Q1 2021 just ended, and WWE still has about 10x the Google web search volume of any other pro wrestling brand.
But let’s dig deeper into Google Trends.
First, an explanation of the data we’re looking at:
- We’re measuring topics, not strings. In all cases here we’re measuring search topics that Google Trends creates, not individual search strings, which would be less all-encompassing and probably less informative. For example, in the case of WWE, we’re not measuring how often the string ‘wwe’ was searched for but rather we’re measuring all searches Google Trends purports related to WWE, the wrestling company (or as GT identifies it, the “media company”).
- These are relative values, not absolute. The values you’ll see below in the tables on the left are relative values. GT does not provide the absolute number of queries in any form; all its data is relative to the peak for the parameters you enter. I collected monthly data, which is the granularity that GT allows when you’re collecting data beyond a span of five years. A 100 value in this case equals the month with the highest search volume. I’ve made the decision for comprehensibility sake (and because Q1 2021 just ended) to average months into quarters, so you won’t actually see any instances of 100 below.
- Below, a given value in one table is not equal to the same value in another table. Because the values are relative and standardized against the peak volume for that topic, the values below are not comparable between wrestling companies. For example, below, a 50 for WWE is not equal to a 50 for AEW or any other company. You can put multiple topics on the same scale, but that’s not what we’re doing in this article other than in the above bar chart.
- This data is volume adjusted. But hasn’t Google search volume in general increased over time? How can we measure activity from 2004 on the same chart as 2021? The data is volume adjusted over time. It’s a measurement of searches as a percentage of all search activity. For more info, read the Google Trends FAQ.
WWE’s worldwide search volume declined again in Q1, for the seventeenth consecutive quarter.
If this was the stock market, we would say WWE’s search volume has been in recession since Q2 2017. That period is roughly when ticket & merchandise sales, and Network subs began declining.
But what about WWE’s domestic market? Maybe that’s different.
In the U.S., WWE’s search volume has been down 17 of 18 consecutive quarters. The exception was when volume was up 1% in Q2 2019.
All Elite Wrestling finally got a search topic in Trends this year.
Worldwide searches for AEW were up in Q1 by 4%. The U.S. trend is similar, up 7%.
Q2 2019 and Q4 2019 were big debut periods for AEW, when the company had its first pay-per-view and first Dynamite episode, respectively.
We’re only now getting into a “steady state” time for AEW where these comparisons are becoming meaningful.
New Japan is up 15% worldwide in Q1, which is probably skewed by the fact the company shut down for the pandemic at the end of February 2020. That’ll be a factor through Q3 comparisons as New Japan didn’t return to running events until July.
Queries in the U.S., though, are still falling. This was the ninth consecutive quarter of decline in U.S. volume, which notably began with the Q1 2019 launch of AEW, when former New Japan stars Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks signed with the new promotion.
But domestically for New Japan, searches remain strong. For Japan, Q1 2021 approached the quarterly high of Q1 2019.
Impact Wrestling search volume is a fraction of what it was in the early 2010s. But Impact has seen quarterly gains in three of the last four quarters. That lines up with the beginning of the pandemic, actually.
U.S. trends for Impact are comparable.
The Japanese-based women’s promotion Stardom continues to climb and outpace Ring of Honor and Dragongate in worldwide Google web search volume.
This is even with Stardom’s May 2020 data point excluded as volume was exceptionally high coinciding with the passing of Hana Kimura.
Note the above chart uses a logarithmic scale. AEW, NJPW, Impact are in a separate stratosphere relative to the other companies shown (and WWE in a stratosphere above that).
Google web search is suggestive at best, and other important metrics like ticket sales are hard to take any meaning from in the pandemic era, but it’s probably past time to start including Stardom in conversations when we consider, say, the fifth biggest pro-wrestling company in the world.
If you’re wondering where U.S-based brands like Major League Wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance fall in this comparison, Stardom is ahead of either by about 3x over the last twelve months, globally.
Stardom has grown in worldwide search for 20 consecutive quarters, since Q1 2017.
In Japan, volume for Stardom has doubled in many recent quarters, including Q1 2021.
In this U.S., though, the recently ended quarter put an end to twelve consecutive quarters of growth.
Ring of Honor
Ring of Honor searches appear to be at an all-time low. Could searches for ROH be lower now than in 2004? Google Trends also shows 13 consecutive quarters of decline, worldwide.
Searches for the Sinclair Broadcasting subsidiary peaked in 2015.
U.S. results for ROH are similar.
Brandon Thurston has written about wrestling business since 2015. He’s also worked as an independent wrestler and trainer.
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