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LaBar: WrestleMania 30 is big gamble for fledgling network

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Thursday, April 3, 2014, 10:06 p.m.

Vince McMahon gambled his entire life on the success of the first WrestleMania. He's going to make another monumental gamble on Sunday with WrestleMania 30. It will be on whether people will be able to see it.

A large portion of the audience is expected to view the historic event via the newly launched WWE Network. Wrestling fans seem to be enjoying all of the content available, but the launch hasn't been without problems.

Issues with the network's performance on certain platforms and gaming consoles has been reported and acknowledged by WWE. The live stream quality for WrestleMania 30 is the gamble.

If there are no issues, the WWE Network is here to stay and will revolutionize the television and media industry. If the WWE Network has problems during WrestleMania, it could spell disaster for the future of the WWE's long-awaited, around-the-clock channel and the company's stock value.

WWE's well aware of the risk. This is why it has been testing the stream by having programs such as Main Event and NXT be live. I haven't been watching Main Event live, so I can't speak on the viewing experience. I did watch the big NXT special and there were some issues for myself and others at a specific point when the feed dropped for a few minutes.

It wasn't a crucial moment of content I missed, and it didn't last too long. However, it was a reminder to WWE that the company can't let it happen at WrestleMania.

MLB Advanced Media is WWE's technology partner in this venture. The problems many people had signing up for the first week of programming were attributed to the high volume of traffic. MLB Advanced Media even went on record telling Deadspin that in all of its years in E-commerce, it never experienced demand and traffic like this to one destination.

Having these trial runs with live specials such as NXT, Main Event and the pre-shows can provide technical information to the experts, but it just isn't WrestleMania.

I've actually had people tell me on Twitter they have the WWE Network but are still going to order WrestleMania the old fashioned way. They've already paid $9.99 for the network but will still pay $70 to get it from their cable provider. All because they don't want to miss the big show on account of the WWE Network stream having problems.

That's dedication to the product.

Wouldn't the cable companies and satellite providers such as Dish Network have a laugh if the WWE Network WrestleMania feed fails.

I think everything will turn out to be fine. Just as there was concern of rain in MetLife Stadium for WrestleMania 29, it all worked out. WWE couldn't control the rain, but to an extent it can control this.

But, just in case, here are a few options to help WWE prepare if it needs to spin a potential WWE Network crash into a storyline: If the stream crashes during the Divas match but comes back up when its over, it can be a new Total Divas plot line.

If the stream crashes during the end of The Undertaker's match, there can be controversy around his 22-0 record with an asterisk.

If the stream crashes, it could be because the “Yes Movement” was so powerful that it crashed the Internet. That might actually happen if Daniel Bryan wins the championship, or if he gets screwed out of a title win.

If the stream crashes during the segment when WWE brings the Hall of Fame inductees onto stage, Ultimate Warrior can blame it on the WrestleMania host, Hulk Hogan.

I'm happy I'll be there live to experience the thrill and ensure I'll get to see everything. That is, of course, as long as we don't have a Super Bowl incident from a few years ago with the power going out.

Justin LaBar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7949 or

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