teaming with Hogan at Fall Brawl 96 was up over 30% from 1995 (which Hogan had additionally been on). Along with the 1996 World Struggle 3 battle royal (which The Outsiders have been in however Hogan was not) the place the first storyline was new World order vs. WCW, the most important match at that occasion was The Outsiders defending their tag titles. World Struggle 3 96 was up 27% from 95 (an occasion Hogan had been on). The Outsiders and Hogan then staff up once more at Uncensored 97 which was up 42% from 96 (an occasion Hogan had been on). The Outsiders headline Slamboree 97 with out Hogan which garners a rise of fifty% from 96, and co-headline the 97 Nice American Bash with out Hogan which elevated by 37%. In some way The Outsiders don’t headline or co-headline one other PPV collectively till Slamboree 1998 which was up 50% from 97. The final PPV the Outsiders may be thought-about co-headlining collectively was World Struggle 3 98 the place they have been scheduled for a match as a part of their post-breakup feud. A possible reunion had been teased by way of Nash strolling out of their PPV match the month earlier than and rigidity rising between Corridor, Hogan, and Bischoff in numerous segments main as much as the occasion. On the evening of the occasion Bischoff had the black and white activate Corridor earlier than his scheduled match with Nash, who then ran out to save lots of Corridor. Scott Corridor then tried to defend his World Struggle 3 win from 97 within the battle royal which was received by Nash. World Struggle 3 98 was up over 30% from 97. Whereas the Outsiders teamed collectively on and off after that, they have been by no means positioned in a PPV’s major drawing place as a staff or towards one another once more.
To place The Outsiders’ drawing skill into historic perspective, right here’s the listing of everybody that’s tied or forward of them within the Approach Up class of PPV will increase larger than 30%:
Each single title above them on that listing is already within the Observer Corridor of Fame aside from Kane. When wanting into Kane’s context, there’s a big distinction revealed when compares to the Outsiders. Kane began headlining in June 1998 after the WWF had already been sizzling for 9+ months, whereas the Outsiders heated up a promotion that had been declining for nearly a yr. Moreover, Kane had seven occasions declining by over 10% in comparison with zero for The Outsiders.
Some could argue that Hogan’s heel flip would have had related success with out Corridor and Nash concerned. Whereas that’s potential, I discover it troublesome to consider that Hogan becoming a member of the Dungeon of Doom would have had the identical affect or longevity. Whereas Hogan and Bischoff are infamous for altering their tales extra continuously than the Massive Present modifications face/heel alignment, one factor they’ve at all times been constant on is Hogan being reluctant to show heel and needing to be satisfied. He’d been probably the most profitable babyface on the earth for over a decade. Whereas his drawing energy had been declining, however his numbers have been nonetheless higher than something WCW did earlier than he arrived. He might have insisted on feuding with The Outsiders and going over the identical manner he tried with “Unfastened Cannon” Brian Pillman (who cited medical points to keep away from it) in early 96. As an alternative, the Outsiders have been such a sizzling act Hogan determined to connect himself to them.
What number of different heel acts might have satisfied Hogan to take the chance of turning heel? If the Outsiders by no means be part of WCW does the increase interval they helped spark ever occur? Along with their spectacular PPV numbers (which they proved able to reaching with out Hogan being concerned), their clear affect on WCW’s outstanding turnaround and the peaks it reached offers them a stable case for constructive historic significance. Although The Outsiders weren’t collectively lengthy their drawing document and affect on the business make them robust Corridor of Fame candidates.
For those who’d like to speak Observer Corridor of Fame (or hate this column and are dying to name me an fool) be happy to hit me up on Twitter @adam_bomb5150
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