Those who know me know that I love digging into old footage. Now, I’m not one of those people who lives by the “Screw this present day bullshit, I only want to watch old wrestling from the 1980s or earlier,” mantra. I like modern wrestling, heck I love modern wrestling. That being said, I love digging through classic footage and looking for gems, angles I’ve never seen, important moments, and so on and so forth. I love wrestling as a whole; that means both the past and the present.
When World Wrestling Entertainment announced that they were coming out with a streaming service, WWE Network, I was salivating at the footage they have in their vault. The same was true when New Japan Pro Wrestling announced their own service, NJPW World. With both services I fully expected to delve into glorious amounts of wrestling, both old and new alike. Sadly, that didn’t really happen. While both services do offer some classic footage, they have put a clear focus on the present. From a business perspective there’s nothing wrong with that approach, but as a fan it left me disappointed in both services. There’s no reason they couldn’t give me what’s happening now and what happened in 1978 as well.
Over the past couple of years the number of wrestling streaming services has continued to rise. A lot of them are newer promotions, and therefore they are limited to the present. However even a service like Combat Zone Wrestling’s CZW Studios fails to impress as they have put only a handful of their old footage up at this time. A service like Absolute Intense Wrestling’s AIW Archives found a better balance than most, and they even offered some footage from a couple of old promotions in their territorial area in the form of Cleveland All Pro Wrestling and Cleveland Championship Wrestling. Still, WWE Network offered the most classic footage, but knowing how much more they could offer gave me the pains and vapors, oh my.
Like a lost child I stumbled from service to service, inevitably coming back to WWE Network and NJPW World as I believed they were the best I could ever get. My classics itch would have to be partially scratched I told myself. Then I was introduced to the idea of National Wrestling Alliance’s NWA Classics 24/7. It wasn’t a place for new footage, but it was a place that was promising oodles and boodles of classic content. The President of the NWA, R. Bruce Tharpe, told everyone that he had a cavalcade of footage and that the NWA’s new streaming service would be offering classic matches not available anywhere else in the world. To say I was intrigued would be an understatement.
The content that Tharpe offers is that of Paul Boesch’s territory, Houston Wrestling. It is one of the few wrestling libraries that has managed to elude the grasp of Vince McMahon. Tharpe doesn’t claim to have all the Houston footage there ever was, but he estimates that they have somewhere around twelve hundred to fifteen hundred individual matches from the time period of the late 1970s into the early 1980s. The service has been uploading a match or day, give or take a day here and there, and at this point has already uploaded more than two hundred matches. The matches have included the likes of Harley Race, Gino Hernandez, Terry Funk, Jose Lothario, Butch Reed, the Midnight Express, Magnum TA, and many more. It’s been a treasure trove of classic content, and that itch of mine is being sufficiently scratched.
At the same time Tharpe is aware that he only has a finite amount of footage. While fifteen hundred matches may seem like a lot, it is still an amount that will be uploaded sooner rather than later. As far as I am aware there are no other classic libraries he has at his disposal, and if there are he sure as heck isn’t telling me. That means NWA Classics 24/7 has a rapidly distinguishing half-life. To counter that Tharpe has begun the process of integrating modern footage into the mix. In the coming year he expects to have present day footage on the service from All Action Wrestling, out of Australia, and National Wrestling Alliance Fight! Nation, originating in England, just to name a few promotions. Introducing modern footage into the mix is important, because while scratching that classic itch is important, it does no good if all this classic footage disappears because it’s not supported by modern day footage as well.
Presentation is also somewhere that Tharpe recognizes NWA Classics 24/7 can improve. He plans on relaunching and even rebranding the site sometime early in 2016. The goal of this is to get more eyes on the product and to make sure that people realize NWA Classics 24/7 is both a home for historical footage and modern footage. If the new site design offers easier navigability then it is a definite step in the right direction. I’m also hopeful, as is Tharpe, that soon NWA Classics 24/7 will be available on set top boxes, with the main point of focus being an app for the Roku Streaming Player that has been in development for some time.
With a relaunch and a rebranding looming on the horizon, classic matches being uploaded almost daily, and modern day footage on the way NWA Classics 24/7 has become a service that wrestling fans need in their life. It’s not a perfect service by any means. It skews in the opposite direction of WWE Network or NJPW World in offering far more classic footage than modern content. That may do it for me, but it still renders the service as less than it could be. Still, just like WWE Network and NJPW World, it is worth its price of $8.99 a month. NWA Classics 24/7 provides a variety of classic footage, and they are providing that footage while other services seem to want to hold back on their classic footage. That allows NWA Classics 24/7 to occupy a niche, and I’m trusting that more wrestling fans will discover how essential the niche of NWA Classics 24/7 is to the history and preservation of classic wrestling. Not to mention just the pure joy of watching great wrestling, no matter the era.
At this point in time NWA Classics 24/7 has been around for a little over six months. I’ve heard nothing but positive buzz from those using the service and have enjoyed what I have been able check out myself. Big things are on the way for the service, and it has become just as essential of a part of my wrestling viewing as either WWE Network or NJPW World. That’s saying something about the content that Tharpe has managed to offer up. Let’s not let this service fall to the wayside, subscribe today and enjoy the awesome wrestling while helping to keep a part of wrestling history alive.