WWE Network Review: Does Vince McMahon’s Latest Gamble Pay Off?

Vince McMahon

Last Monday, after weeks of hype and promotion, and literal years of speculation, WWE unveiled the newest iteration of pay-tv sports-entertainment. There were a few issues out the gate. Fans lashed out on Twitter. Even by Thursday, major problems still kept cropping up at inopportune times. But this was a new streaming revolution, and as such, growing pains were to be expected. So the real question is: did WWE manage to overcome those obstacles to deliver a service worth investing in, or have early bandwidth issues created an uphill battle for McMahon & company? Read on to find out. [Read more...]

First 10 Things You Should Watch on WWE Network

wwe-networkThe big day is almost here, Christmas in February for wrestling fans with the WWE Network set to launch on Monday morning at 9:00a ET.  Over 1,500 hours of video-on-reman will be available immediately including all WWE, WCW and ECW pay-per-views.

If that isn’t enough, WWE will also include all new pay-per-views as well as encores of new episodes of Raw and Smackdown on the new WWE Network as well as other original programming.   Anyone that signs up gets all of that for free for a week and then for $9.99 a month with a six-month commitment.  Yeah, that’s a good deal.

With all of that video-on-demand programming available from there get-go, here are ten things you should watch after signing up for the WWE Network.

WWF Royal Rumble 1992 – Royal Rumble Match

A flamboyant Ric Flair had been talking for weeks about how we has going to become the WWF World Champion after joining the World Wrestling Federation just a few months earlier bragging about how he was the real world champion.  He had a tough road to go, entering the Royal Rumble at number three.  His manager Bobby Heenan was on commentary and nearly passed out every time that Flair was nearly eliminated.  But the Nature Boy survived nearly 60 minutes and in the end was able to push Sid Justice out of the ring with a helping hand from Hulk Hogan who was upset that Justice had taken him out a few seconds earlier.  After the match, Flair, Heenan and Curt Hennig — all wearing the biggest grins ever — bragged about the win with Flair exclaiming, “With a tear in my eye, this is the greatest moment in the history of my life!”  Wooo!

WrestleMania 25 – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

Both men had amazing entrances with Michaels decked in all white and he descended from the clouds while The Undertaker ascended from the floor surrounded by flames.  Even more amazing was the match these two would have, a nearly flawless performance by both legends in putting together an all-time classic and arguable the greatest match in WrestleMania history.  The Undertaker was nearly knocked out and could have possibly been permanently injured while performing a suicide dive over the ropes to the floor where Michaels pulled the cameraman in front of him.  The problem was that person was out of position and did not catch the Dead Man who torpedoed down on his head and neck.  Somehow, he was able to continue and after both men kicked our of each other’s finishers and the crowd in a frenzy, Michaels went for a moonsault for Undertaker caught him and went right into a Tombstone Piledriver for the win.

1999 ECW Living Dangerously – Jerry Lynn vs. Rob Van Dam

This was the first encounter between them in what would become the biggest feud in both men’s careers.  Both of them went 110% pulling out moves and countermoves and just crazy amounts of action, coming up with so many brutal yet innovative moves as they battled for the ECW Television Title.  After going to the 20-minute time limit with no winner, referee John Finnegan was ready to award the match to Lynn but he wanted none of that and insisted that they go another five minutes to get a clean winner.   That would backfire as Van Dam would connect on the Five Star Frog Splash a couple minutes later for the win.

WWE Summerslam 2002 – Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H

This was Michaels return to the ring after more than four years and it looked like he hadn’t missed a day.   Just so they could play it safe and have every trick at their disposal, this match was a non-sanctioned street fight.  Michaels wasn’t holding anything back and he even broke out a splash off the top rope sending Triple H through a table on the floor.  In the end, Michaels was able to reverse a Pedigree and roll up Hunter for the win in his big return.

WCW Superbrawl II – Brian Pillman vs. Justin Thunder Liger

An innovative match for its time in 1992 as they put on a display of aerial moves and countermoves against one another for nearly 20 minutes for the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship.  One of the best things WCW ever did was focus on the light heavyweight / cruiserweight division, helping bring in a style that most people in the U.S. had never seen before along with a new crop of stars.  Both of them shined but Pillman never looked better here pulling out the victory.

WWE Summerslam 2011 – CM Punk vs. John Cena

After having some real life contract issues with the company and dropping his infamous ‘pipe bomb” promo on Raw, Punk won the WWE Championship at the Money in the Bank PPV and looked to have left the company with its most prestigious title.  John Cena would later win a new version of the championship but Punk would return to face Cena as they would crown an undisputed champion.  An electric crowd was treated to a classic between the two who have always had tremendous chemistry together.  That would be the case again on this night with them going back and forth before Punk got the win after connecting on his second GTS of the match.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 – Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

A fantastic performance that helped further put cruiserweight wrestling on the map in the country.   The crowd was on fire as they showed off everything from some fantastic chain wrestling to high flying action showcasing their unbelievable skills.  Both Guerrero and Mysterio were in the prime of their careers and moving at such an unbelievable pace and working flawlessly in unison.  Mysterio was able to hit a huracanrada for the three count and winning the cruiserweight championship and holding on to his mask in the process.

