The WWE Network’s migration to Peacock has begun, with a new WWE channel appearing on the streaming service today. The move starts just in time for the company’s next major pay-per-view, Fastlane, which airs live on Peacock and the WWE Network this Sunday. The stand-alone WWE Network will shut down in America on April 4, making Peacock the only place to stream WWE content in the U.S., including WrestleMania 37, which will be airing live from Tampa on April 10 and April 11.
There’s been a lot of discussion among wrestling fans over what, exactly, will be making the jump from the WWE Network to Peacock. The WWE Network currently has hundreds of hours of classic wrestling TV shows from a variety of different territories and promotions, along with almost every WWF/WWE, WCW, and ECW pay-per-view. It’s a valuable collection of wrestling history, and there’s legitimate concern that niche programming like, say, all those hours of World Class Championship Wrestling’s TV show from the early ‘80s won’t have any value to Peacock. Peacock has maintained that the full WWE Network archive will be streaming by SummerSlam—an annual WWE event that happens in August—but there’s still widespread fear that the more obscure or less popular shows won’t make the jump.
Well, now that Peacock has launched its WWE section, a solid chunk of the Network is now on the service. And yep, a ton of great stuff isn’t up there, including the entirety of the old territorial TV show archives. It’s also missing most older pay-per-views, including almost all of the WCW and ECW shows. There are currently only 10 episodes of TBS’s flagship NWA/WCW Saturday night show, and they’re all from 1993. If you’re a WWE Network subscriber and have been watching through the old NWA shows that Jim Crockett Promotions aired on TBS in the ‘80s, or even classic episodes of Raw, you’ll want to wrap those up before the actual network goes dark in April; there’s almost no non-WWE TV programming up on Peacock yet, and its current Raw archives don’t start until 2008. That lack of Raw just underscores how even WWF/WWE’s own history mostly hasn’t made it over; almost every edition of the company’s big four PPVs—WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series—are now up on Peacock, which includes over 100 shows combined dating back to the 1980s, but dozens of secondary PPVs from the ‘90s through the ‘00s aren’t up yet, and even a few of those major shows are missing. (At least four WrestleManias aren’t up on Peacock yet, which will inconvenience anybody trying to do a WrestleMania rewatch before next month’s event.) Peacock’s current Smackdown archives stretch all the way back to late 2019.
Peacock says that archival content will be added over time, with the goal of having it all on demand by this year’s SummerSlam. Hopefully that happens; WWE has positioned itself as the curator of wrestling’s history, and although they can’t help themselves from always slanting it in their favor, they’ve at least long opened up their substantial archives and shared shows from other companies. Losing easy, legal access to those archives would be a major blow to wrestling fans and scholars.
The Peacock interface is also a substantial downgrade from the WWE Network. Hopefully this is just the early version of a work in progress, but Peacock doesn’t split its WWE content up into fully detailed sections. It currently has 12 different sub-sections split into horizontal bars; the top one isn’t even for wrestling, but for “WWE originals” like their in-house documentaries, Total Divas, and Steve Austin’s interview show. The PPV Specials bar highlights an absurdly small selection of PPVs, and there’s no bar dedicated specifically to Raw, Smackdown, or other TV programs. The final bar is labelled Shows & Events A-Z; it’s a master list of all the WWE Network content currently on Peacock that’s only kind of in alphabetical order. Browsing for a specific wrestling show on Peacock right now is not easy.
Fortunately the search function is more convenient. I was actually able to find WCW content that I couldn’t find anywhere in the WWE section through the search bar—namely, those few episodes of WCW Saturday Night. Sadly you can’t search by a wrestler’s name like you can on the WWE Network, but searching by a show’s name should bring you a result.
Obviously it’s very early in the migration from the WWE Network to Peacock. Representatives for Peacock reiterate that the full network archives will be available by SummerSlam. Peacock’s deal with WWE was announced over seven weeks ago, though—more than enough time to get more content ready to go. And there are only 17 days before the WWE Network goes away for American subscribers, and what’s currently available on Peacock is so slim and poorly organized that WWE fans are guaranteed to be disappointed by the change. We’ll check back in over the summer to see how things have improved, but until Peacock adds more content, and makes it easier to browse, this is a clear downgrade for wrestling fans.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.