WWE: Smackdown

Friday Night Smackdown, known by various names over the years, is the secondary show for WWE and is the second longest running wrestling TV show in the history of the business behind Raw. As of mid 2020 the show has transmitted more than 1,000 episodes.

Formation and early years
Smackdown was first presented as a one off program in April 1999 on American TV Network UPN. It started regular programming in August of that year intentionally up against WCW Thunder on Thursday nights. The then WWF did this to capitalise on it’s clear advantage on Monday nights to further it’s domination of WCW, and the move forced WCW to move Thunder to Wednesday nights in early 2000.

The Rock claimed the show as his own, given that one of his many catchphrases was “Layeth the Smack Down” – a term recognised as where the name came from to being with.

Unlike Raw for the most part, Smackdown was always taped on Tuesdays and transmitted on Thursdays. From the beginning the show was set at two hours and this has never changed. In 2002 Smackdown was given it’s own roster in the brand split thanks to the influx of WCW wrestlers after the 2001 takeover.

Changing homes
In September 2005, programming changes at UPN caused Smackdown to move from Thursday nights to Friday nights. In 2006, UPN merged with The WB to form The CW Network and Smackdown continued on Friday nights there.

In 2008 The CW decided not to renew it’s contract with WWE and Smackdown found a new home in My Network TV. This lasted until 2010 when the show moved again to SyFy. It would be in 2011 that the first brand split was ended as the roster had contracted. The reign on Syfy was successful although in December 2014 a special live edition of Smackdown to celebrate 800 episodes was shown on USA instead. In early 2015 the show moved back to Thursday nights.

More recently
At the beginning of 2016, Smackdown moved to the USA Network – the same channel as Raw for the first time ever. In mid 2016 the brand split returned, coupled with Smackdown moving to Tuesday night and live like Raw consistently for the first time. This arrangement lasted until October 2019 when Fox bought the rights to Smackdown and asked that the show be presented live on Friday nights instead of Tuesday nights. The first edition on the new network was a delayed celebration of the show’s 20th anniversary.

Like Raw, in March 2020 upon the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Smackdown moved to a permanent arrangement in the WWE Performance Centre to a closed set – firstly with no spectators and then later NXT trainees. They consequently moved to the WWE Thunderdome at various venues.

Australian history
It is unclear when Smackdown was first transmitted in Australia. But by 2001, it was being shown on Fox8 on Saturday evenings at 7:30pm and then 8:30pm into 2002. However contract negotiations broke down and Smackdown dropped off Australian TV screens at the end of September 2002. It returned at the very end of July 2003 back at 7:30pm on Saturdays. In March 2005 it was moved to Friday afternoons at 3:30pm, an arrangement that remained in place right through until 2016. This meant that from September 2005 to early 2015, Australian wrestling fans were seeing Smackdown before it’s US counterparts. When Smackdown first went live in the US it was also seen live in Australia, firstly on Wednesdays before the move to Fox in 2019, and then Saturdays. During the Southern summer Smackdown is seen at midday on Saturdays, 10:00am during the southern Winter and 11:00am in March and October when both Australia and the United States are on daylight savings.

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