The long awaited debut of WWE Legends House, filmed nearly 2 years ago in Palm Springs, California, took place last night on the WWE Network and it was….well…strange. The much hyped, much anticipated premiere episode served as an introduction of what was yet to come, including legends “Mr. USA” Tony Atlas, “Mean” Gene Okerlund, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Hillbilly Jim, Pat Patterson, “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart, “The Fink” Howard Finkel, and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
Let me preface by saying that, with the exception of the unexpected Warrior Week on the WWE Network, this was, by far, my most anticipated original series announced. Having lived the Monday Night War(s), it will be fun to get an inside perspective, and several other series’ look interesting/entertaining, but Legends House piqued my interested from the get-go. So, going into last night, my anticipation had reached a fever pitch and I was ready for a show. Instead what I got was sometimes even downright uncomfortable television viewing.
Legends House opened by introducing the “cast” members we will be getting to know over the next 10 episodes. Tony Atlas arrived at the house first, remarking “This house is beautiful. I don’t know what it costs, but I know I can’t afford it”. Hillbilly Jim was introduced next, arriving at house to meet Tony Atlas remarking that he hadn’t seen him in over 20 years, but he was exactly as he remembered him; always eating. Pat Patterson was introduced next, followed by Jimmy Hart who the cast was quick to note would be difficult to get a word in over, as Jimmy never shuts up. The fifth introduction was Howard Finkel, followed by “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, who was quick to note that while working together with all of the legends in the past, he didn’t always get along with them, and anticipated he might have issues with Tony Atlas due to their mutual competitive nature. “Mean” Gene Okerlund was next, followed finally by the most anticipated arrival, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. The cast spent the most time speaking about their concerns with Piper’s ability to fit in, as he’s always been a loner, and marched to the beat of his own drum. Following all of the introductions, and brief reminiscing, female host Ashley was introduced. Ashley, obviously meant for eye candy, and not much else, was fawned over by the legends, most notably Okerlund who is likely 50 years her senior.
The show felt clunky, for a lack of a better term. Baring in mind that this was filmed long before Total Divas, it’s clear to see WWE learned from some of this mistakes made in this production by the time they got to Total Divas. The cast was asked by Ashley to bring cakes to their neighbours, and introduce themselves, and with the exception of Piper/Hacksaw, nobody had any real luck, or interactions. Filmed over 24 weeks, and only 10 episodes, I wonder what was left on the cutting room floor if this was the best they had to show to their premiere audience. It also seemed to lack any real sense of direction, as the Legends were shown chatting, and catching up, but not much of any real substance was shown.
The highlight of the episode was a surprise appearance by Gary Busey, in all of Gary Busey’s glory. Cast members were asked to sit and meditate with Busey while he talked about the things he has done over his career to center himself. Some of the highlights included Busey explaining that sometimes he honks at geese to clear his head (HONK!), and when being asked to close his eyes, Piper exclaiming “Fu*k. That!”
Unfortunately, the remainder of the episode continued the clunky, and uncomfortable trend it began with, finishing with the first night of filming wrapping up. Piper was shown being very uncomfortable with the constant camera presence, even leaving the house (yet being followed by the cameras) to try and find a quiet place to settle by himself. The the talking head segments, it was very clear that Piper was nearing what seemed to be a mental breakdown, which made for very uncomfortable watching.
The benefit is, this was only the premiere episode, and there is a lot left to come. Judging by the clips shown in the show opener, there’s going to be lots of inter-arguing amongst the Legends, and some fun segments throughout. I’m absolutely willing to give the second episode a chance to redeem the series, and I’m hoping that once the Legends find themselves a little bit more comfortable, their natural charisma will be able to take over the show as I originally anticipated.
WWE Legends House airs next Thursday night, exclusively on the WWE Network, at 8pm EST, immediately followed by VOD availability.