The WWE Network is only (say it with me) $9.99 a month. For fans that used to order every single pay-per-view, that’s pretty much getting access to anything and everything within the WWE Universe for the price of two WrestleManias! Whether you’re a die-hard wrestling fan or just a casual one, subscribing to the Network really seems like a no brainer.
Perhaps such a no brainer that WWE brass hasn’t done all they could do with their future, and make no mistake about it–the WWE Network is the future of the company. If it were to flounder, WWE won’t be going out of business, but it would be a huge hit to the company’s collective psyche. Vince McMahon once took a huge gamble and saw PPVs as a viable revenue stream with WrestleMania, so we all know he’s a gambling man. Heck, the entire WWE constantly gambles on which combination of character and match will be successful enough to catapult them to the next level.
It might be award-winning, but the WWE Network cannot rest on its laurels, and seeing as how they keep giving away months for free to try and get subscribers, there’s something off about the Network. Whether it’s a lot of original content or better usage of their video library, there is a multitude of ways the Network can improve. Hopefully someone in Stamford has already thought of these ideas and are trying to implement them, but if not, here are 25 Things WWE Can Do to Make the Network Better.
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25 WWE Universe Spotlight
Like Firefly's Browncoats or Star Trek's Trekkies, the WWE has branded their fanbase the WWE Universe. Perhaps it’s time to spotlight them. In a new series, WWE can showcase its most ardent and die-hard fans. You can interview selected fans about their love for the industry, when they began their fandom, and show their memorabilia off too. You can also showcase certain chants and signs and have the fans, along with the wrestlers, talk about how it makes them feel. Obviously, celebrity fans would be the focus, but you can also spend 5-10 minutes an episode showing normal fans as well, like John Glick, who has an Undertaker–like streak, attending 28 PPVs in a row and counting.
24 More Exclusive Events
Recently, the WWE resurrected the King of the Ring Tournament, exclusively on the WWE Network. Fans have been hoping for the event to return for a while now and with the Network, they can do these sorts of events all the time. You can also use the network as a platform to bring back concepts of the past. Triple H has been clamoring for the return of War Games: the Match Beyond for a long time now, so why not bring it back as a Network exclusive? They could even actually have New Year’s Revolution be shown on New Year’s Day.
23 Corey Graves
The NXT superstar-turned announcer now has his own show on the Network, called Culture Shock, but it’s just ten minutes! Besides the host having charisma up the wazoo, the first two episodes have been great, but imagine a full half–hour or hour spent at Marvel Comics (episode 1) and Star Wars Celebration (episode 2). Obviously the WWE film crew followed Graves around for longer than ten minutes, so why are the episodes so short? Especially after being highlighted on ESPN’s E: 60 Behind the Curtain documentary, WWE Network executives might want to think about giving Graves more air time
22 What Am I Watching?
Instead of putting Graves and Renee Young on air for just ten minutes (don’t worry, Renee Young is coming up later), here’s where you spend your 5–10 minutes. First, on Monday Night Raw and on Smackdown, you show a current WWE Superstar or Diva briefly discussing what they watch on the Network and why (call the segment, “A Minute with ____”) and then have Michael Cole push that you can see the longer segment in its entirety, not to mention what the featured Superstar is watching, exclusively on the WWE Network. During the long segment, you can have a candid discussion about why what they’re watching is important to them.
21 News Updates
Sure there’s not a whole lot going on every day, but you can spend ten minutes a day focusing on “This Day in History,” which would point viewers towards something else on the Network to watch. As an example, for the week of May 4th-8th, a lot of WWE Newsworthy things happened: Sami Zayn debuted on Raw and unfortunately got injured in the process, while Alex Riley and Hideo Itami also were injured this week. But the news wasn’t all bad, as a documentary on Owen Hart was finally announced and ESPN aired an interesting piece on NXT. They could easily put a few talking heads in front of a camera for a few minutes a day to pull this off.
