|Created by||Vince McMahon|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||17|
|No. of episodes||841 (as of October 1, 2015)|
|Camera setup||Multicamera setup|
|Running time||120 minutes (including commercials)|
|Original release||April 21, 1999– present|
WWE SmackDown!, also known as Thursday Night SmackDown!, is a sports entertainment television program that debuted on August 26, 1999. 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 returned to Thursday nights on January 15, 2015. Surprisingly, WWE SmackDown broadcast Friday nights appears on Friday September 4, 2015 and October 30, 2015. 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 is scheduled to move to the USA Network in early 2016. It complements WWE Raw as the second of WWE's two main weekly programs.
Since its first episode, WWE 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.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Original format (1999–2005)
- 1.2 Brand Extension (2002–2005)
- 1.3 Move to Friday nights (2005–2015)
- 1.4 Return to Thursday nights (2015–present)
- 2 Cultural references
- 3 Production
- 4 Special episodes
- 5 On-air personalities
- 6 Champions
- 7 Broadcast
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Original format (1999–2005)
The early set featured an oval-shaped Titantron entrance and stage (dubbed the "Ovaltron") which made it stand out from the Raw set with its rectangular Titantrons. Later productions gained the ability to move the Ovaltron either to the left or to the right of the stage. Throughout the show's early existence, The Rock routinely called SmackDown "his show", in reference to the fact that the name was derived from one of his catchphrases, "Lay the smackdown." In August 2001, as part of celebrating SmackDown's second anniversary, the show received a new logo and set. The last SmackDown to use the previous entrance stage saw Alliance member Rhyno gore federation member Chris Jericho through the center screen, destroying part of the set. As a result of that incident, a new set debuted the following week and it consisted of a fist centered above the entrance, and many glass panes along the sides strongly resembling shattered glass
Brand Extension (2002–2005)
In spring 2002, WWE underwent the "Brand Extension", a process in which WWE divided itself into two branches with separate rosters, storylines and authority figures. Raw and SmackDown would host each division, give its name to the division and essentially compete against each other. The split resulted from WWE purchasing its two biggest competitors, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and the subsequent doubling of its roster and championships. The brand extension was publicly announced during a telecast of Raw on March 18, 2002, initiated with the first-ever draft a week later on the March 25, 2002 edition of Raw and became official the following week on the April 1, 2002 edition of Raw.
Wrestlers began to wrestle exclusively for their specific show. At the time this excluded the WWE Undisputed Championship and WWE Women's Championship, as those WWE titles would be defended on both shows. In August 2002, WWE Undisputed Champion Brock Lesnar refused to defend the title on Raw, in effect causing his title to become exclusive to SmackDown. The following week on Raw, General Manager Eric Bischoff awarded a newly-instated World Heavyweight Championship to Raw's designated #1 contender, Triple H. Accordingly, Lesnar's championship was no longer deemed undisputed. Following this, the WWE Women's Championship soon became Raw-exclusive as well. As a result of the Brand Extension, an annual "draft lottery" was instituted to exchange members of each roster and generally refresh the lineups.
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. On June 23, 2005, 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 did not need a Championship anymore, instead revealing that JBL was the number one contender for the World Heavyweight championship, at which point Batista, the World Heavyweight Champion, entered the ring as SmackDown's final draft lottery pick.
Move to Friday nights (2005–2015)
WWE's "lame duck" status with Viacom on Spike TV may have prompted it to move SmackDown to the Friday night death slot for the Fall 2005 season. UPN received better ratings on Fridays than it did before with its movie night. In addition, UPN had been able to hold on to the ratings from Thursday nights, most notably with comedian Chris Rock's sitcom Everybody Hates Chris. In January 2006, prior to the announcement of the CW Network, it was announced that UPN had renewed SmackDown for two more years.
Following the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise, SmackDown (renamed Friday Night SmackDown) 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 season premiere on September 9, 2005. The program still aired on Thursdays in Canada on the Score. In the United Kingdom, Ireland 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.A.
