There was a leak out of Amazon.com this week showing a DVD cover for the upcoming SummerSlam PPV, which featured close-ups of John Cena and Brock Lesnar. Naturally, something as significant as this kind of leak has spread like angry fan-boy wildfire and has caused extreme frustration within WWE, to the point that Amazon removed the pre-order listing.
This isn’t the first leak WWE has had this year; one of the other major leaks was that a venue advertised Batista returning, well before the Royal Rumble where he was supposed to be a surprise entrant. I think that particular leak benefited them significantly more than it hindered anyone. It allowed Batista to come back a little sooner, work on shaking off the 4 year old rust, and be a superstar. While the fans never took to him this go around, Batista brought in a lot of money, a ton of eyeballs, and the media attention that was intended in bringing him back.
It’s been assumed that either Cena or Orton would be winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship this Sunday at Money In The Bank (MITB), but the DVD cover leak caused the assumptions and speculation to practically become fact. It’s hard to imagine WWE would be risky enough to alter their original plans for a winner based on this reveal, even if they’re claiming that they want to build upon their audience by keeping the product fresh and unpredictable. After taking a massive financial hit when the WWE Network numbers and new TV contract figures came out, Vince McMahon is striving to keep things moving forward by securing things in the present; in order to accomplish that, he needs to rely on what has been proven to work, which is Cena being champion.
A SummerSlam built on the main event of Cena defending his championship against Lesnar absolutely screams PPV buys, which is why that’s an ideal matchup to the executives of WWE. The problem with that thinking, is most cable/satellite companies have completely dropped WWE PPV’s from their offerings, which means all WWE is trying to secure at this point is Network subscriptions. If WWE wants more subscribers, they need to cater to the audience who’s willing to shell out the monthly subscription of $9.99/mo, an audience comprised mainly of die hard fans who are begging for change, not casual viewers and children who want to see Super Cena continue to reign as the undisputed face of the company.
Lately it’s felt like WWE is catching on to that fact and has been slightly bridging the gap between the Attitude Era and the PG Era, maintaining a mostly PG product, with hints of mature content. The violence has been kicked up a few notches, foul language rears its head more frequently than in years past, and the tone of everything has become much more serious. We’re entering what Triple H called the Reality Era and it’s looking like the kids are being lightly nudged aside in favor of the more hardcore fans with open wallets.
With all of that said, I hope WWE takes note of all the reactions online and at shows about what they think of another Cena or Orton championship reign, and scraps it in favor of something and more importantly someone new. The last thing they need to be worried about is PPV buys, because things don’t work like they once did anymore; not once WWE changed the entire playing field with the launch of the Network. From here on out, they need to be more concerned with pleasing the audience that will buy in to the Network and stick with it for years to come. And all we want is to see some change.