SmackDown celebrated its 20th Anniversary with the move over to The FOX Network back on October 4th and it appears that it has been the dawning of a new era for The Blue Brand, which has always been seen as the second show, in the shadow of WWE's flagship show Monday Night RAW.
Whilst RAW has been airing for much longer than SmackDown, there have been some patches of the brand's past where it has been more popular than WWE's original show. There was also a time when The Brand Split allowed the likes of The Undertaker, Batista, and Rey Mysterio to exclusively ply their trade on SmackDown, which definitely helped with the ratings.
Over the past two decades, SmackDown has created some interesting history and here are just 5 fascinating facts.
#5 SmackDown was originally supposed to be a women's show
SmackDown made its debut back in 1999 and whilst the show was named after The Rock's famous catchphrase, but it wasn't a show that was supposed to include The People's Champion.
According to Bruce Prichard on his Something To Wrestle With Podcast, WWE initially thought about making the show an all-female affair, but there wasn't enough talent around at the time to make it happen.
“We definitely discussed it, we looked at it, but we just didn’t have the depth to do it on a consistent basis week after week."
"We really didn’t have enough talent to do that, and in addition to that, if you were going to do that maybe not do it on the broadcast show because Vince McMahon was looking at that the more eyeballs maybe if this broadcast show takes off to possibly make RAW an all-women’s show, but we definitely discussed that many times throughout the years," he said via Wrestlingnews.
#4 SmackDown has always been a show that has a PG rating
The wrestling world is changing, there was a time when Monday Night RAW was the main wrestling show that was aimed at much edgier wrestling fans. Over the years, WWE has developed its show so that it's aimed at a much younger demographic, which is why AEW has the TV-14 rating rather than the PG rating that WWE is currently enjoying.
Despite many members of the WWE Universe often calling the company out for the fact that it's toned down much of its content. According to WWE's official website, SmackDown has always had a PG rating throughout the past two decades.
"Other WWE programming gradually transitioned to TV-PG content and storylines, officially being recognized as TV-PG by WWE’s television network partners’ standards and practices departments in July 2008."
There was a time when First Blood matches were a regular gimmick, but the company has since managed to sugarcoat a lot of its content and tried its hardest to ensure that there is no blood so that they remain in line with the rules for their TV-PG content.
#3 The Fox Network deal is worth around $205 million a year
SmackDown's 20th Anniversary was celebrated on October 4th, 2019 when the company officially switched over to the FOX Network for the first time. It was commented that the move would see WWE sign their most lucrative deal to date and looking at the finer details of the deal, it appears that this is correct.
According to The Hollywood Reporter WWE signed a five-year deal with the Network which is worth around $205 million annually and $1.025 billion over the life of the deal. WWE signed a deal to give FOX " two hours of live event programming 52 weeks each year."
The deal has allowed SmackDown to move to Friday nights and air live on that day for the first time in their history, even though the show aired on a Friday night for almost a decade from 2005 until 2015 when it was moved back to Thursdays.
The FOX Network deal has allowed the company to reinvent SmackDown Live with a new theme, new entrance ramp and even allowed the company to bring back their pyrotechnics.
#2 The WWE Championship has only changed hands five times on the show
SmackDown has always been seen as the B-brand in WWE, compared to Monday Night RAW, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that in two decades, the biggest Championship in the company has only changed hands on SmackDown five times.
The first title change came back in 1999 when Vince McMahon was able to defeat Triple H. The second came more than four years later when Brock Lesnar defeated Kurt Angle back in 2003. There was then a gap of more than 14 years before AJ Styles was able to dethrone Jinder Mahal in The United Kingdom in the fall of 2017, less than a year later Daniel Bryan was the man to dethrone AJ Styles before Brock Lesnar shocked the world a few weeks ago.
Brock Lesnar was able to defeat Kofi Kingston in a matter of seconds in the shortest title change in SmackDown history when WWE made their debut on the FOX Network on October 4th. The last two title changes have also all aired live, AJ's Championship win should have aired live, but because it happened in the United Kingdom, there was a delay between the product being presented live and it airing on TV in the United States.
#1 It's the wrestling how that has been on the most channels
SmackDown may have only been on television for twenty years, but at that time it has definitely created some interesting history.
The show itself made its debut on April 29th, 1999 and was broadcast on a Thursday night on the United Paramount Network. The show was later moved to Friday nights which is the night it has been most recognizable for in September 2005. Following the merger between UPN and the WB Network, SmackDown moved over to the CW Network in September 2006, a network that only aired the show for two years, since it was announced that the show would move to MyNetworkTV in October 2008.
Just two years later on October 1st, 2010, WWE moved SmackDown over to Syfy, which was best known for also hosting ECW under WWE's umbrella. Whilst on Syfy, SmackDown returned to Thursday nights in January 2015 and the following year switched Network once again when they were moved over to USA Network.
It was on the USA Network that WWE was finally able to air SmackDown Live from July 2016, which changed the show to a Tuesday night instead. This deal only recently came to an end, since WWE moved to Friday nights when they switched over to FOX on October 4th, 2019.