ESPN personality and Grantland Editor Bill Simmons, with David Shoemaker, wrote a new article on the launch of the WWE Network. Below are some of his comments on the ground-breaking launch. The entire article can be viewed here.
On if he thought the WWE Network would happen:
Simmons: "I gave up. When WCW and ECW folded and McMahon bought their wrestling libraries, I thought the WWE Channel was definitely coming. Instead, they started releasing DVD after DVD after DVD after DVD. For years. I actually landed on the distribution list for a while. Every few weeks, suddenly something like The Greatest Steel Cage Matches Ever or Hulkamania: The Complete Collection would arrive in the mail, then my pissed-off wife would hand over the DVD with one of those “I really thought when we got married the whole wrestling thing would go away” frowns. AU CONTRAIRE!"
Shoemaker: "I have to admit that, no, I didn’t. Or if it did, it would be another flash-in-the-pan Vince McMahon special like the XFL. Or The Wrestling Album. Or No Holds Barred, where his ambition to be more than an ordinary wrestling promoter leads him into a misbegotten punch line."
On the price of $9.99 a month for the WWE Network:
Shoemaker: "It’s just right insomuch as it lures every possible fan into signing up. I had theorized months ago that it would be $14.99 and wouldn’t include the Big Four PPVs. It’s an incredible price at $9.99, even with the six-month commitment, and you get every PPV. You break even from what you would have shelled out just for WrestleMania in four weeks."
Simmons: "I would have charged $14.99 a month to start, and even that would have been a deal. This feels too cheap. I feel like I’m stealing money from Vince McMahon, actually. Wait, I’m stealing money from Vince McMahon!!!"
On their favorite thing about the network:
Shoemaker: "My no. 1 thing — the video quality. When I was writing my book, I watched more wrestling footage than I probably did during the rest of my life put together. Seeing the difference between your average YouTube video and the average network video’s resolution makes me feel like I wrestled a match with a hand tied behind my back."
Simmons: "Ditto for me. The resolution difference is massive — it’s nice to see King Kong Bundy blading in WrestleMania 2 so clearly now. By the way, you’re lucky that you had YouTube for your book — in 2007 and 2008, I had to badger NBA Entertainment to cut me DVDs for the Book of Basketball because barely anything was on YouTube yet. I can’t believe how much has changed in six years. Everything is online now."