It Came From the Network: New Collections and What To Watch
One inherent problem with the WWE Network is, much like Netflix, the power of choice is often overwhelming.
Too many choices are stifling and sometimes we all just need someone to tell us what to watch. This is why I’ll stand at the counter in a Baskin-Robbins for 20 minutes and stare at the four varieties of chocolate ice cream, incapable of making a decision.
I inevitably go with the flavor of the month. After all, pictures of the flavor are plastered all over the walls, so it must be good, right?
September sees new collections added to the Network, bringing along forgotten classics, the best of Eddie Guerrero, and a bevy of old content. Allow me to provide some suggestions on what is worth your time and your $9.99.
Eddie Guerrero: Viva La Rasa!!!
The Eddie Guerrero collection covers a lot of ground, ranging from his early days in WCW, the cup of coffee he had in ECW, and his rise to prominence with WWE. This collection is a great starting point for anyone unfamiliar with the versatility of Eddie’s career and just how much he accomplished before his death in 2005.
What To Watch
‘Facing the Giant Killer’ - Nov. 22, 1997
While this isn’t the Eddie vs Rey Mysterio Jr. WCW match I would have picked for the collection, this re-match at World War 3 still stands on its own as a perfect example of the dynamic nature of WCW’s cruiserweight division at the time.
The match is sloppier than their usual outings, but is worth a watch, if for anything, than to see WCW at its peak. The spectacle of World War 3 is always impressive and workrate matches like this are a constant reminder of how gimmicky the upper card in WCW was at the time.
‘Doing the Unthinkable’ - Feb. 15, 2004
I find it funny how the booking of Guerrero over Brock Lesnar seems improbable now, given Lesnar’s now-characterization of a world eater and unstoppable machine who does everything for the money. There was a time when Brock did more than sloppily suplex opponents in the ring and this championship match against Eddie is one of his best.
You won’t find a better underdog story than Eddie winning the title from Brock, and despite Goldberg’s interference the match still stands strong. This match also signaled the beginning of the end for Brock’s first WWE run, leading into his legendarily awful WrestleMania match with Goldberg and Steve Austin as the guest referee is the stuff of horrible, horrible nightmares.
What To Skip
Any of the promos
I’ll be the first to say that the Los Guerreros stuff, while remembered fondly, hasn’t aged well. We'd love to rewrite history and imagine that Eddie was always beloved and the Guerrero family was treated with respect while in WWE, but that simply isn’t the case.
I’ve always found the Los Guerreros stuff to lean in far too heavily on stereotypes for the sake of stereotypes, and while there were some great tag team matches from this period I found most of the vignettes and promos cinge-worthy.
Seriously: They didn’t add Rey vs Eddie at Halloween Havoc 1997 but made sure to include a random Piper’s Pit segment?
WWE Hidden Gems
Boy, there are some oddities in this collection. If you’re a fan of seeing matches that are akin to watching a dog walk on it’s hind legs then you’re in for a treat. There are even rarities thought to be lost to the annals of tape trading history, with Buzz Sawyer and Tommy Rich fighting in a cage while Paul Ellering is in an even smaller cage.
Wrestling is weird sometimes.
What To Watch
For fans of more recent mismatches, the FCW bout featuring Seth Rollins and Kassius Ohno -- known on the indie circuits as Chris Hero -- ranks up there on the “this actually happened?” scale. I’m a fan of the weirdness that comes along with developmental wrestling, so seeing things like the name “Bo Rotundo” on the wall of the FCW armory is more than worth the price of admission.
Also: Seth was still doing that stupid “I’m going to spin the belt around like a helicopter” bit from the indies. I love it, 'Maggle.
I’ll also note that the Harley Race vs Bob Backlund match is worth a watch, as it was just a “place and time” moment in wrestling, especially for the top NWA guy in Race to go against Bob in his babyface prime.
What To Skip
Do you really need to see another Terry Funk retirement match? If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all…. And there’s a great many of them.
New Classic Content
WWE seems to be stretching the phrase “classic content” just a bit.
This smaller collection is filled with archived NWA and WCW footage that hasn’t often seen the light of day, and probably for good reason. As usual, there’s plenty of stuff here that is worth watching for a few seconds, if only to get a good laugh.
What To Watch
There’s a lot of garbage here, honestly. The late 80s WCW footage is probably the best in terms of quality, but there’s something to be said about seeing Paul Heyman and Bam Bam Bigelow in NWA, as well as Michael Hayes and Lex Luger in their primes.
What To Skip
If you’re like me and you aren’t a fan of Four Horseman shenanigans then you can skip past a lot of this content. Maybe I’m a bad wrestling fan, but old-school Ric Flair content from NWA just doesn’t do anything for me. There’s a fun aspect of seeing how weird it all is when compared to his later WCW and WWE portrayals, but the majority of this footage is antiquated content best left in the vault.
The Network is getting new content each month, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t already a wealth of wrestling content waiting to be discovered on the service. Next time, we’ll review old episodes, including some WCW Thunder, early NXT, and maybe even an In Your House.