HistoryOriginal Format (1999-2001) -- The early set featured an oval-shaped Titantron entrance and stage (dubbed the "Ovaltron") which made it stand out from the Raw 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. 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 smackdown". In August 2001, as part of celebrating SmackDown!'s second anniversary, the show received a new logo and set. The last SmackDown! to use the previous entrance stage saw Alliance member Rhyno gore federation member Chris Jericho through the center screen, destroying part of the set. As a result of that incident, the new set consisted of a fist centered above the entrance, and many glass panes along the sides strongly resembling shattered glass
Brand Extension (2002-2005) -- In spring 2002, WWE underwent a process which it called the "Brand Extension". WWE divided itself into two de-facto wrestling promotions with separate rosters, storylines and authority figures. Raw and SmackDown! would host each division, give its name to the division and essentially compete against each other. The split resulted from WWE purchasing its two biggest competitors, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), which resulted in the roster and championships doubling in size. The brand extension was publicly announced during a telecast of Raw on March 18, 2002, initiated with the first-ever draft a week later on the March 25, 2002 edition of Raw, and became official the following week on the April 1, 2002 edition of Raw.
Wrestlers became show-exclusive, wrestling for their specific show only. At the time this excluded the WWE Undisputed Championship and WWE Women's Championship, as those WWE titles would be defended on both shows. In August 2002, WWE Undisputed Champion Brock Lesnar refused to defend the title on Raw, in effect causing his title to become exclusive to SmackDown! The following week on Raw, General Manager Eric Bischoff awarded a newly-instated World Heavyweight Championship to Raw's designated #1 contender, Triple H. Because since the WWE Undisputed Championship was now SmackDown! exclusive it was no longer seen as "Undisputed". Following this, the WWE Women's Championship soon became Raw-exclusive as well. As a result of the Brand Extension, an annual "draft lottery" was instituted to exchange members of each roster and generally refresh the lineups.
This also marked the first time that WWE willingly censored blood by turning the screen grayscale whenever any on-camera shot of a bloodied face was shown. This practice did not start until a 2003 episode of SmackDown! aired featuring a match in which Brock Lesnar beat down Zach Gowen. In this match, Gowen did a blade job that bloodied his face so badly that UPN made a decision to blur the entire screen, simulating a technical problem with the camera that was in charge of showing Gowen. This scene was neither uncensored on the replay of the incident on Spike TV's Velocity (SmackDown!'s "B show") or in other countries (though the UK did cut out a separate Gowen/Lesnar scene, which Lesnar shoved Gowen down a flight of steps, a few weeks later). Though WWE did not censor this segment themselves, it has since, up to the initiative of going PG.
On June 6, 2005, WWE Champion John Cena switched brands from SmackDown! to Raw as part of the month-long Draft Lottery. This effectively left SmackDown! without a world title. On June 23, 2005, SmackDown! General Manager Theodore Long announced a six-man elimination match between John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Booker T, Chris Benoit, The Undertaker, Christian (replacing The Big Show, who was picked by Raw in the lottery), and Muhammad Hassan to crown the first SmackDown! Champion. On the June 30 episode of SmackDown!, JBL won the match. Long appeared afterward and stated that even though JBL had won the match, SmackDown! did not need a Championship anymore. Batista, the World Heavyweight Champion, entered the ring as SmackDown!'s final draft lottery pick. Long also revealed that JBL was the number one contender for the World Heavyweight championship.
Move to Friday nights with various networks (2005-present) -- 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.
The CW -- 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).
For four weeks before the official premiere of Friday Night SmackDown! on the CW on September 22, 2006, Tribune Broadcasting television stations in six major markets (including WPIX in New York City and KTLA in Los Angeles) aired WWE's Friday Night SmackDown!. (This formed part of the preparation for the impending removal of UPN in several markets due to the debut of MyNetworkTV on September 5, 2006.) Two other future affiliates of The CW, WCWJ in Jacksonville, Florida and WIWB in Green Bay, Wisconsin, also aired SmackDown! in early September.
The transition to the CW caused an interruption in the broadcast of SmackDown! in the state of Utah beginning in June when KPNZ in Salt Lake City stopped airing all UPN programs early. As of 2009 KUCW broadcasts the show. In Hawaii, SmackDown! returned in late 2006, airing on a CW digital subchannel of Honolulu's FOX affiliate KHON-TV (Channel 2), which has received statewide carriage over Oceanic Time Warner Cable. Since the move to the CW Network, Friday Night SmackDown! has shown a major increase in ratings now averaging a 3.0 national rating. In addition, SmackDown! has become the second highest watched program on The CW.
On April 20, 2007, SmackDown! celebrated its 400th episode. Ratings success soon followed. On June 8, 2007, Friday Night SmackDown! made CW history by making a three-way tie with CBS and ABC in the key ad demographic (adults, 18-49) by drawing a 1.5 rating each. On June 22, 2007, Friday Night SmackDown! again made CW history by tying the network for first place in the key ad demographic (adults, 18-49) and being the second most-watched network program at 9 p.m. for the night. The CW had not performed as well at any time slot since America's Next Top Model in March 2007. The next week on June 29, 2007, Friday Night SmackDown! helped The CW claim the top spot in the key demographic (adults, 18-49) for Friday. CBS got the overall lead but The CW got top spot for the Adults 18-49 by registering a 1.4 rating followed by CBS and NBC at 1.3, ABC at 1.2, and FOX at 0.9. Then on Friday, July 13, 2007, Friday Night SmackDown! made network history by placing first in the 18-49 demographic and becoming the most watched show at the 9 p.m. hour on network television. This is the first time anything has placed this well on The CW. SmackDown! became a hit show on Friday nights winning the demographics for young males, and ranking second on the demographics (18-49) for Friday nights.
