According to The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, in Sunday’s edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, WWE’s Stomping Grounds PPV on Sunday night drew just 4,500 paid fans at the Tacoma Dome in Washington.
This, for an arena that can hold up to 18,000 people after the staging and ring is set up in the arena (the building, at full capacity, can hold up to 23,000 fans).
This shouldn’t come as a big shock to close followers of WWE, who have followed along as ratings and television viewership numbers have plummeted in recent months. Fan interest for this show, just two weeks after a huge card was built for Saudi Arabia, was dim at best.
Matt Farmer of DEFY Wrestling, which operates out of the Seattle area, tweeted on Sunday night that there were about 6,000 fans total in the building, with a lot of comps and 2-for-1 deals. Meltzer also reported the 6,000 overall figure and his co-host, Bryan Alvarez, who was at the show live and is from the area, said that WWE was giving away free tickets at a mall prior to the show. All the while, the arena draped off huge sections of seating.
WWE? Giving away free tickets?
For years now, WWE has built up its company brand over that of any individual star. John Cena was the last “face” of the company. Roman Reigns was pushed as a top guy, and rejected by the fans, but even he wasn’t as protected and pushed to the same level of Cena, Steve Austin, The Rock or Hulk Hogan.
WWE didn’t want any individual being bigger than the WWE brand. Now, they’re paying for that.
They’ve thought for too long that the wrestlers don’t sell the show, the attraction of WWE sells the show. They wanted to be the circus, where everyone goes but no one cares or can differentiate between the performers.
That might work for a little while … but it’s not anymore.
People weren’t excited for a Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin main event. And why should they be? Baron Corbin? A main-event match? Please.
The reason why ratings are slipping and WWE can’t fill a building for a pay-per-view is because the attraction of just seeing the WWE live and in person isn’t attractive enough anymore. Fans don’t want to keep seeing the same homogenized production over and over again. You need stars to build wrestling matches, and WWE has done a good job of creating a bunch of B-level stars without allowing anyone to break through.
It’s not the talent. The talent is there. You could argue WWE’s roster has never been better as far as talent is concerned. They’re being handcuffed by poor creative and even poorer rehearsed dialogue in promos that don’t allow anyone to feel different or cool. Wrestlers shouldn’t be using corporate buzzwords like “WWE universe,” but it’s forced upon them by a “chief branding officer” and her father, the chairman, who are desperate for WWE to become anything other than what it is … a wrestling company.