The High Spot: The WWE Network Launch, Hulk Hogan’s Return and the Top Stories of the Week

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Welcome to the High Spot, Place to Be Nation’s weekly pro wrestling update. Steve Wille (@SteveWille34) Brad Woodling (@brad21126) will take you through the biggest story of the week in the world of wrestling, adding in a unique view to help put the story in perspective. Glenn Butler (@glenniebun) then takes a quick look at other important stories of the week. If you have any tips or story ideas, please contact us at info@placetobenation.com!

Whew. What a week for the world of professional wrestling and in turn, for Place to Be Nation. We had an Elimination Chamber PPV that featured two four star + matches on Sunday and segued right into one of the biggest Mondays in WWE history with the launch of the WWE Network and a RAW that saw the return of Hulk Hogan AND the Undertaker. We watched a pre and post-show for Monday Night RAW and then tuned in Thursday for a two-hour live NXT show on the WWE Network. And with the aforementioned Network launching, our viewing habits and how we consume wrestling was forever changed. That’s a pretty big week.

The first week of the WWE Network was certainly something. We had waited in anticipation for months to sign up, drawing up plans in our heads as to which old PPVs we would watch first. We were all ready for the Network on Monday morning although MLB Advanced Media certainly was not.  Initial sign-ups crashed due to the demand – certainly a good sign for the break-even figures the WWE needs for the service overall but still a stumble out of the gate. We were patient, these things happen after all, and the issue was fixed in just a few hours. We didn’t run stories at Place to Be Nation about what a failure the launch was on Monday because that’s not how we roll here. Those pieces were dramatic, lazy conjecture. It’s important to note that while the live stream did take off across all devices that would accept logins (Microsoft>hey), there were still issues with the service – mainly around the video-on-demand cache. And while it is one thing to be patient and understanding (hence the free trial after all), it’s also not wrong to want to consume the product you purchased. The Nation was pretty even-keeled as the day went on and after a day of streaming and playing around on the Network, Justin and Scott produced a podcast nearly 300 episodes in the making.

People hopped around from device to device over the next couple of days, trying to find that sweet spot which enabled them to watch a full show without stalling or crashing. This got better across the board as the week went on and news broke on Thursday night that Roku had released a patch which helped immensely for their users. Sony seemed to do well right out of the gate, and even their PlayStation 4 console supports the app (their competition, the Xbox One does not). Microsoft still, as of this posting, has not got their shit together with the Xbox 360. The word is no later than Monday, March 3rd – a full week after the Network’s launch and after the expiration of the trial period – you’ll be able to finally log into the Network through your Xbox. Log in mind you, we’re not sure if it’ll be on par with other devices or need a ramp up time with fixes. This is what was so smart about the free trial. You could be patient since you weren’t paying while the kinks were being ironed out. That window is almost up and this is a gigantic miss by the WWE and Microsoft if the issues continue.

The next big hurdle was the live Thursday night NXT arRIVAL show. To be accurate, they had broadcast live on the Network earlier in the week with the Raw pre and post-show but this two-hour event was what consumers were interested in with WrestleMania XXX on the Network just five weeks away. Would the stream hold up? Well, someone kicked out the cord mid-way through, right after Tyler Breeze made his way to the ring (some people got to re-watch this a number of times as the feed would kick back in before going out again) and every review of the show forever notes this. Technical issues bled over into the main event for some users which just heightened the questions around what WrestleMania would be like. There is time to correct this but it still puts one on guard given all the moving parts that go into a live streaming broadcast.

Stay tuned to The High Spot for more Network musings in the coming weeks. There’s a bunch of cool stuff on the way including complete collections of Saturday Night’s Main Event, the Clash of Champions shows and the complete catalog of recorded MSG house shows. Let me turn it over to my good friend Glenn to take you through the rest of the news of the week:

  • Breaking News from the WWE Network:
    – At the Survivor Series we learned that Mr. Fuji’s treachery truly knows no bounds, as the devious manager abandoned Demolition, siding with the Powers of Pain. One can only imagine what further tricks he may have up his sleeve.
    – WCW provides sound life advice: should the wheel be spun, let the deal be done.
    – At Armageddon, Paul London and Brian Kendrick retained their WWE Tag Team Championship in a fantastic four-team ladder match. Sadly, almost overshadowing the result was Joey Mercury’s gruesome injury, as he suffered a broken nose and broken orbital bone requiring a total of thirty stitches. The High Spot extends our best wishes to Mercury on his recovery.
    – Hulk Hogan defeated Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III, bodyslamming the massive Frenchman on his way to retaining the World’s Heavyweight Championship. The match was the first loss Andre’s suffered in his illustrious career.
  • Legends in the House – The latest WWE Hall of Fame announcement is that Diamond Dallas Page will be inducting Jake Roberts. After all he’s done for Jake through the power of yoga and clean living, there’s hardly a better candidate–and now Jake needs just a little more support from his friends, after having cancer heaped upon his pile of troubles.
  • Fight for the Rights of Every Man – Hulk Hogan made his triumphant return to wrestling on Monday, announcing his role as the host of WrestleMania and thereby ensuring the impressive numbers of viewers and live attendees the WWE is banking on. One hopes Hogan will continue the tradition among WrestleMania hosts of interfering in the main event and going on to main-event the next two WrestleManias, including a tenure as WWE Champion. We will have to watch the coming weeks closely for signs of someone hurting Hulk’s friends, knowing that he can’t let it slide.
  • Ain’t No Grave – Another man who can’t let things slide is the Undertaker, whose particular fixation is people saying they want to make WrestleMania history. The Deadman also made his return this week, setting up a match with Brock Lesnar. If Undertaker can still absorb Brock’s offense, things could be promising indeed.
  • ?! ?! ?! ?! – Is there any hope? Are we all of us infected already? Can a society of the mad identify its mania? And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward New Orleans to be born?

    Investigating Them makes you vulnerable; even thinking about Them makes you vulnerable. The danger only increases when you chance upon one of Their keywords, their shibboleths, like if you start talking about Daniel Daniel Daniel Bryan did not win the Royal Rumble. Daniel Bryan did not win the Royal Rumble. Daniel Bryan did not win the Royal Rumble. Daniel Bryan Daniel Bryan Daniel Daniel Daniel Bryan Bryan. Daniel Bryan Daniel. Daniel Bryan Daniel Bryan Bryan Bryan. Danielson? Bryan. Daniel Bryan did not win the Royal Rumble. Boo-tista. Courage.

Author: Brad Woodling

Brad Woodling is the managing editor of the Place to Be Nation. He was turned on to pro wrestling at the age of 18 after first watching Starrcade '97 and has been hooked ever since. His wrestling DVD collection and retro video game collection will probably be featured on an A&E Hoarders episode one day. Send Brad an email