Thursday, October 09, 2014

WWF 1963-1993 Wrestlenomics

I've been going through the archived results from TheHistoryofWWE, In particular, I've been looking at 1963-1993.

The recorded record for WWF shows after Monday Night Raw was established is fairly solid. Most of those results have been cataloged into the databases at CageMatch and WrestlingData. Things are much more spotty for results from the 1960s, 1970s and even early 1980s.

Periodically, I like to audit the current results up at History of WWE and see how complete the record is/is not.

Old results are always challenging because there's a lot of name/spelling issues in the results and everything is (understandably) far less complete. You also have a lot more lines that say "also featured" and "included". These notes often don't get put into databases as wrestling appearances but really should be included because they can represent a large hunk of appearances for some wrestlers.
(I've tried my best to include these appearances in my "match database" that I built.)

The History of WWE - All Events 1963-1992 pages

yeareventsmatchesmatches
per card
yeareventsmatchesmatches
per card
1963
296
1222
4.13
1978
491
3182
6.48
1964
294
1271
4.32
1979
437
2843
6.51
1965
259
942
3.64
1980
481
3033
6.31
1966
356
1271
3.57
1981
474
3092
6.52
1967
296
1167
3.94
1982
499
3555
7.12
1968
260
1124
4.32
1983
605
4092
6.76
1969
230
1185
5.15
1984
688
4591
6.67
1970
250
1225
4.90
1985
704
4872
6.92
1971
238
1143
4.80
1986
745
4386
5.89
1972
276
1405
5.09
1987
750
4744
6.33
1973
232
1175
5.06
1988
631
4268
6.76
1974
215
953
4.43
1989
617
3926
6.36
1975
343
1528
4.45
1990
613
4181
6.82
1976
400
2178
5.45
1991
499
3878
7.77
1977
469
2792
5.95
1992
494
3697
7.48

Keep in mind that results I used contain a lot more than just WWWF results.

There's lots of results from Toronto, Pittsburgh and international shows (often joint promotions) such as tours with Japanese companies. Still, it's interesting to see some of the trends that emerge.

Here's a look at the average number of matches reported per card:


Isn't it remarkable how the average number of matches per card has shot up over time?

It goes from about four (1960s) to five (early 1970s) to six (late 1970s) to more than six (1980s) to more than seven (1990s). I believe that this is a combination of lots of factors. 

The further back you go, the record grows less complete. Oftentimes, only the title matches (especially a world title match) are called out on the cards. The matches from the undercard may be missing. Also, some of these spot shows could actually had far less matches than today's lavish house shows. Lastly, television tapings, particularly the infamous marathon television tapings for syndicated programming from the 1980s and early 1990s, can skew the matches/card metric.

yeareventsatt record?% of
events
yeareventsatt record?% of
events
1963
296
21
7%
1978
491
21
4%
1964
294
20
7%
1979
436
14
3%
1965
259
23
9%
1980
481
55
11%
1966
356
11
3%
1981
474
71
15%
1967
294
12
4%
1982
499
72
14%
1968
260
10
4%
1983
605
87
14%
1969
229
20
9%
1984
688
195
28%
1970
250
19
8%
1985
704
311
44%
1971
238
15
6%
1986
745
331
44%
1972
276
10
4%
1987
750
367
49%
1973
232
21
9%
1988
632
258
41%
1974
215
21
10%
1989
617
238
39%
1975
344
17
5%
1990
613
287
47%
1976
401
15
4%
1991
499
226
45%
1977
468
40
9%
1992
494
284
57%

This looks at what proportion of the wrestling events actually have any sort of "attendance" record connected with it. For the first fifteen years, the percentage is hovering at/below 10%. Things get a lot more complete in the early 1980s (when the Wrestling Observer Newsletter comes along) and by 1985, it's closing in on more than 40% of the events.

When you're trying to evaluate "drawing power" for WWWF champions, these sorts of sample size differences make it tough. Consider, between 1963-1972, Sammartino had well over 1,500 matches. However, there's only records (in this dataset) covering about 67 crowds over ten thousand people. Conversely, in Hulk Hogan's 325 matches between 1985 and 1986, there's over 125 shows with 10k+ crowds. While WWF was extremely hot in the Hulkamania Rock 'n' Wrestling era, it's disingenuous to simply compare the where I have 642 attendance records (1985/1986) and where I only have 161 attendance records (1963-1972). 

