Recently wXw launched their new streaming service: wXw Now. We’re now a month in and I’ve had a chance to have a real good scope out of the service, so I’m here to give you the low down on whether you should be checking Germany’s first over the top wrestling platform out.
— wXw Germany (@wXwGermany) August 13, 2016
The service utilises a built-in version of the Vimeo player placed into their own website, with all payment also handled by Vimeo. Vimeo doesn’t have the best player out there, it’s not the most responsive for finding a specific point in a show and I’ve experienced a small amount of buffering troubles, but overall it’d say it’s fine. The payment side of things is superior to the main other option in Pivotshare, giving you a wider range of payment options including PayPal (which is great for us Euros who want to avoid charges for paying in dollars).
The one small annoyance I’ve found with this embedded service concept is that in order to cancel your subscription you have to leave the wXw Now site and go to the main Vimeo site. Once you realise this it’s easy to do so, but there’s no obvious indication that that is what is required to cancel anywhere on the wXw Now site; it’d be nice if that was a little clearer. Minor gripe though.
The site is really easy to navigate around, with a good search feature as well as a sidebar that splits all the content into a variety of different categories that makes it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. The site is very English language friendly, so you needn’t let that dissuade you.
For those not overly familiar with wXw as a company, the sheer volume of shows they run may come as somewhat of a surprise. They’re one of only a handful of Western companies which run a regular touring schedule, with them being set to run 68 events this year across the length and breadth of Germany.
As such the promotion constantly has a lot of wrestling content ready to go out, rivaled in the wrestling streaming world in terms of quantity only by the WWE Network, NJPW World and perhaps the Highspots Streaming Network. They arrange their shows into three tiers to not have the sheer volume of shows overwhelm you, helping you get right to the good stuff.
Firstly you have their ‘Marquee Events’ which are the highlights of the wXw calendar. These include the 16 Carat Gold and the fast approaching World Tag Team League, the two annual tournaments that wXw is best known for, as well roughly monthly ‘PPV’ type shows if we’re looking for a traditional wrestling comparison. The most recent Marquee Event was the Fans Appreciation Show which went up only three days after it occurred, so they make an effort to get a quick turnaround on these major shows.
The second tier of shows are being called ‘Feature Events’. Whereas the Marquee Events generally feature a myriad of international talent, these are more of a showcase of the domestic roster. For both of the Feature Events they’ve put out so far (The End and the Hamburg Feature show) both have come out within three days.
Both these tiers of shows are set to take place roughly once a month, although the Marquee events are often weekends of shows so we’re actually getting around 16 or so actual Marquee shows a year.
All the rest of their tour shows are used to provide content for their weekly show: Shotgun. Shotgun is a half hour show available for free on YouTube that takes most of the storyline relevant occurrences from their touring and molds them into your typical Western wrestling TV show, complete with backstage segments and interviews. Since the launch of Now an extended version of the show, called Shotgun PLUS, has also been released on the service. It adds an extra half hour to the show every week, featuring the pick of the matches from the tour shows from a pure quality perspective that might not be so pivotal from a storyline perspective.
Another thing I really think is a neat all be it simple feature is that they have an easily accessible schedule for when all their shows will be put up on Now that runs right through the end of the year. It’s something I really appreciate, and would love to see other companies have something similar for their streaming services, although I understand that’s not always possible.
I doubt it’ll be a deal breaker for anybody, but I should note that wXw’s entrances are muted and overdubbed with stock music. Not being able to hear the entrance music is never ideal, but the real loss is not being able to hear the crowd reactions. It’s a shame, but you get used to it after a show or two.
If foreign language commentary is a big turn-off for you then wXw also have you covered. Marquee, Featured and the Shotgun shows are all offered in both German and English, with English commentary provided by a rotating cast including friend of the site Alan4L. While a lot of the archival footage is available with German only commentary, from this point onwards they have English language speakers covered. All English commentary footage is located in its own category easily accessible on the sidebar.
Speaking of archival footage, one of Now’s biggest strengths is that they can draw upon the 16 years of company history. Over that time period almost everybody who has been anybody has spent at least a little bit of time in the wXw ring, and some of the greats like Chris Hero and Daisuke Sekimoto just to name two have spent significant portions of their careers in Germany.
The archives aren’t close to complete with every show they’ve ever ran, but one of the best parts of Now is the “Best ofs” section. There’s a wide range of elite level guys who have had their best work in the company picked out and placed all in a single spot for easy access. To pick out a handful, you’ve got Best of Doug Williams, Mike Quackenbush, Zack Sabre Jr., Bryan Danielson, NOAH in wXw, Tommy End and El Generico. Recently they’ve also been putting up some Best ofs for some of their more recent tours. Many, but not all, of these Best ofs are offered with English as a commentary option.
Another thing that may interest you is that wXw has stated publically that they’re in talks with other German wrestling promotions to potentially put their footage onto Now. I’d be lying if I told you I knew one jot about German wrestling outside of wXw, but the potential for it to be added can’t be a bad thing.
Alongside the wrestling itself, wXw Now also offers a handful of other shows. ‘Conversations’ is a podcast-esque interview show (with the language varying by guest) with guests like the wXw office, Chris Hero, Daisuke Sekimoto and Shane Douglas just to name a few. ‘ask.cmj’ is an update type show (in German) ran by wXw’s CEO. ‘Power of Three’ is a biweekly show where they sit down with a wrestler and have them do a kind of director commentary deal over their three personal favourite matches that they’ve had in wXw. They’ve also got a few documentary style pieces up there on topics such as the 16 Carat, their wrestling academy and the triangle league.
When indie streaming services first became a thing many promotions sprinted into it without a second thought. Not wXw. They took their time, got their plans in place and made sure they could deliver on what they wanted to, in the typical wXw uber-professional manner. Where many promotions saw it as just the new way to release DVDs, wXw have gone way beyond that and really put the effort in to make it feel like a complete service. While there are some minor gripes, overall wXw Now gets a massive thumbs up for me.