|Opening Theme||"Take a Chance" by CFO$ (2016-present)|
|Original Run||August 26, 1999 - Present|
|Airtime||2 Hours per episode|
WWE SmackDown, also currently referred to as SmackDown Live or simply SmackDown a professional wrestling television program for World Wrestling Entertainment. As of 2010, it airs on Syfy in the United States as WWE Friday Night SmackDown. From January 15, 2015 the show will be aired as WWE Thursday Night SmackDown. The show's name is also used to refer to the SmackDown brand, in which WWE employees are assigned to work and perform on that program; the other program and brand currently being Raw. It is currently the only television broadcast for the SmackDown brand, though at one point WWE Velocity also featured SmackDown branded wrestling.
Prior to September 1, 2005, SmackDown! was broadcast on Thursday nights; from September 9, 2005 to January 9, 2015, it was broadcast on Friday nights. The show then returned to Thursday nights on January 15, 2015, before moving to a live Tuesday night broadcast in July 2016. SmackDown! originally debuted in the United States on the UPN television network on April 29, 1999, but after the merger of UPN and the WB, SmackDown! began airing on The CW in September 2006. The show remained on the CW network for two years until it was moved to MyNetworkTV in October 2008. SmackDown moved to Syfy on October 1, 2010 and remained there until December 31, 2015. A week later, on January 7, 2016, SmackDown moved to its sister channel, USA Network. It complements Raw as the second of WWE's two main weekly programs.
In its history, SmackDown has been broadcast from 162 different arenas, in 147 cities and towns, in seven different nations (the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Iraq in 2006 and 2007 for specials Tribute to the Troops, Japan in 2005, Italy in 2007 and Mexico in 2011). Due to time differences, SmackDown premieres a few hours earlier in Ireland and the United Kingdom and a day earlier in Australia, Canada, Singapore and Philippines than the United States, except for live episodes. For international broadcast listings, see below. The show celebrated its 15th anniversary on October 10, 2014.
As of July 19, 2016, SmackDown is broadcast live on Tuesday nights
WWF SmackDown! (as it was originally known) was set up to compete against WCW's Thursday night show, Thunder. In the spirit of the WWF's Attitude Era, the show was originally planned to be two hours of WWF Divas in primetime TV. However, this did not work out, and instead SmackDown! became a complementary show to RAW is WAR.
SmackDown! first appeared on April 29, 1999 using the RAW is WAR set as a single television special on UPN. On August 26, 1999, SmackDown! officially debuted on UPN. Like WCW Thunder, SmackDown! was recorded on Tuesdays and then broadcast on Thursdays. The new WWF show was so popular that WCW moved Thunder to Wednesdays in the hope of holding on to fans rather than losing them to the WWF. SmackDown!, like Thunder , made heavy use of the color blue, earning it the nickname "The Blue Show" amongst wrestling fans.
The original SmackDown! theme was not performed by a band like the RAW is WAR theme; instead, the WWF created a fast-paced theme that was a mixture of techno and rock. The first SmackDown! set was also unique as it featured an oval-shaped TitanTron (which was dubbed the "OvalTron"), entrance and stage which made it stand out from the RAW set and its rectangular TitanTrons. An added feature to the original set was the ability for the OvalTron to be moved to either the left or right of the stage. Throughout the show's early existence, top WWF superstar The Rock routinely called SmackDown! "his" show, in reference to the fact that the name was derived from one of his catchphrases, "Laying the smack down." In August 2001, as part of celebrating SmackDown!'s 2nd anniversary, the show received a new logo and set. The last SmackDown! to use the previous television set saw Alliance member Rhyno deliver the Gore to WWF member Chris Jericho through the OvalTron destroying part of the set, and this was the storyline reason for the change.
The September 11, 2001 event was cancelled due to the terrorist attacks. On September 13, 2001, SmackDown! was broadcast live from Houston (with Jim Ross and Paul Heyman filling in as hosts Michael Cole and Tazz were absent) as the first major and televised event since the attacks as thousands were in attendance. The ring ropes are usually blue for the SmackDown! shows but were red, white and blue for this night; these colors were commonly used during the 1980s and through the 1990s. They would remain that way, with an American Flag on the mini-tron, for two weeks.
The Brand Extension
The WWF underwent something they called the "Brand Extension". This meant that the two WWF TV shows (RAW and SmackDown!) would become competition for each other. This came about after the WWF purchased their biggest competitor, WCW, and they decided to bring in talent from the then out-of-business ECW. The brand extension was publicly announced during a telecast of WWF RAW on March 25, 2002, and became official the next day.
