WWE Network First Impressions: Not Ready For Prime Time

WWE Network launched earlier this week. The new online video service offers new WWE content and lots of archival content. The initial price for the service is $9.99 with a month with a six-month commitment. The company is offering a free one-week trial of the service. On paper, this is an outstanding value for wrestling fans. You get live WWE pay-per-view (PPV) events and tons of classic content for less than the cost of a single PPV. That said, there are some major issues that the company needs to work on. Here are my initial impressions on WWE Network.

– Do yourself a favor and watch all the Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat matches from 1989. If you like classic wrestling, these are some of the best matches you’ll ever see. The Ric Flair content alone makes WWE Network worth $10 a month.

WWE Network Flair Steamboat

– It was great fun watching wrestlers before they became huge stars. I enjoyed watching “Stunning” Steve Austin. There are a lot of wrestling fans out there that are totally unaware of his WCW/ECW work. The same goes for Mick Foley. I was always a fan of Cactus Jack in WCW/ECW.

– Naturally (and it’s a sad fact that it’s natural), WWE Network has lots of matches with wrestlers that died too young. It was great taking a stroll down memory lane with Rick Rude, Brian Pillman, Owen Hart, and others.

– It was fantastic watching classic Sting matches. I was a Little Stinger back in the day. He was one of my favorite wrestlers ever. Then he watched The Crow. That gimmick sucked. Give me neon-tights wearing, rat-tail sporting Sting over Crow String any day of the week.

WWE Network Sting

– I’m hoping that newer wrestling fans will watch some classic Bruiser Brody matches on WWE Network. Every “monster heel” character has been influenced by Brody.

– It was weird watching standard definition video in a 4:3 aspect ratio. It feels…unnatural.

– It was disturbing to hear the word “oriental” used so much in 1989 broadcasts.

– It’s annoying that WWE Network censors profanity. Wtf.

– While I expected the service to be loaded up with WWE, WCW, and ECW content, I was hoping for more WCCW content. I was big fan of the Von Erichs, Fabulous Freebirds, Chris Adams, and other wrestlers that worked for the Texas promotion. You can even see the Ultimate Warrior when he was known as the Dingo Warrior. Hopefully more WCCW content will be added on a rolling basis. I’m also hoping for more content from the “territory” days, like Mid-South Wrestling and Florida Championship Wrestling shows.

– Watching the Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart feature made me sad. Michaels seems at peace with where he is and what he’s done. Hart has let go of a lot of his anger, but it still seems to be lingering in the back of his psyche. He, rather sadly, wasted too many years of his life being a bitter and angry man.

WWE Network Shawn Michaels Bret Hart

– The live stream works just fine. I haven’t had any issues with whatever is being pushed as “current” programming on WWE Network.

– On-demand content is another story. I’ve had numerous issues with buffering, as well as quite a few crashes. Performance on my MacBook (Chrome) and iPad (WWE App) has been disappointing. This is a big-time concern. While I’m jazzed about WWE Network’s potential and I’ve really enjoyed watching old matches, the performance has been abysmal.

– Watching WWE Network on my MacBook reminds me of why I hate Flash. The performance is shoddy and the CPU utilization is ridiculously high. I really wish the company went with HTML5 video. Hell, Microsoft Silverlight (think Netflix) would have been much better. This is what happens when a huge Internet video project is headed up in Stamford, Connecticut. If WWE had a satellite office in Silicon Valley, it could have hired a number of engineers to make a superior product.

WWE Network Performance

– WWE has already added new features to WWE Network. Shows now have bookmarks, so you can skip to the matches you want to see. Of course the buffering issues make this more difficult than it ought to be. Personally, I wish individual matches were available instead of entire shows. Slicing up PPV events into individual matches would potentially help performance and make the mediocre search function more meaningful.

– I’ve been using WWE Network primarily at home through an AT&T U-Verse Max Turbo connection (24 Mbps downstream). The service was usable 30 percent of the time, which would be a fantastic average in Major League Baseball, but is rather pathetic for a streaming Internet video service. When I took my iPad to a nearby coffeehouse to test out the service through a decent AT&T DSL connection, it was completely unusable.

Conclusion (For Now): WWE Network has so much potential, but it’s not ready…at all. It feels like a product that needs several months of beta testing, yet the company is comfortable charging for it now. While the current content lineup is great and has the potential to become brilliant, the performance is just dreadful. Hopefully WWE gets past the numerous technical issues that plague WWE Network and make it the streaming video service smarts and marks have dreamed of.

Stay tuned for more updates on WWE Network soon. For now, please use the comments section and let me know about your WWE Network experience. If you can, please list the type, speed, and provider of your Internet service.