The events of Hurricane Katrina affected the first edition of Friday Night SmackDown in the U.S. due to the special fund-raising concert that aired on UPN at the same time that the first edition would have gone out, resulting in only the second hour of the show being 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 that aired January 13, Batista had to forfeit the World Heavyweight Championship because of a legit triceps injury suffered at the hands of Mark Henry the previous week. SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long decreed a Battle Royal for the vacant title. The winner was Kurt Angle, who, at the time, was on the Raw brand, but switched to the SmackDown brand for the duration of his reign as champion.
On the April 7, 2006 edition of SmackDown, General Manager Theodore Long revived the King of the Ring tournament 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, 2006, Tazz left the SmackDown brand to join the new ECW brand, leaving the color-commentator position vacant. However, on June 11, at One Night Stand 2006, JBL revealed that he would be the new color commentator for SmackDown, a position he held until December 2007 when he left to become an in-ring competitor on Raw. Jonathan Coachman replaced him afterwards. Eventually, Coachman was released by WWE the following year.
The CW (2006–2008)
On September 22, 2006, Friday Night SmackDown debuted on The CW, a joint venture between CBS Corporation (owner of UPN) and Warner Bros. Entertainment (a subsidiary of Time Warner, majority owner of the WB Television Network).
For four weeks before the official premiere 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. (This formed part of the preparation for the impending removal of UPN in several markets due to the debut of MyNetworkTV on September 5, 2006.) Two other future affiliates of The CW, WCWJ in Jacksonville, Florida and WIWB in Green Bay, Wisconsin, also aired SmackDown in early September.
The transition to the CW caused an interruption in the broadcast of SmackDown in the state of Utah beginning in June when KPNZ in Salt Lake City stopped airing all UPN programs early. As of 2009, KUCW broadcasts the show. In Hawaii, SmackDown returned in late 2006, airing on a CW digital subchannel of Honolulu's FOX affiliate KHON-TV (Channel 2), which has received statewide carriage over Oceanic Time Warner Cable. Since the move to the CW Network, Friday Night SmackDown has shown a major increase in ratings now averaging a 3.0 national rating. In addition, SmackDown has become the second-highest-watched program on The CW.
On April 20, 2007, SmackDown celebrated its 400th episode. Ratings success soon followed. On June 8, 2007, Friday Night SmackDown made CW history by making a three-way tie with CBS and ABC in the key ad demographic (adults, 18-49) by drawing a 1.5 rating each. Two weeks later, on June 22, 2007, Friday Night SmackDown again made CW history by tying the network for first place in the key ad demographic (adults, 18-49) and being the second-most-watched network program at 9 p.m. for the night. The CW had not performed as well at any time slot since America's Next Top Model the previous March. The following week, on June 29, 2007, Friday Night SmackDown helped The CW claim the top spot in the key demographic (adults, 18-49) for Friday. CBS got the overall lead but The CW got top spot for the Adults 18-49 by registering a 1.4 rating followed by CBS and NBC at 1.3, ABC at 1.2, and FOX at 0.9. Then two weeks later, on Friday, July 13, 2007, Friday Night SmackDown made network history by placing first in the 18-49 demographic and becoming the most watched show at the 9 p.m. hour on network television. This is the first time anything has placed this well on The CW. SmackDown became a hit show on Friday nights winning the demographics for young males, and ranking second on the demographics (18-49) for Friday nights.
On October 16, 2007, it was announced that the SmackDown and ECW brands would begin a "talent exchange", allowing their respective talent to appear and compete on either brand, as ECW was broadcast live from the same arena where SmackDown is taped.
Jim Ross became the new play-by-play announcer for SmackDown, while Michael Cole (SmackDown commentator for nine years from its launch in 1999 until June 23, 2008) moved to Raw. WWE also drafted the WWE Champion Triple H to SmackDown, which allowed SmackDown to feature two world championships on the brand, as Edge was World Heavyweight Champion. With Triple H bringing the WWE Championship to SmackDown, Raw was left without a world title, but on the June 30, 2008 edition of Raw, after Edge was attacked by Batista, CM Punk cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and became the new World Heavyweight Champion, bringing the World Heavyweight Championship back to Raw for the first time since 2005. In August 2008, Tazz returned to SmackDown as color commentator, due in part to Foley's departure from WWE as his contract was not renewed. A couple of months later in late-2008, Tazz decided to let his contract expire, so he was replaced by Todd Grisham, who was the color commentator on Raw, making the SmackDown announce team consist of Grisham and Ross. Also that year, for the first time in the brand's history, a women's exclusive championship was introduced, the WWE Divas Championship, a counterpart to the WWE Women's Championship which up until this time was the only active championship competed for by Divas, but it was exclusive to the WWE Raw brand, meaning that the divas on SmackDown had no championship to compete for until now. Michelle McCool became the inaugural champion by defeating Natalya on July 20, 2008 at The Great American Bash.
