WWE Network free for April / Wrestlemania 31

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WWE Network is currently free for the month of April for new subscribers, so I decided why not check it out and watch last Sunday’s Wrestlemania. Even though I had previously subscribed to the WWE Network last year it still let renew my account while receiving April for free which was pretty cool. It’s also worth noting the six month commitment is no longer in place and you can cancel at anytime. They previously locked subscribers into 6 month subscriptions (billed monthly) so that you couldn’t just drop $10 for Wrestlemania and immediately cancel your subscription.

I’m going to watch Wrestlemania 31 and jot down some thoughts while doing so. Sorry for constantly changing tenses in what follows, you’ll forgive me right?

Note: Wrestlemania spoilers will follow.

I haven’t kept up with the WWE at all for at least the last six months, if not longer. I can’t even recall what was going on when I last watched. I believe I stopped watching around the time when there was the struggle between Daniel Bryan and the “authority” or whatever, where they basically said he wasn’t championship material. It was surprising, then, to see Daniel Bryan participating in the opening seven-man ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship with lower card talent such as Stardust, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler and defending champion Bad News Barret.

I’ll give the match credit, it was pretty exciting though was often cheesy. The R-Truth ‘scared of heights’ set up was a little lame, as was the opening series of over the rope volleys knocking more and more people to the ground until all seven participants tumbled like bowling pins. It was so absurd it made me laugh, which isn’t all the surprising coming from the WWE these days. I’m glad Bryan was victorious, but I feel like he’s a better talent and not someone who should be relegated to a lower title.

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The Randy Orton – Seth Rollins promo that followed next was pretty exciting. Sure the storyline seems pretty silly (Kane is with the authority, why?) but I’m starting to see parallels between the WWE and comic books. The story lines are silly and often don’t make a whole lot of sense, but you just have to stop trying to justify things and simply enjoy the drama. I kind of wish I had watched the Orton vs. Rollins storyline, it seems interesting (and I don’t think the WWE has been interesting since CM Punk’s reign, though Daniel Bryan’s rise came close).

As I’m watching the match I can’t help but see all the people shielding their eyes from the sun in order to see the action. I’m not sure how much I like the idea of an outdoor venue for wrestling. There’s just something you lose by not having all of the indoor lighting and effects. Maybe it’s just me.

The Orton – Rollins match when on for an excessively long time, though maybe it’s just that I don’t have the patience for wrestling anymore. For the most part it was unremarkable, yet the curb stomp counter into an RKO finish was pretty sweet. Glad Orton won.

This whole Sting – Triple H feud is probably exciting for a lot of long time wrestling fans, but to me it just seems like it’s too late and is overly gimmicky, if that’s even possible for wrestling. I guess it’s all a gimmick, isn’t it? Maybe if there was more of a WCW vs. WWE thing going on it’d be more interesting, but then again I don’t think I can name a single WCW wrestler. Goldberg? He was one right? Meh. Hope Triple H loses.

Sting’s entrance is over the top. They could’ve done something better to build tension. Heck, Triple H’s entrance has hyped me up more and I almost want to cheer for him instead…if he weren’t a total a-hole of course!

I feel like the match is a little unrealistic. I mean Triple H is huge, there aren’t many in the WWE who stack up against his size and power, while Sting is older, less fit and less powerful. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for him to be able to hang in there with Triple H. But here I am, trying to make sense of wrestling again! D-X coming out should’ve been cool, but they’re all so old and terrible looking and they ran out with hardly any energy just to get bowled down by Sting in a scene torn from the opening match of the night. Not as exciting as it should’ve been. Then comes the NWO, another group of elderly men. Why couldn’t this have happened years ago? Hulk Hogan just needs to go away.

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The bat vs sledgehammer scenario was a little cheesy, though why not go all the way? Ultimately I think the match would’ve ended better as a draw. Triple H won, what’s new? The handshake doesn’t really fit with Triple H’s character, or at least what I perceive his character to be at this point. Also I expected more from Hogan (even if I’m sick of him).

Well, I’m not sure how much more of this I can take, so I’m going to stop watching for now. If I get around to finishing it I might drop in with some final thoughts. Until then, thanks for reading. Let me know what your favorite Wrestlemania 31 moments were in the comments!

