When the WWE Network was first announced, few saw it as anything more than a massive online archive of wrestling content and a streaming source for WWE Pay Per Views. Admittedly, that’s pretty impressive on its own, but WWE also promised to treat the live streaming portion of the Network just like a real TV channel, and that meant original programming. Many people were unconvinced, and WWE’s first attempts generally ranged from standard list-based shows using clips of old content and interviews, to Legends House, a lame but sometimes bizarrely entertaining attempt at a reality show. However, a few years after the Network was established, WWE has really ramped up their original content, to the point that there are actually a bunch of shows that are entirely worth your time, with more coming on a regular basis. So, if you want to know where to get started, we’ve got a few ideas.
10. WWE Slam City
Sure, it’s less a show than a series of short vignettes designed to sell children’s toys, but let’s face it, that’s pretty much what 90% of Saturday morning TV was about when we were kids. What’s important is that the episodes, which are about WWE Superstars trying to find regular jobs after they all get fired from professional wrestling, are actually really funny, and completely work as five minute long comedy bits. Probably the oddest part is watching animated versions of WWE Superstars, complete with official WWE theme music, that are not voiced by the actual wrestlers. Apparently they have time to provide voices for Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, and a sequel to Surf’s Up, but not an actual official WWE product, which is strangely hilarious to us. In any event, the episodes are all incredibly short, so they won’t take a lot of time to enjoy, and they really do pack a lot of humor in there. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like new episodes are coming anytime soon, but what’s there is still pretty good.
9. Legends with JBL
As bad as JBL has become as an announcer on Raw, we still remember a time when he was one of the best things on WWE programming. Admittedly, that was several years ago, when he was on Smackdown, which seems to continue lending truth to the rumor that Vince McMahon only micromanages his announce team on Raw, but we digress. Given how people feel about JBL the announcer, it seems laughable to think that of him as the host of a serious interview show, something like a version of Inside The Actor’s Studio, but with pro wrestlers. However, it turns out that when you take JBL away from ringside, he’s actually a very good interviewer. It almost certainly helps that he actually had a very long wrestling career all over North America, and clearly made some good friends along the way (his interview with Ron Simmons is fantastic for exactly that reason), but he also asks the important questions, such as the very revealing two-part interview with Eric Bischoff that kicked off the show’s run. If JBL can keep up a high level of quality interviews, this should be a must-see program for a long time to come.
8. WWE 24
This would be WWE’s attempt at a sort of E:60 show, where they follow a wrestler around before a momentous occasion in their career, somewhat similar to a mini-documentary piece. For example, it’s been used at the last couple of WrestleManias, as well as the NXT Brooklyn event, highlighting the performers preparing backstage for incredibly big events, and also covered Daniel Bryan’s final day as a professional wrestler before making his retirement speech on Raw. One of WWE’s strengths has always been its video production team, and they are evident in full force on this program, cutting together archived video, talking head segments, and new footage to create a professional product that wouldn’t look out of place alongside some of the better sports documentaries. There still isn’t a large number of episodes in this show’s library, but everything that is there is absolutely worth watching.
7. The Stone Cold Podcast
We’re going to assume that most wrestling fans already listen to the Stone Cold Podcast, and if you’re not, you should seriously consider it. Steve Austin has turned into one of the best interviewers in the wrestling game, using his contacts within the industry to score pretty much all the biggest names available, and he has a talent for getting anyone to open up and talk freely about a number of interesting topics. WWE’s decision to televise certain episodes of his show live has definitely been a good one, as it shows both Austin and his guests in a comfortable environment, and you can watch them loosen up and banter about everything under the sun. Also, since it’s on the Network, you don’t have to worry about getting interrupted by ads. Hey, we know how the game is played, but sometimes we get tired of listening to ol’ Stone Cold shilling for energy bars when we just want to hear him reminiscing about the Dangerous Alliance with Paul Heyman.
6. Unfiltered with Renee Young
Renee Young is one of the best parts of WWE’s current interview squad, and should probably actually be handling an announce table on one of WWE’s shows. However, for whatever reason, she’s relegated to being the sunny and cheerful host of Pay Per View panel shows and backstage interview segments. Don’t get us wrong, any Renee is better than no Renee, but we’d really like to see her get more opportunities to show off the skills that got her to WWE in the first place (sorry to re-break the hearts of Canadian wrestling fans who miss her from her origins on TheScore’s Aftermath shows). That’s why Unfiltered is such a great show, as it allows Renee to interview a variety of WWE Superstars in a casual, mostly kayfabe-free environment where her personality and knowledge of wrestling can really shine. Guests on her show always seem friendlier when talking to her, and she even managed to briefly make Kevin Owens seems like a decent human being! At it’s core, it’s just a series of fluff interview pieces, but if you’re interested in seeing WWE Superstars with their guard down, this is a good place to start.
