WWE has made a lot of strides lately. Not only are ratings going up but creative changes are happily present. We saw this past week that a rookie from NXT was able to take the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion to the limit. We’ve seen moves made to make fans happy, even when we didn’t think WWE would come through. A lot is changing, but possibly the biggest change is coming to WWE SmackDown.
Known as “the blue brand” or “WWE #2,” it has been a great secondary show for WWE to connect to a different audience for years. It used to be that SmackDown was on network television, but as times changed and network television wasn’t as important, WWE moved SmackDown to SyFy. This allowed them to do far more, so as go live every once in a while.
WWE recently moved the show back to Thursday nights, which alone was a move to help them out. Now, SmackDown is headed to USA Network….the same network WWE RAW is on. Many wanted to know why WWE and NBC Universal would remove SmackDown from another NBCU network only to bring it to their top network where they already have a weekly WWE program. While WWE isn’t going to complain, it didn’t make sense on NBCU’s end as it would hurt SyFy by not having their top show.
The reason being given is that NBCU wants USA Network to remain as the top cable network, which is a crown it has held for the better part of a decade. WWE is a proven ratings draw, which means that having two weekly WWE programs only helps them out. Not only this, but USA will bring WWE Tough Enough back this summer. Meanwhile, SmackDown will make it’s debut in the NBCU’s first quarter of 2016. That means we can expect the SmackDown move to happen around January of 2016.
So by 2016, off and on USA will have three WWE programs on weekly. Tough Enough clearly will be a seasonal show, but RAW and SmackDown will be a weekly thing. So USA will be able to keep it’s spot as the top network in all of cable by having WWE. WWE recently signed a new deal with NBCU, which allowed WWE to get more money as well as get some things they needed.
SmackDown is also expected to go through a few creative changes. The Wrestling Observer claims that we could see a lot of dual show angles. Where something happens on WWE RAW and the blow-off happens on WWE SmackDown. This would allow for SmackDown to have a must-see feel to it, as much as WWE RAW. WWE is also expected to have a lot of top stars on the show, at least for the first could months.
Since the move will be made during the WrestleMania build-up, WWE will easily be able to infuse a lot Mania material.
Many feel that bringing the brand extension back would make SmackDown a better show. Honestly, it would. The best ratings for SmackDown happened when they had a brand split. This meant that you only saw certain stars on certain shows, so no one was over or underused really. If this does happen, it won’t likely go down until after WrestleMania 32. Unless WWE wants to make the move before they switch networks with SmackDown. Despite this, a brand split has been considered. However, it is not likely to be seen for a long time.
[IMG Credit: gerweck.net, fansided]