First Impressions: The WWE Network

Coming soon...maybe.

Logo owned by WWE.

As you may have heard, the WWE Network recently expanded to markets outside of the United States. While the majority of countries get more or less the same product as the USA, i.e. Over-the-Top content like Netflix, here in Canada it’s different.

As part of a large 10 year contract, Rogers got the rights to air the Network as it was first intended, as a TV channel. While Rogers rushes the network through the CRTC processes they’ve given the network as smaller channel to show off what the network will bring.

While this deal only works with Rogers users, a company that isn’t even available throughout all of Canada, Rogers will deal with any other providers who want the service in the future.

So for those who either can’t get it or don’t want to jump on right now, here’s what I think of the service after just a few weeks.

Original Content:

One of the selling points of the network is it’s push for original programming. While most of these more or less boil down to repackaging older content, there are a few that really stand out. So let’s break this down show by show;

i -Legends House

Old People doing old people things...why isn't it called WCW in 96?

Old People doing old people things…why isn’t it called WCW in 96?

When I heard the reviews for Legends House were bad I thought that the reaction could be chalked up to Wrestling fans not understanding what the show was, and hating the Celebrity House like show out of spite. However, upon my first viewing it’s clear that these reactions were in fact valid.

Legends House follows a bunch of old wrestlers and two old announcers as they sit in a house and yell at each other and sometimes tell stories about their personal lives. If that sounds interesting to you I assure you you’re wrong. The show features so little in form of conflict, activities or entertainment that it makes the network look all the more laughable for making this a selling point in the first place.

What little of anything we get generally boils down to the Legends yelling at Tony Atlas for being odd, old and annoying. While this could open up for some funny moments every now and then, it comes across more as sad. Later it just becomes infuriating and you’ll quickly change the channel.

I’d pass on this one. The only trouble is it’s playing on the Network like four times a day. Great time slot placement guys.

ii-WrestleMania Rewind

Bringing all the Mania Main Events except for WM 20. We try to forget that one.

Bringing all the Mania main events except for WM 20. We try to forget that one.

While Legends House was about old wrestlers sitting in a house waxing poetically about the glory days, the WrestleMania Rewind shows said glory days.

The show is an hour program that highlights one main event feud from past WrestleMania cards such as Hogan vs. Andre. The majority of the show is made up of voice-overs and interviews from superstars past and present as they set up and put the feud into context. Then the show plays the match with some post match thoughts thrown in at the end.

Much like another show on this list, the interest of this show depends on the feud that they’re discussing at the time. While Hogan and Andre is historical, some fans might be a little tired of seeing the same body slam for the hundredth time. Other episodes focus on Bret Harts WrestleMania X matches or even the main event between heel champion Macho Man and baby face Hogan.

Overall, the show is a fun trip down memory lane. For older fans these might be old news, but for some newer fans this is a chance to understand what made the company into what it is today.

iii-Total Divas

All the "fun" of watching a Diva's segment on RAW. But with out the boring wrestling.

All the “fun” of watching a Diva’s segment on RAW, but without the boring wrestling stuff.

Ok so this one isn’t really an original show, but a co-production between the WWE and E Network who runs the show first, however, the Network still pushes the show as if it’s a major selling point.

Total Divas follows the exploits of SOME of the female wrestlers on the main roster and two people you’ve never heard of. Yes both JoJo and Eva Marie were added to the show as two rookies who would make their way up to the main roster. And boy did they ever, as JoJo now does ring announcing for NXT and Marie is barely on an episode of Superstars. Top Marks all around (insert heavy sarcasm).

It would be easy for me to just copy and paste the section about Legends House and change some of the words but that would undermine the point of the show. The basic point is that both E and the WWE tried to make a similar show and E clearly did a better job…but not by much.

Wrestling has a predominately male audience, and I understand that the idea was to try and baluster their female audience with this “reality” show but in the end the show is a mess.

Is it in Kayfabe? Yes it is as some story-lines advance in the show and the WWE TV produces segments around past episodes, but it’s a reality show. Additionally characters are often shown being called by both their real names or the Wrestling names. Either way this one isn’t for me, and again it airs add noisome on the Network.

iv-Countdown

How many CM Punk clips can we have on one episode?

