Courtesy of Grantland.com:
Welcome to the WWE Network
Grantland’s resident wrestling junkies break down the cutting-edge delivery of the WWE’s Internet-only channel
Editor’s note: David “The Masked Man” Shoemaker (Grantland’s wrestling guru) and Bill Simmons (35-year wrestling fan) spent the past 10 days digesting the new WWE Network, which launched on February 24 and caused a multimedia riot in the wrestling community. Is this one of the great moments in WWE history? Could you say Vince McMahon stumbled into a blueprint for a new and improved media rights model, as well as a more sophisticated way for the sport to reach its fans? Our boys decided to break it down.
Q: What did you guys THINK this network was going to be?
Simmons: I always imagined the WWE Network becoming available on DirecTV and/or cable, then flicking over to Channel 259 (or whatever) and being delighted to find some random 1980 Texas Death Match between Bob Backlund and Ken Patera. I also assumed it would feature every new pay-per-view, the Raw/Smackdown pregame and postgame shows, reruns of every show WWE has produced and pay-per-views from the past 40 years, and maybe three or four “new” shows that would definitely suck. By the way … what I just described would have been an AWESOME channel. I never saw the Internet-only thing coming.
Shoemaker: Considering it was initially supposed to be an over-the-air broadcast network, I thought it was going to be sort of insufferable. A never-ending stream of mediocre reality television to try to attract mainstream attention with old pay-per-views on late night and hype packages for the current product infiltrating everything — I mean, my life is already full enough of wrestling as it is.
The following article appears on Grantland.com and was written by The Masked Man:
Last Monday, John Cena (the actual face of WWE) interrupted an in-ring conversation between Randy Orton (the story line “face of WWE”) and Triple H (the actual and story line front-office figure). In trying to make sense of the crowd’s seeming revolt of late — incessantly invoking Daniel Bryan’s “Yes!” chant, not shelling out for PPVs, ignoring Randy Orton — Cena posited: “You wanna know why they cheer for Daniel Bryan? You wanna know why they chant ‘Yes’? It’s because they’re sick of the administrative B.S.”
Pro wrestling is an art that works in broad strokes, a form with simplicity at its core, so when trying to figure out an answer, Occam’s razor usually does the trick. It could be that fans are disappointed that Bryan got shuffled ungraciously from the main event picture, only to be replaced by the Big Show, who usurped Bryan’s “Yes!” chant and who, combined with Orton, sucked all the air out of the arena at Survivor Series. Bryan, meanwhile, was paired with CM Punk to take on a group of evil newcomers named the Wyatt Family. As compelling as the Wyatts may be, the feud was widely seen as a demotion for Bryan and Punk. Not everybody can be in the main event every month (except Cena), and the Wyatt feud was good for what it was — and even better for the joy of seeing Punk and Bryan together in the ring and in interviews. The real problem wasn’t their absence in the main event — it was the absence of dynamism in the Orton-Show story line. WWE sensed this and ended the Survivor Series main event with John Cena — who had concluded his own milquetoast feud with Alberto Del Rio earlier in the night — storming to the ring and holding up his World Heavyweight Championship belt as Orton held the WWE Championship belt, making the universal sign for a champion-vs.-champion match.
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