WWE Network is great. Do I know how to make it better? YES! YES! YES!

The first couple of days for the WWE Network didn’t go so well:

However, outside of a few hiccups (the never ending Tyler Breeze loop during NXT ArRIVAL), it’s worked without any major issues since then, and has replaced Netflix and Amazon (outside of Justified and,¬† recently, Veronica Mars) as my go-to source of televised entertainment.

The main appeal of the WWE Network for me was the chance, for $9.99 a month*, to watch the Naked Mideon vs. William Regal match from No Mercy 2000 whenever I wanted on ANY DEVICE. Also, all the classic WWE/WCW/ECW PPVs. And not having to spend $45 a month to watch live PPVs (aka, I would not be watching Extreme Rules in May if I didn’t have WWE Network).

One program I didn’t know about until getting the Network was Legends of Wrestling, which is a series of roundtables that were filmed in the mid-to-late 2000s. Hosted by (well, he attempts to keep things under control) Mene Gene, the episodes feature former wrestlers discussing a variety of topics (factions, Wrestlemania, greatest rivalries, etc.), and they are generally great, the highlights being Ric Flair’s legit hatred of the nWo during the factions episode, and DDP going out of his way to defend both David Arquette and Karl Malone multiple times during the episode on celebrities. Do not mock Malone unless you want a diamond cutter.

Other original programming includes a Countdown show (Jake the Snake’s DDT was wayyy too low on the top finishers episode), a Wrestlemania Rewind show (a recent episode features “the thrilling Undisputed Championship match against Y2J Chris Jericho” from Wrestlemania 18 … #fireable) and a very entertaining documentary about Daniel Bryan following his wins at Wrestlemania XXX.

Now, while there’s plenty of great stuff on the Network, here are a few things that could improve it:

1) For some reason — or I’m not noticing the feature because I’m a dope — you can sort WCW and ECW PPVs by year on PS3, but not WWE PPVs (you can sort WWE PPVs by year on other devices). Now, I could certainly do a google search and find out the order of PPVs by year within minutes, but … LAZY. Also, a resume play feature. PPVs are long, WWE Network!

2) Adding a “random” button. There are so many PPVs that, unless I’m looking for a specific show, I don’t even know where to begin (except maybe AT THE BEGINNING), especially on the WCW stuff. If I start trying to look around myself, I inevitably end up watching Wrestlemania 8 again. This is not a bad thing, but it is preventing me from adding to my wrestling knowledge.

3) Remove how the match ends from the search function. One of the fun things about WWE Network is the chance to see matches I haven’t seen before. One of the fun things about seeing matches I’ve never seen before is finding out how they end. WWE Network search engine = DESTROYER OF FUN:

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4) Letting users create/share playlists. I’ve seen people write about this elsewhere, and it’s a great idea. If someone wanted to put together a list of greatest high-flying matches or greatest Hollywood Hogan matches, then post them for other people to watch, that’d be great. The person putting together a list of greatest Hollywood Hogan matches would have an insanely low standard for what constitutes a great match, but he/she should at least have the option.

5) Add a titantron/music video channel. Please let me watch the Real American video or listen to The Brood’s theme song whenever I get the urge (always) in higher quality than YouTube.

Gotta be Fair to Flair

Brian Cougar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*with 6-month commitment

 

WWE Network is great. Do I know how to make it better? YES! YES! YES!

21-1 from the cheap seats at Wrestlemania XXX

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After attending Wrestlemania XXX on Sunday in New Orleans, I got separated from the group I was with, my cell phone was dead and when I arrived at the spot in the lot where we had been doing some pre-Mania tailgating (the best kind of tailgating), all I found were two empty parking spaces.

Following 30 minutes of wandering back and forth in front of the Superdome in the hopes that I — a 30-year-old white dude in a wrestling T-shirt — might be noticed by my group among the thousands exiting the show, I eventually stopped to get my bearings. A man with a title belt draped over his shoulder started talking to me, and while we were chatting, I explained my current predicament of being lost with a dead cell phone in a city I was visiting for the first time with no idea where — or, more specifically, at which bar — my girlfriend/her friends were. In a show of extreme compassion, he said, “Man, that sucks. And can you [expletive] believe they had [expletive] Brock Lesnar end the [expletive] streak!”

Since I started watching WWE regularly again around Wrestlemania 25, the Undertaker’s undefeated Wrestlemania winning streak — The Streak — has been treated like a BIG FRIGGIN’ DEAL (and it had already started being treated like a BIG FRIGGIN’ DEAL a few years before that).

This year, however, everything about The Streak seemed boringly inevitable. Inevitably Undertaker was going to show up around Mania (the past few years, that’s basically been the only time he appears). Inevitably he was going to find an opponent/victim (Lesnar had always seemed to be the likely option, although the annual Sting — or John Cena — rumors also started popping up). Inevitably Michael Cole would shout about all the legendary wrestlers Undertaker had beaten at Wrestlemania (Giant Gonzalez! A-Train!). And inevitably there’d be a match, Undertaker would kick out of an F-5, Lesnar would kick out of a tombstone, but in the end, The Streak would move to 22-0.

The Lesnar/Undertaker feud leading up to Wrestlemania XXX — outside of the initial confrontation when Undertaker stabbed Lesnar in the hand with a pen, signed the match contract in Lesnar’s blood and then chokeslammed him through a table — didn’t feature any memorable moments. And despite Lesnar’s manager/representative, the amazing Paul Heyman, trying as hard as he could to sell Lesnar as an actual threat to The Streak — and Lesnar is a terrifying man — everyone knew Undertaker was walking out of Wrestlemania 22-0.

