Let me start off by setting the stage. While I watched Professional Wrestling when I was younger, and the Ultimate Warrior (R.I.P. Warrior!) was, is and always will be my favorite wrestler, I really caught the wrestling bug in ’97, right at the height of the NWO era in WCW, just in time to catch the Attitude era as it shot WWF into the top, and eventually only, spot in the industry. I stayed a hardcore fan through high school and into my young adult life, but fell off the train after Wrestlemania XX, when I transferred over to a UFC fan (at the time, you could still only be one or the other). I haven’t watched a live event since, although I’ve picked up a few DVDs here and there of events and documentaries. However, I just couldn’t’ take it anymore, with the wealth of the library sitting there, waiting for me on WWE Network, I had to sign up. And it’s awesome!
Sure, you get to watch all of the live pay-per-views that air throughout the year, and you get all kinds of extra programming, talk shows, interviews, behind-the-scenes stuff, but that doesn’t really matter to me. I’m in it for the library, for all the old PPVs I wanted to get but couldn’t afford, for the nostalgia that comes with watching the classic matches when Pro Wrestling was at it’s hey day.
Naturally, I know what you’re saying. “Why don’t you just pirate everything?” And yeah, I could do that. And even if I forgot the moral opposition I hold against pirating entertainment content, that’s still a lot of work. Hunting down good feeds, waiting to download with no idea of the actual quality once I’m able to view it, pirating is way too much work for the level of watching that compares to the hours I plan to put in on WWE Network.
And let me tell you my plan: starting with the 1996 Bash at the Beach, the most historic PPV in all of professional wrestling, the PPV that ends with Hulk Hogan turning heel and begins the NWO, the Monday Night Wars, and the greatest era Pro Wrestling has ever seen, I plan on watching every PPV WCW put on until it’s demise at the hands of Vince McMahon. Of course, I’ll be skipping some (at times I’m sure most) of the matches on each PPV, both for time and for quality’s sake. I mean, not every match on every PPV was all that great.
I’ll throw in some older matches for some variety, I could watch Ricky ‘the Dragon’ Steamboat all day. I’ll even venture out into WWE and ECW for shits and chair shots as I travel along my path of Pro Wrestling history. And as soon as I’m done I’ll be doing the same with WWE, probably starting early, like really early, like Muhammad Ali early if you know what I’m saying.
This endeavor may take me some time, it may be days or even weeks at a time between when I actually have the hours to sift through the matches, looking for the gems, those early Rey Mysterio vs Psychosis matches (like the one that kicks off the ’96 Bash at the Beach) that showcase early talent or true in ring story-tellers that have since been forgotten. WWE Network makes these matches fun to watch, in high quality, with an easy search engine to navigate through.
One thing I do really enjoy about the search engine, when you find a particular match to watch, and you click on the 6-man intergender hardcore rules match featuring Tommy Dreamer, Terry Funk and Beaulah vs Edge, Mick Foley and Lita, the site puts you at the start of that match within the entire WWE/ECW ‘One Night Stand’ pay-per-view, so that if you’re enjoying yourself, you can just keep right on watching the rest of that event. It’s a hell of a feature, although it may not seem like much, really allowing the viewer to get sucked into the majesty of a Pro Wrestling event.
Sure, I guess maybe the novelty of the network wears off after a while and I no longer see the value in paying for the service, but at only $9.99 a month with an option to not automatically resubscribe at the end of 6 months, for now I’m sticking with it. Already, when I’m at work I’m looking forward to the net time I’ll be able to veg out in front of my computer watching Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and the rest of the Horsemen jump and brawl and slam whoever stands in their way.