WWE pay-per-views were significantly longer in 2018

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I don’t blink an eye anymore at the notion that the main card of WrestleMania is going to be 5 hours long every year. It makes perfect sense to me that Royal Rumble cards need to run very long in order to make room for two separate Rumble matches.

But it did feel very strange that this month’s TLC card seemed like an out of control behemoth, in terms of how much content WWE attempted to cram onto the card. The reality of the situation appears to be that WWE has a very large roster, and trying to fit as many superstars as possible onto dual-brand pay-per-view (PPV) events means that marathon cards are now the norm, not the outlier.

I have detailed the timing of all 83 WWE PPVs going back to the start of 2013. With 6 full years of PPV timing data in front of me, it’s easy to illustrate just how much has changed with PPV length in 2018.

Here is a listing of all the relevant information. Note that this data completely ignores pre-show matches and time, just like WWE does.

2013

Total number of PPVs: 12
Total number of matches: 88
Matches per show: 7.33
Average show length: 2h 56m 09s
Median show length: 2h 52m 17s

2014

Total number of PPVs: 12
Total number of matches: 86
Matches per show: 7.17
Average show length: 2h 57m 15s
Median show length: 2h 52m 55s

2015

Total number of PPVs: 13
Total number of matches: 90
Matches per show: 6.92
Average show length: 3h 01m 55s
Median show length: 2h 58m 03s

2016

Total number of PPVs: 15
Total number of matches: 106
Matches per show: 7.07
Average show length: 3h 11m 50s
Median show length: 2h 59m 46s

2017

Total number of PPVs: 16
Total number of matches: 116
Matches per show: 7.25
Average show length: 3h 16m 57s
Median show length: 3h 04m 50s

2018

Total number of PPVs: 15
Total number of matches: 128
Matches per show: 8.53
Average show length: 3h 53m 39s
Median show length: 3h 42m 54s

From 2013 through 2015, there were 12 or 13 PPVs every single year. That number spiked up to 15 or 16 PPVs per year from 2016 through 2018.

The number of matches per show actually trended (slightly) downward from 2013 through 2015, starting with 7.33 matches per show in 2013 and falling down to 6.92 matches per show in 2015. That number has been rising ever since that low point in 2015. But the difference between 2017 (7.25 matches per show) and 2018 (8.53 matches per show) is staggering. There is no other number anywhere in the same neighborhood of 2018’s average matches per show of 8.53.

The entire PPV calendar of 2013 included 88 total matches (this counts MITB cash-ins as a match), and that number jumped all the way up to 128 total matches by 2018. That’s roughly a 45% increase from 2013! This is a product of both more PPVs per year, as well as significantly more matches per show in 2018.

As far as overall show length goes, both the average and median show lengths have increased every single year since 2013, with a gigantic increase in 2018 compared to 2017.

The average and median show lengths were pretty darn close in 2013 and 2014 before increasing roughly 5 to 6 minutes in 2015. The average then jumped up about 10 more minutes in 2016, increased another 5 minutes in 2017, and then blew up by 36 more minutes in 2018. The increase in the median show length also blew up by 38 minutes in 2018 compared to 2017.

The end result is that the average show length in 2018 is roughly 57 to 58 minutes longer than it was in 2013.

To complement this data, here is a listing of every single PPV in 2018, along with total show length and number of matches. This is sorted by show length.

  • 5h 10m 54s: WrestleMania 34 (11 matches)
  • 5h 00m 16s: Greatest Royal Rumble (10 matches)
  • 4h 14m 17s: Money in the Bank (10 matches)
  • 4h 13m 06s: Royal Rumble (6 matches)
  • 4h 01m 33s: SummerSlam (10 matches)
  • 4h 00m 26s: Super Show-Down (10 matches)
  • 3h 56m 36s: TLC (10 matches)
  • 3h 42m 54s: Crown Jewel (11 matches)
  • 3h 40m 46s: Hell in a Cell (7 matches)
  • 3h 40m 28s: Extreme Rules (10 matches)
  • 3h 34m 07s: Survivor Series (7 matches)
  • 3h 27m 32s: Backlash (8 matches)
  • 3h 23m 34s: Evolution (7 matches)
  • 3h 22m 45s: Elimination Chamber (5 matches)
  • 2h 55m 36s: Fastlane (6 matches)

Note that the two shortest PPVs of the year were the only two brand-exclusive PPVs of 2018.

WWE decision to ditch brand-exclusive PPVs in favor of dual-brand PPVs, while also doing big stadium shows in Saudia Arabia and Australia, seems to have brought in a new era of marathon length PPV cards.

Do you think this is a problem, Cagesiders? If so, how should it be fixed?




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