My experience exploring the WWE Network during the one month free trial

This is probably the first article where I will say up front there is a video in the works. Okay maybe not but there is a video in the works. That shouldn’t stop you from reading this anyways. I will keep this focused on a brief overview of my impression of the WWE Network app and the content library thus far as I explored the 1 month free trial.

I will offer a brief background on how I got here. As a kid I had cousins and uncles that were very into professional wrestling. My dad was not. He made fun of it and its fans. I was torn. During the 90s I witness the rise of the WCW NWO and the Raw is War Attitude Era during the Monday Night Wars. My friends were all caught up on the drama. I was a spectator on the sidelines scratching my head. A friend said, it’s like a soap opera for guys. Another friend said, it’s like a comic book show without the special effects. That resonated more with me so I gave it a try. I was lost and walked away for several years, dismissive of the entire phenomenon.

A couple of years ago I was working at a small town newspaper in Texas. A man walked in by the name of Michael Smith. His professional wrestling name was Sam Houston. He introduced himself and told me the highlights of his career, having been in the first ever Royal Rumble. At the time I heard the name Royal Rumble, knew nothing else of it. Needless to say upon hearing his story, both professional and personal, I was intrigued. His dad, Grizzly Smith, was a bona fide legend, his brother, Jake the Snake Roberts a true superstar. The more I learned the more I wanted to learn. We became friends. I did a video for him, he took me on a road trip to see the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Wichita Falls, Texas. It was great. He’s gone back into his world and my career took me down a different path so we ultimately parted ways. Still, it was an experience I will never forget.

During the time I was listening to the Completely Unnecessary Podcast with Pat The NES Punk and co host Ian Ferguson. They talked about WWE stuff a lot so I became more curious. I decided to give it all a shot and started watching some Pay Per Views and things with friends. I was still lost and gave up after a few weeks.

Last year I bought a home. As a result I installed an antenna to get OTA reception on my TV set. I was flipping through the channels and stumbled upon Friday Night SmackDown. I became enamored with the action and the beef between some guy named Corbin and a clown getting dog food dumped all over himself. I decided okay I will give this an honest try. I read up. Did my homework and learned the ins and outs of the sport/show. I came at it from the perspective of a former TV producer. I decided to treat it like a TV show, with seasons, story lines, characters etc., Thus I decided I was going to follow SmackDown live each Friday night as time permitted. Then I would catch up on the WWE Network. I downloaded the app, signed up for the free trial and  began exploring the content.

Library.

Vast. That is the one word that described the amount of content available in their library. Even though it is a single topic it has Netflix and Hulu beat by shear amount of videos available to watch. I am not saying everything is worth viewing but it’s all there, for the most part. I was disappointed to learn SmackDown was a month behind the broadcast so keeping up was going to be a challenge.

Exploring.

I started with some random matches of people I remembered. Andre the Giant, Macho Man, Hulk Hogan, Bam Bam Bigalo, a few others who’s names stuck in my brain. Then I shifted. I went through the first few years of Nitro, all the way through the NWO take over. I watched the first season of Monday Night Raw. I watched the corresponding Pay Per Views as they arose during the season. So if they were promoting a specific pay per view that episode of Raw, upon completion I immediately dove into said PPV and kept going, not skipping a beat. After a few weeks of this, seeing some of the documentaries and continuing to explore some of the catalog stuff, I decided to settle into my groove.

The discovery.

I kind of like it. I mean kind of as in more than I thought I would. I finally, at least marginally understand it more than I did before. I kind of get kayfabe now, I kind of understand how the story lines work and what is going on. Before I never knew anything just it was a mess and never made sense. I also get the rules of the matches and the moves now. It makes for a far more entertaining experience. Plus my heart beats for Nikki Cross I will thoroughly enjoy watching her career unfold.

Going forward.

Right now my viewing habit is centered around going through last year of SmackDown and dabbling in Raw to get caught up. I will continue to revisit the old Raw episodes as go though the seasons as I find time watching documentaries that pique my interest along the way. Then I will keep my eye out on certain PPV events that I will consider watching as they happen. Right now I have made plans to make a day out of watching the Royal Rumble this year. I will also look forward to seeing Wrestlemania when it happens. I have recently watched TLC and Survivor Series as a starting point.

Each week I intend to watch SmackDown on Friday nights live, as life allows. Then I will go through the backlog on weekends and as I find the time. My goal is not to consume every piece of content in that library, I’d decay into a rotten corpse before time would allow. However I have mapped out the path I wish to follow.

Hulkamania.

First path I want to follow is the rise of Hulkamania through the turn to heel. I will watch every match, TV show and PPV that featured Hulk Hogan and watch his career unfold. I will take detours to follow Macho Man and Rick Flair along the way to see how things go there. I expect this to be a process that will take time. My intention is to do so sporadically, maybe get through a few matches and one PPV a week. Once I complete this story line or saga I will shift to the next super star I intend to follow.

Stone Cold Era

I want to start with his debut and follow his career in the same fashion as Hogan. There’s not half as much content to get through so it shouldn’t take nearly as long. All along the way I will be skipping the filler stuff I don’t care about, except with the PPV’s I have a separate plan for those. The only side quests I will follow here is the team up with The Rock and maybe see where that goes.

Mankind

After watching the Monday Night War episode on this guy I fully want to go back and watch the entire career of Mick Foley from Mankind to his other incarnations. This is the only one aside from Hogan I intend to watch the interviews as well as the matches.

