Technology has certainly changed the presentation of professional wrestling. When television started, wrestling was one of the first genres to get national coverage because it was inexpensive to produce and very popular. The same can be said of cable television, where Ted Turner’s superstation TBS used Georgia Championship Wrestling as an early cornerstone of programming. Wrestlemania helped usher in the era of pay-per-view. Today wrestling content can be found on YouTube and other platforms. On February 24, 2014, wrestling fans will be introduced to the WWE Network, an online product that will feature a mix of on-demand programming and live streaming events on a variety of devices.
At $9.95 per month (minimum six month agreement), the WWE Network will offer the subscriber many different views of the world of sports entertainment. As the start day approaches, there are 5 specific things that will make the WWE Network a win for me:
· Live Pay-Per-View access . Subscribers will have live streaming access for every WWE pay-per-view, including Wrestlemania XXX. When one compares the average PPV cost of $55 to the approximately $120/year fee for the Network, it is a no-brainer! Casual fans that are not willing to spend over $350 for a year’s worth of PPV events will find this quite appealing.
· Monday Night Wars . Back in the 1990’s wrestling was at an all-time high. World Championship Wrestling competed head-to-head with the WWE every Monday night, making every RAW or Nitro program must-see television. Today we do not have that level of competition, but at the time both groups were putting out great characters and storylines. WWE Network will include episodes of RAW and Nitro, as well as archived episodes of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW).
· Every PPV ever ? The information about the WWE Network states that there are over 400 pay per view events available on demand. This includes WCW, ECW, and WWF/WWE events going back as far as Wrestlemania I in 1984. It is an opportunity to see the best of the modern era in their prime. The list includes Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Sting, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and Stone Cold Steve Austin, as well as today’s superstars John Cena, The Undertaker, and The Rock.
· Roundtable Discussion Events . Having watched wrestling now for over 35 years, I really enjoy seeing the Legends Roundtable where former and current wrestlers sit down to share stories from the road. The ability to look behind the curtain and see the men and women behind the characters is great fun and can be very interesting and entertaining.
· WWE NXT Wrestling . Like other sporting promotions, WWE has a “minor league” where tomorrow’s superstars go to be trained and groomed. NXT is currently available online or through streaming outlets, but will find a permanent home on Thursday nights on the WWE Network. Taped in Florida at Full Sail University, this program feels like the minimalist wrestling of old where the stories are told in a smaller venue without the big production features we see today. The next Daniel Bryan, Wyatt Family, or Big E Langston will be discovered on NXT, and we will be able to see it every week.
Whether you like the cartoonish performances of the 1980s, the gritty attitude of the 1990s, or the polished performances of the new millennium, the WWE Network promises to quench your thirst for WWE entertainment. It will be available for the Roku, Google, and Apple television platforms, and also as a downloadable app for watching on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Come Monday, I will be watching the Network kick off, and I am looking forward to a great ride.