This month, we’ll be arriving at a show called “Battleground 2015.” Today, we’re not going to look at the content of the card, but rather the way a lot of us are going to be watching the show. I’m going to assume that a good chunk of the people reading this either will be or have the ability to watch the show on the WWE Network. This brings me to my question: how did we live without this thing?
We’ll begin by flashing back to early May. Like many of you, I planned on seeing “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” I was getting my tickets in advance and was lucky enough to see a pretty good deal: both the new Avengers movie and its predecessor for $13 total, which basically meant I was seeing the original for free. I wasn’t about to spend another $4 for a Coke and $5 for popcorn that I wasn’t going to finish, so it was a total cost of $13 for roughly five hours in the theater.
That’s not a bad deal and I gladly paid it, though to be fair I was willing to pay a fair amount to see the movie no matter what. However, as good of a deal as that was, it pales in comparison to the amazing deal we get every month with the WWE Network. I know I talk about this thing a lot, but the more I think about it the more amazed I really am by how great it truly is for wrestling fans.
As of today, I’ve spent about $170 on the WWE Network. If I was buying every pay per view every month in standard definition, that would get me through three months. Instead, it’s gotten me through 17 months of pay per views, plus everything else I care to watch, including the same show I paid for in the first place. Looking back, that’s so bizarre that it’s hard to fathom.
I’m a child of the 1990’s. That means that I remember a day when getting to rent a single wrestling tape for three days from the local Blockbuster (and by local I mean a ten minute drive at my parents’ whim) was the highlight of my week. Yeah there was “Monday Night Raw” and eventually “Monday Nitro”, but that meant I was seeing a few hours of wrestling a week, which just isn’t enough for a big wrestling fan.
This brings us to the obvious solution: home video. I had a pretty small tape collection, as like most children, I had limited funds and mostly had to rely on the used tape bin at the video store. That gave me about five WCW shows to watch over and over and whatever I could tape on my trust VCR. This became a problem as I would run out of space for a lot of my tapes, but they were all worth keeping because I could go back and watch a show over and over again. Of course some of these gems should only be watched as a means of torture, but at least it was wrestling.
Eventually Youtube came around to make things far easier on wrestling fans, but again I was at the mercy of whatever wrestling fans would put online for me to watch. On top of that there was the dreaded copyright claim, which still causes the big fans issues to this day. However, this was a major breakthrough as instead of downloading a show or watching a tape over and over, I could see stuff like “Saturday Night’s Main Event” or some random “Superstars” match with the click of a button.
And then, it happened. After years of speculation, it was officially announced that the WWE Network would launch in February 2014. What did this mean? A WWE channel? Like ESPN or HBO? It turned out that it was far, far better than we could have ever hoped for. Instead of sitting through a bunch of shows chopped up by commercials or again being at the whim of whatever the person running the channel decided to throw on, we were being given the keys to the kingdom.
Believe it or not, we were being given access to every single pay per view ever. Like, ever ever (please spare me the comments about the British pay per views not being on there. If you’ve never seen them, consider yourselves lucky as they’re just a step above a bad house show). If I wanted to watch say, “Survivor Series 1989” at 4:17pm on a Thursday in July, I could start the show with the click of a button.
Let’s stop with just the pay per views for now. I did the math on this and came up with something that blew my mind: if I watched nothing but the pay per views available on the WWE Network back to back 24/7, I would be watching wrestling for over four months without repeating a single thing. There’s something in there for everyone and if nothing else there has to be something you’ve forgotten seeing before.
Moving on from that, there’s the TV. All those years and years of “Monday Night Raw”, “Monday Nitro”, “Clash of the Champions”, “Saturday Night’s Main Event”, “Smackdown”, “Superstars” and “Prime Time Wrestling” to pick from. As wrestling fans, we often pine for the old days and say things like “it was better back in the day.” Well, here’s your chance to prove that “Monday Night Raw” was better back in 1998 than it was in 2014.
I’d go into the other stuff you can watch on there, such as the 60 or so documentaries available or the original stuff or the old school house shows or the precious baby of the wrestling world, “NXT”. Oh and there’s the whole every month’s new pay per view, including Wrestlemania which usually costs $60 on its own is included thing. That’s kind of worth mentioning too.
This costs $10 a month. That’s the cost of a day’s lunch and dinner or a ticket to a movie or probably an hour at your job. Let that sink in for a minute. Everything I mentioned earlier is available for less than three lattes at Starbucks. This weekend, I’m going to watch the latest WWE pay per view on my laptop through the service WWE offers for as much as I spent on a ten pack of socks at Wal-Mart.
I’ve been watching wrestling for over 27 years now and over that time, the method I use to watch the shows has changed multiple times. It’s gone from begging my parents to let me get a pay per view to listening to the shows on a scrambled pay per view channel to reading text updates on a website to watching them via a stream on the internet to paying for them all for a third of the price they cost me 20 years ago. Thinking back over those earlier years now, I have to wonder how I made it through all those years before the Network existed. It really is the best thing to happen to wrestling fans and I can’t believe how lucky we are to have it.
Do I sound like I’m sucking up to the WWE? Yeah, I am and with good reason. This is such a huge change in the way we get to be wrestling fans that it deserves this kind of praise. The WWE Network has given us unlimited access to more wrestling than we know what to do with. Yeah it may take some time to get to some stuff, but if you’re already running out of stuff to watch on there, I don’t know what to tell you. Sure, I could download all the shows from the internet and put them on DVDs and save the money, or I could just pay a low price and save myself all that time. I really don’t see why this is such a hard choice.
Enjoy the Network people, because if you’re a wrestling fan, it’s one of the best things that will ever happen to you.
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