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Extreme Rules not so extreme

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Extreme Rules last night became the second WWE PPV to be broadcast over the WWE Network (and from what I understand it was not carried by many satellite and cable providers in protest) so I watched most of it even though I haven’t been paying attention to a lot of wrestling lately (again I mostly like the idea of an independent network being used to distribute premium content).

I have to say, for a PPV named Extreme Rules it was actually pretty tame. I remember the barbed wire and inferno matches of the attitude era, and it makes me wonder why they’ve retained an Extreme Rules concept in today’s PG WWE. There’s no blood, and ultra violence of the past. The most extreme moments of the night came courtesy of the SHIELD member who jumped from above one of the entrances to take out the Evolution, and the flaming table in the Kane vs. Daniel Bryan match. The main event match between Kane and Bryan took the action backstage and introduced a variety of weapons and even a forklift, but in the past this sequence of events would have featured an abundance of blood and gore. Without this it all felt tame, and quite boring.

Even the flaming table was too tame. Moments before it even happened a crew member rushed into position with a fire extinguisher, and with gas cans in view under the ring you already knew what was about to happen. It would’ve worked better as a complete surprise, not a safety first, get everything right, PG rated stunt.

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Kane’s flaming table stunt failed to compare to the flaming tables of years past.

That said, the WWE Network again worked without issue, and I watched using the new Xbox One app. The quality was great and the service worked as advertised. I might not have been impressed with the PPV, but I am still impressed by the WWE Network and I applaud their new business model that isn’t controlled by overpriced cable companies who charge $60 for a few hours of content.

Can you watch new episodes of RAW on WWE Network?

Not exactly. Before signing up for WWE Network this weekend I was trying to find the answer to this question and it wasn’t easy. I browsed through a couple pages of Google result pages and didn’t find an answer to the specific question above so I wanted to answer it here for anyone else wondering the same thing.

If you’re looking to watch episodes of RAW anytime after they air your best bet is still a Hulu Plus subscription. This is because the WWE Network delays episodes of RAW and Smackdown for about three months. For example as of today the most current episode of Smackdown you can watch is the January 23, 2014 episode. As for RAW, the most current episode is the January 19, 2014 episode.

You can, however, watch the most currentĀ PPV (which until later tonight is February’s Elimination Chamber), as well as any past PPV and of course any live PPV starting with Wrestlemania XXX tonight.

I hope this clears up any confusion anyone might have. Maybe I just missed the information, but I couldn’t find a clear answer through Google myself.

The WWE Network

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I haven’t watched a whole lot of wrestling lately, but I decided to subscribe to the WWE Network in anticipation of Wrestlemania XXX which takes place tomorrow night. It seems like too good a deal to pass up. For $9.99 a month (with a required 6 month commitment) you get to watch every PPV live on the WWE network via the website, or app on the device of your choice (though it’s not on Xbox One yet).

You also get access to absolutely TONS of on demand content including every past PPV. I was under the impression you could watch RAW and Smackdown after they air, however it turns out there’s a delay of over a month because HULU has the rights to those shows. There’s also some live content and original programming, however I’m not that much of a wrestling fan and probably wont watch very much of that.

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Wrestlemania is going to be the first PPV broadcast live over the WWE network so we’ll see how the network holds up tomorrow night. A friend of mine ordered Wrestlemania last year through the PS3 app and the broadcast stopped working after about 30 minutes and never started working again.

I decided to check out what the WWE Network has to offer mainly because I like the business model. I’m not a cable cutter (I have Dish Network and love it), but it’s interesting to see a content provider deciding to take control of its content and distribute it on its own. I also subscribe to MLB.TV and love being able to access content on my own terms. I’ve read a few articles where Dish and DirectTV have expressed frustration over the WWE’s decision to provide PPV content live to WWE Network subscribers (why would you continue to spend $50 a month on PPV’s when $9.99 gets you the same thing and more?) and apparently Dish even refused to carry the last PPV in protest. I’m glad the WWE is deciding to shake things up, and maybe we’ll see more a la carte content in the future.