The SmackDown logo as of October 4, 2019
|Created by||Vince McMahon|
|Composer(s)||Angus and Malcolm Young|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||20|
|No. of episodes||1,087 (as of June 26, 2020)|
|Camera setup||Multi-camera setup|
|Running time||120 minutes (including commercials)|
|Original release||April 29, 1999 –|
WWE SmackDown, also known as Friday Night SmackDown 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. SmackDown is considered to be one of WWE's two flagship shows, along with Monday Night Raw. SmackDown currently broadcasts live on Friday nights on the Fox network, beginning on October 4, 2019, filling the entirety of the network's Friday night schedule; Fox Deportes simulcasts the program with Spanish-language commentary.
SmackDown! debuted in the United States on UPN on April 29, 1999 and was formerly broadcast on Thursday nights. The show would move to Friday nights on September 9, 2005, and, after the merger of UPN and the WB, would begin airing on The CW in September 2006. The show would later move to MyNetworkTV in October 2008. On October 1, 2010, Smackdown moved to cable network Syfy, and would eventually return to Thursdays on January 15, 2015. The show then moved to the sibling USA Network on January 7, 2016, and later that year, beginning on July 19, 2016, SmackDown began broadcasting live on Tuesday nights. SmackDown's move to Fox on October 4, 2019 marked the show's return to Friday nights and over-the-air broadcast television (as well as the second time SmackDown has aired on a Fox-owned network).
SmackDown has been broadcast from 163 arenas, 148 cities and towns, seven countries: United States, Canada, 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 its 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 the 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.
As of March 3, 2017, all archived episodes of the show are available for on demand viewing via the WWE Network. Recent episodes are available for on-demand viewing 30 days after the original air date.
WWF SmackDown! was set up to compete against WCW's Thursday night show, Thunder. 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 so that it would not compete directly. 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, WWF implemented the "brand extension", under which Raw and SmackDown! would have separate rosters of performers that are exclusive to their respective programs and events, and be positioned in-universe as competing "brands" (in a manner reminiscent of athletic conferences).
In the 2004–05 season, SmackDown had an average viewership of 5.1 million viewers, making it UPN's second-highest-rated series behind America's Next Top Model. With the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise, SmackDown moved into its former timeslot on Friday nights for the 2005–06 season, beginning September 9, 2005. WWE subsequently announced that the show would be renamed Friday Night SmackDown! to emphasize the new scheduling.
In January 2006, CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Entertainment announced that UPN and The WB would merge to form a new network known as The CW that fall. As part of the announcement, The CW announced that it would renew Friday Night SmackDown for two more seasons as part of its launch lineup—which focused primarily on the strongest programs of its two predecessors. On September 22, 2006, Friday Night SmackDown! aired its first episode on The CW.
The CW declined to renew SmackDown, resulting in the series being picked up in October 2008 by MyNetworkTV—a second new network formed by Fox Entertainment Group, primarily consisting of former UPN and The WB affiliates who were unable to join The CW. Retaining its previous Friday-night time slot, the season premiere of SmackDown on MyNetworkTV was the highest-rated program in the fledgling network's history, with 3.2 million viewers. On March 20, 2009, SmackDown celebrated its 500th episode.
On October 1, 2010, as part of a new deal with NBC Universal, SmackDown moved to Syfy on October 1, 2010, retaining its Friday night timeslot. Prior to this premiere of SmackDown, Michael Cole hosted a "pre-game" show. The move saw Syfy paying close to $30 million for the show as opposed to the $20 million paid by its former network MyNetworkTV.
During the August 29, 2011 episode of Raw, WWE dissolved the brand extension, thus allowing performers to appear on Raw and SmackDown at any given time without restriction. 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 15-year anniversary. 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 a live 800th episode special on Syfy's sister channel USA Network, SuperSmackDown Live!, featuring a main event between Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins.
In January 2015, SmackDown returned to a Thursday time slot. 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 a Friday night had 2.43 million viewers with a 0.7 share. On January 7, 2016, SmackDown moved to USA Network, remaining on Thursday nights. With the move, all top three WWE programs—Raw, SmackDown and Tough Enough—would air on the same network for the first time ever.
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, renaming the show SmackDown Live. 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.
On June 26, 2018, Fox announced a five-year agreement to air SmackDown, in a deal worth $205 million per year. SmackDown would debut on October 4, 2019, with its first episode being the 20th Anniversary special. The episode also marks the return of SmackDown to Friday nights and the return of WWE programming to Fox for the first time since the network aired the November 14, 1992 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event. The agreement came as WWE's previous broadcast deal with USA Network to air both SmackDown and WWE Raw was set to expire, and as Fox has increasingly emphasized live sports programming and non-scripted entertainment in the wake of its then-upcoming sale of its in-house studios to Disney. Fox had hoped to acquire Raw for the Fox network and SmackDown for FS1. However, amid a competitive bidding situation, NBCUniversal focused its efforts on renewing Raw, freeing up Fox to pursue SmackDown. In particular, Fox promised a larger amount of promotion for SmackDown during its sports programming, as well as a WWE-oriented studio show (WWE Backstage) on FS1.
