entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

Thoughts on WWE Raw 25

Next week will mark a celebration for WWE’s flagship program.

On January 22 (January 23 Manila time), WWE Raw will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a special three-hour presentation. The episode will feature special appearances from WWE legends as well as matches that will serve as a final tuneup for the Royal Rumble.

Unfortunately for Filipino wrestling fans, Raw has not been available on television for nearly a year after previous rightsholder FOX Philippines declined to renew its rights with the WWE. Instead, commercial-free 90-minute full episodes of Raw are currently uploaded on its YouTube page for the benefit of the fans.

There is also the WWE Network subscription service where every WWE programming is available on-demand, including live pay-per-views such as the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. However, new episodes of Raw are only available weeks after its original broadcast.

As for TV5, even though it signed a contract with the WWE, it has so far opted to air only a one-hour condensed edition of SmackDown. It’s a shame since previous rightsholders made good use of a full complement of WWE programs including pay-per-views, and due to TV5’s delicate financial situation, they were unable to complement SmackDown with other programs such as Raw.

Regarding Raw 25 next week, snubbing such a show on Philippine television is an insult to wrestling fans in the country. After all, this is the longest-running and flagship program in the WWE, with so many great moments and legendary personalities to boot.

While WWE Network and an uploaded YouTube episode of Raw may be enough appeasement for fans, airing it on television may still be the better option given its wider availability and uninterrupted access. Even in the U.S., Raw is still aired on television because of reasons stated earlier.

In the end, fans can only hope that one day Raw will return to Philippine television in the near future. This is an important wrestling program that cannot be missed and fans deserve to see more of WWE’s top superstars (more than just the ones shown on SmackDown).

action, Philippines, Sports, television, United States

WWE Out of ABS-CBN Sports?

The Daniel Bryan vs. the Authority angle will not be seen on free TV’s ABS-CBN Sports + Action for now.

Looks like the ‘Road to WrestleMania’ ended way too soon for ABS-CBN Sports.

In an unexpected development, WWE programming was pulled out of the ABS-CBN Sports + Action channel at the beginning of March, and were replaced by either the Ultimate Fighting Championship, UEFA Champions League, Pinoy Pride and Top Rank Boxing, or the NBA. The pullout of WWE programs by ABS-CBN Sports comes in three years after Solar Entertainment’s Jack TV decided to cease airing all WWE programs.

As expected, some wrestling fans were angered by ABS-CBN’s decision to cancel its broadcast of the WWE. However, the reaction only paled in comparison to Solar’s pullout three years earlier, where an overwhelming majority of wrestling fans balked at the one-hour international format of Raw, the absence of SmackDown and Main Event (both currently airing on FOX Philippines), and the delayed broadcast of WWE pay-per-views on the Kapamilya’s UHF channel.

The absence of WWE programming on ABS-CBN Sports may have stemmed from the fact that the Vince McMahon-owned company recently established the WWE Network after the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. As many wrestling fans know, the new network is expected to carry every WWE pay-per-view beginning with WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans. Because of that, ABS-CBN Sports may find it difficult to even broadcast the upcoming WrestleMania 30 in both SkyCable and Sports + Action, considering the already complicated situation.

Should ABS-CBN Sports officially close the door on the WWE, Fox needs to step up. While the channel already has SmackDown and Main Event along with other supplementary programs like Vintage, Afterburn and Bottomline, what Fox needs at this point are both Raw and the pay-per-views in order to satisfy the demands of loyal wrestling viewers. If that happens, perhaps a return to a two or three-hour format for Raw and free live pay-per-views is in order, provided that Fox airs WWE programs on the same week as the U.S.

The loss of WWE should not be a big deal for Kapamilya viewers. After all, there is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, another form of combat sports which is just as entertaining, but without the scripted excess that is featured in professional wrestling. However, it remains to be seen whether or not free TV will once again accept the WWE.

entertainment, Sports, television, United States

Brock Lesnar Needs More WWE Airtime

Brock Lesnar’s infrequent WWE appearances have been a headache for fans, who expect a lot more from ‘The Next Big Thing’.

It was in April of last year when Brock Lesnar shocked the WWE Universe with an F-5 on John Cena. Many thought that bigger things would come on his second WWE stint. Instead he has appeared rather infrequently, twice ‘quitting’ in the process before coming back. If Brock Lesnar was to make a statement the second time around, he has to appear more frequently rather than hiding out of the spotlight.

A month into his second stint, Lesnar turned his attention to Triple H, who broke his arm with his Kimura Lock the night after losing to John Cena at Extreme Rules. Unfortunately for the fans, the feud took more than a year to resolve, and twice during the feud Lesnar ‘quit’ for various reasons. Three matches against them took place, at SummerSlam, at WrestleMania 29, and at Extreme Rules, with Lesnar winning two of the three matches. It was during the feud that Paul Heyman, a manager of Lesnar’s early in his first WWE stint, decided to get involved with the legal repercussions of Lesnar’s contract. However, while Lesnar was out for several months, Heyman shifted his attention to CM Punk, then on the verge of the longest WWE championship reign in over two decades.

I thought a new stable led by Heyman would emerge, featuring Punk, Lesnar and The Shield. After all The Shield, whether they deny it or not, helped Punk retain the WWE championship twice against Ryback, Instead The Shield moved on and attacked other wrestlers who stood in their way. Meanwhile Punk got into a feud with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, leading to a pair of matches that eventually ended Punk’s lengthy reign, and Lesnar resumed his feud with Triple H upon returning. However, Heyman accompanied both Punk and Lesnar separately, which kept me teasing on whether or not Punk and Lesnar would get involved. Which led to that fateful WWE Raw episode last June 17.

After Punk decided to move on from the management of Paul Heyman, Lesnar made his return following Punk’s victory over World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio, and eventually took him out with an F-5. I felt that was the beginning of a lengthy feud between both of them; however Lesnar has not made return since. Instead of a match between them at Money in the Bank, Punk was booked into the eponymous Money in the Bank ladder match. Meanwhile, Heyman replaced Punk with Curtis Axel, who eventually became Intercontinental Champion. At this point Punk and Heyman were having their differences following the fallout, and the involvement of Axel made it more complicated. Had Lesnar furthered his feud with Punk, that would have made it more interesting.

It remains to be seen whether a Lesnar interference on Money in the Bank would add fuel to the fire in their feud with Punk. Right now, Lesnar’ infrequent WWE appearances were becoming a headache, and many fans wonder what act will ‘The Next Big Thing’ bring the next time.