WWE Network – even more reason for wrestling nerds to stay inside

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 14th January 2014.

Last Thursday, at a glitzy press conference in Las Vegas, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Chairman Vince McMahon announced the creation of the WWE Network. Widely expected to be a new premium sports channel to be carried via traditional US cable TV distributors, WWE pulled a pro wrestling storyline swerve by revealing that the fledgling network will be internet based, and most importantly, available in Australia.

WWE Network will consist of a live feed plus on demand programming. I have no doubt that die hard fans will be able to stay glued to their screens 24/7 but is there enough footage of men pretending to fight in their undies for a whole network?

On their way to becoming the dominant wrestling promotion in the USA and by default, the planet, WWE have swallowed up almost every tape library going so their archive of over 100,000 hours of bouts and footage from the 1940’s to now will be a major drawcard for enthusiasts of the square circle.

WWE is also promising original programming such as Wrestlemania Rewind which will examine some of the greatest match-ups in history, the stories behind them and talk to the participants, assuming they haven’t died in a steroid or drug related incident. Another documentary style show, The Monday Night War, will spotlight the infamous mid-90’s battle for ratings between WWE and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Of course, history is written by the victors so don’t expect a balanced perspective. For the record, my friends and I were huge WCW fans at the time. With hindsight, WCW was pretty terrible. Our preference for it may have had more to do with Australian pay TV’s decision to drop WWE programming at the time.

I’m most excited about WWE Legends House, a reality show which sees “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and other stars from the eighties with inverted commas in their names live under the same roof. I’m looking forward to enjoying the antics of the legends. By legends, I mean a bunch of unhinged old grapplers who have been dropped on their heads a few too many times.


For most fans, the biggest attraction will be the monthly pay per view events such as Wrestlemania. Currently priced at $35 a pop via Australian pay TV channel Main Event, the pay per views will be part of the network lineup. With the introductory price point for the WWE Network being set at US$9.99 per month, with a minimum six month subscription, the online channel represents great value for fans and appears to be another sign that tradition TV distribution is on the wane.


The best news for Aussie wrestling fans is that WWE Network will become available for us in late 2015 or early 2015. The lag is presumably to allow WWE to renegotiate its arrangements with local distributors such as Foxtel.

WWE Network premieres in the US only on February 24. In the words of the late “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “Oooooh yeeeah!”

Advertisements

Scooby Doo and WWE: the megapowers collide

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 17th December 2013.

As kid growing up in the eighties, one of my favourite things to do on a Saturday morning was to wake up early and watch cartoons. Nowadays, I much prefer to sleep in and miss Saturday morning altogether. My favourite animated series was Scooby-Doo and if it was listed in the TV guide, I’d make sure that I was glued to the box for every minute.

Sure it was super formulaic. There’s a mysterious figure haunting a location, usually a mine, theme park or film set. Scooby and the gang arrive in the Mystery Machine to investigate. Chaos ensues. Insert a whacky chase scene. The criminal is collared and unmasked to reveal that it was Old Man Smothers / McGillicutty / Jackson all along. The famous phrase is uttered. “And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.” Roll credits and theme tune.

I guess the simplicity of the formula appealed to my young brain.That would also explain why I also loved similarly simple shows such as The Famous Five, Murder She Wrote, Hey, Hey It’s Saturday and A Current Affair.

My absolute favourite episodes were the ones which saw the Scooby Gang team up with guest stars, in particular Batman and the Harlem Globetrotters.


Produced in 1972, the “Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair” and “The Caped Crusader Caper” see Batman and Robin work alongside Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Velma and Daphne to battle the dastardly Joker and Penguin. I was a huge fan of the sixties camp incarnation of Batman, starring the legendary Adam West, so this was the coming together of two of my most beloved franchises. It’s also worth nothing that the quality of acting is not much different between the animated and live action Batman. I’m not sure if that’s a compliment to the voice actors of the cartoon or a brickbat for Adam West’s thespian skills…

As a child, I had no idea who the Harlem Globetrotters were. I still don’t. They seem to be some sort of basketball team who specialise in doing tricks but aren’t very good at playing an opposing team, kind of like the Parramatta Eels. Amazingly, they were also sleuths who like to solve mysteries. In “The Mystery of Haunted Island” and “The Loch Ness Mess” they team up with the Scooby Gand to investigate locations being haunted by mysterious figures… I won’t bother. You know the rest.

It was with some trepidation that I discovered recently that the latest Scooby-Doo animated movie sees the titular Great Dane work alongside another of my loves…wrestling.

Scooby-Doo! Wrestlemania Mystery sees the Scooby Gang investigating the world of professional wrestling. Despite my initial reservations that these two worlds colliding might be a mistake, I’m think I’ll keep an open mind. After all, there are plenty of masked men in the WWE to be revealed. And quite a few steroid smugglers I’m sure. Scooby snacks anyone?

Many WWE Superstars will be lending their likenesses and voices to the project, including renowned Shakespearean actors Triple H, John Cena, Kane, The Miz, Brodus Clay, Santino Marella and the chairman of the board, Mr McMahon.

In March next year, Scooby-Doo! Wrestlemania Mystery will be unleashed on the world, direct to DVD. Hopefully the Scooby Gang will solve some of WWE’s greatest mysteries, such as, “Why didn’t the referee see that?” and “How is it possible to be beaten up that badly and not get a single bruise?” I might finally also get an answer to the most commonly asked question whenever I admit to liking professional wrestling, “How on earth can you watch that garbage?” Jinkies!

Published in: on January 7, 2014 at 16:46  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,