On February 24, the world got the WWE Network. Never mind. On February 28, and only on my Safari web browser, I finally got the WWE Network. Sure, it got off to a rocky start and I still have some buffering issues. But most new technologies do have issues but I have enjoyed the Network in my three seconds of spare time in the last few weeks.
As I am finally finishing to wade through about sixty 2000 word essays, (does anyone at TJR want to help me grade?) I have begun to learn a few truths about wrestling history with a little help from the network. The WWE Network makes it quite easy to learn and explore wrestling’s fascinating past.
The WWE tells me it will take years to actually explore the entire content of the network. Anyone who successfully does so will have my praise. Or is that pity? I think I meant pity. In my limited time on the Network, I have already learned a few key truths. Let us review what I have learned from the Network:
Why Don’t We Have A Cruiserweight Show on the WWE Network?
It isn’t like he invented the concept (he stole it) but I always loved the fact that Eric Bischoff brought the great action of the Cruiserweights to the mainstream American audience. It is funny all the attention went to the New World Order and its famous feud with WCW but it was the unbelievable cruiserweight action that keeps me watching and hoping now for a 21st century revival.
TJR’s own Heather Hickey talked about the greatness of a legendary feud between Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio, especially their great Halloween Havoc encounter. It was brilliant stuff but we also had the honor of having classic matches in WWE as well. The stars I fondly remember that didn’t have time to shine in WCW were: La Parka, Psychosis, Ultimo Dragon, Billy Kidman, Juventud Guerrera, Chris Jericho and Dean Malenko to name a few. The WWE, unsuccessfully, tried to copy the formula but WCW did it best in the late 1990’s. Take exciting stars from Mexico and Japan and let them wrestle in their unique style. It is something I truly miss and wish would return.
For added fun watch Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan during the Cruiserweight matches on WCW pay-per-views. They are completely clueless to what is occurring in the ring. It is pure comedy gold from the 1990’s.
ECW is Quality Wrestling
Anytime you see an insane hardcore move in the wrestling ring today, you run the risk of an “ECW” chant. A lot of fans remember the blood, table, barbwire and fire as all ECW was truly about. I know I forget that sometimes when looking at some of their history but I don’t want to forget the quality wrestling that is usually overlooked. They weren’t just insane people; they could really “go” plenty of times too in ECW’s storied history.
I was a big fan of the farewell matches. For example, watch the classic encounter between Malenko and Guerrero. They didn’t need blood and the ECW audience would appreciate its quality. I look forward to having people learn about other key performers like 2 Cold Scorpio, Mike Awesome, Masato Tanaka, Hayabusa and Jerry Lynn who didn’t really get to show their true potential in the bigger leagues. Besides I could watch RVD and Jerry Lynn wrestle over and over again. ECW could tell a great 20-minute story without throwing a human being through an exploding C4 table. Except New Jack, that pretty much describes him perfectly.
Wrestling Before the 1980’s Can Be Quite Boring
However not all wrestling should be remembered nostalgically. I have tried to look at wrestling before the early days of pay-per-view that the WWE Network is starting to showcase. It is brutal to try and watch for an extended period of time.
I certainly have a tremendous amount of respect for the pioneers of the past before the boom of the 1980’s. I want to respect wrestling and respect the pioneers of the sport. However, I cannot watch their extended snooze fests. Did pre-1980’s wrestlers know that moves existed besides rest holds? Did they even do cardio at any point in their entire lives? I look at 1970’s wrestlers and say, “I could do that.” There is a reason amateur wrestling declined in popularity as professional wrestling grows. The show is the thing. Thank goodness for people like Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat that recognized that a show could be made truly exciting.
Some People In the Attitude Era Were Insane
One of the first matches I watched when I got the WWE Network was the classic first ever TLC match between the Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian and the Dudleys at Summerslam 2000. I watched the match with a younger fan that only stared watching around 2010. They were shocked. As we watched them throw chairs at each other’s head, fall off ladders onto the floor or through four tables, she asked the question, “Where these people crazy?” The best response is, “Yes. Yes, they were.”
As I think about to some of my favorite matches involving these three tag teams, Mick Foley or the Undertaker, I think how naïve we were. It is quite difficult today to watch Mick Foley get hit with dozens of chair shots from the Rock at Royal Rumble 1999 or watch any of those classic TLC matches in the early 2000’s. I remember then fondly but now I see the lasting effects on these wrestlers.
So if an older fan tells me they miss that era, I shake my head. I care about the performers who entertain me 300 days a year. They deserve a future after wrestling that so many were robbed of from this era.
I appreciate what the WWE Network allows. The chance to view events and wrestlers that I never had a chance to see is an amazing one. As a History teacher, I am glad this history is now preserved in such a wonderful way. At least I will when my content stops buffering.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, I have my Twitter account, WWELasher as well. I hope you will read me again soon. If anyone wants to grade a few term papers it would be a great help to me.