Author: RPadTV


27 thoughts on “WWE Network First Impressions: Not Ready For Prime Time”

  1. I signed up yesterday and the only issue I had was an error page during sign up – a quick check confirmed I did sign up successfully. I have been streaming various PPVs since yesterday (just finished with 1990 Royal Rumble) and have had absolutely no bandwidth issues. Not a single buffering issue or anything like that. Author might want to check his internet connection

      1. I hate when someone responds with “check your internet connection.” There are indeed major issues right now with the ondemand service. How do i know this? Because their live stream works flawless and stays in HD the entire time. However, everything I watch ondemand does not. It will run for about two mins before buffering.

        FIX NOW PLS!

      2. Every device i played it on was like that. My pc, android phone, and ps3 all had the same result. That was until today. Ondemand sutff now works flawless

  2. I don’t have the best internet. AT&T Uverse Express up to 1.5 Mbps downstream. Its all thats available to me in my area. However I have found that using Google Chrome or the PS4 app the networks on demand is choppy and constantly buffering. Neither have the chapters for each match and finish. When I use Firefox however the on demand content works perfectly. No buffering just runs completely smooth. I don’t know how to explain it but if others are having issues maybe try out Firefox and see if you get the same results as I have using it.

  3. Big WWE Fan in Ontario Canada and sad that I cannot even experience issues as we do not qualify to even get the Network at least a year! :( VERY FRUSTRATED AND DISAPOINTED

    1. Use a VPN like Spotflux. I’m in Korea and that’s what I do. I think it’s shitty I’m American and can’t watch just cause I’m married to a Korean and moved here. I however run macbook pro and get high CPU% and temps.

      1. VPN is a great suggestion. I use Private Internet Access for when I travel internationally. I haven’t been out of the country since WWE Network launched, but Private Internet Access works great with Netflix, Hulu, etc. and I imagine it’ll be the same for WWE Network.

  4. Worst review ever. Do us all a favor and never review anything ever again til u get your fat head out of your super sized ass.

    1. Thank you for posting such a useful comment with a random account. Next time, trying saying something with substance if you disagree with my opinion.

      1. He was harsh but there was quite a bit of ignorance in your “review”. Not knowing who is actually running the technology is not really excusable since it has been well known.

        That does not diminish your experience of problems but it does remove all credibility as you try to assess the hows and whys of having a problem.

      2. First, it wasn’t a “review.” These are first impressions. Second, you and I don’t know what the operating relationship of WWE Network is like.

  5. Found out that the WWE Network is not compatible with Windows XP & I haven’t seen one thing pointing this out & I bought the network not knowing it wasn’t compatible, anyone else having problems with it on XP, you know why.

    1. Windows xp is reaching the end of life in all capacities in a short amount of time. Given Microsoft will only support it at all for a few more months, expecting brand new technology launches to be supported are not necessarily reasonable.

      1. Millions of people still have Windows XP, they couldn’t have explained that you can’t use the product with XP? Seriously? I had to find out the hard way.

  6. You do know the well respected mlb digital company is handling all the management and streaming and wwe is not doing it itself. MLB streams up to 15 live games a night plus a lot of other content.

    Wwe’s launch suffered mostly from demand than anything else. I had a problem primetime day 1 but since the. I have had no buffering issues on my iPhone or iPad.

    It is unlikely wwe could havd partnered with a more experienced or qualified partner than they have done. Certainly more capable than 15 Silicon Valley engineers.

    1. I disagree. There are plenty of streaming video services that performed better out of the gate. It doesn’t matter what MLB Digital’s capacity is; clearly it didn’t allocate enough resources to WWE Network.

  7. everytime i TRY to watch the wwe network after around 4 minutes it always ends up making my computer freeze up and go to a blue screen resulting in having to restart my computer. doesnt do it on anything else i use.

  8. Hey… I finally remembered my password!

    I had some issues at first, but most are sorted out now. I noticed that in Chrome on OSX Lion, I can’t stream anything, but Firefox handles it fine (FiOs if anyone is concerned about bandwidth). The PS3 App as of last night was working great if I played it through from the beginning of anything and just let it play without skipping. iOS7 seems to be ok as well now.

    All that said… I’ve relived a bunch of moments and I’m in geek heaven over this. I was at Judgement Day 2000 (Iron Man match between Rock & HHH) and sent screenshots to the RPad.TV hangout of me in the crowd.

    Last night, I fell asleep watching Over The Edge 1999 (R.I.P. Owen) to see what they edited and how… but I fell asleep.

    I recommend No Mercy 1999. First ever tag team ladder match between Hardyz and Edge & Christian. Phenomenal match.

  9. Watching WWE Network on my MacBook reminds me of why I hate Flash. The performance is shoddy and the CPU utilization is ridiculously high.

    I’m in the same boat both my MacBooks CPU’s skyrocket to 101% temp hits 90 to 105 C sad…

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