Friday Night SmackDown debuted on MyNetworkTV in the United States on October 3, 2008, featuring performers from the Raw, SmackDown and ECW programs. WWE 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, WWE SmackDown celebrated its 500th episode.
As a result of the 2009 WWE Draft in April, WWE Champion Triple H was drafted to the Raw brand, while the World Heavyweight Championship also moved to the Raw brand after Edge lost the title to John Cena at WrestleMania XXV. SmackDown would regain the World Heavyweight Championship at Backlash when Edge defeated John Cena to win the championship. In addition, SmackDown and Raw would exchange both women-exclusive championships with Raw gaining the WWE Divas Championship and SmackDown gaining the WWE Women's Championship. Also, SmackDown and Raw exchanged the WWE United States Championship (which became exclusive to Raw) and the WWE Intercontinental Championship (subsequently exclusive to the SmackDown brand), 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.
On April 19, 2010, the eruption of something in Iceland left ash hovering over Europe and caused the grounding of many flights, leaving most of the WWE Raw superstars stranded in Belfast, Northern Ireland. To keep the WWE Universe from thinking that Raw was cancelled for the night, SmackDown took over Raw (with the exception of former SmackDown superstars Triple H and Vladimir Kozlov, who were current 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.
Brand Extension continues (2010–2011)
On April 12, 2010, it was announced that SmackDown would move from MyNetworkTV to Syfy, a network which previously aired NXT and ECW, in a two-year deal that also includes 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 PPV weekends. According to the Los Angeles Times, the move sees 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 Michael Cole. 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 editions of SmackDown, taking place on a Tuesday.
Due to the move to an NBC Universal Cable network, SmackDown is now advertised more frequently on Syfy's sister network, USA Network, which airs Raw. Same-week encores of SmackDown were also added to Universal HD's, and mun2's Saturday night schedule as a result of the move in the spot previously held by NXT and ECW. On February 4, 2011, Booker T made a return on SmackDown as a commentator replacing Matt Striker.
End of Brand Extension (2011–2015)
On the special live August 30, 2011 episode, it was announced that wrestlers from Raw could now appear every week on SmackDown. This mirrored the proclamation made on Raw the previous day where SmackDown wrestlers could now appear every week on Raw. These moves made both programs full roster "supershows", effectively ending the Brand Extension.
October 14, 2011's broadcast of SmackDown (episode 635) made the show the second-longest-running weekly episodic television series of American television history (behind Monday Night Raw, which surpassed that mark on August 2, 2005). On April 1, 2012, at WrestleMania 28, John Laurinaitis became GM of both Raw and SmackDown after Team Johnny defeated Team Teddy. However, on June 17, 2012, at No Way Out, after John Cena defeated Big Show in a Steel cage match, he was fired by Vince McMahon. On the August 3, 2012 episode of SmackDown, Mr. McMahon named Booker T The SmackDown General Manager. In addition, Booker named Theodore Long and Eve as his assistants. Josh Mathews replaced him on the commentary table along with Michael Cole. John Layfield returned to WWE in September 2012 and became a commentator for the show as well. On January 18, 2013, SmackDown celebrated its 700th episode. Vickie Guerrero became General Manager on July 19, 2013 and was fired the previous year. The show is also run frequently by WWE COO Triple H. Past episodes of Smackdown are now viewable on the video streaming website Hulu along with episodes of WWE Superstars and ECW.