The Brand Extension would bring about change like nothing the WWF had seen before. Wrestlers would become "show-exclusive", wrestling for their specific show only. At the time this excluded the Undisputed Champion and Women's Champion as originally, those titles were defended on both shows. However, later in 2002, Brock Lesnar, then the WWE Undisputed Champion, refused to defend the title on RAW, causing the title to become SmackDown!-exclusive. This forced Eric Bischoff (General Manager of RAW at the time) to separate the World Heavyweight Championship from the WWE Championship due to the fact that since the WWE Undisputed Championship was now SmackDown!-exclusive it was no longer seen as "undisputed".
In January 2005, the Oakland Tribune reported that Leslie Moonves, co-President and co-Chief Operating Officer of UPN's parent company, Viacom, announced that SmackDown! would not be renewed on UPN after Viacom's contract with WWE expires in 2006. This article was later revealed to be in error; Moonves was in fact saying that SmackDown! may not be renewed, as opposed to will not be renewed.
The SmackDown! brand had a sister show, Velocity, that consisted of lower-card matches and recaps of that week's SmackDown! On March 10, 2005, Viacom announced that they would not seek to extend their deal to air WWE programming on Spike TV when it expired in September 2005. This included Velocity, which formerly aired on Spike TV but was converted into a webcast on WWE's website, when WWE programming moved to the USA Network. It was possible that WWE's "lame duck" status with Viacom on Spike TV is what prompted its moving SmackDown! to the Friday night death slot for the Fall 2005 season. Sources within WWE were reportedly unaware of the move. However, it worked out for the better for both parties involved, as the show had been better in ratings than it had on Thursdays, while UPN were getting much better ratings on Friday's than it did before with its movie night. In addition, UPN has been able to hold on to the ratings from Thursday nights, most notably with comedian Chris Rock's Wonder Years-like sitcom Everybody Hates Chris. In January 2006, prior to the announcement of the CW Network, it was announced that UPN had quietly renewed SmackDown! for an extra two more seasons.
On June 6, 2005, WWE Champion John Cena switched brands from SmackDown! to RAW as part of the month-long Draft Lottery. This effectively left SmackDown! without a World Title. During this time, United States Champion Orlando Jordan was billed as the top champion on the show. On June 23, 2005, in Tucson, SmackDown! General Manager Theodore Long announced a six-man elimination match between John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Booker T, Chris Benoit, The Undertaker, Christian (replacing The Big Show, who was picked by RAW in the lottery), and Muhammad Hassan to crown the first SmackDown! Champion. On the June 30 episode of SmackDown!, JBL won the match. Long appeared afterward and stated that even though JBL had won the match, SmackDown! didn't need a Championship anymore. Batista, the World Heavyweight Champion, entered the ring as SmackDown!'s final draft lottery pick. Long also revealed that JBL was the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Friday Night SmackDown!
Following the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise, SmackDown! was renamed Friday Night SmackDown! and moved into Enterprise's former timeslot in the United States. WWE promoted this move with the tagline "TV that's changing Friday nights." Friday Night SmackDown! made its series/season premiere on September 9, 2005. The program still aired on Thursdays in Canada on The Score. In the United Kingdom and Australia, their stations Sky Sports and FOX8 air SmackDown! on Fridays before the United States due to the time difference. This is the first time a major weekly WWE show airs internationally before it hits screens in the U.S.
The events of Hurricane Katrina affected the first edition of Friday Night SmackDown! in the US. Due to a special fundraising concert to help those affected airing on UPN along with other major US networks at the same time the first edition would have been broadcast, only the second hour of the show was shown on UPN. The first hour was instead streamed from WWE's website. Other countries, including Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and the Philippines received the full two-hour show. WWOR-TV (My 9, New York, New York) also aired both hours of the show on tape delay on Saturday, due to a previous commitment to broadcast the New York Yankees on Friday nights.
At the SmackDown! taping on January 10, 2006, Batista had to forfeit the World Heavyweight Title because of a triceps injury. Theodore Long made a Battle Royal for the vacant title. The winner was at the time RAW superstar Kurt Angle, who later switched to the SmackDown! brand. In a break from their traditional role of acting as if SmackDown! isn't pre-recorded, WWE.com had a photograph of Angle holding his new title on the main page.
On the April 7, 2006 edition of SmackDown!, general manager Theodore Long announced that the King of the Ring tournament will return after a four year hiatus as a SmackDown!-exclusive tournament. The tournament ended at Judgment Day 2006 with Booker T as the winner, defeating Bobby Lashley in the final.
