WWE SmackDown (also known as WWE Friday Night SmackDown and advertised as Friday Night SmackDown, or simply known as SmackDown) is a professional wrestling television program for WWE which was previously referred to the brand of the same name until its discontinuation in 2011 in which WWE employees are assigned to work and perform on that program. As of 2010, it airs weekly on Syfy in the United States.
From its launch in 1999, SmackDown! broadcast on Thursday nights, but is shown on Friday night. The show 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 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.
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 UK and a day earlier in Australia, Singapore, Philippines and India than the United States. For international broadcast listings, see below.
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, Batista had to forfeit the World Heavyweight Championship because of a triceps injury. SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long decreed a Battle Royal for the vacant title. The winner was at the time Raw superstar Kurt Angle, who later switched to the SmackDown brand. In a break from their traditional role of acting as if SmackDown! is not pre-recorded, WWE.com had a photograph of Angle holding his new title on the main page. WWE also did this when Edge cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to win the World Heavyweight Championship from The Undertaker and when The Great Khali won a battle royal after Edge’s injury.
On the April 7, 2006 edition of SmackDown!, General Manager Theodore Long announced that the King of the Ring tournament would return 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 on SmackDown! vacant. However, on June 11 at One Night Stand 2006, JBL revealed that he would be the new color commentator for SmackDown! He stayed in that position until December 2007 when he left SmackDown! to become an in-ring competitor on Raw. Jonathan Coachman replaced him afterwards. Eventually, Coachman was released by WWE later in the year.
From October 26, 2012, 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, since November 22, 2013. Prior to that date, 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 it replaced the previous theme song “Let it Roll” by Divide the Day.WWE tapes SmackDown on Tuesday evenings to air Friday evenings on Syfy the same week. However, SmackDown has aired occasional live specials on Tuesday nights (which are then replayed in its usual Friday night time slot as well).
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-October 26, 2012, 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. This design was used again from October 4-November 1, 2013. 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 changed them to white, with all WWE programming now using white ring ropes.