WWE Network Over The Top; Concerns For Workers & Consumers, What We Cover, WWE Souring On Ryback?

The following is today's edition of Ask WNW. Ask WNW is the most popular feature on the website where Richard Gray answers four questions daily, Monday through Friday. To submit your question for the next installment of Ask WNW, click here
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With WWE Network being only available online and other devices that have the capability of streaming live TV, is Vince McMahon still pursuing bringing it to actual cable and satellite distributors?

No, Vince McMahon and WWE are going forward with the WWE Network as an over-the-top service. I ran an article here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com where Vince McMahon explained to the Los Angeles Times there were deals in place with major distributors that he refused to sign. His argument was they were too restrictive, despite members of his staff feeling that wasn't the correct move. The WWE Network as an over-the-top service completely changes my thoughts on it. By eliminating the distributors, WWE is able to have full control over its distribution. With the deep evolution of the Internet as well as smart phones and tablets, this is absolutely the right move. Cable and satellite distributors are some of the most corrupt organizations in this country. They have large monopolies where consumers are left with very few choices. In most cases, you have to go with the cable company available in your area or pick between DirecTV or Dish Network. As a result, the distributors can bully the networks by refusing to carry them unless they meet their demands.

Obviously DirecTV is already upset over losing WWE's pay-per-view business and from their standpoint, you can see why. However, from the consumer's standpoint, the consumer wins. By cutting out the traditional distributer, the consumer is left with more freedom and a lower price. This should also serve as a warning to cable and satellite distributors the business is changing and if they do not evolve, they'll end up like Blockbuster.

Aside from the distributors being ticked, do you see any other immediate concerns regarding the WWE Network?

The two biggest concerns currently up for discussion have to do with WWE talent and an issue regarding quality. First, a number of WWE workers are concerned about what this means for their pay-per-view bonuses. WWE performers booked for pay-per-views are given percentage bonuses based on the total number of buys that each show does. This is why everyone wants on the card for Wrestlemania because it's the most-bought show each year and provides the biggest payout. Vince McMahon is aware of the concerns and has plans to address them at next week's television tapings.

As for the consumer worries, I know international fans are already upset they have to wait. However, the situation is different depending on where you live. My immediate concern is the quality of programming. I subscribe to NBA League Pass Broadband and the service routinely has issues with lagging. Even if I bypass my wireless router and plug directly into my computer, there are sometimes issues where games are unavailable. This is also the reason I stopped ordering the Webcast of pay-per-views available on WWE.com. It does make me optimistic that WWE worked with MLB Advanced Media to build the platform. While I haven't used MLB.tv since 2010, the service used to work very well and from what people have told me, it's only gotten better. If there are widespread lagging issues, WWE is going to have a major problem on their hands.

Hypothetically, should Jeff Jarrett open a new promotion will you at WNW be following from day one to the extent you do WWE and TNA on account that it's Jeff Jarrett?

This is a hypothetical question but it's also a general question that is good for me to answer from time-to-time. We cover what the public is interested in. This is why our coverage of promotions such as Ring of Honor is inconsistent. If we think people want to know about it, we report it. We have a filter we put everything through and do so to establish standards that our readers deserve. Another reason why our coverage of ROH Wrestling is so inconsistent is the promotion's lack of communication with us. WWE and TNA routinely communicate with this website, which keeps them at the forefront. ROH used to do the same but haven't done so since the departure of Dave Lagana. Back to your question about Jeff Jarrett, if he were to start his own promotion with a group financed by a major country music star, there would be enough interest to spark our attention. However, it would be up to said company to follow-up with us by assigning us a Public Relations representative.

Ryback is known for being green and not the most polished wrestler. After this week's WWE Superstars taping, where he injured Dolph Ziggler, is WWE starting to sour against him?

Ryback being green and reckless is nothing new. It's an issue everyone in WWE is aware of yet they continue to put him in this position because of his size. There is concern about his in-ring work, with some even saying it's a source of backstage heat but I find his attitude more problematic. Further, I was annoyed with his joke about Lilian Garcia on this week's "Old School" episode of Raw. The ongoing joke, apparently started by Triple H, alluded to him "hanging out with Lilian Garcia" as the reason he was hoarse with the underlying factor being that people joke that Lilian has a "horse-shaped" face. I wasn't offended by it - I just saw it as a desperate attempt to make people at the top like him. In addition to the joke being old and played out, Ryback should be more focused on improving his own work. He's had more opportunities in WWE in anyone in recent memory and his behavior does him no favors when it comes to being green.

From the Ask WNW vault…

October 2012: I’ve read that you (along with others) feel WWE is making a mistake pushing Ryback in the main event for the WWE Championship this soon. But didn’t WWE do the same thing with Sheamus? My question is if it worked for him then why don’t you believe that it could work with Ryback as well? - I am diametrically opposed to the notion that Sheamus over John Cena for the WWE Championship at WWE TLC in December 2009 worked. Sheamus ended up developing into a main event talent but his title win was one of the most underwhelming in WWE history. The move received positive marks because it was over John Cena but I didn’t like it. I’m all for the element of surprise but strapping an unproven worker is a risky proposition that I’m not sure the reward outweighs the risk. I didn’t buy Ryback at all when he debuted but the character has grown on me as he “turns the corner” in terms of getting over. However, to take him from working indy call-ins to the WWE Champion and expecting the audience to be interested, seems a bit much. The gimmick needs more time and Ryback needs more seasoning. Neither of which are going to happen as Vince is hell bound on pushing him at the top but I fear the long-term outlook is not being considered.

The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Monday, January 13, 2014.

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