When WWE initially announced plans for their own network, skepticism reigned supreme. It took them a while to do it, but when it finally became available? It had to be considered a dang good deal. Who could resist paying just 9.99 for a month of the Network, which would include a ton of archival footage AND the monthly PPV extravaganza? But, of course, not everyone was happy.
WWE, way back when the whole PPV idea started, was a trailblazer, of sorts. Cable providers loved having the additional revenue stream from things like wrestling shows and boxing and the like, so they looked forward to having their customers pay $30-$60 for a single PPV. No extra content, no shows, no historical PPV. Not even replays of the event they bought. Just that show, and God help you if it sucked.
But when they announced the Network? Cable providers were not thrilled. While WWE, of course, had every right to do what they did, the providers knew it was going to kill off a cash cow for them. Who in their right mind would pay 60 bucks to see WrestleMania, when they could save 50 and subscribe to the WWE Network? But, the suits in Stamford weren’t fools, so they weren’t shutting off the providers. It was just another way for fans to get their wrestling, and WWE was making money off of both.
But, with most PPV, at least when it came to wrestling-because of it’s scripted nature-we always knew that the show would end somewhere between 10:30 and 11pm EST. The replay would start at 11pm. This hard stop, if you will, handcuffed folks for the WrestleMania 31 main event, as it went on later than expected, and has been reported to have been rushed because of time constraints.
After WrestleMania 32? It is clear that someone decided to say forget that noise, we have our own network, and the show ends when we say it ends.
My thoughts on this go two ways.
First, I love that the cuffs are off, so to speak. How many times have you looked at your clock and figured on whether the main event would be good, or end early either with a bad finish, or a dirty finish, or something otherwise unpleasant. Watching The Rock on Sunday, I was staring at my clock going “Holy Hell, they are messing up this ending too”. And then it went past 11pm, and time was no longer a factor. It was a whole new world, even if by the end of the show I was shaking my head at how long it had run. But, you take the good with the bad, right?
As for the other way? Well, I would hope that for most shows, they don’t turn into RAW, where the 5 to 15 minute over-run is a given, week after week. Running as long as they did with WM32, it can’t be done every monthly big show. This kind of length has to be reserved for the major events, and maybe only really once or twice a year-‘Mania, and possibly SummerSlam. I don’t think either the Rumble or Survivor Series would warrant breaking the 11pm barrier. And if any show not considered to be one of the fabled “Big 4″ breaks that magical hour? It would be a bad move.
In the end, even though I was up later for the show (and I swear I am not complaining), I was both surprised (that WWE didn’t mention that plan) and impressed, in the sense that this was a great example of WWE taking control of their product, which in the end supremely benefits us as consumers.
What say you, WNZ readers? Do you like this new direction?