(Editor’s Note: I don’t currently have the WWE Network and part of writing this article was trying to justify the price to myself and others. I tried to keep the article objective.)
A couple of weeks a go I wrote and article about some of the various wrestling subscription services that are on the market, check it out here. I mentioned the WWE Network in that article but I really didn’t spend much time getting into the everything it has to offer. I also got some feedback from readers not in the U.S. Wondering about if the network is really worth it for people that live oversees who may have a difficult time watching pay-per views live due to the time difference. I mean there’s nothing wrong with watching Raw or Smackdown while you eat breakfast, and if you can avoid spoilers you can watch pretty much anything like it’s live. But it does seemingly take away a bit of the WWE Network’s perceived value. So with this article I really want to look at what, if anything, makes the WWE Network worth its $9.99 a month price tag.
All right let’s be honest. For most subscribers this is the main selling point and it’s also the point that the WWE tries to drive home nearly every time they mention the network. As a kid growing up during the “Attitude Era” I would have given my right arm to be able to watch the WWE’s pay-per views for just $9.99/month. I can remember having to get a group of friends together and having everyone pitch in just to order Starcade. For the sake of comparison, a TNA PPV is gonna run you probably around $15 and a UFC PPV is at least €24.99. If you live in the UK and don’t have the network the Rumble is going to cost you €24.95 on Sky. So right from the jump that’s a huge savings. Now think about the PPV schedule for a year. We’re getting PPVs just about every 3 weeks it seems like these days. You’re getting all of them and replays on demand with the network.
I put this as its own separate part because I didn’t want to lump it together with “Original Content” which I’ll talk about in a little bit. The WWE network is the only “legal” way that you can watch NXT and 205 Live. I realize that these two might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I still think that it’s worth mentioning. In addition, you get the NXT: Take-Over PPVs as well as one off specials such as the Cruiserweight and UK tournaments. There are also a lot of rumors floating around that Evolve and ICW are going to be coming to the network sometime this year as well, which will only add to the live wrestling content. Even if you say, “Well I don’t really like NXT or 205 Live”, you’d still probably pay $1.00 a month just to have them there.
Original Content (Reality TV)
I’m going to split the “Original Content” into 2 sections because I feel like one is with a few exceptions worthless filler and the other I actually like. Let’s start with the “Reality TV” shows that the WWE produces. You’ve got “Total Divas”, “Swerved”, “Ride Along”, “Legends House”, “Breaking Ground” etc. Breaking Ground is the only one of these that I find even slightly interesting. I do like some episodes of “Table for 3”, because depending on the group you can actually get some good stories. In general, I think this is probably, at least for me, the least interesting of all the content on the network. I can understand the WWE’s desire to create this type of stuff but I’m not sure who’s watching it. I’m gonna throw “Talking Smack” and “After Raw” in here too, but they are both completely watchable.
Original Content (Documentaries and Other)
One of the things that I really like about the WWE Network is the addition of the documentaries that the WWE has produced over the years. CM Punk: Best in the World, The Monday Night War, Destruction of the Shield and more. This is a very nice touch and something the WWE could very much expand on. They’ve produced a number of docs, some better than others and now they’re all together in one place. I also want to mention “Legends with JBL” in this section. As much as he may not be the best commentator in the history of Pro Wrestling he is great at doing an interview. I also really like the “Legends Roundtable” show that they do from time to time. Camp WWE is what it is, some jokes but could be a lot better, Edge and Christian’s show has its moments as well but isn’t must watch in my opinion. And I’ll close this section out with a nod to Stone Cold’s podcast, which they like to do special live episodes of occasionally. Man did you see that one with Dean Ambrose, that guy did not want to be there.
This is simple, you get EVERY WCW, ECW and WWE PPV EVER. I’m not going to go out on a limb and say that they are all in their original form, I’m looking at you ECW, but still that is a lot of wrestling to watch. You want to watch Hogan form the NWO at Bash at the Beach, they got it. Hulk Hogan slam Andre the Giant in front of 93,000+ in the Pontiac Silverdome, yep that’s there too. How about Sting vs. Flair or Jeff Jarrett vs. Booker T or Taz vs. Sabu. All of them are available on demand. The WWE owns the tape libraries for nearly every promotion that existed prior to 2000 and they keep adding this stuff to the network. You can watch Jim Cornette fall from a scaffold and blow out both his knees(Amazing) or actually see Chris Benoit wrestle.
Let’s break this down. You want the network you’re gonna pay $9.99/month. You just want to watch PPVs you could “extra-legally” download or stream them from some website or torrent. Same goes for NXT and 205 Live. But let’s be honest, what makes the WWE network worth the $9.99 is the ease with which you have access to everything. Sure I think there are a lot of people out there that wish that the “Original Content” was a little better. Hell, they could add the WWE produced films to the network if they really wanted to. To those people I say you don’t like it you don’t have to watch it. There is more than enough content just with the back catalog and monthly PPVs that make the price seem more than reasonable for me.
If you need to justify the $9.99 break it down based on what you get. PPV =$5, NXT=$1.00, Two old WCW PPVs = $1.50, RAW and Smackdown = $1.00, 205 Live= $0.50 and everthing else = $1.00. That’s when there’s only 1 PPV/month. If you get two, like we do in some months the math is even better. I mean right now you can try it out for free for a month. You don’t like it, who cares, you got to watch the Royal Rumble for free. Or wait and see if they offer the free month during Wrestlemania.
What do you guys think? Do you have the network? Is it worth it for you?
Image from wwe.com