Here’s a followup to my first impressions article on WWE Network. After 10 days of uptime, performance is considerably better. However, there are still some issues that are puzzling. If you’re using WWE Network, I’d love to hear more about your experiences. Now in the immortal words of Degeneration-X, join me as I “Break it Down!” with more random thoughts on WWE’s new streaming Internet video service.
– As I mentioned, network performance has gotten much better. The buffering issues that plagued my first few days of WWE Network no longer occur. The streams have been smooth on both my MacBook (Google Chrome) and iPad (Safari). This was my biggest issue with the service and I’m happy that it’s no longer a problem.
– For some reason, I’ve been watching goofy moments in wrestling. One of my favorites is Robocop’s WCW appearance during WCW Capital Combat 1990. The card is worth watching just for Robocop’s angle. Sting selling Robocop as a menacing ally is impressive. The Four Horsemen cowering in fear of a foe that moves roughly five feet per minute is legendary.
– Although WWE Network’s streaming has improved greatly, the search function is still annoyingly primitive. Searching on a PC is okay at best. As long as you’re sticking to wrestler and show names, you’ll get good results. If you input something more complex or specific, it can confuse the search engine. Searching on the iPad is just awful. The WWE App limits your search to wrestlers’ names and the results don’t always work. For example, I know that WWE Network has a classic WCCW match featuring Kevin Von Erich. If I search for Kevin Von Erich on the WWE App, nothing comes up. Search is a basic function that’s hugely important. WWE Network needs a more robust search engine.
– Keeping on the goofy tip, check out the SummerSlam 2005 match between Shawn Michaels and Hulk Hogan. It’s HBK like you’ve never seen him before. Going into the match, Hogan exercised creative control and went back on the agreed upon plans to put himself — and only himself — over. There wasn’t much HBK could do…except make Hogan look like a fool for most of the match. It’s frickin’ hilarious watching HBK oversell all of Hogan’s moves. From punches to clotheslines to the legendary Hulk Hogan leg drop, Michaels sells each move as if he were taking a gunshot. It’s pretty awesome.
– I’m really enjoying the NXT archives. Part of the fun is watching up-and-coming talent, but for me, it’s all about the atmosphere. I dig the relatively small size and high smark concentration of the NXT audience. It’s like watching a Ring of Honor show…but with much more production money and cameramen that actually know what they’re doing. As an RoH fan, I especially enjoyed the last match between Cesaro and Sami Zayn. I enjoyed Zayn when he performed as El Generico in RoH, while Cesaro has several of my favorite matches from the last decade from his days as Ring of Honor’s Claudio Castagnoli. Between talent I use to watch in high-school gyms and an intimate atmosphere that’s quite different from Raw/Smackdown, I’ve been loving these NXT shows.
Conclusion (Updated): Despite the primitive search functionality, I recommend subscribing to WWE Network at this time. The streaming is smooth (for now) and new programs are added every week. Hopefully network performance doesn’t take a dive during WrestleMania, but I’m cautiously confident that the company will plan ahead and make sure that it has the bandwidth it needs. Between the classic content, original programming, and pay-per-view events, $9.99 a month for WWE Network is a steal.
Please let me know how your WWE Network experience has been so far. Are you getting your money’s worth? Are you happy with the service and content quality? Leave a comment and let me know (please!).
2 thoughts on “WWE Network Update: Much Better, But Still Flawed”
Interesting to see how the network is taking shape. I wonder how it compares to looking up matches/segments on YouTube.
I still haven’t and probably will not be ordering it. I have a high enough cable bill now, and I find I’m watching a lot more YouTube and j-pop idols than TV. And I still have a crapton of wrestling DVDs I bought and haven’t watched.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t want it to succeed. It’s great to have such easy access to awesome (or terrible) wrestling for those who missed it up until now.
The biggest thing is video quality compared to YouTube. For modern programming, WWE Network is much, much better. For SD content, it’s better, but the difference isn’t as dramatic. Depending on the type of content the viewer is looking for, it’s possible that a combination of YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix is a better way to go than WWE Network.
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