I was up in the cheap seats — WHERE I BELONG — at Wrestlemania XXX, part of a group of 30-plus people in their mid-to-late 20s who were attending the event as part of an extended wedding celebration weekend. Many of the group were non-wrestling fans who were there mostly for the chance to see the glorious spectacle that is Wrestlemania one time and to participate in the equally glorious pre-Mania tailgate. By the time the Undertaker/Lesnar match was about to begin, some were getting restless, and one dude in particular was entertaining himself — and annoying me — by yelling out random nonsense (although, to be fair, many actual wrestling fans do this very same thing every week during RAW).

The match itself — at least watching live — was not very good (I have yet to rewatch it). It was slow, Undertaker, even from where I was sitting, looked old as hell in the ring, and the crowd was mostly quiet. When Lesnar hit the third F5, I was thinking to myself, “It seems a bit silly to have Undertaker kick out of three of these.” And as I finished that thought, the ref counted three. What followed was the strangest reaction I’ve ever been part of at a sporting or pro wrestling event. First it got completely quiet as many — myself included — thought something had gone wrong. Then, once they started flashing 21-1 on the screens, people started booing. When Undertaker finally got off the mat and took the long walk to the back, there was some clapping, but once he disappeared, the booing started again. The woman a row in front of me who stood and screamed during the entirety of the Undertaker’s entrance headed for the exits.

When you watch a pro sporting event, while there are times the outcome heading in looks clear, you know in the back of your mind¬† — as a result of things like the Giants beating the 16-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl, or the Red Sox coming back from down 3-0 in the ALCS against the Yankees — that anything can happen. When you watch a pro wrestling event– especially once you learn the outcomes are fixed (thanks for letting me know, @poolhalljames!) — there are times when you know without a shadow of a doubt the inevitable is going to happen.

As a kid who still thought pro wrestling was real, I knew Hulk Hogan wasn’t losing to turncoat Sgt. Slaughter at Wrestlemania VII, because he was immortal, had 24″ pythons and USA! USA! And Hogan eventually dropped the leg and got the 1-2-3. As a teenager who had half a brain and the internet, I knew Stone Cold Steve Austin wasn’t losing to Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XIV, because he was the most popular wrestler to come along since Hogan, Michaels could barely walk after suffering a real-life back injury and “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!” And Austin eventually hit the kick-wham-stunner and got the 1-2-3. As a 30-year-old, I knew the Undertaker wasn’t losing to Lesnar at Wrestlemania XXX, because he was 21-0, The Streak would never end and “Rest … In … Peace.”

And then he [expletive] lost.

Brian Cougar

21-1 from the cheap seats at Wrestlemania XXX

Your founding father of Ring Intensity: RIP Ultimate Warrior

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Ultimate Warrior was one of those perfect wrestlers for people around my age (30) due to the fact that, when I was a kid, he came across as a real-life superhero who was so powerful he could even stand toe to toe with Hulk Hogan; then, when looking back on him as an adult, he came across as a real-life lunatic so maniacal it made complete sense that he was able to stand toe to toe with the ridiculousness that was Hulkamania.

I remember watching the Hogan/Warrior encounter at the 1990 Royal Rumble and how it resulted in the greatest double clothesline of all time. I remember, since my household did not order Wrestlemania VI LIVE ON PPV, the anticipation I felt sitting in the auditorium before school the next day as I awaited word on who won the Hogan/Warrior title vs. title match. I remember the end of Wrestlemania VIII, and how, while Hogan was being attacked by Papa Shango and Sid Justice, the Warrior made a surprise return to save/pose with the Hulkster. I remember my younger brother having an Ultimate Warrior wrestling buddy. I remember Papa Shango making Warrior vomit via voodoo, and how weird that was. I remember kids in school during the early 1990s saying the original Warrior had died, and a different guy was portraying him.

I was at my friend’s house watching RAW in the late 1990s when we switched over to Monday Nitro during a commercial break only to find the Warrior had returned to confront the now evil Hollywood Hulk Hogan. And it was amazing! And then he talked for like 25 minutes! And it was less amazing but still pretty enjoyable! They would go on to have a rematch — which I again missed LIVE ON PPV — but that one didn’t turn out so well, and soon after, he was gone.

But he would still pop up. While not doing much work at my first post-college job in 2005, I discovered that the Warrior had a blog, and it was, not surprisingly, pretty bonkers. He signed off the first post I read with, “Your founding father of ring intensity.” So I clearly had to steal that line, and started ending my own personal emails with it.

After hours of driving through heavy snow while helping a friend move back to NY from North Dakota, we decided the best way to unwind after stopping at a hotel was to drink too many Miller High Lifes and watch an Ultimate Warrior DVD. After one Warrior promo, all the stresses of the road had faded away.

This past weekend, I was in New Orleans for Wrestlemania 30, and there he was again. During the show, my wonderful girlfriend stopped by the merchandise booth and ended up randomly buying me a Warrior T-shirt. Near the end of the show, the Warrior was the last to come out as the newly inducted Hall of Fame class was introduced. On Monday night, he made an appearance on RAW. When I was going to bed Tuesday night, I got a text from a friend that Warrior was dead.

During his final appearance on RAW, Warrior said, “No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe a final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others … then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized. By the storytellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him.”

The Ultimate Warrior, from parts unknown, has a strong place in my memory.

— Brian Cougar

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