5. Ride Along
One of the most fun things about wrestling is hearing about crazy road stories from wrestlers, as they recount what they go through to help pass the time on seemingly endless drives across the country. Usually you have to wait for shoot interviews, biographies, or Hall of Fame induction speeches to get to hear them, but WWE has endeavoured to give fans a little slice of the insanity that goes on as WWE Superstars drive from city to city with this show. Ride Along literally puts cameras inside of cars and records WWE Superstars as they have random conversations, make pit stops for food, and occasionally, get up to shenanigans. Obviously, they’re aware they’re on camera, so things don’t get too insane, but it rarely seems to stop them from having a little fun with each other during the drive. And along the way, you occasionally learn some new things, like how Kofi Kingston is basically the “dad” of the New Day, or Daniel Bryan’s annoying but charming joke of “accepting” Brie Bella’s phone calls.
4. The Monday Night War: WWE vs WCW
One of the first original shows added to the WWE Network was, of course, a multi-part documentary about the Monday Night War. It made sense, that was the period at which pro wrestling as a whole peaked, with millions and millions of people watching both Raw and Nitro on a weekly basis, and it was also the most contentious time in wrestling history. The show won’t really offer you any new information that hasn’t already been repeated a thousand times on WWE programming, but it does provide an incredibly in-depth examination of the entire battle for ratings supremacy, occasionally on a week-to-week basis. Specific episodes look at individual parts of the War, from the New World Order and D-Generation X to Steve Austin and Sting, and even an entire episode devoted to WCW’s critically acclaimed cruiserweight division. If you want all the information about the biggest boom period in wrestling, this series gathers it together in one convenient, Keith David-narrated, place. The only complaint might be that it is heavily slanted towards WWE’s perspective of events, but like they always say, history is written by the winners.
3. Table For 3
The placement of this show on the list was purely coincidental, we promise. Anyway, the concept behind this show is incredibly simple, but also incredibly effective. You take a group of three wrestlers with some connection, and then literally put them in an otherwise empty restaurant and record their dinner conversation. Sure, it’s likely that they have some bullet point topics ahead of time, but the end result is a very relaxed and introspective, kayfabe-free environment, where wrestlers talk like human beings. In the case of some of the Legends on the show, they reminisce about days gone by, while more current wrestlers will often talk about how their career progressed to this point. WWE has also done an excellent job of putting together trios that are either all really good friends or have a lot in common, and that ends up leading to fun and personal viewing experiences. The episodes are so packed with interesting material, that thirty minutes will fly by and most of the time, not seem like they were anywhere close to long enough. Also, it’s fun to see the variety of things wrestlers choose to eat for dinner.
2. The Edge and Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness
This show didn’t get off to the greatest start, with a pretty terrible promotional segment at the 2016 Fastlane Pay Per View that probably turned a lot of people off the show. It took a couple episodes to find a groove, and it’s almost certainly an acquired taste, but it has quickly evolved into a legitimately hilarious wrestling-based sketch comedy show, helped out a lot by having two of the most charismatic hosts possible. The best part is, apparently the show has basically limitless creative freedom, which means you’ll see things that you would never see on any other show in WWE, whether it’s jokes about Internet dirt sheets and their (okay, fine, our) obsession with unfounded rumors, references to some of WWE’s most embarrassing gimmicks (even getting some of them to appear as guest stars), or blatantly talking about other wrestling companies (an episode featuring AJ Styles laughing about Bullet Club, and how WWE will never mention “that company he worked with for over ten years” is a must-watch). It’s all ridiculously silly, gloriously off-the-wall, and full of the very best offbeat shenanigans that makes it funnier than some network TV shows.
1. Breaking Ground
Maybe you’re one of the people who hasn’t yet watched NXT, in which case, you really should. But even if you don’t want to be a weekly viewer of WWE’s developmental program, Breaking Ground is a must-watch for anyone who has wanted to watch potential WWE Superstars work their way up from the absolute bottom rank to make it to the main roster…or maybe not. Think of it as Tough Enough without the trappings, a competition to win WWE contracts that aren’t just awarded to those who survive to the end of the season, and maybe won’t be given to anyone at all. The show opens every episode with the statement “Nobody here is guaranteed a thing” and goes on from there, presenting a variety of different developmental talents from all walks of life as they train in the WWE Performance Center, go on the road to live events, and also try to balance their home life with the dream of becoming a WWE Superstar. In the end, some people will make it through, but a whole lot of others won’t be so lucky. There’s no fan voting, no lifelines, no flashy ceremonies, just an opportunity. If you’ve ever wondered what people will really put themselves through to become a WWE Superstar, this is the show for you.