Friday, May 26, 2017

How to Watch (Or Not Watch) WWE Programming

Don't let Vince McMahon bully you into watching ALL of his programming
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If you were like me as a pre-teen, you took every possible opportunity to drown yourself in junk food or in soda (or "pop" as we call it here in Iowa). I used to buy 3-lb bags of Skittles and go buck wild, or I'd buy a 12-pack of Dr. Pepper and a friend and I would challenge each other to drink like, six of them in one night and sometimes throw up. We were taking a good thing and giving ourselves entirely too much of it, against our best judgment, and to the detriment of our enjoyment of those wonderful things. At this moment in 2017, fans of WWE are permitted, even encouraged, to be gluttonous pre-teen monsters whose appetites can never be fulfilled. But I don't think I can keep up with it anymore.

Trust me, this isn't going to be one of those angry online nerd rants like, "I'M QUITTING WWE BECAUSE THEY DON'T DO THINGS THE WAY I WANT THEM TO." I mean, I guess it's a little bit about how the booking can be monotonous and mind-numbing, but I stopped getting myself in a tizzy over WWE booking long ago. Vince McMahon is alive for the time being (and he probably will be until the heat death of the universe), so the status quo is here to stay.

What I can't keep up with is the barrage of programming that WWE has heaped onto us in the last couple years. Here is what has changed:
  • RAW went to three hours in 2012
  • The WWE Network was created
  • NXT became required viewing
  • Smackdown got a brand split, and therefore became more than an "oh by the way" show
  • The Cruiserweight Classic dominated the summer of 2016
  • 205 Live debuted
  • The UK-exclusive show was announced
  • The Women's Tournament was announced, and it'll likely dominate the summer of 2017
Did I miss anything? It's possible because THERE IS SO MUCH WWE PROGRAMMING NOW.

If you have the free time in your life to watch most, if not all of this, then good for you. I cast no judgment upon you. You love wrestling and that's very cool. But if you're like me, there is this annoying thing called "life" that sometimes gets in the way (and please, I'm not saying if you watch all this stuff then you don't have a life!). Time is precious. Here is what consumes my time:
  • My one-year old baby girl
  • My beautiful wife
  • My job as a middle school teacher (but Summer Break starts in a few days, so WOOOOOO)
  • Moving to a new house in July
  • Band practice
  • Yardwork
  • Books (remember reading? That's a thing! I checked out Trouble Boys, the biography about The Replacements, and a week later I haven't read a page because I've been watching NJPW's Best of the Super Juniors, and that's not even WWE, aggghhhh)
  • The fact that watching pro wrestling with my beautiful wife is a non-starter because she does not care for it, and that's 100 percent reasonable
Perhaps your list of life requirements looks something like this. Perhaps it doesn't. Either way, you know where I'm coming from. You have to make sacrifices, and you have to find workarounds. Here is where I've arrived as a WWE viewer:
  • I read recaps of RAW and Smackdown. If anything sounds like it's gonna be super worth watching, I seek it out (so basically, I watch about 15 combined minutes of both shows). If I don't watch any of it, at least I have an idea of what's going on.
  • I watch the pay-per-views, but if I miss a match or two, it's no big deal.
  • I watch NXT. I always watch NXT (but maybe skim through certain matches and video packages).
  • I don't watch 205 Live. I'm sure it's good. I know it's good. But it's that third pound of Skittles that I just can't stomach anymore.
  • I mayyybe won't watch the UK show. Again, I know it will feature good wrestling. But it's just another heaping helping of too much.
This all depends on your amount of free time, but it also depends on your threshold for watching WWE's brand of pro wrestling. I can only handle so much before I feel like I've seen it all. If I watched all five hours of RAW and Smackdown every week, I just wouldn't like it anymore. I would actively resent it. So, I don't do that. I pick and choose, I watch from afar, and sometimes I come right back and lock in and I have a wonderful time.

But hey, do whatever works for you. Just know that you can do something like what I do, and you can still consider yourself a card-carrying wrestling fan. Live your life. Don't let McMahon tell you what to do.