However, you can look at "drawing power" from within the same time period among WWF stars.

For instance, consider WWF tours with and without Hulk Hogan appearing between 1984-1989. I found 97 cities which had attendance records for shows that both did and did not include Hulk.



Location
No Hogan
w/ Hogan
diff
Albuquerque, NM -- USA
2,522
7,593
5,070
Anaheim, CA -- USA
3,917
8,250
4,333
Arena St. Louis, MO -- USA
5,454
10,575
5,121
Atlanta, GA -- USA
3,021
4,658
1,637
Auburn Hills, MI -- USA
6,900
13,750
6,850
Baltimore, MD -- USA
8,132
11,489
3,356
Binghamton, NY -- USA
2,422
5,900
3,478
Birmingham, AL -- USA
3,120
12,000
8,880
Boston, MA -- USA
10,524
12,707
2,184
Buffalo, NY -- USA
5,829
9,038
3,209
Calgary, AB -- CANADA
8,500
15,000
6,500
Chicago, IL -- USA
7,713
12,527
4,814
Cincinnati, OH -- USA
3,830
7,981
4,151
Cleveland, OH -- USA
6,671
13,250
6,579
Columbus, OH -- USA
3,353
21,333
17,980
Dallas, TX -- USA
1,460
2,994
1,534
Dayton, OH -- USA
1,000
8,000
7,000
Denver, CO -- USA
4,842
7,019
2,177
Des Moines, IA -- USA
2,000
11,000
9,000
Detroit, MI -- USA
8,473
12,263
3,790
East Rutherford, NJ -- USA
8,054
14,335
6,281
Edmonton, AB -- CANADA
9,500
12,500
3,000
Erie, PA -- USA
2,276
4,850
2,573
Foxboro, MA -- USA
12,000
23,000
11,000
Fresno, CA -- USA
4,486
7,725
3,239
Glens Falls, NY -- USA
5,833
8,500
2,667
Greensboro, NC -- USA
1,800
2,835
1,035
Halifax, NS -- CANADA
5,667
7,500
1,833
Hamilton, ONT -- CANADA
10,560
15,500
4,940
Hartford, CT -- USA
6,244
11,730
5,486
Hershey, PA -- USA
4,687
7,767
3,080
Houston, TX -- USA
5,575
5,375
(200)
Huntsville, AL -- USA
9,000
6,781
(2,220)
Indianapolis, IN -- USA
7,000
8,352
1,352
Jackson, MS -- USA
2,086
4,500
2,414
Joe Louis Detroit, MI -- USA
20,000
20,997
997
Kansas City, MO -- USA
3,323
6,929
3,605
Kiel Auditorium
 - St. Louis, MO -- USA
4,067
6,387
2,320
Landover, MD -- USA
5,589
12,977
7,388
Las Vegas, NV -- USA
3,833
10,807
6,973
Little Rock, AR -- CANADA
2,452
3,800
1,348
London, ONT -- CANADA
3,918
2,500
(1,418)
Long Island, NY -- USA
7,255
12,473
5,218
Los Angeles, CA -- USA
8,277
12,336
4,058
Louisville, KY -- USA
1,189
