What a few days it has been in the WWE. First the Elimination Chamber, which provided a number of big talking points, then the long-awaited WWE Network launched and then WWE bought back the legendary Hulk Hogan and the iconic Undertaker on RAW. Time to analyse all of the big talking points from the last two days.
Elimination Chamber: The Shield and The Wyatt Family tear it up
Wow. What a match we were treated to on Sunday night at the Elimination Chamber PPV. The anticipation and expectation had reached a fever pitch, even before the match had begun. After both teams made their respective entrances and engaged in a pre-match stand-off, the fans began chanting “this is awesome” before the match had even started.
Once the match started though we were treated to a fantastic match. Each individual character shone brightly at different stages in the match; Ambrose’s volatility boiled over in a pre-match brawl, Rollins’ high flying athleticism was showcased in a great spot with Luke Harper and Reigns’ power and strength was demonstrated throughout. As for The Wyatt Family; Rowan provided the craziness, Harper showed a degree of athleticism never seen before from The Wyatts and Bray Wyatt, the leader of the cult, showed that he is not just a character; he can wrestle, too.
The match was a brilliant clash of two brilliant teams and with the crowd duelling with themselves chanting each team’s name, the match had a fantastic atmosphere to boot.
Elimination Chamber: Daniel Bryan screwed again
Elsewhere at the Elimination Chamber PPV, Daniel Bryan had the match won before Kane interjected, distracting Bryan and allowing Randy Orton to RKO Bryan for the win. This left the fans smarting and booing the finish, but really there was no other outcome. Randy Orton was always going to retain and go on to the WrestleMania title match against Batista. However, that did not soften the blow. Bryan had been screwed over again, a theme that has been running since SummerSlam last year. Orton vs Batista remains the main event of WrestleMania 30 while Daniel Bryan looks elsewhere for challenges.
The WWE Network
At 9am EST on Monday the WWE Network finally launched. At $9.99 a month and with a one week free trial you get to watch all of the PPVs WWE produces in the year, as well as a massive on-demand library of past WWE, WCW and ECW shows, live, original programming and weekly WWE TV Shows. The only catch is it is currently only available in The United States of America.
I did find success in using a friend’s American address to sign up for the free trial, though, and I found the content available very exciting. As a wrestling fan there is so much content for you to sink your teeth into that it actually becomes a task in itself simply deciding what to watch. The on-demand content streamed fine and in good quality on both a laptop and an iPad, but the live content was unavailable to watch from the UK. The WWE have since blocked all UK users using this method to access the Network, but with the live programming an issue anyway, it may be worth holding off on the Network until it officially launches in the UK and other territories later this year and early next year. If you do want to access the WWE Network, you can subscribe to a DNS-changing service and it does work that way.
What the WWE Network does is changes the dynamic of how wrestling is provided to fans. Currently, WWE’s TV shows will take a while to be able to watch on-demand on the Network, because of the current TV deals the WWE has in place. Even so, the sheer amount of content available, with more being added as time goes on, is mind-blowing. There’s WCW, ECW and WWE content spanning years and there is something for everyone to watch. It really is a game-changer.
Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker return on RAW
With the WWE Network out to the masses, Monday Night RAW was always going to be huge in terms of turning viewers into subscribers. Enter Hulk Hogan, who returned to the WWE after a long hiatus and a stint in TNA. Hogan opened the show to a huge ovation, and provided all the classic Hogan-isms that the fans wanted to see, brother. Hogan plugged the WWE Network, and reminded everyone that he will be the host of WrestleMania 30 and then went on his way.
Later in the night, Brock Lesnar was in the ring with a contract for a WrestleMania match. Then, all of a sudden, the famous gong went off and The Deadman returned. The Undertaker has been missing from WWE since a brutal beatdown from The Shield last year, and as it is WrestleMania season, it was time for The Undertaker to return. Taker strode to the ring, pointed at the WrestleMania sign, signed the contract for a match with Brock Lesnar and then proceeded to chokeslam Lesnar through a table. Drama, excitement and a very simple way to announce a WrestleMania 30 match.
WrestleMania 30 begins to take shape
So Hogan has returned and announced he will be the host of WrestleMania 30. The Undertaker has returned to challenge Brock Lesnar. Daniel Bryan, as I mentioned earlier, is looking for a challenge. On RAW, Bryan challenged Triple H to a match at Wrestlemania, which The Game shrugged off and disrespectfully declined; don’t let that fool you though. Bryan vs Triple H will surely happen at WrestleMania as it will give Daniel Bryan the chance to finally get back at the authority figure that has been holding him down and screwing him over for months. It should provide a good WrestleMania moment for Daniel Bryan, even if it’s not the title win that the fans have been clamouring for for months.
WrestleMania 30 will take place on Sunday, April 6th at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.