Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Godspeed, WWE Classics on Demand
It had been speculated for some time the WWE wanted to create its own network, where wrestling fans can see their favorite sport 24 hours a day.
After some delays, it's now official: WWE Classics On Demand will close on January 31, and the WWE Network will take its place.
I'm gonna be sad to see the on-demand service go because it was my main source of old-school wrestling, after ESPN decided to stop showing the AWA, World Class reruns and even the Global Wrestling Federation (best known for giving us Marcus Bagwell and Sean "The 1-2-3 Kid" Waltham).
The best thing about WWE Classics is that it showed the pre-Hulk Hogan period of the WWE. when regional channels (PRISM, MSG and even the old Z Channel from L-A) showed wrestling cards. That beats Prime Time Wrestling every time. Action that hadn't been preserved in VHS or even DVD would be shown every month. You could see proof George the Animal Steele used real words at one time, Hulk Hogan had a War Bonnet that was supposed to be what every kid wanted for Christmas (why else did he have that thing?), and there were cool wrestlers way back when like Superstar Graham, Bob Backlund, Rick Martel before he was "the model", and the Big Boss Man as a jobber that Jim Cornette abused before eventually hiring him as Big Bubba.
If the new WWE network was smart, it should unleash its massive wrestling library big time. There's a ton of old World Championship Wrestling from the late '70s and early '80s that fans would eat up: the arrival of the Freebirds, early Ric Flair, Bobby Heenan managing there for a while, and so much more. Heck, if they showed Stampede Wrestling from 1979 that included early Jim Neidhart, and Jake Roberts and Junkyard Dog using his real name, they could show JYD vs. the Freebirds. How about a series on how Hulkamania ran wild in the AWA, but also had its roots with WTBS shortly before? Let's not forget Championship Wrestling from Florida...or Mid-South Wrestling. That's going to pull a ton of subscribers to the channel.
Of course, it's obvious the new channel will remember to promote the current stars. There's word that the NXT show may wind up there after a long run on Hulu. We'll get PPV cards six months or so after they're run (although people will have to see the whole thing, not choose individual matches), and there's a chance the new channel will show next year's Wrestlemania. There's also supposed to be reality shows, which ought to rip kayfabe to pieces.
Still, it should stick to its roots and show the old days in a big way. After all, where else could you see a 1984 card from St. Louis just after McMahon bought the WTBS time slot, and could claim the then-National Heavyweight Champion the Spoiler as its own?