3,587
2,398
Madison, WI -- USA
4,100
7,557
3,457
Maple Leaf Gardens 
Toronto, ONT -- CANADA
17,500
18,000
500
Memphis, TN -- USA
750
4,475
3,725
Miami, FL -- USA
3,041
5,104
2,063
Milwaukee, WI -- USA
4,402
13,993
9,591
Minneapolis, MN -- USA
2,750
7,660
4,910
Montreal, QC -- CANADA
12,737
16,167
3,429
MSG New York City, NY -- USA
17,407
19,259
1,852
Nashville, TN -- USA
6,482
9,000
2,518
New Haven, CT -- USA
4,155
9,850
5,695
New Orleans, LA -- USA
1,800
6,267
4,467
Oakland, CA -- USA
7,519
11,810
4,291
Oklahoma City, OK -- USA
2,175
3,472
1,297
Omaha, NE -- USA
5,831
9,443
3,612
Orlando, FL -- USA
5,600
9,200
3,600
Osaka, Japan -- JAPAN
13,000
5,841
(7,159)
Paris, France -- FRANCE
12,000
12,000
-
Peoria, IL -- USA
3,789
10,500
6,711
Philadelphia, PA -- USA
9,210
12,934
3,724
Phoenix, AZ -- USA
6,084
11,820
5,736
Pittsburgh, PA -- USA
9,327
12,546
3,219
Pontiac, MI -- USA
2,400
25,406
23,006
Portland, ME -- USA
3,270
8,550
5,281
Portland, OR -- USA
4,000
6,750
2,750
Providence, RI -- USA
6,321
8,500
2,179
Richfield, OH -- USA
6,214
11,793
5,579
Richmond, VA -- USA
6,250
8,955
2,705
Rochester, NY -- USA
2,974
8,238
5,264
Rockford, IL -- USA
1,917
10,000
8,083
Sacramento, CA -- USA
5,282
7,880
2,598
Salisbury, MD -- USA
7,000
6,850
(150)
Salt Lake City, UT -- USA
5,562
7,200
1,638
San Antonio, TX -- USA
9,000
6,000
(3,000)
San Diego, CA -- USA
5,871
10,875
5,004
San Francisco, CA -- USA
7,189
10,500
3,311
Seattle, WA -- USA
5,900
16,000
10,100
South Bend, IN -- USA
2,586
10,749
8,163
Springfield, IL -- USA
4,217
8,302
4,086
Springfield, MA -- USA
4,153
6,133
1,980
St. Louis, MO -- USA
3,879
6,131
2,252
Syracuse, NY -- USA
2,120
6,000
3,880
Tacoma, WA -- USA
7,731
15,068
7,337
Tampa, FL -- USA
4,000
9,780
5,780
Tokyo, Japan -- JAPAN
10,000
11,000
1,000
Toledo, OH -- USA
5,433
8,881
3,448
Toronto, ONT -- CANADA
9,849
12,810
2,961
Vancouver, BC -- CANADA
4,233
16,000
11,767
Wheeling, WV -- USA
3,334
7,190
3,857
Wichita, KS -- USA
10,000
7,932
(2,068)
Winnipeg, MB -- CANADA
3,600
11,894
8,294
Worcester, MA -- USA
2,000
9,805
7,805
Youngstown, OH -- USA
2,900
6,000
3,100
Median5,4339,0383,605

