WWE Network

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A year after its debut, the WWE Network is going strong.  Subscriber figures are at all times highs following Wrestlemania XXXI.  Business looks good for the McMahon’s as the network secures itself as a viable content delivery system for years to come.  The big question is:  Should you get the WWE Network?

The answer is an easy “yes.”  There is more to the story, though.  The $10 dollars per month, err … $9.99, is not that big of a financial burden.  To the contrary, it is super manageable.  Gone are the days of the six month commitment so grabbing the network does not carry the weight of a long-term agreement.  But let’s back up for a moment.

When the network was announced and debuted, I was totally into it.  As a child of the 80s, I was enamored with Saturday morning Hulkamania.  I sat in sleepy wonder as two muscle-bound fellas assertively talked out their issues in a makeshift barbershop.  I knew that they would work it out at the end of the day because they were brothers, and that’s what families do.  At least the called each other brother.

I was a child of the 80s but a teen of the 90s.  The Attitude Era hit me hard.  While I mocked the dregs with their nWo shirts, I found a renewed love of WWE.  It was exciting, entertaining and provocative – just what every teenage boy needs.  In the late 90s, WWE became synonymous with Monday nights with friends, eating Pizza Hut and drinking Mt. Dew.

Still today, the WWE brings the association of nostalgia of the 90s and 80s so the WWE Network announcement came with hope.  The king and Michael Cole did a great job of selling the network after announcement.  The company pulled out all the stops of bringing back the heavy-hitters from the distant and not-so-distant past to get the network over.  I was sold – on the free trial at least.  Did I like it?

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Sorry Vince.  No.  I didn’t like it.  At release, the content was thin.  I’m talking anorexia thin.  Where were the promised new series and documentaries recounting the Monday Night War?  They were absent.  Nowhere to be found.  I don’t need the RAW preshow or the Smackdown recap.  I needed some action.  The only new, original content available featured the performers speaking in character.  Nothing could interest me less.  I would not be paying for the WWE Network.

Skip ahead several months, Vince was no longer a billionaire due to lower than expected subscribers and the network dropped its 6-month term requirement.  They gave away a free month to showcase some new content.  Now you’re talking.  The Monday Night Wars was incredibly engaging and relevant if not a bit repetitious.  The Beyond the Ropes series pulled back the curtain to show the personalities out of the ring to chart their rise to fame.  The human stories.  It’s the behind-the-scenes backstabbing, conniving and sacrifice that makes the product captivating.  I don’t really care about the finished product as much as I care about the process along the way.

So, now I liked the WWE Network, but I still found myself canceling at the end of the trial.  At this point, I had two or three months of content without paying a cent.  What would get me to pay the much-hyped $9.99?  Wrestlemania XXXI.  Even during periods of not watching wrestling as an adult, I always watched WM.  My buddy’s brother would pay the $70 for the pay-per-view, get lots of food and treat us to the spectacle.  No one can pass on that.

This year was different since the brother made plans to watch elsewhere.  I had to step up to the plate.  Would I pay $70 HD PPV fees?  No way.  Would I pay the $9.99 and spend $40 in Pizza Hut to recreate the magic of 2000?  Yes way.  There we were, 15 years later watching the same event delivered in a completely new way.  The network included a tow hour pre-show with two matches that were good in their own right for a total of six hours of Wrestlemania action.

Along the way, the network would temporarily fluctuate between SD and HD as internet speeds shifted, but I never lost a second of any match.  Come to think of it, I have never had an issue with streaming content.  On my iPad, Apple TV or mirroring from my phone, the WWE Network has been more reliable than any other service I have tried.  Better than HBO Go, Netflix, Hulu and the complete list of kids’ apps.  Apparently, WWE was deliberate in their ability to overbuild the service.

My $9.99 takes me through the third week of April.  Will I continue?  No.  But I will sign up again.  For the casual to mid-level fan, the network is worthy of a month or two subscription during the year to binge on the released content before the 30 days expire.  I can’t say that there is any reason to pay $120 for the year, but is it worthy $20 per year?  YES! YES! YES!

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Consume.Review.Repeat. gives WWE Network 8 “Hell yeahs” out of 10.  The rating drops to 4 “Know your roles” out of 10 if you pay for a whole year.

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