WrestleMania was one of the first and most successful pay per view events in the world. 80,676 fans attended MetLife Stadium for WrestleMania XXIX (pictured) and is the highest-grossing professional wrestling pay-per-view event in history
This article lists pay-per-view events promoted by WWE. WWE typically holds a pay-per-view event each month. WrestleMania is held in late March or early April; if it is held in April, then no pay-per-view is produced in March. With the exception of WrestleMania, each event is scheduled for three hours, although they usually run short of that time. Pay-per-view events are a significant part of the revenue stream for WWE.
The first WWE, then known as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), pay-per-view was November 1985's The Wrestling Classic, a tournament held at the Rosemont Horizon near Chicago. The first WrestleMania event, in March of the same year, was available on pay-per-view in some markets. The first two WrestleManias were financial successes, and after WrestleMania III became a popular event in wrestling history, the WWF then decided to expand their pay-per-view offerings.
The first Survivor Series event occurred on November 29, 1987, scheduled to conflict with NWA's Starrcade. The WWF informed cable companies that if they chose to carry Starrcade, they would not be allowed to carry future WWF events. The vast majority of companies showed Survivor Series (only three opted to remain loyal to their contract with the NWA), and the resulting financial blow to Starrcade was in many ways the beginning of the end for Jim Crockett Promotions. The debut of the Royal Rumble in January 1988 was actually shown on the USA Network, where it drew the highest rating to that time in the network's history. The event became a pay-per-view the following year.
The first SummerSlam was held in Madison Square Garden in August 1988. The Royal Rumble in January, WrestleMania in March or April, SummerSlam in August, and Survivor Series in November – were the only annual pay-per-view offerings until 1993, when the WWF started the King of the Ring in June. In May 1995, the WWF began offering pay-per-views in the months that did not already have one. Initially, the WWF used the In Your House brand, but beginning in 1996 began using other names to complement the In Your House name (such as Bad Blood and No Way Out), to avoid confusion. Until recently, World Wrestling Entertainment had a once-a-month pay-per-view schedule, which they had from the late 1990s until 2003 totaling twelve a year. In 2004 they offered a 13th pay-per-view, and in 2005 they offered 14 PPVs, 2006 had 17, and 2007 had 15. In 2008, New Year's Revolution was dropped from the lineup, bringing the number of pay-per-views back to 14. In 2010, WWE moved its Extreme Rules event from June to replace Backlash, leaving only one pay-per-view to be held in June and thus bringing back the yearly number of pay-per-views to 13. In 2012 Vengeance was dropped of the line up as the second event of October bringing the number down to 12 events in the year, one per month. The pay-per-view events in the United States are offered by In Demand, Dish Network or DirecTV. In Canada, WWE pay-per-views are shown on Viewers Choice, and can be seen in movie theatres in HD, through selected locations of the Cineplex Entertainment and Empire Theatres chains.
WWE ran two yearly pay-per-views which were exclusive to the UK up to 2003, but after the brand extension occurred they were removed in favor of international tours, with a TV taping included. Currently, WWE has the WrestleMania Revenge tour, after WrestleMania, at the beginning of the year and the Survivor Series tour, at the end of the year, in the UK. Each includes a Raw and SmackDown taping. In Australia, WWE's pay-per-views are shown on Main Event. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, some pay-per-views are shown on Sky Sports 3 and others on Sky Sports Box Office. Starting with the 2008 Royal Rumble, all WWE pay-per-views are broadcast in North America in High-definition, with similar HD broadcasts starting in the United Kingdom and Ireland from WrestleMania XXIV.
WWE announced the continuation of its brand extension and made its pay-per-view events each exclusive to a particular brand (Raw, SmackDown!, ECW (2006)). The only exceptions to the pay-per-view split were the "Big Four" events (Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series) which remained inclusive of all WWE brands. The pay-per-view split allowed WWE to eventually add more events to their pay-per-view line-up. From late 2005, pay-per-views would start to frequently have inter-branded matches. In March 2007, it was announced that pay-per-view events would go back to the old format, where the events would all be tri-branded, with the last uni-branded event being No Way Out and the first tri-branded event being Backlash (after WrestleMania 23). The brand-exclusive events were:
Many WWE pay-per-views are thematic, centered around particular types of matches, or have an annually-recurring main-event. Most themed pay-per-view-events (sans The Big Four) are roughly treated like filler themed events to carry the audience until the next event dating back to the days when the In Your House system was used.