Although many can critique the direction on WWE over the past 10 years, with constant gradual decline in overall ratings, the company has made enormous strides in becoming a financial powerhouse. In fact, the company earned record revenue in 2017, increasing 8 percent to $214.6 million. This was the highest quarterly revenue in company history, due to the help of WWE Live events and the WWE Network.
Before the advent of the WWE Network, WWE heavily focused on the revenue acquired from pay-per-view buys. Now, since that number is no longer a top priority, the emphasis of WWE Network members maintaining their subscription has now become a primary objective. For critics, the quality of the go-home shows which occurred before the pay-per-view has declined. However, the company makes a major emphasis on the Raw events following WrestleMania.
For WWE, WrestleMania is the biggest event of the year, which both wrestlers and other employees spend the most time gearing for. From the perspective of the spectator, WrestleMania is typically the event that feuds culminate and reach a conclusion.
In addition, it can also be a platform to elevate stars, as seen with Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 12, or change the direction of a character, as seen by Shinsuke Nakamura at this year's WrestleMania in New Orleans.
While WrestleMania is the biggest event of the year, the heavier emphasis from a financial standpoint is television deals, as reported by US News. Both WrestleMania numbers and WWE Network subscriptions are very important in leveraging financial increase with TV deals, which is why the Raw after WrestleMania has become so important for the company.
In fact, according to KeyBanc analyst Evan Wingren, although WrestleMania 34 drew 2.05 million viewers on the WWE Network with about 1.75 million being paid subscribers, the pressure for Raw and SmackDown Live to convert the 300,000 trial subscriptions "will be the single most important catalyst for WWE stock."
On Raw, fans were able to experience a return after a 10-year absence from Bobby Lashley, a main roster call-up from NXT Women's Champion Ember Moon, a main roster call-up from former NXT Tag Team Champions the Authors of Pain, a main roster call-up from NXT talent No Way Jose, as well as Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe returning after lengthy absences from injury.
The next night on SmackDown Live, fans experienced a Money in the Bank contract cash-in from Carmella, winning the brand's Women's Championship, as well as a main roster call-up from the IIconics (formerly the Iconic Duo), Peyton Royce, and Billie Kay.