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Money TV not paying off
WWE's blitz of pay-per-view events hasn't been getting the big numbers
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun


We're just one week away from the merciful conclusion of the WWE marketing experiment I affectionately refer to as 'death by pay-per-view.' In an effort to see if buy rates would hold strong in a more saturated PPV market, WWE executives have crammed three pay-per-view events into a six-week timeframe -- more than double the norm.

This kind of venture might have been feasible sometime around 1998 when business was booming and wrestling was red hot.

In 2004, with ratings heading swiftly south and a company-wide lack of star power, holding a pay-per-view every two weeks does nothing but burn out an already jaded fanbase.

The balance sheet tells the story, as Judgment Day garnered an estimated 200,000 buys, the lowest total for any big WWE show in more than three years.

Last weekend's Bad Blood event didn't do much better.

The PPV blitz will end with the revival of the Great American Bash, which goes down next Sunday in Norfolk, Vir.

Headlined by the blowoff match between Eddie Guerrero and John (Bradshaw) Layfield, the Bash isn't really looking all that great, at least on paper.

The creative team just didn't have the time or resources to develop a card that comes anywhere close to must-see status and even die-hard fans have shown they aren't willing to fork out $35 for a poorly developed B-show.

Some insiders expect the buy rate to dip as low as 175,000.

After the Bash, WWE will wisely return to a regular monthly PPV rotation, with Raw presenting Vengeance in July, and the dual-brand Summerslam show in August, which should pop the biggest non-Wrestlemania rating of 2004.

In October, Vince McMahon's team will attempt back-to-back pay-per-views once again but this time, they'll experiment with a different formula.

Reprising the Tuesday In Texas concept -- used in 1991 to capitalize on the Hulk Hogan-Undertaker feud -- the Raw brand will shoot a big angle at No Mercy Oct. 10, forcing an 'emergency' PPV to be scheduled nine days later. The second event will be presented in a rare Tuesday night slot, allowing two weeks of hardcore plugging on Raw.

WWE reportedly plan to eventually expand to 20 pay-per-views per year.

WWE bosses have fired Chavo Guerrero Sr. after the comic-relief cruiserweight champ failed to show up for two house show bookings last weekend.

Without contacting company officials to explain his absence, Guerrero went AWOL for non-televised events in Missouri Sunday and Illinois Monday. He was handed his release when he arrived at the Smackdown tapings in Chicago Tuesday night. As his final order of business, he dropped the cruiserweight strap to Rey Mysterio.

The wheels have been set in motion for WWE's big summer storylines.

Although they've been hesitant to pull the trigger, the plan is to turn Edge heel in the next few weeks and have him challenge Chris Benoit for the world championship at Vengeance.

There are no plans to bring the Rock back to TV on a regular basis before his contract expires in October but it's possible the People's Champ will make a surprise appearance on Raw in Miami next Monday.

Shawn Michaels will be using last week's injury angle to stay off TV for a few weeks as his wife is due to give birth. He will return in August to feud with Kane, who is the storyline father of Lita's child in the hokey summer pregnancy angle.

Triple H was supposed to be taking a few months off to shoot his movie debut, The Journey of Death, but that plan has been put on hold. 3 out of 5 is still expected to challenge Benoit for the world strap at Summerslam.

- - -

BACKLASH BONUS: Alberta wrestling fans will get a bonus when they pick up the Backlash pay-per-view on DVD.

In addition to an almost-unedited presentation of the event that rocked Edmonton in April, the disc's special features will include footage of Chris Benoit's triumphant return to the Saddledome the following night.

The DVD, which also features the incredible hardcore match between Mick Foley and Randy Orton, hits stores in Canada July 13.


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