On October 16, 2007 it was announced that the SmackDown! and ECW brands would begin a "talent exchange", allowing their respective talent to appear and compete on either brand, because ECW was broadcast live on the same night and from the same arena where Smackdown is taped.
Jim Ross became the new play-by-play announcer for SmackDown, while Michael Cole (SmackDown commentator for nine years from its launch in 1999 until 2008) moved to Raw. WWE also drafted the WWE Champion Triple H to SmackDown, which allowed SmackDown to feature two world championships on the brand. On June 30, 2008 on Raw, CM Punk cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and defeated the World Heavyweight Champion Edge, bringing the World Heavyweight Championship back to Raw. In August 2008, Tazz returned to SmackDown as color commentator, due in part to Foley's departure from WWE as his contract was not renewed. A couple of months later in late-2008, Tazz decided to let his contract expire. So he was replaced with the color commentator for ECW, Todd Grisham, making the SmackDown announce team consist of Grisham and Ross. Also that year, for the first time in the brand's history, a women's exclusive championship was introduced, the WWE Divas Championship, a counterpart to the WWE Women's Championship which up until this time was the only active championship competed for by divas, but it was exclusive to the WWE Raw brand, meaning that the divas on SmackDown had no championship to compete for until now. Michelle McCool became the inaugural champion by defeating Natalya on July 20, 2008 at The Great American Bash 2008.
MyNetworkTV -- Friday Night SmackDown debuted on MyNetworkTV in the United States on October 3, 2008, featuring performers from the Raw, ECW, and SmackDown programs. WWE SmackDown also debuted with a new theme-song. The premiere episode on MyNetworkTV attracted 3.2 million viewers. While the viewership dropped, SmackDown pulled the highest ratings to date for MyNetworkTV and pushed the network to fifth place, ahead of rival The CW. The premiere was also first place in male 18-49 demographics.
On February 15, at No Way Out, Edge won the World Heavyweight Championship in Raw's Elimination Chamber match, thus making it a SmackDown exclusive title and giving SmackDown two top tier championships. On March 20, 2009 WWE SmackDown celebrated its 500th episode.
As a result of the 2009 WWE Draft in April, WWE Champion Triple H was drafted to the Raw brand, while the World Heavyweight Championship moved to the Raw brand after Edge lost the title to John Cena at WrestleMania XXV. SmackDown would regain the World Heavyweight Championship at Backlash (2009) when Edge defeated John Cena to win the championship. In addition, SmackDown and Raw would exchange both women-exclusive championships with Raw gaining the WWE Divas Championship and SmackDown gaining the WWE Women's Championship. Also, SmackDown and Raw exchanged the WWE United States Championship (which became exclusive to Raw) and the WWE Intercontinental Championship (subsequently exclusive to the SmackDown brand), for the first time since August 25, 2002.
On September 15, 2009, WWE Home Video released a DVD set entitled The Best of SmackDown 10th Anniversary.
That April, the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland left ash hovering over Europe and caused the grounding of many flights, leaving most of the WWE Raw superstars stranded in Belfast. To help, SmackDown took over Monday Night Raw (with the exceptions of former SmackDown superstars and current Raw superstars Triple H and Vladimir Kozlov) and fought over there. The superstars included Rey Mysterio, Edge, CM Punk, Chris Jericho and more. This was the first time Raw was titled Monday Night SmackDown.
Syfy -- On April 12, 2010, it was announced that SmackDown would move from MyNetworkTV to Syfy, a network which previously aired NXT and ECW, in a two year deal that also includes an optional third year. Retaining its Friday night timeslot, SmackDown made its live premiere on Syfy on October 1, 2010 and there's been talk about having live editions of the show on WWE PPV weekends. According to the Los Angeles Times, the move sees Syfy paying close to $30 million for the show as opposed to the $20 million paid by MyNetworkTV. The premiere of SmackDown on Syfy followed a special "pre-game" show hosted by Michael Cole. In 2011, the Brand Extension came to an end, resulting in Raw talent being able to appear on SmackDown and vice versa. Also in late 2011, a special episode of SmackDown debuted branded Super SmackDown Live which would then be the name of all live editions of SmackDown, taking place on a Tuesday.
Due to the move to an NBC Universal Cable network, SmackDown is now 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 previously held by NXT and ECW. On February 4, 2011, Booker T made a return on SmackDown as a commentator replacing Matt Striker.
On the special live August 30, 2011 episode, it was announced that wrestlers from Raw could now appear every week on SmackDown. This mirrored the proclamation made on Raw the previous day where SmackDown wrestlers could now appear every week on Raw. These moves made both programs full roster "supershows", effectively ending the Brand Extension.
October 14, 2011's broadcast of SmackDown (episode 635) made the show the second longest-running weekly episodic television series of American television history (after sister program Monday Night Raw, which surpassed that mark on August 2, 2005). On April 1, 2012 at WrestleMania 28, John Laurinaitis became GM of Raw and SmackDown. However, on June 17 he was fired. On the August 3rd episode of SmackDown, Vince McMahon announced Booker T as the new general manager. In addition, Booker named Theodore Long and Eve as his assistants. Josh Matthews replaced him on the commentary table along with Michael Cole. John Layfield returned to WWE in September and became a commentator for the show as well. SmackDown celebrated 700 episodes in March 2013. Vickie Guerrero became General Manager on July 19. The show is also run frequently by COO, Triple H. Past episodes of Smackdown are now viewable on the video streaming website Hulu along with episodes of WWE Superstars and ECW.
Production -- 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.
Inclusion in Merriam-WebsterOn July 10, 2007, Merriam-Webster announced it would include the word smackdown in Webster's Dictionary. Merriam Webster defined a "smackdown" as:
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.)