WWE Analysis: Is Daniel Bryan A Weaker Live Event Draw Than John Cena?

With Daniel Bryan as your world champion, John Cena still as your number one merchandise seller and CM Punk sitting out, I thought it would be interesting to look at the latest 2014 stats regarding house show draws.

Interested readers may want to look at my previous work on this subject:

House Show Draws (WM2010 to WM2014) - published March 2014 John Cena vs Daniel Bryan (House Show Draw) - published Feb 2014


- I'm looking at the reported attendance for WWE House Show as recorded by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. - We are not looking at WWE Live Events that were TV Tapings - We are comparing the attendance to the 2008-2013 non-TV Taping attendance baseline There were 88 WWE events in the Wrestling Observer archives. This included four NXT events and thirty WWE TV Tapings. Of the remaining 54 WWE Live events, attendance was available for 90% of them. Attendance ranged from a low of 1,800 for a Glens Falls, New York January 11, 2014 event that didn't have Cena but did have Daniel Bryan (as Daniel Wyatt) to a high of 14,000 for a New York City Madison Square Garden event on March 8, 2014 that had both John Cena and Daniel Bryan. Average House Show Attendance - events with Cena vs events with Bryan MONTH JOHN CENA DANIEL BRYAN Jan 5,563 (8) 2,767 (3) Feb 6,225 (4) 4,833 (3) March 6,955 (11) 5,750 (12) April 5,600 (2) N/A We'll focus on the 28 WWE Live events that occurred in February and March. They were the events that were in Atlantic City, Austin, Bakersfield, Binghamton, Bloomington, Bridgeport, Cedar Rapids, Charlottesville, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fresno, Jackson, Jacksonville, Jonesboro, Lakeland, Laredo, Las Vegas, Moline, New York, Norfolk, North Charleston, Oakland, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Trenton, Uniondale and Winnipeg. Looking at which wrestlers were on each show, we can run a regression of attendance looking against headliner. Attendance = 2,732 + 3,469xCENA + 1,679xBRYAN (adjusted R-squared =0.418; p-values for all variables are below .05) Initial Regression Essentially, this regression for Feb-March 2014 WWE Live (non-TV tapings) suggests that: Cena-led houseshow would draw about 6,200 people. Bryan-led houseshow would draw 3,469 people If they were both at the event, it would draw 7,879 people. Cena houseshows outdraw Bryan houseshows by an average of 2,731 people. Immediately, people complain that we're comparing apples and oranges since Cena and Bryan are being sent to cities of different sizes. While this is true, I would counter with the argument that there is a reason that each star is being sent to the respective city and it's based not only on how the company sees that person, but also how well that person has functioned as a draw. Furthermore, we can go ahead and adjust for city size. For each of these 28 cities, I have established a "draw baseline" based on the previous WWE houseshows from 2008 to 2013. Therefore, we can compare the 2014 Bryan/Cena houseshow draw against the baseline and do a regression against the differential. (If we know that a given city usually draws 5,000, if they get 5,200 this week we'd consider that a +200 success.) Difference against Baseline = -1,902 + 1,426xCENA + 665xBRYAN (adjusted R-squared = 0.067; p-value for CENA: 0.06 and BRYAN: 0.36 are above 0.5) Secondary Regression This regression for Feb-March 2014 WWE Live (non-TV tapings) against city averages suggests that: Cena-led houseshow would draw about 476 less people than the previous average. Bryan-led houseshow would draw about 1,237 less people than the previous average. If they were both at the event, it would draw about 189 more people than the previous average. Cena houseshows outdraw the Bryan houseshows by an average of 761 people. DATASET Date Place Attendance Baseline Cena? Bryan? 2/2/14 Lakeland, FL 3,000 5,250 No No 2/7/14 Oakland, CA 5,400 5,000 Yes No 2/8/14 San Diego, CA 4,000 5,833 No Yes 2/9/14 Bakersfield, CA 4,500 5,075 No Yes 2/9/14 Fresno, CA 6,000 6,767 Yes No 2/16/14 Las Vegas, NV 6,000 5,800 Yes Yes 2/28/14 North Charleston, SC 7,500 4,267 Yes No 3/1/14 Jacksonville, FL 6,000 5,500 Yes No 3/1/14 Cedar Rapids, IA 3,500 4,133 No Yes 3/2/14 Moline, IL 6,000 5,150 Yes No 3/2/14 Bloomington, IL 3,200 4,267 No Yes 3/7/14 Winnipeg, MB 6,500 8,175 No Yes 3/8/14 Salt Lake City, UT 3,500 5,250 No No 3/8/14 New York, NY 14,000 14,500 Yes Yes 3/9/14 Jonesboro, AR 5,000 4,450 Yes Yes 3/9/14 Jackson, TN 2,000 4,000 No No 3/15/14 Laredo, TX 4,600 6,267 No Yes 3/15/14 Austin, TX 5,000 7,250 Yes No 3/16/14 Corpus Christi, TX 3,000 6,350 No Yes 3/16/14 Dallas, TX 5,000 8,250 Yes No 3/21/14 Bridgeport, CT 6,500 7,100 Yes No 3/22/14 Uniondale, NY 8,500 10,833 Yes No 3/22/14 Atlantic City, NJ 3,000 7,700 No Yes 3/23/14 Binghamton, NY 4,500 3,675 No Yes 3/23/14 Trenton, NJ 5,800 6,050 Yes No 3/28/14 Raleigh, NC 7,500 6,000 Yes Yes 3/29/14 Charlottesville, VA 7,000 4,400 No Yes 3/30/14 Norfolk, VA 7,200 8,300 Yes Yes Example of Successes: During the final build to Wrestlemania at the end of March, the "Daniel Bryan vs. Kane" main event drew quite well at the 3/23 Binghamton NY and 3/28 Raleigh NC house shows where they exceeded the baseline attendance by several thousand. In the week following the Elimination Chamber PPV, the "Cage Match: Randy Orton vs. John Cena" drew quite well at the 2/28 North Charleston SC and 3/2 Moline IL where they exceeded the baseline attendance by several thousand. Example of Misses: In mid-March, neither Daniel Bryan nor John Cena drew well. The "Cage Match: Daniel Bryan vs Kane" for 3/22 Atlantic City NJ and 3/16 Corpus Christi TX drew significantly less people than the baseline. At the same time, the "Cage Match: Randy Orton vs John Cena" for 3/22 Uniondale, NY and 3/16 Austin, TX drew significantly less people than the baseline. Conclusion Among this limited dataset, it's clear that Daniel Bryan has not yet been established as a major live event draw. Daniel Bryan is still a distant second to John Cena. In fact, neither man is significantly moving attendance above the five-year baseline averages at this time. Now, it's possible that we'll see some major business (and crowd) changes now that Daniel Bryan has earned the championship. However, we don't have an early read thus far because Bryan had time off in April due to his wedding. Even when you take into account city size, it appears that the difference of headlining a card with John Cena instead of Daniel Bryan is about 800 more people. That's almost 10% swing at the gate, and that's still a significant gap in drawing power.

I'm a professional wrestling analyst, an improviser and an avid NES gamer. I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota and I'm working on my first book (#wrestlenomics). You can contact me at chris.harrington@gmail.com or on twitter (@mookieghana)