WWE: Pay Per View

WWE Pay per views have a long history dating back to the 1980’s.

Beginning and the early years
It is a little known fact that the company’s first pay per view was in fact Wrestling Classic – which took place in November 1985 and was a one off. The first Wrestlemania wasn’t on pay per view. It was on closed circuit TV.

The then WWF increased it’s pay per view load slowly, firstly adding the Survivor Series in 1987. This event was up against NWA’s Starrcade and Vince McMahon told pay per view providers that if they didn’t carry this event, they would not get access to Wrestlemania IV. Most providers relented making Survivor Series a successful event. In 1988 the WWF presented Summerslam in response to the NWA’s introduction of the Great American Bash in July. And after the success of the first Royal Rumble event early in 1988 on the USA Network the full blown pay per view event was introduced in 1989. This established the Big Four events for the promotion’s calendar year.

In 1991, another one off pay per view was presented – This Tuesday in Texas just days after that year’s Survivor Series.

In Your House era
In 1993 the big gap between Wrestlemania and Summerslam was filled by King of the Ring. But the WWF was behind WCW on pay per view numbers and this led in 1995 to the introduction of In Your House in April. Each event took place in a month when there was no other event, making pay per views monthly. All these events had individual names, but for the first year the In Your House name dominated. From April 1996 the names rose to equal billing but were still known as In Your House. In September 1997 the names moved past In Your House and by 1998 the names were dominant. The last show to have the In Your House tag was in February 1999.

Some names in the In Your House era continued beyond. No Way Out in February 1998 (called No Way out of Texas), Unforgiven in April 1998, Over the Edge in May 1998, Fully Loaded in July 1998 and Judgement Day in October 1998.

Into the new millenium
Meanwhile in 1997, the WWF started to present events exclusive to the United Kingdom. The first event was in September of that year – One Night Only. The second was in December 1998 – Capital Carnage before 1999 had two shows; the original No Mercy in May and Rebellion in October.

In America after Wrestlemania in 1999, the new pay per view layout base began to be established. Backlash took the April position with Over the Edge in May – although this name was retired consequently due to the events surrounding the death of Owen Hart. Fully Loaded remained in July and Unforgiven was moved to September. No Mercy debuted as an American pay per view in October and Armageddon in December.

In 2000 No Way Out was restored to February and Judgement Day returned in May with no other alterations and the base was set. In the UK Insurrextion took place in May and Rebellion again in December. Only minor changes were made beyond that point with Fully Loaded replaced in July 2001 by the one off Invasion and Rebellion moving back to November. Armageddon was replaced by Vengeance for one year in December as a show of respect for 9/11. Armageddon returned in 2002 with Vengeance being the event in July. Rebellion again moved to October, while an event promoted as a pay per view but ending up not being one took place in August – Global Warning in Australia. It would also be in 2002 that the King of the Ring was presented for the final time. It’s place in June was taken by Badd Blood in 2003 – a name previously used in the In Your House Era. Insurrextion took place in June and was the final United Kingdom exclusive event. This was primarily due to the brand extension.

With events – aside from the Big Four – being brand exclusive, it opened the option for even more events and in 2004 this came to pass with the Great American Bash and Taboo Tuesday bringing the total number of North American events to 14. It increased to 15 in 2005 despite the loss of Badd Blood due to the addition of New Year’s Revolution and what was supposed to be a one off event – One Night Stand for the now WWE owned ECW. In 2006 as part of the introduction of the ECW brand One Night Stand was presented again, along with the truly one off December to Dismember bringing the number of events to 16. Taboo Tuesday changed it’s name to Cyber Sunday. In 2007 the number of shows dropped back to 15 and after Wrestlemania ceased to be brand exclusive. Vengeance carried the sub name Night of Champions and the event became Night of Champions in 2008.

Mucking around with names
The base started to shift in 2009. Unforgiven changed it’s name to Breaking Point, featuring main events that were submission matches. This was the beginning of a raft of changes to the pay per view look, with Hell in a Cell replacing No Mercy in similar terms, and the same happened with TLC and Elimination Chamber (replacing Armageddon and No Way Out respectively) heading into the new decade. Bragging Rights replaced Cyber Sunday. In 2010 the changes were even more substantial. Backlash, Judgment Day and the Great American Bash all disappeared and Extreme Rules shifted back to April. The three new shows were Over the Limit, Fatal Four Way and Money in the Bank, with Night of Champions being pushed to September replacing Breaking Point after just one year.

In 2011, Vengeance returned to replace Bragging Rights after just two years, and Fatal Four Way was replaced after just one year by Capital Punishment. In 2012 Capital Punishment was in turn replaced by the return of No Way Out and Vengeance was dropped bringing the number of pay per views per year back to 12 for the first time since the brand extension. In 2013 Over the Limit was shifted from May to October and Payback took it’s place pushing No Way Out aside. Over the Limit was then changed to Battleground.

