WWE changed their television network for SmackDown Live, choosing a billion dollar deal from Fox rather than stay on the USA Network. The cash cow of the WWE has shifted from the legacy brand of Raw, which has dominated in terms of talent for the longest time, to the younger and cooler brand in SmackDown.
The tension and excitement behind this shift has been palpable, and now we’re just a few days away from the debut of the show on one of the largest sports broadcasting network in the world. So what are the rumors and gossip about this latest big ticket move? Today we will be looking at 10 Rumors about Friday Night SmackDown on Fox.
- New look
The one thing that WWE has usually always pulled off pretty well is a change in look. Of course we all miss the SmackDown Fist and the grittier look of Attitude Era Raw with the black ropes, but a company like the WWE cannot stagnate. In the quest to constantly keep evolving, WWE changes the look of their shows and how they present it very often. WrestleVotes has tweeted ‘This coming week of TV is the final week with the current entrance stage. Both RAW & SmackDown are getting an updated, fresh feeling set.’
Raw and SmackDown have gone through multiple stage and entrance way changes over the past few years. The last update of the sets of the shows happened in 2016 after the draft which re-split the rosters. The change saw Raw move the announce table away from the ringside area, new style of presentation and bringing back of red ropes, over the white that had been used before that. SmackDown saw presentation changes, but the biggest change was just the reintroduction of the blue ropes, as the announce table stayed in the ringside area still.
- Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon can’t work together?
Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon are on the same side heading into another major wrestling war. I say another major wrestling war, because the last few times this has happened, Bischoff was definitely not on the WWE’s side. Bischoff first memorably led WCW into an 83 week ratings win streak over the WWE and then even served as the head booker of TNA in the brief period that they tried to battle Monday Night Raw on the same time slot. Now that they’re on the same side, it’s surprising to see that there already may be friction between the career rivals.
Bischoff was brought in by the WWE to help SmackDown be more competitive in an era of falling Tv ratings. But ever week we would see reports that Bischoff isn’t doing much on SmackDown. Even recently, Bischoff had to co-write SmackDown with three other people while Paul Heyman ran the Raw ship alone. Bischoff was not informed about the Brock Lesnar return on SmackDown and the segment was scripted by Heyman, who is Raw’s head booker. Bischoff, a man who’s notoriously a little easily offended may have to work around lol of this more than he expected to.
- Why Brock Lesnar returned?
Why did Brock Lesnar awkwardly return on SmackDown after he made Raw his home for almost 7 years? Lesnar was a legend on SmackDown in the early 2000s, after his move to the brand led to the introduction of the World Heavyweight Championship. Lesnar also had a SmackDown video game released with his catchphrase ‘Here Comes the Pain’, the only SmackDown game without a quote from The Rock and also one of the best WWE games of all time.
Why Lesnar returned isn’t something that has been heavily reported, but the conjecture around it is obvious. The man is one of the biggest draws that the world of sport has ever seen. On a night as historic as their debut on Fox, Lesnar is bound to pop a rating and get a lot of casual fans to tune in and see what the WWE aid about to do on this new beginning.
- Will Brock Lesnar become the WWE Champion?
We have to transition from the previous story into this one. There is a lot of confusion around the Kingston and Lesnar matchup. Kofi has been booked as an almost unbeatable champion, winning most of his matches pretty comfortably and having fought off some amazing wrestlers in Samoa Joe and Randy Orton already. It can be argued that Kofi has been built and protected because he may also beat Lesnar to solidify his reign as champ, or it can be that Lesnar will regain his credibility after his losses to Seth Rollins by beating the unstoppable Kingston.
Brock Lesnar would be a smart choice to have as champion, and most reports would agree that Lesnar will be walking out as champion on October 4th. The money is in the chase, so early Fox programming could be characterize by Kofi chasing for the title again. Lesnar has had a few big losses this year, so we can safely assume that he will be running over the SmackDown roster post draft to rebuild his reputation first. It was a good run, Kofi.
- Ronda Rousey?
We last saw Ronda Rousey heading into WrestleMania 35 as the Raw Women’s Champion and a part of the first ever women’s main event at the show. We haven’t seen her since with reports ranging from her nursing a hand injury to wanting to start a family. Her media appearances have shown that she probably is still working pretty often, so Rousey coming back to wrestling isn’t that far out now.
