I crawled into bed late last night to watch TV. Channel after channel, nothing tickled my fancy until I said “Hey, you have the WWE Network.” I logged onto my iPhone and fell asleep watching WrestleMania Rewind chronicling the iconic confrontation between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. When I woke up, I realized I’d just experienced something that my ten year old self could only dream of.
The launch of the WWE Network was marred by a slew of technical problems and company earned all the negative press they received. Now that the issues have been mostly resolved, I’ve been enjoying the network to no end. The live stream of continuous content makes the network a legitimate programming option similar to HBO or Showtime.
The first event I watched was Heatwave 2000. I was a big ECW fan and it brought back memories of an impromptu party I had at my parents’ house that night when they were out of town. Jerry Lynn vs. Steve Corino was the match of the night because it caused all of the indistinct chatter in my living room to stop and captivated our attention.
With so many shows to choose from, what should you sink your teeth into? Well, if you have some spare time or decided to call out sick for a few days, I have some recommendations, in no particular order, of shows that are an absolute must.
Beyond the Ring – Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels: In the 90’s you were either team HITMAN or team HBK. Their rivalry was so heated behind the camera that it manifested itself in front of it. The two legends sit down and discuss their time together in the WWE, including the Montreal incident. Jim Ross is the moderator and seamlessly gets them to open up like never before.
Bash at the Beach: 1996: The historical significance of this event is undeniable. Hulk Hogan turns heel, betrays WCW, and forms the nWo with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. A lot of younger fans are seeing the Hulkster for the first time with his current role in WWE. While it obvious to them that he was the hero of yesteryear, seeing the moment he became a villain will emphasize how revered he was. If that’s not enough, the match between Rey Mysterio Jr. and Psicosis, in their prime, was a high flyer’s delight.
Old School: When you hear the stories of wrestlers working three hundred plus days a year, it’s the house shows that take up the majority of their schedule. If you’ve never been to one or seen one filmed, this is a great chance to see some undiscovered gems. If you go to the vault heading and click on ‘Old School’ you’ll find events headlined by some of the biggest names in the business.
Royal Rumble 1992: Ric Flair won the WWF title, seven months after leaving WCW and in the process put on the single greatest Rumble match performance in history.
Living Dangerously 1998: The energy inside Asbury Park Convention Center could be felt at home. New Jack and Spike Dudley’s balcony dive will make anyone chant E-C-DUB, Al Snow made sure everyone got head as Lance Storm’s mystery partner, and Taz went down in a shocking defeat when Bam Bam Bigelow put him through the ring and won the Television title. For my money, this was best pay-per-view outing of the original ECW.
No Way Out 2001: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Triple H in Three Stages of Hell. ‘Nuff Said.
Great American Bash 1989: I was late to the party on this one and was concerned that it wouldn’t live up to the hype of being this legendary extravaganza worthy of the gods. I’m happy to report that this is a fantastic show that is highly entertaining and has a little something for everyone. Sting vs. The Great Muta was an eight-minute, high-speed thrill ride that delivered the goods. Lex Luger more than held his own against the consummate pro in Ricky Steamboat, and Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk tore the house down as only they can.
WrestleMania X – Seven: With the thirtieth anniversary right around the corner, you can’t go wrong with watching what is widely considered the greatest WrestleMania of all time. This event has everything you can ask for. The TLC Ladder match delivered a plethora of amazing high spots, family drama between Shane McMahon and Vince McMahon provided that soap opera element, the Gimmick Battle Royal was a humorous affair, Undertaker vs. Triple H practically steals the show, and Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock was the definition of a main event.
AAA World’s Collide: November 6, 1994 is the night when the U.S. audience got their first look at Konnan, Psicosis, Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero. The event was co-promoted by WCW and highlighted the Lucha Libre flavor of wrestling. Fans who watched it live were in awe of the intense high flying in-ring action. The co-main event featured Octagón and El Hijo del Santo vs. Art Barr and Eddy Guerrero in a two out of three falls Mask vs. Hair match. Barr and Guerr conjured up fan heat that today’s heels can only dream of. This event is currently not on the network but when it lands, WATCH IT IMMEDIATELY!!!
I’m loving life right now with the network, but the real test of my affection, and many others, will take place on April 6, 2014. WWE isn’t just offering WrestleMania free-of-charge, they are asking us to take a leap of faith with them by changing the way we watch pay-per-view. Twenty four years of calling an operator or pressing a button on a remote control gave us a clear picture, sound, and uninterrupted viewing.
To say WWE needs to get this right is an understatement. There can’t be one outage or a single buffering issue because at the end of the day, consumer confidence is everything. If they lose that, they lose everything. My fingers will be crossed along with everyone else’s in hope that WWE will have all of their ducks in a row.