I signed up to the WWE Network on day one of it being available in the UK. If memory serves me correctly WWE actually stalled on getting the Network up and running at least once over here, on one occasion only hours before it was actually due. I trembled with anticipation when I started to download the WWE app on my Xbox 360. I’ve been paying my £9.99 a month ever since but I have discovered a slight problem over that time.
Payback, the PPV that has that enviable task of following up Wrestlemania, was last Sunday. Despite being readily available on the Network for a week now I have yet to see it. It’s not because it’s a bad show (but plenty of people have told me about the House of Horrors match) but mainly because the WWE’s main roster goes at breakneck speed and it’s sometimes hard to go back if you’ve missed it. Having paid my subscription, gaining access to all the back catalogue of shows spanning over 30 years in the process, it doesn’t feel like I’m only shelling out for this one show.
The old fashioned way of getting a PPV was to pay a single sum for access to that one show. Imagine if the WWE Network asked you to pay a lump sum of £30 to watch Payback. If you’d paid the money for the show and missed it at the time then you’d probably want to watch it regardless of the quality to make up for your outlay. As it stands the shows that supply the cornerstones of WWE’s storylines over the year are now merely part of an overall bigger package. They feel almost skippable, throwaway regardless of the effort the wrestlers themselves have put in. Rather than be the focus of the entire service
I still think the WWE Network is good value for money and the original content on there is, for the most part, brilliant. Last summer’s Cruiserweight Classic had me hooked, NXT is picking up again after a short while of being off the boil and the UK Championship continues to be an interesting prospect for fans this side of the Atlantic. The PPV shows, especially with 19 of them in a year split across the two brands of the main roster, are technically prepaid upfront. WWE still has your money regardless of the card they put on. Combine this with Raw having the same running time at three hours as most of the lesser PPV shows and the monthly big events have lost their exclusivity in more recent years. The big four still have a lot of push behind them with the WWE giving Summerslam especially the big event treatment lately but the rest seem to struggle for interest.
I’ll get around to watching Payback eventually but my worry is that by the time I do the storylines will be so well advanced beyond it that it’ll be irrelevant. Isn’t it time WWE slowed down a bit and treated events as special again?