Ring Rust Radio is the best wrestling show on the airwaves, and this week was no different. With strong opinions on WWE Network, The Undertaker and more, this is where you need to go to get all of your weekly WWE nuggets.
Bleacher Report featured columnists Mike Chiari, Donald Wood, Brandon Galvin and Michael Cahill give the lowdown on all things going on in the wrestling world.
With another unpredictable episode of Ring Rust Radio in the books, you can't afford to miss another second of the action. Catch us live every Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET (some language NSFW) or follow us on Twitter @RingRustRadio.
Some Language NSFW.
WWE Network Officially Launches
After what ultimately amounted to years of anticipation, the WWE Network finally launched on Feb. 24 to great fanfare. With every pay-per-view over the course of the year included, along with original programming and every previous pay-per-view that has ever occurred in WWE, WCW or ECW, it's easy to understand why WWE Network has been heralded as a true game-changer in the media world.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is This a Must-Buy for WWE Fans?
As expected, the WWE Network launch didn't go off without a few issues. Rather than allowing people to sign up well before the launch date, WWE didn't let anyone sign up until 9 a.m. ET on the morning of Feb. 24., and that led to some problems with WWE.com. It took some fans upwards of an hour to get registered, and while that will be looked back upon as a mere bump in the road, there is no question that it was frustrating at the time.
In addition to that, some of platforms didn't immediately work properly, including Xbox 360. Many who attempted to watch WWE Network on Xbox 360 had their email or password denied, so that was yet another bug that WWE had to address.
Aside from that and some issues with the archived footage constantly buffering, there was a lot to like about WWE Network from day one. All of the live content seemed to work to perfection, the interface was awesome and the possibilities are essentially endless moving forward.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
It is perfectly understandable that there was a negative response by many when the WWE Network made its debut, but the negatives are far outweighed by the positives moving forward. In addition to every single wrestling pay-per-view at our disposal, original shows such as WrestleMania Rewind and Countdown have already made a great impression.
Add in a handful of classic Raw and SmackDown episodes, Madison Square Garden house shows and legends round tables, and there is enough content present that wrestling fans will never run out of something interesting to watch.
The true test in terms of how successful WWE Network will be is the airing of WrestleMania XXX. If things go off without a hitch, then there is no reason for fans to not buy WWE Network. The deal is unbelievable at $120 for the entire year, and the picture quality is fantastic. Buffering problems during WrestleMania could certainly lead to even more skepticism, but the WWE has six weeks to get ready, and all of the kinks should be worked out by then.
WWE Network's Impact on Relationship with Netflix (per PWInsider via WrestlingInc.com)
The Undertaker Challenges Brock Lesnar
There had been plenty of speculation regarding The Undertaker's return leading up to Monday's edition of Raw, and it was for good reason with WrestleMania season upon us. 'Taker's return always drums up plenty of excitement, and that was once again the case on Monday. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman closed the show and complained about Triple H's refusal to grant a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but Lesnar was interrupted by 'Taker, who challenged Lesnar to a 'Mania match.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is Lesnar the Right Opponent for 'Taker?
Even though many expected 'Taker to appear on Monday, it was still an extremely exciting moment. The fact that Lesnar forgot about pursuing a title shot in favor of going up against Undertaker at WrestleMania was effective in terms of establishing the importance of the streak.
Also, it was great to see Undertaker get physical with Lesnar. 'Taker could have simply stared at the WrestleMania sign and ended the show on that note, but stabbing Lesnar in the hand with a pen and chokeslamming him through the table were nice touches.
Lesnar has always been viewed as one of the toughest men in WWE, so seeing Taker handle him in such a routine manner was eye-opening. The obvious challenge now relates to making Lesnar look like a threat during the build toward WrestleMania.
From a physical perspective, Lesnar is an obvious threat, as his resume speaks for itself and his success in the Octagon makes him seem legitimate as well. With that said, the belief is always that Undertaker will win at WrestleMania, and it's difficult to envision any other result this year.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Because of the predictability factor, there have already been some complaints regarding this match. Aside from John Cena and maybe a guy like Daniel Bryan, though, it's extremely tough for an opponent to create doubt when it comes to the result of 'Taker's WrestleMania match. CM Punk had just come off a 434-day reign with the WWE Championship when he took on 'Taker last year, but nobody gave him a chance at winning. Lesnar is a part-time guy who doesn't need the win at all, and Undertaker will almost certainly prevail.
Even if that is the case, the feud and ensuing match can still be enjoyable. Lesnar has constantly put on great matches since his WWE return, and 'Taker always manages to steal the show on the 'Mania stage. They have faced each other before and seemed to have great chemistry, so there is no reason why they can't tear the house down in New Orleans.
Also, there is no question that the WWE creative team will allow Lesnar to get his shots in ahead of WrestleMania. Whether that results in him giving 'Taker an F-5 through a table, putting him in a kimura lock or whatever it may be, there should be several great moments along the way.
Add in Heyman doing the bulk of the mic work, and there is nothing to dislike here. Rather than worrying about the predictability of the match, fans should just sit back and enjoy the action.
Undertaker's Appearance Schedule Leading Up to WrestleMania (per WrestlingInc.com)
Hulk Hogan Finally Returns to WWE
After seven years away, Hulk Hogan came home to WWE on Monday's edition of Raw, and he received a great reaction from the WWE Universe. Hogan's appearance was fairly basic, as he hyped WWE Network and his role as host of WrestleMania XXX, but he was effective regardless. Hogan was used heavily in an on-screen capacity while with TNA, and it remains to be seen if he will do something similar with WWE aside from hosting 'Mania.
Question on Everybody's Mind: How Will Hogan Be Utilized Moving Forward?
Most would probably agree that TNA suffered from far too much Hogan exposure. He could have been a big boost to the company in a calculated role, but he was the general manager, he was involved in almost every segment and he was making booking decisions to boot. Hogan is great in small doses, and WWE likely understands that. Hosting WrestleMania XXX is perfect for him, especially since he was the driving force behind the original WrestleMania and is a huge reason why it is so significant today.
Hogan is a great hype man, and he will be invaluable to the WWE Network as well. Hogan helped make WWE a mainstream product, and his matches and promos will be all over the Network. Conducting interviews with Hogan and putting him on the Network as much as possible is an obvious move on WWE's part, and a merchandising boost is essentially guaranteed as well.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Some fans probably fear Hogan will be a huge part of the day-to-day product, but it's difficult to imagine that being the case. WWE is well aware of the fact that Hogan didn't work well in that capacity in TNA, and there are already enough authority figures in place, including Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, Kane, Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox. Adding another to the mix would be overkill, and Hogan would naturally overshadow much of the talent.
It's entirely possible that Hogan won't be seen again until WrestleMania, which would be a good plan in terms of building anticipation and driving pay-per-view buys, much like The Rock did a few years ago. Things are a bit different now since the WWE Network will take away from the buyrates, but Hogan will still help in that regard. Having him appear on WWE programming from time to time strategically after that is likely, but that should be the extent of things.
Hogan to Feud with Jack Swagger? (per F4WOnline via WrestlingInc.com)
RRR Season 4 Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Mike Chiari: 192.5
2. Brandon Galvin: 110
3. Donald Wood: 60
4. Michael Cahill: -20
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