The initial exercise suggests that in over 90% of the cities, shows with Hogan drew remarkable more than shows without Hogan.

This is certainly not a perfect dataset. There are apples-oranges comparisons including matinees versus evening shows, television tapings versus house shows, pay-per-views versus spot shows, etc. However, the general trend is very telling.

Sure, Hogan was a big attraction the first few times. However, what happens with the Immortal One comes to your town more than a handful of times? Does his drawing power "hold up"?

Let's look at the 44 cities which had at least four visits from Hogan (along with some shows where Hulk Hogan was not there). Again, we must have attendance records available.


CityHogan
Appearances
(w/ att. Record)
First Three
Hogan
RemainingDifferenceNo HoganJudgment
Philadelphia, PA -- USA
33
12,370
12,991
620
9,210
Flat (5%)
MSG New York City, NY -- USA
28
25,795
18,475
(7,319)
17,407
Down (-28%)
Chicago, IL -- USA
24
7,500
13,245
5,745
7,713
Up (77%)
Los Angeles, CA -- USA
23
8,667
12,886
4,219
8,277
Up (49%)
Boston, MA -- USA
22
14,233
12,466
(1,767)
10,524
Down (-12%)
Minneapolis, MN -- USA
22
10,500
7,211
(3,289)
2,750
Down (-31%)
Kiel Auditorium 
- St. Louis, MO -- USA
19
7,647
6,150
(1,497)
4,067
Down (-20%)
Pittsburgh, PA -- USA
18
14,667
12,121
(2,545)
9,327
Down (-17%)
Oakland, CA -- USA
15
10,733
12,079
1,346
7,519
Up (13%)
East Rutherford, NJ -- USA
14
15,918
13,903
(2,015)
8,054
Down (-13%)
Landover, MD -- USA
14
15,400
12,316
(3,084)
5,589
Down (-20%)
Richfield, OH -- USA
14
13,333
11,373
(1,961)
6,214
Down (-15%)
Houston, TX -- USA
13
3,300
5,997
2,697
5,575
Up (82%)
Toronto, ONT -- CANADA
12
11,407
13,278
1,871
9,849
Up (16%)
Hartford, CT -- USA
10
10,833
12,114
1,281
6,244
Up (12%)
Milwaukee, WI -- USA
9
9,784
16,097
6,313
4,402
Up (65%)
Long Island, NY -- USA
9
12,945
12,237
(707)
7,255
Flat (-5%)
Baltimore, MD -- USA
9
11,367
11,550
183
8,132
Flat (2%)
Kansas City, MO -- USA
9
6,333
7,226
893
3,323
Up (14%)
Detroit, MI -- USA
8
14,167
11,121
(3,046)
8,473
Down (-22%)
San Francisco, CA -- USA
8
7,667
12,200
4,533
7,189
Up (59%)
Miami, FL -- USA
8
3,974
5,782
1,807
3,041
Up (45%)
Providence, RI -- USA
7
8,667
8,375
(292)
6,321
Flat (-3%)
Cincinnati, OH -- USA
7
7,123
8,625
1,502
3,830
Up (21%)
Denver, CO -- USA
7
7,454
6,693
(762)
4,842
Down (-10%)
Montreal, QC -- CANADA
6
20,333
12,000
(8,333)
12,737
Down (-41%)
Omaha, NE -- USA
6
9,115
9,771
656
5,831
Flat (7%)
Hershey, PA -- USA
6
8,833
6,700
(2,133)
4,687
Down (-24%)
Atlanta, GA -- USA
6
5,500
3,815
(1,685)
3,021
Down (-31%)
Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto
, ONT -- CANADA
5
17,833
18,250
417
17,500
Flat (2%)
Tacoma, WA -- USA
5
19,746
8,050
(11,696)
7,731
Down (-59%)
Phoenix, AZ -- USA
5
11,067
12,950
1,883
6,084
Up (17%)
Sacramento, CA -- USA
5
7,133
9,000
1,867
5,282
Up (26%)
Pontiac, MI -- USA
4
29,875
12,000
(17,875)
2,400
Down (-60%)
San Diego, CA -- USA
4
10,500
12,000
1,500
5,871
Up (14%)
Arena St. Louis, MO -- USA
4
11,167
8,800
(2,367)
5,454
Down (-21%)
New Haven, CT -- USA
4
9,033
12,300
3,267
4,155
Up (36%)
Buffalo, NY -- USA
4
8,833
9,651
818
5,829
Flat (9%)
Rochester, NY -- USA
4
8,450
7,600
(850)
2,974
Down (-10%)
Fresno, CA -- USA
4
7,300
9,000
1,700
4,486
Up (23%)
Salt Lake City, UT -- USA
4
4,933
14,000
9,067
5,562
Up (184%)
Wheeling, WV -- USA
4
6,987
7,800
813
3,334
Up (12%)
Memphis, TN -- USA
4
4,067
5,700
1,633
750
Up (40%)
Dallas, TX -- USA
4
2,126
5,600
3,474
1,460
Up (163%)

Ultimately, here was the tally:

  • 20 cities were UP more than 10% in average attendance in the later Hogan appearances compared to the initial ones. 
  • 17 cities were DOWN more than 10% in average attendance in later Hogan appearances compare to the initial ones.  
  • 7 cities were FLAT which meant overall attendance for those Hogan shows after the initial trio was within the +/- 10% of the original Hogan attendances. 
One might argue that there's a slightly negative trend, but the average drop in attendance across the cities was 300 people which doesn't really seem very substantial to me.

There are places like Boston or St. Louis or Minneapolis or Denver or Montreal where it looks like Hogan's repeat appearances might have diminished in effectiveness. Bruno's drawing record at MSG is certainly much stronger (and lengthier) than Hogan's. However, I think it might be an over-simplification to ignore examples of Chicago or Milwaukee or Miami or Phoenix where it appears that Hogan held up just fine with repeat appears. In all, it seems to be a mixed bag.

Honestly, there's the counter-argument that Hogan went back to these cities because it was clear he was still a draw there and it's really about the cities they didn't book because they didn't feel Hogan was going to pop the house. I'd have to keep digging to really make a strong determination.

Hope this was interesting to you faithful readers. All analysis by Chris Harrington. 

Twitter: @mookieghana
Email: chris.harrington@gmail.com

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