20 Themed Programming
Currently, WWE has “Throwback Thursdays,” where a lot of the programming is classic WWE TV. It’s a good start, but what about Women Crush Wednesdays, where they can show Total Divas and Divas matches for a large part of the day. Or on a wrestler’s birthday, they can have programming that shows off some of their best moments. There’s a ton of themes you can work with, especially with WWE as a global entity–there’s certainly a holiday to celebrate somewhere most days of the week. Memorial Day’s right around the corner–how about programming based around their Tribute to the Troops shows and matches featuring American heroes like Sgt. Slaughter and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan?
19 NXT – The Journey
What does it take to get to NXT? What does it take to go from NXT to the WWE? We caught a glimpse of the answers to those questions during the excellent “Behind the Curtain” documentary on ESPN. Why wouldn't the WWE borrow this concept and give half an hour to one member of the NXT every week prior to the NXT show? Over 20 NXT Superstars and Divas have made it to the main roster in some form or another, so there's a lot of potential here. Not to mention a lot of history, as guys like Adrian Neville have been honing their craft for years all around the world. so it would be great for him to elaborate on his travels around the world. Wrestlers like Paige, Bray Wyatt, and Bo Dallas all come from wrestling families. so they can all speak to the pressure they might have felt before making it to the main roster. One more reason to try and get called up to the main roster – you get the call, you get a special devoted to hyping yourself!
18 What’s the Deal with That?!
Survivor Series, 2014: The Authority was about to claim victory over John Cena’s team and Triple H blatantly cheated to ensure victory. The lights went down and Sting appeared on WWE television for the first time in his near 30 year career.
Monday Night Raw, May 4th, 2015 : Sami Zayn answers the John Cena U.S. Open Challenge.
Why are these moments so important though? This show, which would clearly cater to casual fans, could fill in the gaps for fans who might not know that Sting is probably the greatest wrestler to have never worked for Vince or that Sami Zayn is the most popular wrestler on the NXT roster.
17 Live @ 6:05! It’s WCW Saturday Night!
Obviously it wouldn’t actually air live, but the WWE Network can air every episode of WCW Saturday Night, originally Georgia Championship Wrestling, which began in 1971. Saturday nights at 6:05 was prime time for wrestling fans for almost 30 years before WCW folded, so why not take advantage of the original flagship program of WCW and its early incarnations.
For younger fans wondering why names like Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton, the Midnight Express, Magnum T.A., and a lot of other names mean something to the business, this would be the show for you. Besides where else are you going to find the Four Horsemen in their glory days?
16 The Scars of War
Countless WWE Superstars have paid dearly and suffered injuries for their art, but they still got up to do what they love to do–entertain the fans. This show can take an in depth look at the match and/or the moment a Superstar got injured, what they were thinking and their road to recovery. Interviews with the injured stars, along with their significant others, coworkers, doctors, and friends, would all be featured to paint a complete picture of what it’s like to come back (or have your career ended) from injury.
15 Update the Interface
For all their love of social media and trying to strengthen their online presence, the current user interface is fairly tame. The search function is primordial, but that would be fixed by hiring a team of taggers watching, reviewing, and cataloging the WWE archives.
Also, you should also be able to like and share everything you see. Think a few friends would enjoy the episode of Raw where Austin has McMahon arrested for assault? Or the segment where Scott Hall and Kevin Nash invaded Nitro? Just click and spread the gospel. Or create a playlist of your favorite matches and moments, just like you would on Spotify.
14 Fireside Chats with J.R.
Anyone here listen to Good Ol’ JR’s Ross Report Podcast? It’s one of the better wrestling podcasts out there. Jim Ross could bring over 40 years of experience, plus his beloved voice, to a weekly show where he would interview everyone from his friends, like Stone Cold Steve Austin and Jim Cornette to people like Eric Bischoff.
