After airing for nearly a decade on Friday nights, Smackdown appears to be moving back to its original home on Thursday.
Although WWE has not officially acknowledged the move, multiple news outlets are reporting that the change will commence on October 2. This could be a major boost to the already strong ratings of Smackdown, which has been the top show on SyFy. Although it’s the leading show on all of cable television on Friday nights, Smackdown typically draws less than three million viewers per episode, and pales in comparison to Raw.
Beginning in 1999, Smackdown aired on Thursday nights on UPN. In 2005, though, the show moved to the much less attractive Friday night timeslot. Since then, Smackdown has aired on multiple different networks, ultimately landing on SyFy in 2010.
Ironically, the rumored October 2 date would be almost exactly four years after Smackdown premiered on the channel.
With nearly 800 shows to its credit, Smackdown has been a mainstay of WWE programming. In recent years, though, the show has lost much of its luster, and rarely features some of the top WWE stars such as John Cena, Brock Lesnar or Triple H. Most fans view Smackdown as the “B show” for WWE, as it fails to compare to the excitement and storyline development that the live broadcast of Raw produces every week.
If this move does happen, expect a major marketing campaign by both the WWE and SyFy to promote to new slot. Additionally, WWE officials will likely put a renewed focus on improving the quality of the show. While bringing in the top stars to compete will certainly help Smackdown gain viewership, creating a quality in-ring product could be a long-term recipe for success.
Because Smackdown has almost exclusively been a pre-recorded show since its premier and the show’s results are readily available online before it airs, it has lacked an element of surprise in storyline twists. When Smackdown was at its best and nearly rivaled Raw in quality, it consistently produced stellar in-ring action.
If Smackdown can return to its roots and develop top-notch matches featuring marquee performers, it has a chance to become a much more significant part of WWE programming. Certainly, the Thursday timeslot could go a long way towards making that a reality.