WWE SmackDown, also referred to as SmackDown Live or simply SmackDown, is a professional wrestling television program that debuted on April 29, 1999. The show's name also refers to the SmackDown brand, to which WWE employees are assigned to work and perform.
The SmackDown logo as of July 26, 2016
|Created by||Vince McMahon|
|Written by||Brian "Road Dogg" James|
See list of SmackDown creative writers
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||20|
|No. of episodes||1,031 (as of May 21, 2019)|
Paul "Triple H" Levesque
|Camera setup||Multicamera setup|
|Running time||120 minutes (including commercials)|
|Original release||April 29, 1999 –|
SmackDown is currently broadcast live on Tuesday nights on USA Network. It will return to over-the-air broadcast television on October 4, 2019, filling the entirety of the Fox Friday night schedule. The show was formerly broadcast on Thursday nights, but moved to Friday on September 9, 2005, before returning to Thursdays on January 15, 2015. On July 19, 2016, it was moved to a live broadcast on Tuesday night. SmackDown! 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 was moved to MyNetworkTV in October 2008, to Syfy on October 1, 2010 and to USA Network on January 7, 2016. It complements Raw as the second of WWE's two main weekly programs. As of March 3, 2017, all archived episodes of the show are available for on demand viewing via the WWE Network.
SmackDown has been broadcast from 163 arenas, in 148 cities and towns, in seven countries (the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Iraq in 2003 and 2004 for Tribute to the Troops, Japan in 2005, Italy in 2007, and Mexico in 2011). Prior to switching to the current live format, taped episodes premiered a few hours earlier in Ireland and the United Kingdom and a day earlier in Australia, Canada, Singapore, and Philippines than the United States, due to time differences. For international broadcast listings, see below. The show celebrated its 15th anniversary on October 10, 2014, and the 1000th episode on October 16, 2018.
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 augment Raw is War.
SmackDown! first appeared on April 29, 1999 using the Raw 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. 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 smack down".
In March 2002, WWE underwent the "brand extension", a process in which WWE divided itself into two branches. The two divisions, Raw and SmackDown!, would compete against each other. The brand extension was made public during a telecast of Raw on March 18, 2002, and became official on the April 1, 2002 episode of Raw.
On the August 29, 2011 episode of Raw, it was announced that performers from Raw and SmackDown were no longer exclusive to their respective brand, thus effectively dissolving the brand extension. The October 14, 2011, episode made SmackDown the second-longest-running weekly episodic television series of American television history (behind Raw, which surpassed that mark on August 1, 2005). On January 18, 2013, SmackDown celebrated its 700th episode.
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 Laurinaitis and Long, respectively, the latter of which kept one-upping each other for the main event of the night until McMahon decided to keep the 15-man tag team match that Long suggested, on the condition Laurinaitis and Long be the captains of each team like at WrestleMania XXVIII. Long's team won the match. On December 16, 2014, SmackDown aired its 800th episode, which aired live on USA Network, featuring the main event between Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins.
On May 25, 2016, as part of the re-implementation of the brand extension and split between Raw and SmackDown, it was announced that SmackDown would become a live program on Tuesday nights. On the July 11, 2016 episode of Raw, Vince McMahon named Shane McMahon the commissioner of SmackDown. Then next week on Raw, Daniel Bryan was revealed as the new SmackDown General Manager. On July 22, 2016, General Manager Daniel Bryan revealed the new SmackDown logo on his official Twitter page. On April 10, 2018, SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon announced that Daniel Bryan was back as a full-time WWE wrestler and named Paige the new General Manager.
From the show's inception in 1999, SmackDown was aired on UPN. 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, UPN renewed SmackDown' for two more years. After Star Trek: Enterprise had been canceled, SmackDown moved into Enterprise's former timeslot. WWE promoted this move with the tagline "TV that's changing Friday nights." SmackDown! made its season premiere on September 9, 2005.
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). On April 20, 2007, SmackDown! celebrated its 400th episode. SmackDown debuted on MyNetworkTV in the United States on October 3, 2008. SmackDown also debuted with a new theme-song. The premiere episode on MyNetworkTV attracted 3.2 million viewers. On March 20, 2009, SmackDown celebrated its 500th episode.
SmackDown moved to NBCUniversal in 2010 and made its live premiere on Syfy on October 1, 2010, retaining its Friday night timeslot. Prior to this premiere of SmackDown, Michael Cole hosted a "pre-game" show. 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 move also resulted in network, SmackDown being 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 that had been held by NXT and ECW. On January 7, 2016, SmackDown moved to Syfy's sister channel, USA Network. 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.[unreliable source] SmackDown remained on Thursday nights when the show moved from Syfy to USA Network on January 7. The first SmackDown episode on USA Network had 2.75 million viewers. 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.
On June 26, 2018, Fox announced a five-year agreement to air SmackDown in a deal worth $205 million per year. The agreement came as WWE's previous broadcast deal with USA Network to air both SmackDown and WWE Raw was set to expire. Fox had hoped to acquire Raw for the Fox network and SmackDown for Fox Sports 1. However, amid a competitive bidding situation, NBCUniversal focused its efforts on renewing Raw, freeing up Fox to pursue SmackDown. Under the new deal, SmackDown will move to Friday nights on Fox beginning on October 4, 2019.
