Question: what does the WWE Network mean to the UK indy scene?

wwe-network-logoYou’ve probably seen the details of the long-awaited WWE Network by now.

Launching in the US next month, its current plans are to include:

  • All the PPVS – including WrestleMania – live and on demand;
  • Pre- and post-shows for the PPVs and for RAW and Smackdown;
  • ‘The Monday Night War’ – a series about the WWE-WCW battle;
  • ‘WrestleMania Rewind’;
  • ‘WWE Countdown’ – where viewers get the chance to rank the roster (this will clearly end well);
  • ‘Legends House’ – where old wrestlers live together and with ‘house staff’ (this will clearly also end well);
  • NXT – the best WWE show;
  • Superstars – the most meaningless WWE show;
  • ALL THE WWE, WCW, and ECW PPVs EVER, “uncut and uncensored”, possibly including Chris Benoit?;
  • Episodes of RAW and Smackdown immediately after they air.
  • US viewers are being asked for just $9.99 a month at the moment; and though it’s not available to UK viewers at the moment, it will be soon, apparently.

    Basically you can now watch wrestling 24 hours a day without leaving your home, and get new content pretty much all the time.

    So what does this mean for the indy scene – if anything?

    The US indies are already scrabbling to keep up with this. The WWNLive mailout this week said: “WWE is Walmart. The WWNLive Family are the neighborhood grocery store that prides itself on delivering the highest quality and more personal service while adding to the community…Just like Walmart did to the mom-and-pop, WWE is giving you a product at a price that the small guy can’t compete with.”

    But they’re coming out all guns blazing: “Now we can whine and cry, beg for your business cause we “deserve” it because we bring you good wrestling, or we can do something about it. We can get fired up and figure out ways to produce a more interesting, exciting and creative product to you.”

    Good for them. The acknowledgement of the potential to “whine and cry” was particularly interesting – I’m sure we can all think of companies and promoters who’d do that as a fallback. Perhaps this’ll be a trigger for the US indies to increase their production values, to cater to their audiences, and to continue to showcase the best wrestling talent on the circuit.

    So what about the UK indies? On the surface of it, perhaps nothing. We haven’t got the Network yet, few promotions run the elaborate iPPVs that companies like the WWNLive family and ROH do, so there’s no direct competition with the WWE.

    So – could there be any collaboration?

    I suspect there may be some tweaking to the UK offering in terms of new content seeing as Sky currently have exclusive rights to RAW, Smackdown, NXT and Superstars, and repeat all of them during the week. Could there be some potential for airing some British wrestling on the UK Network? Established stars and up-and-comers, from Daniel Bryan to Adrian Neville, have all worked for UK promotions – and there’s excellent footage of it.

    Challenge TV at the moment seem to think they have it all wrapped up, what with TNA Impact Wrestling, WrestletalkTV and the occasional British Wrestling Round-Up. The UK WWE Network would be an ideal time to highlight the British wrestling scene and its links with WWE – and it could offer a very tailored, unique product to its audience while dealing a blow to TNA’s position on the British market.

    This is just my speculation – I would be really interested in your views, so do let me know in the comments.

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