How many CM Punk clips can we have on one episode?

The show is kind of what you’d expect. A topic is brought up, the WWE Fans vote and the Superstars add context to each ranking and topic. It can be pretty fun depending on the topic at hand.

v-Original Documentaries

More of this please.

More of this please.

While the WWE Documentary Team has normally just worked on DVDs, now they produce programming just for the network. The three biggest examples being Journey to Both WrestleMania and SummerSlam and the Ultimate Warrior memorial special. While these are few and far between, these are the things that’ll keep hardcore fans coming back to the channel.

They’re well produced, edited and feature some great interviews from current talent. Additionally the camera crews get a great deal of access to the talent and to add context some footage from the wrestlers past is used. I never thought I’d be happy to see some CZW footage but it helped add context to Dean Ambrose’s story. Please give us more of this.

vi-WWE Events

Future Main Eventers and Jobbers, today!

Future Main Eventers and Jobbers, today!

Another big selling point of the Network are their exclusive wrestling shows as Main Event, NXT, Superstars and live PPVs and NXT Specials all air on the channel. While these shows range in importance (with Superstars being kind of a joke/recap show at best) I’ve had some entertainment watching them. In the case of Main Event, the show feels different from Smackdown due to it’s shorter running time and it’s live nature. Sure it’s still a particle clip show with a few mid card matches but the match combinations are interesting, such as the Uso’s taking on both Rybaxel and RVD/Sheamus.

Despite the some times entertaining Main Events, NXT should be the main focus. I watched the show a great deal even before the channels start as the Sportsnet 360 aired it against TNA’s Impact Wrestling on Spike. The show is fast, fun and action packed. All of the things you want in a wrestling show. Plus the roster is deep in some area’s showing us just who will be knocking at the WWE’s door in the next few months.

Overall the new content for the Network is hit or miss. Sure they have some great documentaries, repackaged shows and solid original wrestling but the rest of the time slots are filled with Total Diva’s and Legends House. That being said, it’s easy to pick and choice what to watch, just take a nap in between the Bella’s star vehicle.

On Demand Service:

This will be short. The On Demand library is small…very small. It doesn’t help that this is a small preview of the channel before the CRTC approves it but the selection was poor at best in the begining. Sure we got some SummerSlams and WCW and ECW summer PPVs but the overall menu looked small in comparison to the Over-the-top version.

Now with that said, this isn’t a huge problem. At a few points in the week, the network has a number of interesting programs such as old WCW PPVs that air and are PVRable. While some American’s might not get the appeal of showing old WCW shows, we in Canada do as the rival promotion basically didn’t have a horse in the Canadian market. Sure they had some TV at a horrible hour and PPV coverage but the product was hidden away behind TSN’s push of the WWF.

So if you don’t like what’s on demand, just hunt around and PVR something interesting.

Price:

Yes this is a thing. Weirdly the biggest problem I have with it is the fact it doesn't have "with a 6 month commitment" written on the back.

Yes this is a thing. Weirdly the biggest problem I have with it is the fact it doesn’t have “with a 6 month commitment” written on the back.

While the WWE might have made it their business to say $9.99 at every turn, the price is different in Canada. To get the network fans will be paying $11.99 a month with no obligations (i.e. six months). While this is more than the other package your still getting all of the PPVs on your TV for that price. Again on your TV, not internet. So it makes the deal even sweeter not having worry about lagging or disconnecting internet. You can sit back and watch Brock Lesnar destroy John Cena for 16 minutes with a worry.

In The End:

While it might seems like it’s a worse deal, the WWE Network in Canada is still a steal for wrestling fans. You get the PPVs for A LOT less, the original content, access to SOME on demand and you don’t have to worry about online connections. If you’re in a Rogers area and are a wrestling with 12 bucks a month to spare, the Network is a fans dream.

Here's an unrelated image of Booker T.

Here’s an unrelated image of Booker T.

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