WWE is cutting way back on their live event business.
WWE has no non-televised live events this weekend. The company has just 19 live events scheduled for the month of February – 11 for WWE NXT and 8 for the main roster. The next Supershow live event takes place on Sunday, February 9 from Fresno, CA. They have two more Supershow live events scheduled for mid-February – Saturday, February 15 in Eugene, OR and Sunday, February 16 in Kennewick, WA, which is the same night as the NXT “Takeover: Portland” event. The next RAW live event is scheduled for Sunday, February 23 in Brandon, Manitoba, and the only other one is on Saturday, February 29th in State College, PA. The next SmackDown live event is in Elmira, NY on Saturday, February 29, and also is the only one of the month.
The non-televised WWE live events started to lose money last quarter as attendance has been down for a while now, and that attendance decline has hurt the WWE stock price, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. This has given the accurate perception that the overall popularity of the WWE brand is declining.
You may have noticed that WWE has doing more Supershow live events as of late, which use Superstars from both RAW and SmackDown. There have been fewer live events in general, a change from when WWE usually had two brands doing four shows per week for years.
The Observer noted that a positive to the cutback in live event business is that it will cut money losses and since TV tapings are still decently drawing, the average attendance for the quarter will improve because it’s the traditional live events that bring down the average numbers. It was also speculated that this could cut down on the injury rate with talents working less. One negative to the cutback is that some talents see the non-televised live events as being more fun, and for the younger talents, it’s a place where they can improvise a little and work on their craft.
Most of the WWE Superstars didn’t find out about the cutback in live event business until the recently received their booking sheets for February, according to the Observer. Many WWE talents are reportedly unhappy about how this has went down. It was noted that top talents are making a lot of money these days, but the rest of the roster will see a drop in income because they’re working fewer dates. One talent reportedly noted to the Observer that there was a “happy medium” between working four shows per week, and a TV event, and then maybe two more shows every other week, and that it will affect their pay. For the top talents, this will also significantly hurt their revenue from merchandise sales.
WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon had addressed the problems with live events during a conference call with investors in 2018. He noted that their current model was somewhat antiquated and that they knew how to fix it. Despite adding a new team to work on fixing live events last year, live event revenues have continued to decline.