So one of the great things about the WWE Network (beyond the fact you don't have to pay $40+ a go for PPVs) is the access to a slew of archive material. Currently I'm working my way through old episodes of RAW starting from the beginning in 1994 and slotting in the PPVs (also available as part of the subscription) as they fit in the flow.
Which means I just recently watched Wrestlemania IX and it's actually the first time I've ever seen it although I've read about or seen many of the matches referenced previously.
One of the first things I noticed is that in many ways WWE's (or WWF as it was then) booking style really hasn't changed that much. Admittedly they've gotten just a touch subtler in their delivery in some areas, but let's take a quick look at some of the elements in play for this PPV:
- There's a giant, but he's a terrible wrestler
- There's a wrestler who's in love with his own image
- There's a foreign heel who needs to be stood up to by a righteous American
- There's a cheap title change.
If you've watched WWE in the last 10 years you'll probably recognize everything on that list. So while the presentation has gotten slicker, the booking basically is what it always is.
Some other thoughts that occurred to me as I watched the show:
- The Steiners (yes Rick and Scott) really could wrestle 20 years ago. Their match against The Headshrinkers (one area WWE has made some progress is being less blatantly racist, Again this is only 20 years ago) is actually one of the wrestling highlights of the show.
- Tatanka vs. Shawn Michaels was a well told match but slower than I expect from Shawn Michaels. The product as a whole was slower paced mind you.
- This (and the preceeding RAWs) is the first time I've actually watched Bob Backlund wrestle. His gimmick and behavior is distractingly dorky, but I rather enjoyed his old school wrestling style.
- Giant Gonzalez really, really, really couldn't wrestle. I mean this makes Khali look good.
- Hot shotting the title off Brett Hart and back onto Hogan (via Yokozuna)... Yeah the Cena/Hulk comparisons are pretty obvious aren't they?
As PPVs go, this was not a strong show really. Plenty of spectacle certainly, but the wrestling was lackluster mostly. Easily the strongest point is that this was the first PPV where Jim Ross did the play by play commentary and compared to McMahon's performance on RAW it was heavenly. In truth I think his work here was better than a fair amount of Gorilla Monsoon's work (and that will get me in trouble I'm sure).
So... anyone else have WWE Network and if so what are you watching?