I have to say WWE Network is the greatest dollars I spend a month. Just for the live pay-per-view alone $10 is well worth the price of admission. Adding in the old back catalog and I’m sold even more. The fact that I can at two in the morning when I can’t sleep watch Beach Blast 92 never ceases to amaze me. WWE keeps adding to library of original content as well with new shows and concepts hoping to get casual fans to get them to subscribe.

Yesterday, WWE debuted “Culture Shock with Corey Graves” and it’s a big deal. It wasn’t very touted or promoted but with the first WWE show that did not feature a wrestling focus. When the Network was announced back in 2011, WWE had told the media that the plan was to start with wrestling and branch out into more expensive programming outside of the wrestling bubble. There was talk of a cooking show with Big Show, Steve Austin drinking beer around the world and Mick Foley riding roller coasters as proposed programs for the new venture. But those things never materialized.

“Culture Shock with Corey Graves” seems to be an amalgamation of those ideas. The former NXT star turned broadcaster experiencing things in different cities across the country. The first episode features Marvel comics talking about their upcoming “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, their latest earth shattering event and other things. Graves tries to make a connection between the Marvel Universe and the WWE Universe. The core of this idea is what our website is based on. I like this idea a lot. If you sit down and think wrestling has permeated throughout all forms of pop-culture.

It’ll be interesting to see what WWE does and how they branch out from this idea and create new programming. The company has always seen themselves as an entertainment brand first and in reality they are. WWE are the Globetrotters and the X Games all rolled into one just with a wrestling core. I always say that professional wrestling is an art form that should not be labeled but I understand why WWE want to do it for advertising purposes.

Watching Monday Night Raw this past week, It was very clear that WWE was borrowing from a Steve Austin playbook with Randy Orton. They tried to take advantage of the “out of nowhere” recognition that the RKO has gotten making the Viper strike down most of the roster.

I’ve been watching a lot of RAW from 1998 and one thing that is very clear was liquidity to the writing this week. What I mean is in the Austin area there was a flow to the show that led from one segment to the next somewhat seamlessly . And for the first time in a long time there was a thread throughout the show that felt kinetic and different. But again three hours is tough to keep that momentum so segments felt lacking and really took away the energy of the show. Especially the Damien Sandow and the Miz match where WWE really dropped the ball on creating some upward momentum and an interesting story for both characters going forward.

WWE Network also gives us the opportunity to see NXT television each week showcasing great storylines, characters and promos from the up and comers of the WWE roster. Now, the Internet friendly brand is heading on the road heading to the Pennsylvania/Ohio/New York area over the next few months. Staying in the Northeast is a really smart move for the brand. They know who they’re targeting. Older fans may not like the current WWE product but WWE keeps your toe in the water and keeps you subscribe to the network using names and matches that every wrestling fan no matter how jaded will love to see.

Overall, the WWE Network has gone over-the-top in providing content that every fan can enjoy. And I can’t wait to see how the service evolves over the next few years. What will happen to NXT? How big can it get? What programming will be coming down the line that will expand how we think of the wrestling business and pop-culture? Will others follow suit with their own versions? The future is here my friends and it is glorious.

About The Author

Dan is host of Shooting from the Hip which you can hear every Sunday at 8pm EST, 7pm CST right here on PWpop.com.