Obviously, this one would depend on Ross and the WWE coming to terms, but Ross’ no holds barred discussions would be a great addition to the network.
13 WWE at the Movies
Since 2002, WWE has been producing several movies a year, sometimes starring Superstars or Divas. WWE Studios is home to 30 movies, including The Call, starring Halle Berry, the Road to Paloma with Roman Reigns lookalike, Jason Momoa, and That’s What I Am, which featured a critically acclaimed performance from Randy Orton. They could even include the Superstars and other cast members whenever possible to share their thoughts on the making of the film and you have the WWE version of FX’s DVD on TV.
12 The Real Road to WrestleMania
Next year, the Showcase of the Immortals is heading to AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX. Many predict that WWE will finally achieve that 100K attendance gate they so richly crave. What about the effort that the company puts into the show of shows in the weeks leading up to ‘Mania? We need a fly-on-wall type of docu-series, interspersed with commentary from the people involved, to detail all of the fun and of drama involved with production. Who’s scheduling Axxess signings? Who’s going into the Hall of Fame? What Superstar is appearing where and when? The WWE is an army of less than 1,000 employees (according to Stephanie McMahon on Live with Jericho) and they should showcase the hard work they all put into this event.
11 Run Angles on Cable that Culminate on the Network
It’s safe to say that NXT is required viewing by any Network subscriber, but what about the main roster Network exclusive, WWE Superstars? Currently it’s a few decent matches and a Raw recap, but what if they make it mean a whole lot more and push for more subscribers? Similar to what John Cena is doing with the U.S. Championship and what Daniel Bryan (if not for getting injured) was doing with the Intercontinental Championship, you can use certain superstars to make Superstars must–see TV.
10 House Shows
The WWE Old School section highlights house shows from MSG, the Boston Garden, the Sam Houston Coliseum, along with other famous arenas. It’s time to bring this concept back. The WWE is not just a Monday and Tuesday job. True that’s when Raw is aired live and SmackDown gets taped, but there are house shows throughout the week. Usually, house shows give the boys enough time to work themselves into great matches and sometimes we can catch glimpses of them trying out new facets to their characters. With a more intimate setting and less lighting, showing weekly house shows would be a good way to connect the history of the business with the current product.
9 Revive the Legends of Wrestling
Back when WWE had their “Classics on Demand,” there was a great roundtable discussion series called Legends of Wrestling. The name says it all, as it was a panel of legends, usually led by Gene Okerlund or Jim Ross, who casually discussed the topic of the week. The discussion topics ranged from the territory days to the Monday Night War. When the Network first started in February 2014, this was one of the first shows released. It’s high time for a new season. The legends can discuss new topics like NXT or even the Network itself.
8 Renee Young
Currently, she's the only announcer with anywhere near the amount of exposure that Michael Cole has. If that's not an indication that Renee Young could be being groomed to be the first female "Voice of the WWE," then it’s least an indication of the wonderful job she does. She's what some might call "adorkable" and clearly she's not just a pretty face they hired, as she's a huge fan, which comes across well on TV. Besides making her show Unfiltered longer than 10 minutes, Renee Young and her affable personality make her a prime candidate to host some sort of morning show.
7 Rewinds, WrestleMania or Otherwise
One of the first shows that premiered on the Network was WrestleMania Rewind. The show would focus on a match from a WrestleMania and have interviews from the guys involved and the current Superstars the match influenced. Sounds like a great concept, right? So where was the second season? Part of the build to next year’s 'Mania could be Rewind episodes, as there's a slew of matches and moments that could be dissected. However, you also could have Rewinds for the rest of the big four as well - Ric Flair discussing his Royal Rumble victory or HBK and The Undertaker talking about their collision at the '97 Rumble would be standout episodes.
6 Beyond the Ring Premier Night Exclusive Playlists
Beyond the Ring is the name WWE uses to collect all of their wonderful DVD retrospectives. Here's where you can check out the stories of promotions long gone, like the AWA and WCCW, get the inside scoop on the rivalry between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, and, most recently, see a fantastic retrospective on the Macho Man Randy Savage.