On June 9, Tazz left SmackDown! to join the new ECW brand, leaving the color commentator position on SmackDown! vacant. However, on June 11 at One Night Stand 2006, JBL revealed that he will be the new color commentator for SmackDown!.
On September 22, 2006, Friday Night SmackDown! debuted on the CW Network, a merger of UPN and The WB.
For 4 weeks before the official premiere (and in preparation for the impending removal of UPN in several markets by the debut of MyNetworkTV on September 5, 2006) of Friday Night SmackDown! on the CW on September 22, 2006, Tribune Broadcasting television stations in six major markets (including WPIX in New York City and KTLA in Los Angeles) aired WWE's Friday Night SmackDown! early in September 2006. Two other future CW affiliates, WCWJ in Jacksonville, Florida and WIWB in Green Bay, Wisconsin, also aired SmackDown! in early September as well.
The arrival of the CW put the show back on the air throughout the state of Utah, nearly all of which lost the program in June when KPNZ in Salt Lake City stopped airing all UPN programs, including SmackDown!. The show is now seen on KUCW. In Hawaii, SmackDown! returned in late 2006, airing on a CW digital subchannel of Honolulu's Fox affiliate KHON (Channel 2), which has received statewide carriage over Oceanic Cable.
Friday Night SmackDown will stop airing on The CW after the 2007-2008 broadcast schedule due to WWE and The CW having negotiation problems.
SmackDown debuted on MyNetworkTV in the United States on October 3, 2008, featuring performers from the Raw, SmackDown and ECW programs. SmackDown also debuted with a new theme-song. The premiere episode on MyNetworkTV attracted 3.2 million viewers. While the viewership dropped, SmackDown pulled the highest ratings to date for MyNetworkTV and pushed the network to fifth place, ahead of its former network The CW. The premiere was also first place in male 18-49 demographics. On February 15, 2009, at No Way Out, Edge won the World Heavyweight Championship in Raw's Elimination Chamber match, thus making it a SmackDown exclusive title and giving SmackDown two top tier championships. On March 20, 2009, SmackDown celebrated its 500th episode. As a result of the 2009 WWE draft in April, then WWE Champion Triple H was drafted to Raw, while the World Heavyweight Championship also moved to the Raw brand after Edge lost the title to Cena at WrestleMania XXV, once again leaving SmackDown without a world title. SmackDown would regain the World Heavyweight Championship at Backlash when Edge invoked his WrestleMania rematch clause and defeated Cena to win the championship back. In addition, SmackDown and Raw would exchange both women-exclusive championships with Raw gaining the Divas Championship and SmackDown gaining the Women's Championship. This marked the first time in history that the Women's Championship had ever been exclusive to SmackDown. Also, SmackDown and Raw exchanged the United States Championship (which became exclusive to Raw) and the Intercontinental Championship (subsequently exclusive to SmackDown), for the first time since August 25, 2002. On September 15, 2009, WWE Home Video released a DVD set entitled The Best of SmackDown 10th Anniversary. The SmackDown 10th Anniversary DVD which featured the Top 100 moments in SmackDown history was hosted by Cole and Matt Striker. On April 19, 2010, the eruption of a volcano in Iceland left ash hovering over Europe and caused the grounding of many flights, leaving most of the Raw roster stranded in Belfast, Northern Ireland. To keep the WWE Universe from thinking that Raw was canceled for the night, SmackDown took over Raw (with the exception of former SmackDown superstars Triple H and Vladimir Kozlov, who were now Raw superstars) and fought over there. The superstars included Rey Mysterio, Edge, CM Punk, Chris Jericho and more. This was the first (and so far, the only) time that Raw was titled Monday Night SmackDown, although it was never mentioned as such on the air. On October 30, 2009, Todd Grisham revealed that he would be the new lead announcer for SmackDown, alongside Michael Cole for one night on October 16, 2009, and Matt Striker, a position he held until December 3, 2010 when he left to become the new lead announcer for NXT along with Josh Mathews.