Fox began an advertising campaign by Wieden+Kennedy for the move, "We're All Superstars", to coincide with the beginning of football season, revealing a new logo and the reinstatement of the Friday Night SmackDown title. Friday Night SmackDown saw huge ratings increase since moving to Fox, adding an extra 1.6 million from the week before, but also saw a 25% drop the week after to 2.88 million viewers.
The October 25, 2019 episode was moved to FS1 due to Fox airing game 3 of the 2019 World Series. An hour-long version of the episode aired on Fox the following Sunday afternoon. At the start of 2020, SmackDown began to receive live audio description for the visually impaired, via a Descriptive Video Service track on the SAP audio channel.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, WWE announced that both SmackDown and Raw would suspend on-location broadcasts, and air from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida with no audience, with SmackDown doing so for the first time on March 13, 2020. The ensuing episode also featured Triple H as a guest commentator, and an encore presentation of the Elimination Chamber match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship from the titular pay-per-view the previous Sunday.
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 to 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 to 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 stage used was 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.
With the shift to Fox, both Raw and SmackDown introduced new sets during their "premiere week", and it was also stated that WWE would reinstate the use of pyrotechnics on both shows (after briefly suspending their use in 2017 due to budget concerns), and that both shows will now be staffed by separate writing teams. The new set design consists of the eight circuit board-themed semi-arches with the octagonal screen in the centre along with the giant TitanTron screen on top that pays tribute to the original design in 1999 and the 30 LED side boards.
|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)|||
|"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|||
|"Know Your Enemy"||Green Day||October 1, 2010 – October 19, 2012|||
|"Born 2 Run"||7Lions||October 26, 2012 – April 4, 2014|||
|"This Life"||CFO$||April 4, 2014 – January 9, 2015; this song version featuring Dylan Owen was used as the bumper song.|||
|"Centuries"||Fall Out Boy||October 10, 2014 (only used for SmackDown's 15th Anniversary)||[unreliable source]|
|"Black and Blue"||CFO$||January 15, 2015 – July 19, 2016|||
|"Take a Chance"||CFO$||July 26, 2016 – September 24, 2019|||
|"Are You Ready"1||AC/DC||October 4, 2019 – present|||
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 "popularized" 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.
Although SmackDown has been the second-largest show in the WWE, the company's use of the term went beyond its namesake program. During the 2000 U.S. election campaign, the WWE launched the SmackDown! Your Vote program.
In addition to the Spanish-language Fox Deportes simulcasting with Fox live in the United States and broadcasts to American troops deployed overseas on AFN Sports 2, SmackDown also appears on-air internationally.
In Mexico, MVS aired SmackDown between 2005 and 2008, and Azteca 7 from 2008 to 2014.
In Canada, SmackDown has historically been aired by Sportsnet 360 (SN360, formerly known as The Score), as part of network owner Rogers Media's long-term deal with WWE. The program has historically aired in simulcast with the U.S. airing. During its return to Thursday nights between January 2015 and July 2016, pre-recorded episodes of SmackDown aired on Wednesdays—one night earlier—due to conflicts with the channel's Thursday-night National Hockey League broadcasts.
In Jamaica, SmackDown airs live on Fridays on Flow 1, with a replay on Sundays.
SmackDown airs live in Australia on Saturday late mornings/early afternoons and Sunday afternoons on Fox8 and Friday nights on 9Go! as a one-hour version, and airs live in New Zealand on Sky 5 and Sunday nights on Prime as a one-hour version.
SmackDown airs in China on various television networks.
In South Africa, SmackDown was previously broadcast by free-to-air broadcaster e.tv. The show would play on Wednesday nights in the evening, with a 7-day delay, edited to one hour and was one of the most watched programs on the channel. However, in 2017 e.tv decided not to renew its broadcasting deal with WWE. The rights were later resold to SuperSport (the initial broadcasters of WWE programming) who broadcast the show across Sub-Saharan Africa, live and uncut.
In 2019 SuperSport, along with its parent company Multichoice, signed a deal to broadcast the 24-hour WWE channel as a pop-up channel for five months on their DStv platform. Currently there are announcements made by DStv that the channel could be made permanent on the platform.
In Hungary, SmackDown airs every Wednesday at 10:15 pm at Galaxy4.
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.
|UPN||Thursday 8–10 p.m. ET||April 29, 1999|
August 26, 1999 – September 1, 2005
|Friday 8–10 p.m. ET||September 9, 2005 – September 15, 2006|
|The CW||September 22, 2006 – September 26, 2008|
|MyNetworkTV||October 3, 2008 – September 24, 2010|
|Syfy||October 1, 2010 – January 9, 2015|
|Thursday 8–10 p.m. ET||January 15, 2015 – December 31, 2015|
|USA||January 7, 2016 – July 14, 2016|
|Tuesday 8–10 p.m. ET||July 19, 2016 – September 24, 2019|
|Friday 8–10 p.m. ET||October 4, 2019 – present|
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