If you could go back in time a few years and tell a wrestling fan that one day the WWE will have its own 24 hour wrestling network/streaming service, they probably wouldn’t believe such a thing was even a possibility, much less a reality. And yet, here we are.
With that thought out of the way, I humbly submit my pitch for this season’s must have gift for the wrestling fan in your life: a subscription to the WWE Network.
I got the network a few years ago when I started hearing how I was really missing out on something by not watching NXT, the networks “house-brand”, available only to subscribers. Throw into that pot the allure of watching all the PPVs for the low, low price of only 10.99 and it seemed like a sweet deal.
As it turned out, NXT paid for itself. It is the wrestling product that I want to consume in the amount I want to consume it: 1 hour a week, 4 big, 2 and half hour events a year. The stories are simple, Guy/Gal A wants to fight Guy/Gal B for either pride or a championship, and the matches are hard hitting and feature sensational in ring work. It was also my first exposure to indie/international darlings like Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Johnny Gargano and many more. It is wrestling made for wrestling fans. Yes, it’s still “sports entertainment” but the emphasis is heavily on the “sports” side.
Now, with the addition of NXT UK, a subject for another article because its my favourite thing right now, the network is a must have just for the yellow brand alone.
But wait… there’s more!
As a guy that used to watch WWE pay-per-views either at his girlfriends house with her grandma or via my buddies illegal descrambler, having access to every single event WWE does is a pretty solid come up. And since its the age of PVRs, I can watch them when I like and skip the filler matches. The main roster product isn’t for me, I get that as a viewer, but a monthly dose with big money matches as part of my network package is absolutely worth the price of admission.
With the main roster events and NXT taking up some space, its the original programming that is hit or miss for me. Some of the shows like Holy Foley or Camp WWE (an animated camp that features young versions of WWE stars as campers and Vince McMahon as camp director) are… not my cup of tea. Others, like Ride-A-Long (a reality show that follows a group of superstars travelling from one town to the next in a car), Table for Three (a diner show where three current or past performers are brought together for a conversation) and the really excellent WWE/24 (documentary series) are all worth a once in a while watch.
I could go on with shows like The Monday Night Wars, the WWE’s in house chronicle of the most exciting time in the history of the business narrated by Keith David and a slew of other original, wrestling related programs, but I still wouldn’t be done.
There’s 205 Live, the all cruiserweight brand, the aforementioned NXT UK, the now annual Mae Young Classic, Hidden Gems (rare matches) and others provide lots of in ring content and yet that’s still not all.
There is also all the tapes. Now, when you use a word like “all” it can be misleading, but when you are talking about every episode of RAW, Smackdown and Nitro. Every single WWE, WCW and ECW PPV ever and an ever growing library of older content from long since demised wrestling promotions, you are pretty close to the purest definition of the word.
It’s just so much stuff it makes your head spin but I could still go on and on and on.
Much like their pre-show slogan: Then, Now, Forever, the WWE Network is really the most extensive and impressive library of pro-wrestling/sports-entertainment content that has ever existed. There is so much stuff on there that I probably use 20% of what I’m paying for and still feel overwhelmed with options most of the time.
So why is the network the perfect gift for the wrestling geek in your life?
Because they saw Hogan vs Warrior live at the Skydome and seeing it again on their big screen TV will bring back some great memories.
Because they loved the attitude era and could watch Steve Austin hit guys with stunners and flip the bird til the end of time.
Because they really want to know why Charlotte Flair has a tattoo on her wrist.
Because, like me, they didn’t know they loved British wrestling until they saw it.
Because they want to watch the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania every year.
Because they’ve always wondered what a WWE cartoon about a children’s camp with swearing would be like and for 10.99 a month they can find out.
And after all that… I haven’t even mentioned that its a portable, streaming service you can use on your phone.
So if you have a person in your life with an n.W.o. shirt in the bottom of a drawer somewhere or that watches RAW every week and wishes for something more or that just like wrestling a whole heck of a lot, there is no better gift than the WWE Network.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some British wrestling to catch up on.
Happy holidays… Brrrrooooooothers. (and sisters!)