WWE taped SmackDown on Tuesday evenings to air on Thursday evenings on Syfy the same week. However, SmackDown had aired occasional live specials on Tuesday nights (which are then replayed in its usual Thursday night timeslot). The show began broadcasting in HD beginning with the January 25, 2008 episode of SmackDown, where a new set (which became universal for all WWE weekly programming) debuted. Following the first broadcast in HD, the exclamation mark used since the show's inception disappeared from all references pertaining to "SmackDown", including the official logo, which resembles the 2001–2008 logo, but with a darker blue scheme.
The early set included an oval-shaped TitanTron entrance and stage (dubbed the "Ovaltron") which made it stand out from the Raw Is War set with its rectangular Titantrons. Later productions gained the ability to move the Ovaltron either to the left or to the right of the stage. In August 2001, as part of celebrating SmackDown!'s second anniversary, the show received a new logo and set, which consisted of a fist centered above the entrance with the WWF/E scratch logo above it, and many glass panes along the sides strongly resembling shattered glass with two TitanTrons on each side.
From October 26, 2012 until April 4, 2014, SmackDown began using "Born 2 Run" by 7Lions as its theme song, with "This Life" by CFO$ and Cody B. Ware serving as the secondary theme, then a swap was made, as "Born 2 Run" was 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.
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 until October 26, 2012, October 4, 2013 until November 1, 2013, October 3 and 31, 2014 and October 2 and 30, 2015, 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. On August 29, 2014, the Syfy network logo moved to the lower left-hand corner of the screen.
Although the graphics were 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 (now optimized for the 16:9 format) and intro video were 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. On the September 14, 2015 season premiere of Raw, the middle rope was colored gold. Throughout the month of October 2015, the WWE broadcast table, entrance ramp, and ring skirts were co-branded with Susan G. Komen for the cure of breast cancer. Also, the middle ring rope was pink to promote the fight against breast cancer. Following the brand split in 2016, the ropes return to its original blue color as well as debuting a new set. The post brand extension set was almost identical to the TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs set from 2009-2013 and caused some negative feedback among online fans for re-using an old stage design. A month after the new set debut, a more distinctive and elaborate stage was created for SmackDown. The current stage used is a new design with multiple LED side panels on each side with a titan-tron in a semi circle in the center. The new set also introduced LED floor panels on the entrance ramp. Feedback was more positive for this set design.
|Song title||Written and/or performed 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 (Instrumental)"||Jim Johnston||September 23, 2004 (only used for SmackDown's 5th Anniversary show)|||
|"Rise Up"||Drowning Pool||September 30, 2004 – March 17, 2006|||
|"Rise Up 2006"||Ryan McCombs||March 24, 2006 – 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|||
|"Hangman"||Rev Theory||2009 – 2013|||
|"Know Your Enemy"||Green Day||October 1, 2010 – October 19, 2012|||
|"Born 2 Run"||7Lions||October 26, 2012 – April 4, 2014|||
|"This Life"||CFO$||April 4, 2014 – January 9, 2015; this song version featuring Dylan Owen was used as the bumper song.|||
|"Centuries"||Fall Out Boy||October 10, 2014 (only used for SmackDown's 15th Anniversary show)||[unreliable source]|
|"Black and Blue"||CFO$||January 15, 2015 – July 19, 2016|||
|"Take a Chance"1||CFO$||July 26, 2016 – present|||
|“Victorious”||Panic! At The Disco||October 16th, 2018 (Only used for SmackDown 1000 Episode)|
- ^ Bold song titles are currently being used as the opening theme.
- 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.
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, and episodes commemorating various show milestones or anniversaries.
Various on-air personalities appear on the show, including the wrestlers (both men and women), ring announcers, commentators, and on-screen authority figures. SmackDown also has had various recurring on-air segments hosted by members of the roster.
Other SmackDown-branded properties
Although SmackDown has been the second largest show in the WWE, the company's overuse of the name led to its usage beyond its namesake program. During the 2000-'01 U.S. election campaign, the WWE launched the SmackDown! Your Vote program.
From 1999 to early 2015, SmackDown aired in Canada matching the United States airtime and currently airs on Sportsnet 360 (previously known as Headline Sports until 2000 and The Score from 2000–2013). When SmackDown moved back Thursday nights, the show was broadcast on Wednesday nights (with the exception of live episodes) in Canada January 14, 2015 to July 13, 2016, due to national NHL coverage being aired on Sportsnet 360 on Thursday nights, as part of a 12-year deal between Rogers Communications (Owner of Sportsnet) and the NHL. However, from July 19, 2016, SmackDown again started airing in Canada simultaneously with the United States, following SmackDown's move to a live Tuesday night broadcast.
Asia, Africa and Oceana
SmackDown airs in China on various television networks.
In Greece SmackDown Live airs every Sunday at 01:00 pm at Skai TV
Smackdown Live airs on Flow 1 in Jamaica.
On May 22, 2009, Hulu and WWE agreed to air full episodes of SmackDown to be available for viewing the day following its original airing. On September 24, 2012, Hulu 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. All previous episodes of SmackDown are available on the WWE Network, where recent episodes are available for on-demand viewing 30 days after the original air date.
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