Written by Emilio Sparks (@emiliosparks)
If you were to tell me back in the '90s that a 24-hour network would feature nothing but wrestling I would have said, "No way!" To me that would be like getting a rub and tug from the prom queen at my 10-year high school reunion (which did happen.) However, it was always a dream of mine to have a one stop shop for WWF/E content. There were always signs that Vince McMahon could and would do something like this. For years he has been steadily acquiring libraries from every wrestling affiliation in North America including Stampede Wrestling, AWA, Mid-South, NWA, WCW, and ECW.
So when I was asked to watch eight hours of the new WWE Network, who am I to turn that down? The only problem was that I didn’t know where to start. I was never a huge NWA/WCW fan in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, and I loved the Monday Night Wars between the WWF and WCW in the late ‘90s but my loyalty was always to the WWE. However, I was more excited to re-watch ECW. That company first opened my eyes to a lower production quality of wrestling, but it was all done in a very punk rock way. I didn't start watching ECW till about ‘96 so I missed the whole "Eastern" run and all the stuff with Malenko, Benoit, Guerrero, Jericho and 2 Cold Scorpio. When I got into ECW I liked Taz, Lance Storm, and RVD. Everyone else was either high fliers that had either no charisma or garbage wrestling with jean shorts and sleeveless tees.
I remember crawling underneath chairs to avoid flying debri, fists, beer cans and whatever else that was being thrown towards the ring at this old sporting complex on Staten Island called Sportsfest after a riot broke out during an ECW event.
To be completely honest, I didn’t even have cable until I was 13-years-old and all I knew of wrestling for a very long time was the WWF on local channel 5, Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 1 p.m. That time period was when my wrestling education began. I started reading wrestling publications that weren’t just WWF-related and that’s how I learned of the countless other wrestling affiliations.
Prior to watching my first hour of the WWE network I compiled a list and spoke to a few friends about what my first and most pivotal hour should be. My buddies all suggested the first WrestleMania but my decision was between my favorite Royal Rumble of all time, or the first VHS tape I ever owned, Summer Slam '89.
I couldn’t choose so I flipped a coin and let fate decide. I figured it was a win, win situation.