So eleven months after the WWE Network made its debut in America and after one instance of ‘nearly but not quite’ the service is finally about to be released in the UK and Ireland.
I say ‘about to’ but in truth it’s here already. Whispers went around social media this past Tuesday about how the WWE Network app had suddenly appeared on Xbox Live. People with an Xbox One were able to download it. I thought that I’d try on the off chance to see if I could get it on my 360. Sure enough, nearly a week before the official release, the icon was there.
I downloaded it successfully, always expecting it to suddenly give me the dreaded ‘not available in your area’ message. I had to set up an account on WWE.com that required my address. I thought this would be the stumbling block, the site would surely block my sign up right here?
Despite a rather confusing moment when I couldn’t find ‘United Kingdom’ on the menu (they’ve listed it under ‘Great Britain’ instead) the sign up was simple. With the way it was worded I thought the next problem would be the fact I was paying by debit card rather than a credit card. Not a bit, it sailed through and the confirmation email came through saying my first £9.99 would be taken on the 28th of January.
I’ve seen many people online say that we’re being ripped off at paying a tenner as the exchange rate wasn’t taken into account. Most of the people who went via VPN and signed up for the American version months ago (hello Phil!) were paying around £6 for the service. I’d say that paying ten pounds for the massive back library, live PPV shows and some original programming is still amazing value. The previous method of watching WWE in the UK was Sky TV. Raw and Smackdown are shown on Sky’s sport channels, access to which will be at least £60 a month. The bigger PPV shows are on Sky Box Office which will set you back around £30 per show. Financially, the WWE Network is a complete no brainer. I also detest Sky and am very much against giving them any of my cash. The ability to watch wrestling by giving Vince my money directly works for me.
So the choice is phenomenal. Pretty much anything from 1985 onwards is there to watch whenever you please. I had a few moments at the start when I was just scrolling through looking for somewhere to start. I eventually settled on the last NXT special, purely to see the Zayn vs Neville match. The stream was slightly glitchy to begin with but levelled out after thirty seconds to be crystal clear, remaining so right through the show.
How the system copes during the official launch tomorrow and how the Royal Rumble stream fares next weekend will be key. My hope now is that the WWE sort the issues in the main product right now because, should wrestling hit Attitude Era levels of popularity again, they could be onto a major winner with this.