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TJR Blog #1: A Look At The Wrestling TV Landscape

It feels like a full time job just watching pro wrestling shows these days. There are so many options out there that it’s hard for anybody to watch every single wrestling show that’s out there these days, but there are definitely some of us that try.

I figured that since I want to start doing more blogs here on TJR and that tonight’s a big night with more shows added to the Wednesday lineup that it’s a good time to run through all the options as well as my viewing habits for all of them.

Here’s my run through for the whole week. Keep in mind that in Canada we don’t get some of these channels, so I have to find them online, which isn’t too much of a hassle and the quality of the downloads are pretty good anyway.

How much do you watch? For me it’s a lot. I’m a single guy in my mid-30s that also writes about the business full time, so if it seems like too much that’s probably why. I DVR a lot and watch at odd hours since I don’t sleep that much. If you’re going to make it a career you need to watch a lot because you can always keep learning.

Here’s the rundown of options with a look at when they air in the United States since most people reading this are from there, but you’ll also see it from my perspective as well.

 

MONDAY

WWE Raw (8pmET USA Network) – I didn’t even realize it until now that this past week was six years of doing the Raw Deal every week. I may have missed one or two, but I’m still going strong. Can we do something to get WWE to cut off an hour of Raw? I didn’t mind it at first, but it’s so much typing!

Believe me when I say I still love writing as much as ever although there are definitely some weeks where I wouldn’t mind watching on the couch, going to sleep and not writing about it.

My guess is that a lot of people reading this may only watch Raw in the week and I totally get that if you have other things going on in your life. I also get a lot of people telling me they’ll read the Raw Deal first before deciding if they should watch it. That’s why I write such a detailed review. I figure if they read my stuff telling them something was awesome then hopefully they’ll seek it out on youtube or elsewhere.

Will there ever be another wrestling show on a Monday night to compete against WWE? I doubt it, but you never know if another company is ambitious enough to try it.

 

TUESDAY

Do you think there are no wrestling shows on Tuesdays? You’re right for now, but that changes in a few weeks.

WWE Tough Enough (8pmET USA Network) – It debuts on June 23 Tuesdays at 8pmET on USA Network. It’s an hour long show with some good star power in place with Chris Jericho hosting plus Hulk Hogan and Daniel Bryan offering advice. I’m not sure if it will air in Canada, but I sure hope so because I would watch it live if it did. I guess I’ll watch it on WatchWresting on Tuesday nights if it’s not on here.

WWE Total Divas(9pmET E Network) – They are moving from Sundays to Tuesdays starting July 7th at 9pmET on E Network. We get that channel, so I’ve seen most of the episodes in the past. It’s a ridiculous show that makes me laugh at how silly it is at times, but if you accept it as trainwreck TV then you can enjoy it.

WWE used to air Main Event on WWE Network on Tuesdays, but that stopped due to some legal issues. Now it only airs internationally. More on that later.

 

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WEDNESDAY

WWE NXT(8pmET WWE Network) – Love NXT. I write about it here on TJR, so if you read that then you know much I enjoy it.

Most weeks I don’t watch it live at 8pmET. I like to wait for the on demand version after the show. I try to fit it in every Wednesday so I can post about it before I fall asleep although when NBA season is on I usually don’ have time since I watch a lot of hoops during the week too.

TNA Impact Wrestling(9pmET Destination America) – They moved from Friday to Wednesday starting tonight, so they are trying to get the word out to hopefully get the ratings up. It’s on Fight Network in Canada and not a lot of people get that channel, so the exposure up here is pretty bad. They do well in England on Challenge TV and they are on TV in a lot of other foreign markets as well.

Most weeks if I watch TNA I’ll just turn on the DVR, watch the matches involving my favorite wrestlers like Kurt Angle, Bobby Roode, Austin Aries and sometimes they have great matches, but other than that I tend to skip it. I usually read a review first before checking it out.

Their shows have actually been better since the new year although a lot of fans gave up on them. Now there are doubts about their future since there was an internal memo from Destination America saying they were going to drop them. When those reports came out, DA did nothing to deny them although TNA officials are hopeful they’ll still be around. We’ll see.

Ring Of Honor (8pmET Destination America) – This is a unique one since ROH is debuting on DA tonight, but what they will air is a repeat of what aired on Saturday in syndication. I don’t get DA in Canada although I get it on Saturdays on a Buffalo station, so I still get my ROH fix.

It’s great exposure for them because they weren’t on some of the biggest markets in the US and now they are. Hopefully that means they can grow as a company because they have so much talent that often times ends up going to WWE when they’re ready.

Lucha Underground (8pmET El Rey Network) – It’s my favorite non-WWE show. I don’t get the channel, but I usually watch it on WatchWrestling either late Wednesday nights because it gets posted about three hours after it’s over or I’ll download it.

