Off The Ropes: A Few WWE Network Shows to Check Out by Hab Rich

This week I’m going to review some of the shows and original content on the WWE Network. I’ll talk about some of my favorites as well as some that I didn’t care for so much.

I checked out Ride Along, which features groups of WWE Superstars traveling driving with a camera mounted inside the vehicle to capture some of the shenanigans, fun times and stories they shared while traveling the long road. I had high expectations for this show, figuring that on the strength of the stories they had to share alone I’d enjoy it, but quite frankly, it missed the mark. Even The New Day couldn’t save “Ride Along”. It just seemed to me that the superstars dialed it in for this show. I spent over half the episode looking for the bust out laugh, but there just wasn’t one. I could give it another look to see if I like it a little more the second time around, but as of right now, save yourself the trouble and skip “Ride Along.”

The Stone Cold Podcast is must see viewing on WWE Network. Having been a fan of his Steve Austin Show on Podcastone.com, I was glad when he began producing content for the WWE Network. He’s featured Vince McMahon, Triple H, Paige, Big Show and others on his show thus far. And this is all speculation, but I certainly think Stone Cold might have a few more restrictions when doing his live podcast for WWE Network than when he does it for PodcastOne. Once, he acknowledged Vince McMahon standing out of the view of the cameras and it made sense. Being the control freak that he is, Vince probably wants to keep watchful eyes and ears on the show when one of his current superstars are featured. Finally, if you need a little reminder of how great Austin was, check out his live podcast with Paul Heyman; watch how he snaps into “Stone Cold” mode when Paul mentions the possibility of a match between Austin and Brock Lesnar. Enjoy that greatness.

From watching their live podcast interview with Stone Cold, to finally seeing Edge and Christian debut their new show on the network, I feel it only right to give Christian his props. He been off of live television programming for a while and when Austin mentioned the possibility of getting his own show he instantly making pitches. both Austin and edge remark that Christian was going into business for himself, virtually baiting the content producers at WWE Network to give him a look. The Edge and Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness is the funniest show on the network and it’s only two episodes in. Seeing those two up to their usual shenanigans is always entertaining. I can’t wait for more.

Table for 3 from the look of things on the WWE Network is either discontinued or on hiatus right now, but it was and is another solid show. The theme is to group three superstars at a dinner setting and just have them tell stories about breaking into the business, memorable matches and all the other tales that fans like myself love to hear. They shot the first episodes of the show all in the same restaurant, so I’d be interested to see if they do it again, but have different venues for the superstars to dine. The grouping of Sting, Vader and Diamond Dallas Page was a pretty good nostalgic episode and definitely worth checking out.

Swerved was WWE’s version of Punk’d featuring Ashton Kutcher. New feature superstar pranks and other hijinks overseen by Dolph Ziggler. The show was funny but did not last long, more than likely because superstars were getting real life angry and some of the reactions couldn’t be edited out in post or shown on television. There’s a very fine line to approach when making prank television because the cameras are rolling and it’s difficult to tell how they might react while getting ‘swerved.’ It’s also impossible to predict how short their fuses are and if they might snap and blow the segment before Dolph reveals that it was a prank all along.

Another show that might interest you is Legends House, which is essentially WWE’s version of MTV’s “The Real World” but with geriatrics. “Hillbilly” Jim, “Mean” Gene Okerlund, Tony Atlas, Jimmy Hart, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Howard Finkel and Pat Patterson all shared a house and just kinda did stuff. Some analysis, huh? I know, the show’s over a year old and I only watched a few episodes.

My personal favorite show on the network is Breaking Ground, which follows NXT superstars and hopefuls as they pursue their dream of being called up to the WWE main roster. I’ve enjoyed the background stories and details of what these young people are sacrificing to make it in WWE. The episode featuring Baron Corbin was one of the best I’ve seen. I got a real glimpse into the man behind the character and instantly, I became one of his biggest fans. Other NXT performers featured on the show were NXT Women’s Champion, Bayley, Enzo Amore, Big Cass and Carmella.

The appeal of the WWE Network to me has always been the ability to go back and look at old pay-per-views and relive classic wrestling moments. This might sound like a plug, but for $9.99 we really are getting a steal with so many hours of old footage on the network. However, someone in Stamford, Connecticut knew that to keep and attract new subscribers they had to create new original content and they continue to do just that.

Shows like WWE Countdown, Legends, With JBL, Culture Shock featuring Corey Graves, and WWE Unfiltered with Renee Young are only a small sampling of the original programming on the network. WWE has given me a great mix of old footage and new content and I have given them permission to debit $9.99 from my bank account every month for it. I guess we both win, huh?