WWE YouTube Programming Guide: What's Worth Watching and What Isn't
WWE fans can get their sports entertainment fix any number of ways now, any day of the week.
In addition to Raw, SmackDown, NXT and the 12 or so pay-per-views the company wants you to order, there is also a growing collection of YouTube-based WWE shows for the avid fan to enjoy.
The question of which ones are worth your time depends on a fan's age, level of devotion and who is on the top of their list of favorite Divas and Superstars.
Zack Ryder pioneered the tradition with his initially self-produced cult classic, Z! True Long Island Story. WWE soon saw an opportunity for more web shows that give us looks at our spandexed heroes outside of the ring.
Let's dig in and discover which WWE YouTube shows we should skip and which ones we shouldn't miss.
Santino’s Foreign Exchange
The sector of the WWE Universe that despises Santino Marella's in-ring antics may still enjoy this. When Santino is put into the ring with Dolph Ziggler and they produce a hybrid comedy and dramatic match, the phantom-trumpeting Italian often seems out of place, dragging the product down.
In the setting of his own show, he thrives.
The format of Foreign Exchange is of a classic late-night talk show a la The Late Show although with a minimal budget.
An unseen show band plays an intro and a nonexistent live crowd is spliced in. Santino's humor is more than his funny accent.
He has a natural feel for comic timing and he isn't forced to do as much slapstick as he does while wrestling.
He plays off his guests well while not overshadowing them.
Much like the kinds of shows Foreign Exchange is a parody of, the roughly five-minute show's quality depends somewhat on the guest. Some click better with Santino, others don't produce as much of a spark.
Is it worth watching? It's almost always entertaining and the funnier you find Santino, the more you'll enjoy this.
Z! True Long Island Story
The most famous of these shows stars the Internet Champion, Zack Ryder.
The story of this show and of Zack Ryder himself is an inspiring story of entrepreneurial spirit. Ryder got his (albeit short-lived) push thanks to the buzz from this show.
WWE eventually took it over and while it still basically has the same feel as it did before, there is a certain lack of energy that comes from something rebellious being bought out by "the man."
It's still a vibrant, low-budget bit of entertainment.
Ryder uses the space to vent and celebrate and to praise the "Sign of the Week."
Guest stars like Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock sometimes appear, as do little-used WWE wrestlers like Derrick Bateman and Trent Barreta.
Ryder's meathead broski, The Big O, makes regular appearances and is one of the funnier elements of the show.
Is it worth watching? The older episodes are better, but the newer ones are still enjoyable.
Cameras roam WWE's backstage areas so that wrestlers can answer your Twitter questions.
For three minutes, fans get a candid look at a mix of personalities responding to questions like "What's your dream car?" or "What is your favorite restaurant?"
Layla seems to be in a lot of these, so Layla-heads may get more out of it than everyone else.
Generally, every episode is worth a few chuckles and the answers range from mundane to relatively intriguing. The short length of the show limits one's commitment.
Is it worth watching? It's fun to click on a few episodes.
WWE Superstars show off their prized possessions in this short episodic show. Wrestlers invite you to look at their collections of cars, motorcycles, comics or shoes.
The look of the show is reminiscent of MTV Cribs.
Only these are less famous people giving less in-depth looks at their material possessions.
Every particular episode truly only appeals to a selected portion of the WWE fanbase.
Only the most engaged Alex Riley fans are going to be interested in seeing the basketball jerseys he has in his closet. Rabid fans of certain Superstars may get some entertainment out of episodes featuring their favorites, but otherwise, these tend to drag.
Is it worth watching? Not for most of us.
Outside the Ring
Outside the Ring allows WWE fans to see what kinds of things their favorite Superstars are up to when they're not wrestling.
The problem is, there is far too much banality on the show to entertain consistently.
One's enjoyment of each episode depends on how much one digs a particular Superstar.
Huge John Cena fans would likely be interested in watching him order a hot dog or carry a box of books down a flight of stairs.
The show feels a lot like Superstar Toyz, but it's less narrow focus allows for a bigger variety of subjects.
This isn't a show most fans can regularly tune into. They'll be better off waiting for episodes that cover their absolute favorites and watch with mild enthusiasm.
Is it worth watching? Diehard fans of the Superstar featured will dig it. Otherwise, it's a big maybe.
WWE Backstage Fallout
This show bends to the will of kayfabe, continuing storylines from Raw and SmackDown and beyond.
If you just have to know how a wrestler is feeling about getting kicked in the head in the context of the show, then WWE Backstage Fallout scratches an itch.
It features clips of matches and then follows with wrestler reactions and backstage interviews.
You won't see anything here that is critical to any storyline, just bonus material. The show will likely appeal more to fans who don't read the dirt sheets or spoilers as well as younger fans who are more easily caught up in the scripted world of WWE.
Is it worth watching? Only the most insatiable WWE fans will enjoy this.
Are You Serious?
Road Dogg and Josh Mathews team up to bring you WWE's best online show by far.
Evoking memories of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mr. Dogg and Mr. Mathews make jokes while watching clips of WWE's weirdest, most uncomfortable and unforgettably dumb moments.
It's surprising that WWE created a show that takes honest potshots at itself, but the decision has lead to a refreshing and entertaining show.
Road Dogg tosses out a new nickname for Josh Mathews every time out. The two men are often visited by a character named Puppet Hearst Helmsley.
Puppet H is a hilarious addition, an X-factor that adds plenty of juice to the show.
The episodes last from about five to eight minutes. This length generally allows them to avoid the pitfall of having a show longer than its material can handle.
Are You Serious? features a number of inside jokes, a Fail of the Week segment and humor that is somewhere between subdued and overkill.
Is it worth watching? Absolutely.
Dolph Ziggler delivers a toned down Tosh.0 type show where he makes comments and takes digs at folks in Internet videos.
Ziggler does an admirable job despite not having the benefit of a live audience to react to his jokes. The lack of reaction makes even his funnier one-liners fall flat.
Pop-culture references are tossed about and WWE storylines get referenced as well.
Ziggler is an entertaining guy, but he's no Daniel Tosh or Joel McHale. For some fans though, five extra minutes with Dolph Ziggler will be relished regardless of what he is doing or saying.
Is it worth watching? Only if your parents won't let you watch Tosh.O.