I love their shows. It’s shot like an action television show rather than a wresting show with great backstage scenes that look more professional than anything in WWE backstage. Most of their shows feature three matches in the hour and they are usually pretty good. Former WWE guys like Johnny Mundo and Alberto El Patron have fit in well while former WWE diva Catrina is a huge star as well.

Since the company that produces the shows owns the network they have to try to grow by getting bigger with Spanish speaking fans and getting El Rey Network on more cable systems. It’s just a lot of people outside of hardcore online fans may not even know they exist. That’s a problem.

WWE Smackdown – We get Smackdown in Canada on Wednesdays at 8pmET, but I usually DVR it and watch it on Thursday. The reason we get it on Wednesdays is because Sportsnet 360 has a deal with the NHL to show hockey games on Thursday nights. That was signed before WWE moved Smackdown back to Thursday.

THURSDAY

WWE Smackdown (8pmET on Syfy) – A lot of times I don’t get around to watching it until Thursday just because of the other things on Wednesday. I write a column every week on WhatCulture about the ups/downs of Smackdown, so I write about two WWE shows here and then Smackdown on WhatCulture.

In January 2016, WWE is moving Smackdown to USA Network. Since more people get USA Network that’s better for the show and hopefully will make Smackdown more important. WWE just doesn’t do a lot to make Smackdown feel important. That move could really help because why would you do it unless you’re planning to make the show more important?

I think Smackdown has some very good matches from time to time like last week’s Lucha Dragons vs. Kidd/Cesaro match, but a lot of fans probably skip it because they know nothing major happens on there anymore.

FRIDAY

WWE Superstars (8pmET WWE Network) – I haven’t watched this in years unless I hear about a match being really good. It’s on WWE Network Fridays and also on demand.

WWE Main Event – This actually airs in Canada on Fridays at 7pm on Sportsnet 360. Usually I read the spoilers for it just to see who is in a match and if I’m interested I’ll give it a look. I rarely watch it.

New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS – We don’t get the channel in Canada, but I usually watch it on WatchWrestling on Sundays if I get a shot. I’ve watched Japanese wrestling fairly regularly since late 1990s. The problem is that I don’t speak Japanese, so I have no idea what they’re saying. Thanks to this broadcast with Mauro Ranallo and Josh Barnett calling the action in English, it’s a lot more fun to watch.

There’s so much talent in NJPW right now it’s ridiculous with Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura and the current IWGP Champion AJ Styles as my favorites there.

They don’t have an American style show with storylines, lots of promos and backstage segments. It’s about the matches. A lot of the time they show stuff taped within the last year, but it’s fine because if you watch it weekly you see how it’s connected.

 

SATURDAY

Ring of Honor (Syndication) – It’s not on for most Canadians, but I get it on a Buffalo channel at 9pmET on Saturdays. I usually DVR it and watch it on Sunday morning during breakfast. I like their product although I wish they were able to spend more money on production because it’s lacking a bit.

My favorite guys in ROH are Adam Cole, Jay Lethal and the Young Bucks. There are many others that are very good too.

 

SUNDAY

PPV or Special Events – Since I preview and review every WWE PPV that means more writing at least once per month. WWE may add more shows like they did Elimination Chamber, so that’s even more on the schedule.

TNA has gone from having monthly PPVs to just two set for this year with Slammiversary at the end of this month and then Bound for Glory in October.

I’m glad there aren’t weekly wrestling shows on Sunday. We have enough during the week.

 

Final Thoughts

Who are winners in this battle of TV viewership? Us. The fans. We have options and can make choices. It’s great for us. It’s also awesome for the talent that can work on television instead of just indy shows.

If you would have asked me a few years ago if there were this many shows on cable TV in the US in 2015 I would have thought you were cray. It’s great that they exist, though. The problem is that channels like Destination, El Rey Network and AXS are far from cable TV giants, so the average fan might not even know they exist. This isn’t even close to what it was like the late 1990s when WCW Nitro was beating WWE because they were on major cable channels like TNT and USA Network. What it is, though, is an era where the wrestling TV viewer has a lot of options and that’s something we should be happy about.

I think it’s a great time to be a fan of the business. If you’re sick of WWE for whatever reason that’s okay, but it doesn’t mean you should watching the business all together. There are so many talented wrestlers out there. Plus, a product like Lucha Underground has shown how fresh and exciting the wrestling business can be if you try something different.

I’m not sure how many hours per week I watch exactly because I skip some stuff sometimes. The only ones I watch every week for sure are Raw, NXT, Smackdown and Lucha Underground. Everything else is not an every week thing for me or watching the full shows, but I try to fit them in.

What shows are you watching? Let us know in the comments below.

That’s all for now. I’m going to try to do several blogs per week along with my reviews that I do, so I’ll try to make this a daily thing as best I can or maybe five out of seven days per week. Something like that anyway.

Thanks for your support of TJRWrestling.

 

 

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