Due to Friday Night Smackdown’s move to Thursday nights, which begins next week, the WWE is completely changing the look of the show. Whether they go back to a different product or not, WWE’s secondary show will have a different feel, as well as the new viewership that wouldn’t watch on Friday nights.
Smackdown’s move also caused a rift in WWE Network programming. WWE’s developmental system, NXT, used Thursday night as their primary night for content. Now, NXT will be airing on Wednesday evenings starting next week. As of right now, there is nothing to replace Smackdown on Friday evenings.
This is where it gets very interesting. For the longest time, Michael Cole and Jerry “the King” Lawler provided the commentary for Monday Night Raw. Prior to that, Jim Ross and Lawler called Raw, in what would be a weekly ritual for WWE fans. For the first time since 2001, King will not be there on Monday night. The WWE just announced a huge shake-up that will see Lawler on Thursday nights on Smackdown.
“Starting Monday on Raw, Michael Cole and JBL will be joined each week by WWE Hall of Famer Booker T, while the new SmackDown announce team will consist of Cole, newcomer Byron Saxton and incomparable WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler. Cole, JBL and Lawler will continue to provide commentary during WWE pay-per-view events.
“Check out both of these announce teams in action on Raw, Monday night at 8/7 CT on USA Network, and SmackDown on its new night, Thursday at 8/7 CT on Syfy!”
Jerry Lawler not being on Raw is a huge development that most WWE fans didn’t see coming. It comes right after he was hospitalized on New Year’s Day for diverticulitis. Of course, that has nothing to do with the change, but Lawler’s world just got even more interesting.
The 65-year-old WWE Hall of Fame wrestler will join Cole and Byron Saxton, who mainly worked NXT, on Thursday nights. It is a brilliant way to bring Saxton up and get him calling matches with two legends of the commentary world. One name that was left out was Tom Phillips, who just started calling Smackdown with JBL and Cole a few months ago.
Apparently, the WWE sees more promise in Saxton than Phillips. Regardless, WWE shook up announce teams before during the 2008 WWE draft. Jim Ross got drafted to Smackdown, as Michael Cole switched over to Raw. He hasn’t left that post and has been teamed with Lawler ever since. Starting next week, it will be very weird not seeing — or hearing — Jerry Lawler on the Raw announce desk.
[Image via wwe.com]