Generally, a new doc debuts once a week and usually it's on Friday or Saturday night. So the first thing they should do is lock in that premiere date and hype it on Raw and SmackDown. The second thing they should do is give fans a reason to watch the premier live on the Network–immediately following the premiere they could show the documentary's special features as a "One Night Only Playlist." These playlists you wouldn't be able to share, save, or watch from the demand library. You'd have to watch right now or never.
5 Monday Night War Section
So what if the Monday Night War documentary was hyped like it was going be a Ken Burns-like epic production and all we got was a bunch of fluff pieces? The Monday Night War was wrestling's last great boom period and it deserves its own section on the Network. You should be able to click on a specific date and view Raw and Nitro from that night. They could start with the more important Mondays, such as November 17th, 1997, the Monday night that Ravishing Rick Rude appeared on both shows. You can present these episodes intercut with each other a giant 4-5 hour Network specials along with a special section devoted to it.
4 Enough of the Repeats
For over fifty years, WWE has aired brand new episodes of television weekly. They've also acquired many companies that also aired episodes on a weekly basis. There is simply no reason for the WWE Network to repeat the same show eight thousand times a week! We could understand showing the latest PPV a few times the first week it aired, but the same Total Divas, Beyond the Ring, Countdown, etc? The WWE has enough content to ensure that there is seldom a repeat on the Network. Watching the live stream is fun when you just want to veg out, but its gets tedious when it’s the same four shows over and over again.
3 You Own the Libraries, Use Them!
Building upon the #4 entry, the WWE currently owns all of its own material, dating back to Capitol Wrestling, WCW, ECW, WCCW, SMW, AWA, GWF, Stampede, FCW, Deep South, some of Memphis, Maple Leaf, Ohio Valley, UPW, Georgia Championship Wrestling, and yes the XFL, too. That’s a whole lot of alphabet soup to go around and plenty of it hasn’t aired on the Network yet. It’s high time we revisit things like the Brass Knuckles Title in GWF, the AWA SuperClash Series, the early years of current stars in developmental territories, and even He Hate Me and the Las Vegas Outlaws. A lot of the footage might be old and grainy, but that’s part of the charm, as you’d know you’re watching history unfold before your eyes.
2 The PPV Build Playlist
It’s no secret that the WWE has some of the best editors around and the proof is in their video packages. The editing is so good, they could make Disco Inferno look like a legendary Hall of Famer (please don’t get any ideas, Kevin Dunn). WWE can use these great video packages as opening credits to playlists featuring the build up to big matches. How about checking out matches and moments featuring Bret and Owen Hart on the road to SummerSlam 1994 – which would include the Harts vs. the Knights at Survivor Series 1993, Bret and Owen vs. the Quebecers at the Royal Rumble 1994, their amazing WrestleMania X match, Owen’s King of the Ring victory and all the great promo “what about me?” promo work in between.
1 Make the Current Product Must See TV
This sounds like a no brainer, but the more popular the current product is, the more eyes that will be drawn to the Network and consumption of all things WWE. The WWE brass speak fondly of the Attitude Era, which was the last great boom period, but that era ended at WrestleMania X-Seven in 2001. A lot of current fans weren’t even born then. They’ve already hooked the fans who grew up on saying their prayers or giving a “hell yeah,” but they need to keep improving. The in ring product is slowly but surely getting better, but the writers need to stop randomly changing storylines and assuming we’ve immediately forgotten things, like when Nikki Bella stabbed Brie in the back. Also, the man at the top needs to start giving some guys better chances at breaking the glass ceiling. Hopefully, we’re seeing that change now with guys like Rollins and Ambrose, but make no mistake about it, if Raw and SmackDown became must see TV again, then the Network would be must buy TV.
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