By Bill Arceneaux
Pro wrestling is something that I’m not ashamed to admit I like. I’ve been a fan since 2000, and have been absorbing its action and history ever since. The stigma that the medium is “low brow” isn’t completely inappropriate – I can certainly point to a few moments – but it is pretty inaccurate. In the documentary Beyond the Mat, Vince McMahon, the head of World Wrestling Entertainment, said, “We make movies.” Indeed, his operation is a full-fledged media production suite, giving the performers under his command the opportunity to transform into characters.
But do these characters inhabit movies we all want to see?
Earlier this year, WWE launched their own streaming network – WWE Network – available online and on gaming consoles and devices like Roku. It’s a combination of streaming channel and video on demand library, including material like past pay per view events and original content made exclusively for the network.
Thus far, WWE Network has been a boon for fans like me who used to collect VHS tapes and such, and I would highly recommend other fans to go ahead and subscribe. Only $9.99 a month, people. Allow me to highlight a few shows:
Originally started as a sort of reality/competition show for up and coming performers, NXT is now its own mini promotion. Young men and women grapple with one another in an effort to climb the proverbial ladder and make it to the main WWE roster. Along with regular Thursday night episodes are special live events, occurring every couple of months, featuring title bouts and a big time feel.
The Monday Night War: Who’s Next?
During the 1990s, WWE and World Championship Wrestling were in a ratings battle, both having a show every Monday night at the same time. Wrestlers would switch brands, storylines would be one upped and fans allegiances would be tested. The Monday Night War is a documentary series chronicling the people and aspects of this fight.
On Who’s Next?, the show turns its focus to Bill Goldberg, the former football player turned wrestling beast. Famously known for his win streak in WCW, Goldberg is shown as someone who entered the business not out of love but for security. A self proclaimed time card puncher, Goldberg is revealed to have been nothing more than a product of marketing, a gimmick with little chance of long term growth.
This episode completely changed my outlook on both WWE and WCW, as well as my feelings on some performers. Sincerity gives way to greed sometimes.
Every year, WWE sells out a large stadium, to host their crowning achievement event Wrestlemania. This year, number 30 (XXX) played out at the Mercedez Benz Superdome in New Orleans. While I had to sit at home – just miles from the dome – I was still able to enjoy the festivities for free on the network. While I don’t want to put on the label “epic”, being able to watch the rise of wrestler Daniel Bryan was most definitely awesome.
All in all, something for everyone can be found. Give WWE Network a try!