Rumors are that Rousey may just be one of the first few wrestlers to declare allegiance to SmackDown to give the show a further punch of superstardom. It would make sense to have Ronda’s return help stack the roster on SmackDown, which has historically always been a little thin. Her presence on the roster would make a massive difference and further push the mainstream attraction that SmackDown wants to be.
- Draft rumors?
WWE announced that they will be conducting an entirely new draft for their rosters after the move for SmackDown is official and that they start making shows on Fox. The current date for the draft as announced by the WWE is the 11th and 14th of October. This will only be SmackDown’s second episode on Fox and the draft will be the biggest attraction for the show.
If the rumors are to be believed, WWE may stack SmackDown up in a way that we haven’t seen. The brand split era usually sees talent divided in the two brands, but Raw would usually have the bigger names. SmackDown will have just one or two massive stars, while Raw was just a better place for talent. The current rumors say that the likes of Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, The Miz, Charlotte Flair and even Becky Lynch will all be joining the blue brand this October.
- Opening show
The first show of SmackDown on Fox will take place on the 4th of October. This show is probably going to be stacked as WWE will do their best to pop a rating for their first show on the network. The rating can be high, as a lot of casual sports fans may also tune in to watch the debut show. The rumors that are swirling around would have you believe that WWE are stacking this show up in a way that they usually don’t do for just regular weekly episodes of Raw or SmackDown. It is a massive show for them, akin to a pay per view.
The opening show is slated to be headlined by WWE Champion Kofi Kingston defending his championship against the unstoppable force of Brock Lesnar. The champ is rumored to be dropping his title to the Beast, as Lesnar is going to win the title. The difference is that Lesnar is actually expected to appear a little more regularly and make more appearances on WWE TV.
Along with the match between Kofi and Lesnar, special appearances by The Rock and John Cena are also expected. The Undertaker may make an appearance too. It is unlikely if other big figures in SmackDown history like Edge or Batista have been contacted regarding appearances on this show. Ronda Rousey is also an outside chance for a return on the 4th of October.
- When does WWE on Fox start?
While we just covered the fact that the first show of the new SmackDown will take place on the 4th of October. However, when does the relationship between the two companies exactly start? Well, it already has. WWE have already made a twitter account called WWE On Fox which is plugging WWE reprogramming, along with shows on rival networks like Raw and NXT on USA Network. It is also known that a whole lot of things are already in the works between the two companies.
While the relationship officially begins on the 4th of October, WWE and Fox have already started production for many of the new ideas they’ll be implementing together. This will be through live streaming on Fox’s online network and updates on the app. Things like the rumored FS1 talk show, which will be hosted by Renee Young will be made more available through these online and more progressive platforms.
- The A show?
While this isn’t a rumor which you can pin point to a particular source, this is a relatively larger sentiment that a lot of the WWE fans have right now. For years and especially the last few, we saw WWE very evidently treat Raw like the A-Show while SmackDown was the obvious B show. We saw the biggest indicator of this last year at Survivor Series, when Raw completely annihilated SmackDown in their inter brand matches.
However, the move to Fox has shown that WWE may have a different show in mind to serve as the A Show and that is their new cash cow in SmackDown. It’s way more viable financially and will have a lot more momentum. WWE will need to stack SmackDown with the best talent to fully exploit its potential. This can only be done if WWE evidently make SmackDown the A show, while Raw suffers in The B show purgatory that SmackDown has been in ever since it was started.
- Where does this leave Raw?
We segway well from the previous point to this point. If SmackDown is getting stacked with talent for their new life on Fox, what happens to the more established legacy brand in Monday Night Raw? Well, they’ll be weaker but not completely bare-bones. They’ll retain talent in the form of Seth Rollins from what it looks like, and will probably have a lot more younger talent, giving them the chance to grow.
SmackDown for years was able to nurture young talent and help them become stars. The SmackDown Six in the form of Edge, Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero, Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle are proof of this. John Cena became a box office attraction due to his work on SmackDown. We will see more such talent get in this position and become big stars on Raw. Whether they get moved to SmackDown is a different question, but at least Raw has the ability to become a little more exciting with the new names that they’ll have to promote along with Seth Rollins.