Syfy and end of Brand Extension (2010–2015)
On April 12, 2010 it was announced that SmackDown would move from MyNetworkTV to Syfy, which had previously aired NXT and ECW, in a two-year deal that included an optional third year. Retaining its Friday night timeslot, SmackDown made its live premiere on Syfy on October 1, 2010 and there's been talk about having live editions of the show on WWE pay-per-view weekends. According to the Los Angeles Times, the move saw Syfy paying close to $30 million for the show as opposed to the $20 million paid by its former network MyNetworkTV. The premiere of SmackDown on Syfy followed a special "pre-game" show hosted by Cole. On December 10, 2010, the NXT color commentator Josh Mathews became the new lead announcer for SmackDown, a position he held until February 22, 2013 when he left to become the new color commentator the following week until May 24, 2013. In 2011, the brand extension came to an end, resulting in Raw talent being able to appear on SmackDown and vice versa. Also in late 2011, a special episode of SmackDown debuted branded Super SmackDown Live which would then be the name of all live episodes of SmackDown, taking place on a Tuesday.
Return to Thursday nights (2015)
The show's return to Thursday nights – something that was rumored as early as August 2014 – was made official by Syfy and WWE on November 6, 2014. The return to Thursday nights was expected to help attract a younger audience to Syfy, as well as more premium advertising dollars from marketers, who tend to spend more to promote their products, especially film releases, on the night as consumers head into the weekend. The last SmackDown airing on Friday nights had 2.43 million viewers with a 0.7 share.
USA Network (2016–present)
On January 7, 2016, SmackDown started airing on USA Network, as announced on April 7, 2015. With the move, all top three WWE programs – Raw, SmackDown and Tough Enough – would air on the same network for the first time ever. According to Lawler, SmackDown may move back to Friday nights on USA Network and go live. There was a possibility that SmackDown may move to Tuesday nights on USA Network and go live. SmackDown would remain on Thursday nights when the show moves from Syfy to USA Network on January 7. Coinciding with the premiere of SmackDown on USA Network, Rich Brennan was replaced by Mauro Ranallo, who is set to become the lead announcer, and Booker T was replaced by the current Raw and Superstars color commentator Byron Saxton, who is set to become the alternate color commentator. The first ever SmackDown airing on USA Network had 2.75 million viewers and was emanated from Laredo, Texas; it featured a first title match between Charlotte and Becky Lynch for the Divas Championship, and the main event and second title match between Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship, which ended in a double countout. When Mauro Ranallo has suffered from influenza, the current Raw lead commentator Michael Cole replaced him as the special guest lead commentator on February 18, 2016. That night's SmackDown episode broadcast from Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, marked as the return of Brock Lesnar and then WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H during and after main event between Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose against The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) in a tag team match. David Otunga temporarily replaced Jerry Lawler after Lawler was suspended as a result of a domestic abuse incident at his home in Memphis, Tennessee. The last SmackDown airing on Thursday nights had 2.0 million viewers with a 0.6 share and was emanated from Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Move to Tuesday nights and second Brand Extension (2016–present)
On May 25, 2016, WWE announced that SmackDown will be shifted from Thursdays to Tuesday nights and will be aired live instead of the previous pre-recorded format, and that the brand extension that was instituted from 2002 to 2011 would also return. WWE also announced that they will be revealing new graphics, a new set, blue ropes, and a new General Manager. On the July 11, 2016 episode of Raw, Vince McMahon named Shane McMahon the Commissioner of SmackDown Live. Then next week on Raw, it was announced that Daniel Bryan as the new SmackDown General Manager. On July 22, 2016, General Manager Daniel Bryan revealed the new SmackDown logo on his official Twitter page. Immediately following the 2016 WWE draft, John "Bradshaw" Layfield returned as a color commentator. David Otunga also returned as a color commentator afterwards. It was revealed that Backlash would return as a Smackdown only Pay-Per-View as Clash of Champions would become exclusive to Raw.
Induction into Merriam-Webster
On July 10, 2007, Merriam-Webster announced it would induct the word smackdown into Webster's Dictionary. According to Merriam Webster, a "smackdown" is:
- The act of knocking down or bringing down an opponent
- A contest in entertainment wrestling
- A decisive defeat
- A confrontation between rivals or competitors
SmackDown is usually taped on Tuesday evening and aired Friday evening on Syfy the same week. Occasionally, it is taped on Monday nights before or after Raw in what is called a "Supershow".
SmackDown's current theme song is "Born 2 Run" by 7lions. Prior to that, Smackdown opened with "Know Your Enemy" by Green Day while "Hangman" by Rev Theory served as a secondary theme song. Upon SmackDown's debut on Syfy, it replaced the previous theme "Let it Roll" by Divide the Day.
The show began broadcasting in HD beginning with the January 25, 2008 edition of SmackDown, where a new set debuted — shared among all three WWE brands. Following the first broadcast in HD, the iconic exclamation mark used since the show's inception disappeared from all references pertaining to "SmackDown", including the official logo.
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