On October 10, 2014, SmackDown celebrated its 15th Anniversary. The 15th season premiere opened with a new theme, "Centuries" by Fall Out Boy. To help celebrate the 15th anniversary Stephanie McMahon came out first, then John Laurinaitis and Theodore Long, respectively. Laurinaitis and Long kept one uping each other for the main event of the night until McMahon decided to keep the 15 tag team match that Long suggested with Laurinaitis and Long being the head of each team like WrestleMania XXVIII. Long's team won the match.
Return to Thursday nights (2015–present)
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 is 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.
SmackDown returned to a Thursday night airing from the episode of January 15, 2015. Jerry Lawler joined the broadcast team for the move. He was to join the broadcast team in 2012 on SmackDown until he had a heart attack during Raw in Montreal on September 10, 2012. The broadcast saw a revised SmackDown logo and all new graphics with 2.68 million viewers with a 0.8 rating share.
In a January 2015 interview, Daniel Bryan said he told WWE management that he wished to be the "face of SmackDown" to increase the show's viewership. The January 15 episode marked Bryan's return to the ring after months of being injured and Bryan wrestled in the main event of the first five SmackDown episodes since the move back to Thursday airings.[a]
On April 2, 2015, Tom Phillips replaced Michael Cole as a permanent announcer until April 9, 2015, alongside Lawler and Byron Saxton, when Cole has been recovered from injury. Phillips's first air date as August 22, 2014, until January 9, 2015 during SmackDown aired on Fridays alongside Cole and John "Bradshaw" Layfield. On April 23, 2015, Phillips made a return on SmackDown as a permanent announcer until August 20, 2015, after Cole returned from injury and then left SmackDown as announcer and commentator, and his return to Raw as announcer. On August 27, 2015, NXT announcer Rich Brennan replaced Phillips to join the broadcast team following Phillips's interview with WWE Superstars after the match, and after Phillips hosted 5 Things on WWE.com and WWE's exclusive YouTube channel. On September 10, 2015, Booker T made a return again on SmackDown as a commentator replacing Jimmy Uso, who made his debut as a permanent commentator since June 25, 2015, until September 3, 2015.
Starting in the first quarter of 2016, SmackDown will be airing on USA Network, as announced on April 7, 2015. With the move, all top three WWE programs - Raw, SmackDown, and Tough Enough - will air on the same network for the first time. According to Jerry Lawler, WWE SmackDown may move back to Friday nights on USA Network and go live.
- The act of knocking down or bringing down an opponent.
- A contest in entertainment wrestling.
- A decisive defeat.
- A confrontation between rivals or competitors.
The Oxford English Dictionary traces the use of the word smackdown in English back at least as far as 1990, but notes that a professional wrestling television show "popularised" the term.
From October 26, 2012 to April 2014, WWE SmackDown began using "Born 2 Run" by 7Lions as its theme song, with "This Life" by Cody B. Ware serving as the secondary theme, then a swap was made, as "Born 2 Run" is used as a secondary theme, when "This Life" is used as SmackDown's main theme. Prior to October 26, 2012, SmackDown opened with "Know Your Enemy" by Green Day while "Hangman" by Rev Theory served as the secondary theme song. Upon SmackDown's debut on Syfy in 2010, it replaced the previous theme song "Let it Roll" by Divide the Day.
WWE tapes SmackDown on Tuesday evenings to air on Thursday evenings on Syfy the same week. However, SmackDown has aired occasional live specials on Tuesday nights (which are then replayed in its usual Thursday night timeslot).
The show began broadcasting in HD beginning with the January 25, 2008 edition of SmackDown, where a new set (which became universal for all WWE weekly programming) debuted. Following the first broadcast in HD, the exclamation mark used since the show's inception disappeared from all references pertaining to "SmackDown", including the official logo, which resembles the 2001-08 logo but with a darker blue scheme. As of August 3, 2012, the show has used the modified WWE HD universal set, which debuted at Raw 1000 on July 23.
From September 21, 2012 – October 26, 2012, October 4, 2013 – November 1, 2013 and October 3–31, 2014, WWE worked in conjunction with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to raise awareness for breast cancer by adorning the SmackDown set with pink ribbons and a special pink middle-rope in the ring. SmackDown's ring ropes were usually blue from 1999-2012 (although they were black for a period between 2001 and 2002). They remained blue until December 2012 when they were permanently changed to white, with all WWE programming now using white ring ropes.