Pay Per Views

During this exploration my hope is to get through the entire Wrestlemania and Royal Rumble saga. I watched the first seven Royal Rumbles in a row and did the first three Wrestlemania’s already. I will watch them in their place, or at least the respective matches that pertain to the sagas as I follow so these I will watch out of order first viewing as they arise and then a full run as I go back and watch them one after another. Due to the run times this will be a long term commitment.

In the meantime I am only watching these older sagas in small doses. I won’t binge a Hogan series but I will watch a few matches, a PPV and the aftermath maybe each week or so.

Overall I am enjoying exploring all the content available. Right now I am making Jan 1 2019 the starting point and working forward from there. I will view all the Smackdown episodes, in order, in conjunction with the corresponding Raw on the app with PPV’s as they arise. I don’t have cable so the only chance I have of viewing Raw timely is on YouTube apparently so I will try to take advantage of that, once I am caught up.

NTX is on my radar but right now I want to focus on the main stuff. Once I am caught up, hopefully before this year’s Wrestlemania, I will go back to the start of King Corbin and follow his career to today. I might do the same with Roman Reigns, Danial Bryan and The Fiend but I am not sure yet. Overall I am really enjoying the content as I am exploring this wide world of sports entertainment I missed out on over the years. Stay Cool.

 

My experiences with professional wrestling

A couple of weeks ago I did a retrospective where I looked back at all of my near-misses with G.I. Joe and how, for all intents and purposes, I should have gotten really into that franchise, yet somehow didn’t.

I want to do the same thing with the sports entertainment known as professional wrestling. My opinions of this topic has teetered back and forth over the years, I suspect mainly for some of the same reasons I wanted to get into G.I. Joe, but couldn’t. So let’s start at the beginning.

First, I never cared that ti was “fake” or “rigged” or whatever. My earliest memories of pro wrestling was, of course, Sgt. Slaughter who appeared on G.I. Joe, and Mr. T, who not only appeared in the A-Team, which I did watch, but also in Rocky 3, a movie franchise I watched regularly growing up. But, I actually knew of Sgt. Slaughter BEFORE I saw him on the cartoon. I distinctly remember having an uncle introduce me to a WWF wrestling match that had Sgt. Slaughter facing off against some guy who I can’t for the life of me remember anything about. My dad sort of watched wrestling, or wrasslan, as he called it. I also had uncles and friends who were into the “sport” as well. I never got into real sports that much as a kid so it was easy for me to dismiss professional wrestling as just another boring sport. The thing is, I always enjoyed the colorful characters, the way they tried to make it like there was a story, and the video games, if nothing else I can say I did play a lot of wrestling games, especially the ones on NES and Genesis, to me those were definitely worthy games to play.

My interest began to wind down in the late 1990’s. I tried following wrestling into the early 90’s but we never had cable and we couldn’t watch Pay-Per-View, so my exposure was very limited. As time went on and the characters I remembered went on to do movies or TV commercials, I started to lose interest. I also became even more involved with video games and comic books, which to me I always saw wrestling as a perfect blend of live-action video games and as good as we were going to get, at the time, live-action comic book type stories and characters.

Sometime in the late 90’s, around the PS1 and N64 ere, I took a weird turn. Suddenly as wrestling became more popular, as more of my friends got into it and it grew into more than just some weird things only weirdos like me enjoyed, it became very mainstream, I stopped caring all together. It had nothing to do with it becoming mainstream, in fact I still loved MTV’s Celebrity Death Match, and I would occasionally tune into WCW Nitro or WWF Raw with a friend once in a while, yet I never knew what was going on, my real issue was I got out of it, and I didn’t know what was going on. I tried getting back in when “Hollywood Hogan” was doing his WCW NWO thing, which to this day I still don’t entirely know what was going on. What happened with the N64 and PS1 was, I lost interest in sports and “extreme sports” especially. I didn’t get into Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, or Wave Race, etc., I dug my heals in and played Mario, Mortal Kombat, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, games that, to me at the time, represented real or “pure” gamer games, and I shunned all sports games, including wrestling. I had plenty of sports games on NES, SNES and especially Genesis. Not just the staples either like NBA Jam, or Skate or Die, you know the sports games it was okay for gamers to play. I had NHL 94, RBI Baseball on Sega, I had Joe Montana Sports Talk Football, hell I even had a ton of generic random Nintendo published sports games, not the Mario stuff but Pro Action Football, Tecmo Bowl, etc, Blades of Steel, I played sports games, I didn’t watch them on TV but I played the video games.

I always felt like with wrestling, there was no reason for me to not get into it. I like comic books, I like video games, I like fighting games and beat-em-ups especially, why wouldn’t I get into it? When I was in college I had to do a group presentation and the topic we did was the history of professional wrestling. I discovered that learning the history of the popular form of entertainment did soften my attitude towards it, but still not enough to develop a further curiosity.

Fast forward a few years and I recently started listen to certain podcasts by other gamers with similar interest as myself and they talk about pro wrestling a lot. I guess as I look back over the years the on thing that stands out in my mind the most is how close I came to becoming an actual fan of wrestling. One thing that I am certain happened was as I became more into comic book and super hero movies, and as the quality of those movies improved, I had less of a reason to go back and try to make sense out of what was going on with WWE and everything else.

I never attended any live matches, I never watched any of the pay-per-views, Royal Rumbles, or Wrestlemania’s, so for me I guess I just never got into it, even though a part of me always wanted to. I have been contemplating digging up some old matches online sometime and maybe just seeing if I can get into it. In the meantime I just look back at another thing that I came so close to enjoying, yet somehow missed out on.