WWE Network
In 2014 show numbers jumped because of the introduction of WWE’s streaming service – the WWE Network. Four shows were presented – all from NXT and called Takeover. In 2015 the actual pay per view number went back to 13 with a new pay per view, Fast Lane. There were also main roster shows exclusive to the WWE Network, including but not limited to The Beast in the East as well as five NXT Takeover events. Pay per view numbers jumped to 15 in 2016 with the return of the brand split and the return of Backlash and No Mercy, along with Roadblock replacing Elimination Chamber. There were four NXT Takeover events and two main roster Network exclusive events.

In 2017 Elimination Chamber returned and we had Great Balls of Fire while Roadblock was dropped bringing the number of pay per views to 16. NXT’s UK branch had two Takeover events on the Network as well as five NXT Takeovers. There was only one other Network exclusive event – the Mae Young Classic. In 2018 the brand extension effect on pay per view was removed and there were big changes. Payback, Great Balls of Fire, Battleground, No Mercy and Clash of Champions were all dropped. There were a number of overseas pay per views – the Greatest Royal Rumble and Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia, and Super Showdown in Australia as well as Evolution – an all female pay per view for the first time in WWE history. There were another five NXT Takeover events exclusive to the WWE Network as well as two NXT UK shows and one main roster show – Starrcade.

In 2019 there were 12 main pay per views plus two more from Saudi Arabia. Backlash was dropped and Stomping Grounds replaced it. Clash of Champions returned with Evolution unfortunately also being dropped. There were a lot more WWE Network exclusive events with five more NXT Takeover Events, the related Half Time Heat, two NXT UK events, one combined event called Worlds Collide, the first non WWE event in Network history in Evolve 131 where the NXT title was defended and main roster shows in The Shield’s Final Chapter and Starrcade again.

2020 was adversely affected by the COVID-19 situation.

Australian history
Australia has been seeing the more recent events on the Main Event pay per view channel. Channel 10 presented Wrestlemania 1 through to 5 on free to air as well as Summerslam 1989 and the 1990 Royal Rumble. The Survivor Series was never seen in Australia before pay per view – except for a special limited match presentation in 1998 called the Survivor Series Special.

There was a period from January to July 2003 when Main Event didn’t present the pay per views, and Village Cinemas attempted to pick up the slack only to suffer a drop off after Wrestlemania. In 2015 Elimination Chamber was not shown in Australia on Main Event.

Australia as mentioned has hosted two major shows – Global Warning in 2002 at Melbourne’s Docklands Stadium (called at the time Colonial Stadium), and Super Showdown at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2018. The archives below concentrate on the shows presented on Main Event – except for the Saudi Arabia shows (that is – the ones that were not WWE Network exclusive).

ARCHIVES from 2005
Royal Rumble: 200520062007200820092010201120122013>152016>182019>20
Elimination Chamber: 2010201120122013>152017>182019>20
Wrestlemania: 200520062007200820092010201120122013>152016>182019>20
Money in the Bank: 201020112012>152016>182019>20
Backlash: 200520062007200820092016>182020
One Night Stand/Extreme Rules: 200520062007200820092010201120122013>152016>182019>20
Summerslam: 20052006200720082009201020112012>152016>182019>20
Payback: 2013>152016>172020
Night of Champions/Clash Of Champions: 20082009201020112012>152016>172019>20
Hell in a Cell: 2009201020112012>152016>182019>20
Survivor Series: 20052006200720082009201020112012>152016>182019>20
TLC (Tables, Ladders & Chairs): 2009201020112012>152016>182019
Stomping Grounds: 2019
Fast Lane: 20152016>182019
Super Show-Down: 2018
Evolution: 2018
No Mercy: 20052006200720082016>17
Battleground: 2013>152016>17
Great Balls of Fire: 2017
Roadblock: 2016
Over the Limit: 201020112012
No Way Out: 200520062007200820092012
Vengeance: 2005200620072011
Capitol Punishment: 2011
Bragging Rights: 20092010
Fatal Four Way: 2010
Breaking Point: 2009
Great American Bash: 20052006200720082009
Judgment Day: 20052006200720082009
Armageddon: 2005200620072008
Taboo Tuesday/Cyber Sunday: 2005200620072008
Unforgiven: 2005200620072008
New Year’s Revolution: 200520062007

ARCHIVES to 2004
Royal Rumble: 1988>19941995>2001200220032004
Wrestlemania: 1985>19941995>2001200220032004
Summerslam: 1988>19941995>2001200220032004
Survivor Series: 1987>19941995>20002001200220032004
Backlash: 1999>2001200220032004
No Mercy: 1999>2001200220032004
No Way Out: 1998,2000>2001200220032004
Vengeance: 2001200220032004
Great American Bash: 2004
Judgment Day: 1998,2000>2001200220032004
Armageddon: 1999>2000200220032004
Taboo Tuesday: 2004
Unforgiven: 1998>2001200220032004
Bad Blood: 20032004
King of the Ring: 1993>20012002
Fully Loaded: 1998>2000
Over the Edge: 1998>1999
In Your House: 199519961997
Various Singles: Breakdown; Rock Bottom; St Valentine’s Day Massacre; Invasion; December to Dismember