On August 22, 2014, SmackDown switched to a full 16:9 letterbox presentation, with a down-scaled version of the native HD feed on a 4:3 SD feed. Like Raw (which also switched to a full 16:9 letterbox presentation four days earlier on August 18), the new WWE logo is seen on the ring's turnbuckle covers and also, on the lower-right hand corner of the screen. A week later (August 29), the Syfy network logo moved to the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Although the graphics have been re-positioned, SmackDown continued to use a variation of the graphics package that had been in use since its first HD broadcast in January 2008, until the show moved to Thursday nights on January 15, 2015, when an all new graphics package and intro video was introduced along with a revised SmackDown logo. On March 26, 2015, WWE added a small LED board to the left side of the ring on SmackDown, similar to Raw. The WWE Friday Night Smackdown surprisingly appears on Friday Labor Day 2015 and Halloween October 30, 2015.
|Song Title||Written and/or Sung by||Dates used||Ref|
|"Everybody on the Ground"||Jim Johnston||April 29, 1999 – August 9, 2001|||
|"The Beautiful People"||Marilyn Manson||August 16, 2001 – May 15, 2003|||
|"I Want It All"||Jim Johnston||May 22, 2003 – September 16, 2004|||
|"Rise Up"||Drowning Pool||September 30, 2004 – September 26, 2008|||
|"If You Rock Like Me"||Jim Johnston||October 3, 2008 – September 25, 2009|||
|"Let It Roll"||Divide the Day||October 2, 2009 – September 24, 2010|||
|"Know Your Enemy"||Green Day||October 1, 2010 – October 19, 2012|||
|"Born 2 Run"||7Lions||October 26, 2012 – April 4, 2014|||
|"This Life"||CFO$||April 4, 2014 – October 3, 2014; October 17, 2014 – January 9, 2015|||
|"Centuries"||Fall Out Boy||October 10, 2014|||
|"Black and Blue"1||CFO$||January 15, 2015 – present|||
- ^ Bold Song Titles are currently being used as the Opening Theme.
Throughout its broadcast history, the show has aired editions that have different themes. These include tributes to various professional wrestlers who have recently died or retired from actively performing, as well as episodes commemorating various show milestones or anniversaries.
The show features various on-air personalities including the wrestlers themselves, ring announcers, divas, commentators and on-screen authority figures. SmackDown also has had various recurring on-air segments hosted by members of the roster.
Before the "supershows", the brand-extension championships exclusive to Smackdown were seen. On the special live August 30, 2011 episode, it was announced that wrestlers from Raw could now appear every week on SmackDown. This mirrored the proclamation made on Raw the previous day that SmackDown wrestlers could now appear every week on Raw. These moves made both programs full-roster "supershows", effectively ending the Brand Extension. All championships can occur now on either show.
From 1999 to early 2015, SmackDown aired in Canada matching the U.S. airtime and currently airs on Sportsnet 360 (previously known as Headline Sports until 2000 and The Score from 2000-2013). With SmackDown back on Thursday nights, the show is now broadcast on Wednesday nights (with the exception of live episodes) in Canada as of January 14, 2015, due to national NHL coverage being aired on Sportsnet 360 on Thursday nights, as part of a 12-year deal between Rogers (Owner of Sportsnet) and the NHL. This means that SmackDown is shown in Canada one day earlier than the U.S.
Pacific and Africa
On May 22, 2009, Hulu Plus and the WWE announced that they had a deal to air full episodes of SmackDown to be available for viewing the day following its original airing. On September 24, 2012, Hulu Plus signed a multi-year deal with WWE to stream all of the company's TV shows and some of its Web series, which includes SmackDown. Full episodes of SmackDown are available for viewing the following day of its original airing.
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- Official website
- WWE SmackDown at Syfy
- WWE SmackDown at the Internet Movie Database
- WWE SmackDown at TV Guide
- WWE SmackDown at TV.com