Best of the WWE Network – 2014

It was recently the WWE Network’s fifth birthday, which is actually pretty mad. The original concept for the Network came bout back in the mid 00s, and it was something that was being worked on for years before finally becoming a reality on February 24, 2014.

WWE spent a lot of time building up their classic video library, buying rights to other companies’ back catalogues and digitising them, in preparation for the Network. But the key selling point has always been the new, original programming. WWE have tried a lot of different show formats over the last five years, some have worked and some haven’t.

With five being a fairly round number, I though I’d take this opportunity to look back at some of the highlights of WWE programming in the Network era year by year. 2014 was a changing of the guard in WWE, both in and out of the ring. So, as I used to say in these posts fairly regularly back around that time, without further ado… Continue reading Best of the WWE Network – 2014

The Live Experience

If you follow WWE at all, you probably know that over the last 10 days they’ve been touring the UK and mainland Europe. And if you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw that I went to three of the shows – Raw in Manchester, SmackDown in Manchester, and a SmackDown house show in Glasgow.

There was a lot to love about all three shows. I got to see some of my all-time favourites for the first time, and some of the matches were great. I saw title changes, main roster debuts, a heel turn and just some great work on the mic and in the ring. Continue reading The Live Experience

WWE’s Fandom Conundrum

When I wrote my column about becoming more interested in companies outside WWE, I briefly mentioned naming this blog. “That Wrestling Fandom” was specifically named to not be WWE specific. But I also deliberately picked the term “fandom”, because I anticipated that at some point I’d be talking about fan culture. And here we are.

I think WWE and their fans are in an endless cycle of no-win situations.

Fans, myself included, cry out month after month for long term storytelling. Shotgun booking appears to be public enemy number one at times, and yet is all too prevalent in WWE’s programming. The obvious example going back a few months was when Finn Balor lost to Kane towards the end of last year when he was considered to be Brock Lesnar’s obvious next challenger.

And yet, when WWE try to have a feud simmering under the surface for months, that doesn’t go down well either. Sasha Banks vs Bayley is a rivalry that has burst back to the fore after last night’s Raw, and nobody seems to care anymore. The time for a heel turn, based on crowd reaction, was 14 months ago. People say this is a feud that has gone nowhere for six months, but Banks looked like she was turning heel around Wrestlemania 33 – over a year ago in April 2017. Continue reading WWE’s Fandom Conundrum

Looking back at my early predictions

This is my 200th post on this wrestling blog! It started six years ago, with the first post on April 1, a predictions column for Wrestlemania 28. I’ve progressed through many styles of article, several co-contributors, seen a huge turnover in the WWE roster and the rise of NXT and the WWE Network. And along the way, I’ve made probably hundreds of predictions. So, as a special post for the landmark, I thought I’d take a look back at some of the predictions I made in my first year, and see how right – or very, very wrong – I was. Continue reading Looking back at my early predictions

Royal Rumble Statistics – 2018 Update

In each of the last three years, for some reason I’ve tasked myself with watching every single Royal Rumble match in the build up to the next one. And in the process, I’ve kept track of some statistics that have interested me. WWE always come up with their annual Royal Rumble statistical packages at this time of year, and last year I put together an article to include some stats that aren’t included in them. Now I’ve updated it, because obviously there’s been one more Rumble match since then, and the stats change every year! So, without further ado!

Last year Randy Orton stopped a run of three Royal Rumble winners walking out of Wrestlemania without a world championship, though in 2016 Triple H won the WWE Championship in the Rumble match itself. The Rumble winner has only been guaranteed a title match at Wrestlemania since 1993 (in 1992 Ric Flair won the WWE Title in the match, in 1991 Hulk Hogan went on to challenge for the title after winning the Rumble match but it wasn’t a stipulation of the match, and in 1990 the WWE Champion Hulk Hogan actually entered the Rumble and won), and the winners’ record is fairly even. Challenging for either the WWE or World Heavyweight Championships, the Rumble winner has won 14 times at Wrestlemania, compared to 9 losses.

yokozuna-studio-photo-wwf.jpg
The first man to earn a world title shot by winning the Rumble was Yokozuna in 1993, and he made the most of it by winning the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania

Continue reading Royal Rumble Statistics – 2018 Update

WWE Live Reflections

This is going to be one of the most disjointed columns I’ve published in a long time. Usually I like to write to make a point, to address one or two ideas through exemplification and analysis. There will be aspects of that here, but there were so many things I wanted to talk about it is a bit of a mish-mash of ideas. That is because last week, I went to the Raw house show in Glasgow and the Aberdeen house show in Aberdeen – and when you see so much, it gets you thinking about a lot of different things too.

WWE Live in Scotland Graphic

Continue reading WWE Live Reflections

Six Superstars Who Need Shaken Up

And here we are at the end of Wrestlemania season! We’ve had six straight nights of content from WWE alone with the Hall of Fame, TakeOver: Orlando, Wrestlemania 33, Raw, SmackDown and NXT. It almost feels strange not having more wrestling to look forward to tonight. BUT, we can look back at all the awesome stuff that’s happened in the last week, and look ahead by asking the question “where do we go from here?”

We saw Kurt Angle return to the company, first as a Hall of Famer then as the Raw General Manager. We saw what looks like a full on heel turn from Asuka. We saw Matt and Jeff Hardy return to the WWE and become the Raw Tag Team Champions. We saw the career of The Undertaker likely come to a close. We saw The Revival debut on the main roster on Monday night, and Shinsuke Nakamura and Tye Dillinger get the call up on Tuesday night. And crucially, we also saw Vince McMahon announce that next week we would shake up the rosters.

And that’s what I want to focus on here. Who is most likely to switch brands, or maybe rather who needs to switch brands the most? Here I lay out six picks, three from each show, who could really benefit from a shake up of their surroundings.

 

Sami Zayn

Sami Zayn

Continue reading Six Superstars Who Need Shaken Up

8 Feuds for Post-Wrestlemania SmackDown

As we head into Wrestlemania, all eyes are on the ultimate thrill ride, and rightfully so. It’s not WWE’s pinnacle for no reason. But, as ever with WWE storylines, a big part of the excitement around Mania is the possibility for what will come next. So I’ve put my fantasy booking hat on (I mean come on, I don’t really ever take it off) and come up with eight rivalries I want to see on SmackDown coming out of Wrestlemania season. In case you’re wondering, I’m only doing SmackDown because I’m too uncertain about who will be in what spots and roles on Raw, and I’m doing eight feuds because there are eight segments in a typical SmackDown broadcast. And the roster isn’t really big enough for more. Got that? Let’s go!

WWE Championship – Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt ©

Orton Wyatt WWE Title

Continue reading 8 Feuds for Post-Wrestlemania SmackDown

Royal Rumble Statistics

So in the last two years, for some reason I’ve tasked myself with watching every single Royal Rumble match in the build up to the next one. And in the process, I’ve kept track of some statistics that have interested me. WWE always come up with their annual Royal Rumble statistical packages at this time of year, and here I’ve tried to include some stats that aren’t included in them. Without further ado!

The last three Royal Rumble winners have walked out of Wrestlemania without a world championship, though last year Triple H did win the WWE Championship in the Rumble match itself. The Rumble winner has only been guaranteed a title match at Wrestlemania since 1993 (in 1992 Ric Flair won the WWE Title in the match, in 1991 Hulk Hogan went on to challenge for the title after winning the Rumble match but it wasn’t a stipulation of the match, and in 1990 the WWE Champion Hulk Hogan actually entered the Rumble and won), and the winners’ record is fairly even.

 

Continue reading Royal Rumble Statistics