Okay, so I’ve been playing with this thing for a little over a week now and I have some thoughts to share- maybe a sort of review, maybe not. But whacha’ gonna’ do, brutha’- ?
I signed up for the WWE network and purchased a Roku-2 in order to watch the programs through my television rather than my computer. I prefer the television and a remote control in my left hand for some strenuous thumb work as I sip from my diet soda with the right. I’m a machine, bay-bee. The Network offers options through a constant live stream in addition to “on-demand” options that I’ll discuss in further detail.
The WWE Network features just about every WCW, WWE, and ECW pay per view. I haven’t been able to identify any events that were truly “missing”, per se, but I’ve heard a few were excluded from the line-up. So what this means is that I can travel back through time and revisit some of my favorite memories in professional wrestling. Ricky Steamboat vs. Savage, Hart Foundation vs. The British Bulldogs, Mankind vs. Undertaker- and that’s just in the WWE. WCW shows like Jericho vs. Mysterio or ECW shows where Tajiri faces Super Crazy are all up for offer through the WWE network and that’s not half bad in and of itself. That’s a dang good chunk of time if I decide to go for a few marathon sessions.
The Network also offers past and rewind episodes of RAW, Smackdown, Superstars, and Main Event (Not the Saturday Night version, though… yet) in addition to the weekly NXT broadcast. The regular shows also feature “backstage” pre and post-shows to further promos and storylines in minor ways. The company is currently padding their additional material with episodes of ECW after midnight, episodes of WCCW broadcasts, and their “Legends of Wrestling” show once a highlight of the WWE On-Demand format from cable. There are plans for a further expansion down as time progresses, so this is by no means an expansive list on everything the Network plans to offer in terms of programming.
The true highlight of the network has absolutely been the focus of attention on NXT. The first live broadcast from the network featured a 2 hour live production of NXT that battered just about every other RAW and WWE pay per view I’ve seen in recent years. The fact that this is where the Wyatts, the Shield, Big E, Cesaro and various others were cutting their teeth for a long while should take a step in telling the level of competition and entertainment within the training camp. It works like a classic territory production with a weekly pre-taped broadcast and featuring talents like Adrien Neville, Bo Dallas, Emma, Sami Zayn, and The Ascension. Their “ppv”-quality broadcast may have served a dual purpose in testing the networks’ ability to broadcast Mania the end of the month as well as introducing fans to a new brand with an alternate format and new characters.
The current search engine through my Roku is a little limiting with some key searches disabled with regard to availability or promotional concerns. Most notably, a search for Chris Benoit will not yield any results despite his appearing in many Pay Per Views without edit. Those matches are still available but you will not find them through the WWE search engine. This isn’t a major fault with the service, however, so it largely becomes a non-entity.
The first week’s broadcast saw few problems, if any, with the live feed. The scheduled broadcasts seem to go off without a hitch. There were, however, a good many problems in coping with the on-demand features as some programs froze or brought error-messages to my Roku box. The week’s progress did improve the performance however and I am finding fewer and fewer stalls, glitches, or error messages with the on-demand features.
Here I’m just going to nitpick about what I am hoping to find… the WWE Old School option of programming seems limited to a very small number of MSG broadcasts. Tuesday Titans, Saturday Night Main Event, or the Saturday Morning and afternoon shows that I grew up on are missing and there are a number of moments from that period of time that I would love to relive. I would also like to see a look back at the old WCW regularly scheduled programming from TBS, their big broadcast show that was sort of like a PPV, and maybe some material from the USWA, Georgia, and AWA along with all the rest of the WWE programming. And with the advent of WWE movie studios, I’m sure the network will start to pad their broadcast material with movies like No Holds Barred, The Marine, and 12 Rounds.
At 9.99 a month and the additional promise of receiving every WWE PPV, this package absolutely delivers the goods. The only reason to not have the channel is if the budget is excessively tight or if a fan simply doesn’t own a single device through which the programming can be streamed. Purchasing the network does require a six month commitment but they really do charge only 9.99 a month as noted in my current billing information.