The Economics of The Streak and Why You Don’t Get to Be Happy
I hate to break it to all the rabid Punk fans out there (including myself), but the chances that Punk breaks the Undertaker’s undefeated streak are slim to none.
And no, it’s not because The Streak is a sacred badge that defines Taker’s legacy. To say such a thing is actually to insult the incredible career of The Undertaker, the legacy of which is far greater than a win-loss summary — even a pristine, legendary one. I think it’s actually 50/50 that The Streak will one day end. It just won’t end this year.
And no, it’s not because CM Punk isn’t a worthy streak-breaker. He is. In fact, it could be argued that breaking the streak could provide Punk the final rub he would need to catapult him on a 2013 run that could rival the one he had in 2012.
The reason Punk is not breaking The Streak this year has nothing to do with any of the arguments whose force lies in kayfabe explanations. It has everything to do with real life economics.
Economics 101: Lesson 1 – Opportunity Cost
The term “opportunity cost” should be familiar to any person who has ever taken a college level introductory course in economics. Wikipedia provides a good, simple definition: “Opportunity cost is the cost of any activity measured in terms of the value of the next best alternative forgone (that is not chosen).”
To illustrate this principle; imagine you go to one of those Mexican restaurants fake Zeb Coulter doesn’t want you to eat at. You buy a burrito and, because you’re a real american, it tastes like shit to you. Let’s say you paid 5 bucks for it. In normal conversation, it’s fair to say you just blew 5 dollars (the cost of the meal was 5 dollars). But in strict economic terms, your meal cost more than that: It cost 5 dollars + opportunity cost. In this example, opportunity cost is defined as whatever pleasure you would have received if you had eaten a good ole American cheeseburger. Let’s say the pleasure you would have received is worth 2 dollars. Then your total economic costs were 7 dollars ($5 bucks for your meal + $2 bucks for the pleasure of the burger you never got to eat).
The principle applies to mortgages as well. The monthly economic cost of a mortgage is not just what you pay to the bank, but is also any profit you could have made had you rented the property INSTEAD of living in it yourself.
In truth you can apply the concept of opportunity cost to any real life example in which you give up one thing to get another.
But how does it apply to wrestling? What is the opportunity cost for breaking The Streak?
The answer: it’s every match that could have benefited from The Streak being on the line, that can’t happen once The Streak is broken. If that future match is more valuable than the rub given to the streak breaker, it’s economically foolish to break the streak. And remember, unlike our example of the cheeseburger, all of these matches — those that have already happened and those that have yet to happen — have a dollar value that WWE financial people are almost certainly calculating.
The question then becomes, is there such a potential future match, with a low risk premium (the chance that it won’t happen or that it won’t generate the revenue expected of it), that would make breaking The Streak now a foolish move economically? And now, if you are brutally honest with yourself, you know that there is and it’s glaringly obvious.
John Cena vs. The Undertaker. This match has never happened at Wrestlemania with The Streak on the line; therefore it MUST happen. To not capitalize on this gazillion dollar match would be the equivalent of flushing money down the toilet.
Now I know what some of you are thinking: The Undertaker is old, maybe he just wants to quit. But let’s be real. The dude wrestles once a freaking year. I’m pretty sure he can lace up his boots one more time next year for one last epic payday. Why wouldn’t he? He literally just has to show up.
You see, at the end of the day, these wrestlers aren’t wrestling primarily for legacies or the perfect poetic ending to a career. They wrestle for dem dollas. Dolla, dolla bills ya’ll.
The Streak may end someday…or maybe it won’t. But it’s not going to end until every red cent is bled out of it. You know it. I know it.
Sorry for ruining Wrestlemania.
Wrestlmania 30: John Cena vs. The Undertaker. Is anyone really going to argue that this wouldn’t be one of the biggest drawing main events ever, especially if Punk is added to the list of legends The Undertaker beats. It will be Superman vs. The Devil. And you know paranoid smarks everywhere are going to have the sweats because they know that WWE might just give the ultimate rub to John Cena. It would drive people crazy. How are they NOT going to capitalize on the buzz created by Cena vs. Taker. The answer is, they DO capitalize. Book it. I’ve never been more certain of a wrestling prediction. Why? Because everybody’s gotta price, everybody’s gonna pay, cause the million dollar man (Vince) always gets his way.