26th Feb2014

WWE Network: A First Look (Early Thoughts)

by Chris Cummings

WWE-Network

The time has come folks. The WWE has finally launched the WWE Network in the United States (the rest of the World to follow eventually) and I had a chance to spend the last couple of days delving into the service.

I’ll begin by saying that my review and look at the service is based on my use of it on PS3 and Laptop Computer. The launch, if you are one who follows the news on these matters, was a small disaster, with many people being unable to access the correct pages in order to sign up, and this issue went on for the first day of the launch. Since then, due to the slowing down of traffic attempting to sign up, this issue has cleared up, but that doesn’t mean that the WWE Network has been all smooth sailing.

Currently we are three days into the service and the “on demand” section of the service is plagues with problems, the main one being that in many cases people are unable to play anything without an error message occurring or the screen freezing. This is being looked into by those who look into these matters, but at this time of writing has not been solved.

The first thing that you will see when you log onto the WWE Network is a homepage, and on that page will be the live stream. The stream is working wonderfully, with no glitches, freezing or issues so far. This is the 24/7 traditional network side of the service. The other side of the service is, of course, the “on demand” area, which like other services such as Netflix Streaming, offers content to access at any time, at your own choosing.

The “on demand” section is robust already. It features every single WWE, ECW and WCW Pay-per-view event in its entirety. I have had a chance to view some of these shows through the laptop where the “on demand” service works better at the moment, and the transfers are very clean and look and sound great. Alongside these shows comes a bunch of television episodes of RAW, Smackdown, NXT and others, with more to come as time progresses. There is also a section featuring the DVD Documentary releases called “Beyond the Ring” which will be added to weekly, as well as exclusive programming, such as “Countdown” and “WrestleMania Rewind”.

I have checked out “Countdown” as far as the exclusive content goes so far, and I was impressed. The first episode is an entertaining top ten countdown of “best wrestling catchphrases” and features talking heads and clips that are fun to watch. This show has a lot of potential and I am excited to see more episodes.

For those wondering, Chris Benoit is not cut out of any pay-per-views, but instead is merely not mentioned in synopses and is not an available search word on the “Search” option. This is a good thing for fans of Benoit’s wrestling matches. Another surprising inclusion on the WWE Network is WWF Over the Edge 1999, the previously unreleased show that featured the tragic death of Owen Hart. Of course the Owen Hart related parts have been entirely removed and a graphic is shown at the beginning of the show, but I was very surprised that they included this show and am not quite sure why they did, it is hard to watch the post-accident matches knowing that the performers had to work in such a terrible situation.

The Network, on PS3 and Computers has been very easy to use and there are some cool little features that will hopefully be elaborated upon over time. One of these features is the ability, with many PPV’s, to skip to the beginning and ends of the matches on the show so you don’t have to just fast-forward if you are wanting to watch a certain part of the event.

I can’t go into too much depth at this point about the PPV’s and On-demand content at this point because it is not working properly, but it looks like it will be a massive thing for fans of pro-wrestling, and to have all of these shows, with more television episodes and other content to come, at the click of a button is just fantastic.

Bugs aside, it is hard to not be impressed by what the WWE Network offers. As I write this I am watching the live stream on my television via my PS3 and a 1993 episode of Monday Night RAW is airing. It looks great and the mixture of eras on the stream means that there is something for everyone each day.

Hopefully WWE will sort of the issues with the service very soon and the service will be a success, because the success of the WWE Network is a big deal for wrestling fans and could really change the face of WWE forever.

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