ECW Heatwave 1998 – Masato Tanaka vs. Mike Awesome

This one is not for anyone squeamish as is turned into one of the more violent matches you have ever seen, going above and beyond with the number of physical power moves and unprotected chair shots that should be a case study for CTE.  Still, Tanaka and Awesome put on quite a display of perseverance and one-upmanship that saw Tanaka finally slay the giant.

WWF Summerslam 1992 – Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog

The WWF took this show across the pond to Wembley Stadium in London with their own British Bulldog challenging Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Championship in the main event.  A masterpiece between the two as they showcased great technical wrestling and an incredible story with Hart using his quickness and the bigger Bulldog focusing on power moves.  Hart tried to close out the match with a sunset flip but Bulldog reversed the move and pinned Hart to win the championship in front of a joyous crowd.

WWF WrestleMania 15 – The Rock vs. Steve Austin

The two biggest stars of the era clashing on the biggest stage with Austin at the popularity of his powers while The Rock was still growing into his.  Remember, The Rock was a heel before becoming the People’s Champion as he representing Mr. McMahon and the Corporation.  It’s great to look back at these two wrestling giants in the primes in this mega-clash.  It also turned out to be a great match as they exchanged finishers in the end with Austin finally landing a Stone Cold Stunner to win the WWF Championship.

Wrestling Stars Comment on Darren Young

We have been talking a good part of the day about WWE star Darren Young telling TMZ that he is gay. The WWE released a statement earlier today in the support of Young. We have seen top star John Cena comment, but have also seen top executives Triple H and Stephanie McMahon comment as well.

Now we have some of the wrestlers who compete in WWE, TNA, independent promotions and legends in wrestling comment about Young on Twitter.  [Read more...]

WWE Raw Rundown – May 27th, 2013

rawAfter two solid weeks of programming, WWE takes a few steps back with an overall mediocre show, highlighted by a couple of strong matches and one hugely entertaining segment.

The Good:

Memorial Day Tribute: Say what you will about WWE pandering to it’s fans, at least it has the respect to give back to our troops.

Opening Segment w/Paul Heyman & Curtis Axel: Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel came out after Ryback left to challenge John Cena. I like it, it gave Axel the spotlight again, and showed he was willing to fight. And at least John Cena looked like he takes this challenge seriously. Short but effective segment, and good build for the main event later.

Del Rio def. Big E Langston: Good continuation of last weeks rivalry, and a great way to keep Ziggler spotlighted while he’s on the sidelines. Still wish they would actually put him on the show (does a concussion mean he can’t talk on the mic?). Del Rio wins by smacking Big E into a ringpost. Wasn’t quite as much fun as the match from last week, and feels like a general retread, but I enjoyed seeing Del Rio pick up the win because of AJ’s mistake. Also, Del Rio deserves the win and, because of the fluke, keeps Big E from looking weak. Didn’t like the argument at the end between AJ and Big E Langston – are they setting up a potential breakup? I hope not. It feels too early.

Daniel Bryan and Kane backstage segment: Fun segment. I liked the surprise appearance by Bret Hart, and thought the pep-talk he gave to Bryan was entertaining. Plus, Bryan’s line – “And you? You’re just Kane.”

Dean Ambrose def. Kofi Kingston to retain the IC Championship: Besides the early commercial break, I enjoyed this. These guys match up very well. The crowd seemed reluctant to get into this at first, but the multiple near-falls drew people back in. Anti-climatic ending, with Kofi getting knocked out on the steel steps, but it made Ambrose look DOMINANT. Very good for him, and glad to see him win this one on his own. The brawl afterwards between Team Hell No and The Shield made sense, and was a perfect lead-in to the next segment.

The Shield def. Team Hell No to retain the Tag Team Titles: This rivalry has been a ton of fun. These two teams have a lot of in-ring chemistry, and I love the fact that each one has a “big guy/small guy” dynamic. This match isn’t quite as good as their fight last week, but I still enjoyed the heck out of it. The distention at the end between Kane and Bryan, which causes Kane to lose the match, still feels somewhat forced. Also, Daniel Bryan is insanely popular, so I question WWE’s decision to have him be the cause of Team Hell No’s downfall while treating Kane like the sympathetic teammate. On the other hand, I like Bryan a lot more when he’s acting crazy.

Triple H Update: I like how they explained Triple H’s injury last week came from the Sledgehammer to the jaw at Extreme Rules. It really helped sell the intensity of that match. By announcing him for next weeks show, they give us incentive to tune in.

Fandango def. Wade Barrett w/ The Miz as special guest referee: Fine for what it was. Basically, The Miz attacks everybody, and comes out looking like the babyface should. The next logical step in this three-man rivalry.

Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel w/ Paul Heyman: Finally something truly interesting happened on one of these “WWE Talk Show” segments. Probably the highlight of last night’s show. Love that Jericho addressed the CM Punk issue directly, and how it felt unexpected. Paul Heyman did such a great job defending Punk while still acting clueless, and Jericho goading him into a match seemed very believable. Also, reminding everybody that Payback takes place in Punk’s hometown only makes sense. Putting Jericho – Punk on the card will definitely sell some PPVs, and ensure a packed house. Most importantly, this segment is a reminder of how talented speakers can effectively sell a match.

Wade Barrett’s New Music: Maybe it just feels refreshing, but I really dig it.

More title matches: I like this “more title matches, but fewer title changes” concept. It keeps the card interesting without devaluing the championships themselves. It’s also given us some very good matches in the past few weeks.

 

The Bad:

Show Opening w/John Cena: So. Many. Boos. This is exactly what I expected from Cena – more comedy to bury Ryback (yes, we get it, he acts like a caveman), and then an unexpected change to the stipulation of the match. Apparently it’s impossible for the man to come out and legitimately act like he’s still banged up from Extreme Rules, or like he even takes his opponent seriously.

And now, Cena wants this to be a “Three Stages of Hell” match, with stage one being a lumberjack match, stage two being a tables match, and stage three the expected ambulance match. I have so many issues with this. First off, this rivalry hasn’t built up to a “Three Stages of Hell” match, so it feels like adding a gimmick for gimmick’s sake. Plus, lumberjack matches and table matches just feel so boring and inconclusive. So what’s the point here, WWE? The ambulance match gimmick makes sense, and that’s obviously why you saved it for the last fall. What’s the deal with all the fluff? It just seems overbooked.

Tensai, Brodus Clay, and The Great Khali def. 3MB: Match ended in a giant brawl with Slater getting buried. Does this serve a real point? There’s no storyline here, just generic mid-card filler. Superstars like Antonio Cesaro are preempted because of this?

The Bellas def. Natalya and Kaitlyn: This was dumb and a waste of time. Didn’t do much to further the division or any storyline, other than making fun of Natalya.

Curtis Axel – Bret Hart backstage segment: Bret Hart tells Axel to get rid of Heyman. Axel says Heyman is the only one who paid him any attention. While I’m always happy to see Hart, it is what it is.

Randy Orton and Sheamus def. Team Rhodes Scholars: Are these guys a tag-team again, or what? While I love ‘Rhodes Scholars,’ the crowd is mostly dead. Still happy to see these guys get spotlighted with two former world champions. However, the match had a much slower pace, and the ending was never in doubt. Too much time here for what feels like filler. Sheamus brogue kick pins Sandow, and the burial of Sandow and Rhodes continues (can we not get these guys in a real storyline?).

Axel def. John Cena via count-out: Axel looks like such a big deal with Paul Heyman, and being in the ring with John Cena. His intensity is infectious. However, the slow match with “generic Cena wrestling” was dull. I’m glad Axel got the upper-hand against Cena for much of the match, but the crowd wasn’t impressed, as evidenced by the “booring” chants.

When the ambulance drove in, I thought this segment held promise. But Cena losing by count-out (to go attack Ryback in the ambulance?) really made him look dumb. Also, a second flukey win by Axel really isn’t building him up much. I don’t know how to feel about this, exactly.

The brawl between Ryback and Cena was okay, but it honestly didn’t accomplish much. I was glad to see Ryback get the upper hand, which at least sells him as credible competition to Cena’s title (more than Cena did earlier in the night), but still felt total indifference to this segment. We’ve seen them brawl, we’ve seen them argue. I’m bored by this feud.

WWE Fan Voting: Feels too inconsequential to matter anymore.

Three Hours of Raw: Cut out the filler, this could’ve been two strong hours. Instead, by 9:30, I was checking Facebook, flipping the channel, everything. The Heyman-Jericho segment saved hour 3, but otherwise, everything after “The Shield” felt like a snoozefest. I think it’s simply too much on a weekly basis.

 

The Ugly:

Stupid backstage segment involving cake and Hornswaggle. I wish I was making this stuff up.

Natalya’s Birthday: The Great Khali sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her. I pray nobody ever has a birthday around Khali again.

Shawn Michael’s Beard: This is what retirement does to you, folks.

Between The Ropes Pro Wrestling Podcast # 4- Court Bauer Part 1

bauerWe talk to Major League Wrestling’s Owner/Creator and former WWE Creative Writer Court Bauer. In part one of our interview, we discuss the marketing differences between WWE and the UFC. We also start to break down Wreslemania 29, comparing the World Heavyweight Championship to the Intercontinental Title and much more. Listen below and give us your thoughts.

You can follow Between The Ropes on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow me on Twitter @S_Muehlhausen7.

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