Silver Lining?

Hey Scott,

For all the talk here about WWE's plummeting ratings and poor creative, there is one thing to note: pay-per-view numbers seem to be on a rise in 2012.
Now, let's say we throw away the big numbers for Wrestlemania 28, Extreme Rules, and Summerslam as those can all be attributed to returning past stars like Rock and Lesnar, rather than the current product. BUT what to make of the numbers for the "B" shows doing so (relatively) well?

– Over the Limit (headlined by Cena-Ace and Punk-Bryan) was up 27,000 from 2011.
– No Way out (Cena-Show and Punk-Bryan-Kane) was up 24,000 from 2011.
– MITB (Punk-Bryan with AJ as ref, plus the MITB matches) was down 5,000 buys from 2011. But one could say that MITB '11 was a bit of an aberration as it featured Punk-Cena in Chicago, which most would say was WWE's best built match in years.
– And then the news today at Night of Champions did pretty well at 189,000 buys, up 20,000 from 2011.

So is there anything to glean from this? Are fans enjoying the product moreso than we would assume? Maybe there's a residual effect from Rock and Lesnar, in that they've reconditioned some fans into ordering PPVs again?

Another thought: perhaps the Punk reign has actually been successful, in that hardcore fans will pay to see a wrestler they really like defend in what they know will be a really good match. Or at the least, the Punk-Bryan-AJ storyline could be considered a success.

Lastly, I'd say that the NOC buyrate shows that Punk-Cena still has some juice to it, and perhaps WWE's smartest move would be to keep the belt on Punk this Sunday and then run variations of the Punk-Cena feud at Survivor Series and TLC.

So, are there any silver lining for WWE, or are these numbers meaningless?

-Worst in the World

I wouldn't say they're meaningless, but 2011 was a BAD year for PPV.  Like, discounting Wrestlemania, one of the worst ever, so really it's an improvement over the bottom of the barrel.  Wrestlemania from this year apparently creeped over the all-time buyrate record just this past week, so everything else is basically gravy anyway.  I don't think that the 5K-20K deviation in the buys is enough to draw much in the way of conclusions about, though.  Especially when the final numbers usually end up looking fairly different from initial estimates.  Sometimes it's just that a few extra people had nothing to do on the Sunday and felt that, say, Punk v. Cena was an interesting enough main event to check out.