Extra Mustard's guide to WWE Network's best deep cuts
It may come as a slight surprise that the WWE Network isn’t just for watching ancient pay-per-views and enjoying hilarious, accidentally profane Scott Steiner promos. That is certainly true of course, but there is plenty of other archival and original content on the Network that makes the 10 bucks a worthy investment. You probably know about the just-released Roman Reigns documentary and the fascinating human odyssey Legends House, but there is plenty of deep cuts, as well. Here are eight picks from the Network that are totally worth your time.
8. Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘N Wrestling - 'Ali Bano and the 40 Geeks'
My favorite thing about Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘N Wrestling is that it’s indisputable proof that the WWE will try anything, literally anything, whether it be a football league, a record company, or hundreds of straight-to-DVD movies to get mainstream America to care. My second favorite thing about Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘N Wrestling is that the cartoon version of Hulk Hogan isn’t bald.
You could pick literally any episode of this short-lived Saturday morning cartoon and get the necessary effect, but I’m going with this one because much of the plot centers around Hulk Hogan forgetting his best friend’s birthday, which seems like something he’d do in real life.
7. WWE Superstars
Here’s the thing, WWE Superstars is basically just a cast-off dump site for the WWE to put matches that aren’t hot enough for Raw or Smackdown. But they record it before Raw, so it’s in front of a lively audience, and a lot of these shows end up being pretty solid. Here’s Paige and Alicia Fox working a better match than anything they’ve ever done together on the main show!
Sometimes it feels like WWE totally forgets that they have a guy like, I don’t know, Heath Slater or Bo Dallas who are TOTALLY CAPABLE OF ENTERTAINING AN AUDIENCE but get shafted into “gets punched by Bret Hart” territory.
Superstars isn’t what the shareholders are looking at, so priorities are different.
6. WWE24: WrestleMania 30
Say what you like about WWE, they’re very, very good at documenting everything. I don’t particularly know why this episode of WWE24 exists, it was dropped on us with very little fanfare almost a year after the titular event went down, but it’s basically a bunch of context-free backstage footage during Mania.
You get to see Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, and The Rock bust each other’s chops before they come out to open the show. You get to see Vince McMahon tersely demand an ambulance after Undertaker’s loss (and corresponding concussion) against Brock Lesnar, you get to see Triple H be adorable with Sasha, Charlotte, and Alexa Bliss. It’s great stuff, and something only an operation as big as WWE can accomplish.
5. Legends of Wrestling- 'Worst Characters'
To be honest any episode of Legends of Wrestling could make this list. It’s one of my personal favorite artifacts from the vault. Just a bunch of old wrestling icons sitting around in a dark room, smoking cigars, and talking about the business. In our modern, post-kayfabe era where seemingly everyone in the business has a podcast or a YouTube archive of shoot interviews, it may seem kinda quaint, so maybe that makes Legends of Wrestling more historically relevant than anything else. There was a time where Dusty Rhodes talking out-of-character was pretty novel! Like I said, the whole series is good, but I’ve always adored the “Worst Characters” discussion, where we finally learn the context behind the infamous likes of The Shockmaster and The Gobbledy Gooker.
4. The Monday Night Wars: The Fall of WCW
The Monday Night Wars is perhaps the most consistently appealing documentary that the Network offers. Sure it slants in favor of WWE, but that’s what happens when the winners write the history books. My favorite episode came towards the end of the run, and covered WCW’s final, gasping breaths. I imagine that you, like me, probably weren’t watching a ton of Monday Nitro in 2000/2001, but it was an absurd, cringey, and utterly astonishing era.
This hour shines light on a bunch of stuff you forgot or never saw. Did you know, for instance, that at Bash at the Beach 2000 Hulk Hogan invoked his “creative control” clause to keep his championship, so Vince Russo publicly screwed him by having Jeff Jarrett lie down during their title match? Did you know that afterwards Vince Russo cut a promo that explicitly and violently broke kayfabe? Do you know about the David Arquette fiasco? WCW got straight-up weird down the stretch, and that makes this episode a must-watch.
3. The Destruction of The Shield
If you care enough about wrestling to have the WWE Network, then you probably adored The Shield. I certainly did! The triptych of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns was one of the most immediately badass, lightning-in-a-bottle things the company has ever produced. At their peak, The Shield was more over than anybody on the roster, including a white-hot Daniel Bryan. I still wonder how higher they could’ve climbed if decision makers didn’t opt to split them up ahead of Money in the Bank last year.
The Destruction of The Shield documentary is more myth-making, but that’s okay, because WWE does myth-making better than anyone. A delicate mix of kayfabe loyalty and legit backstage gossip, it goes as far to mine Rollins’ “Tyler Black” and Ambrose’s “Jon Moxley” work on the indies. If nothing else, it’ll reassure you that WWE still remembers that there’s a Shield reunion swerve in their back pocket at all times.
2. Stone Cold Podcast LIVE - Triple H
People like to talk up Stone Cold’s grilling of Vince McMahon on his debut WWE Network podcast. For good reason, it’s very rare for Vinnie Mac to shoot publicly, and even more rare to get him on record about the booking of Cesaro or the scandalous departure of one CM Punk. However I almost prefer the sit down he had with Triple H. Watching The Game’s slow transformation from universally reviled burier to the smark darling responsible for NXT has been one of the most heartwarming things in all of WWE, it’s especially great when he’s sitting down with a guy like Stone Cold who is completely unafraid to open an interview with “is kayfabe dead?” Come for the Haitch pontification, stay for the very awkward Chyna questions.
1. Warrior: The Ultimate Legend
The return and stirringly poetic death of the Ultimate Warrior has cast a long shadow over WWE during this past year, culminating in the debut of the “Warrior Reward” at this year’s Hall of Fame ceremony, (presented, heartwarmingly, to Connor “The Crusher.”) But perhaps the best thing to come out of the tragedy was this documentary, which follows the Warrior around at the Hall of Fame,WrestleMania 30, and the Raw after Mania which happened to be his last night on Earth. The moments captured, like Hogan and Warrior finally making up or his interactions with an amicable Vince McMahon, are the exact sort of thing that make pro wrestling so fascinating. RIP Warrior.