It has been a long time since fans have seen WWE's weekly shows on a network other than USA. This fall, however, that is exactly what will happen. WWE is moving SmackDown Live to Fox in October. In addition to the change of networks, the blue brand show is going to come at us (live, of course) from a new night as well. Gone will be the Tuesday nights fans have become used to. Instead, if one is looking for their fill of SmackDown, it's going to require a free time slot on Friday evenings.
With the move to a new network and new night, it is expected that we will get other changes as well. With that in mind, here are five changes we hope we do see once WWE lays the SmackDown on Fox... along with five changes we hope we do not see.
10 Hope For: A New Look
Honestly, this is probably the easiest item to predict. It's a virtual lock that WWE will change up the look and feel of the show once SmackDown calls Fridays on Fox home. In recent years, with WWE running the shows on back to back nights and generally with the same road crews, the sets have, for the most part, been fairly similar.
Now, with Fox seeking a distinct break from the old, it's a great time for WWE to embrace change. Expect a new look for the stage, lighting, ring, even show theme music. Change, in this instance, should be a good thing.
9 Don't Want: Eric Bischoff As A Major On-Screen Character
Yes, Eric Bischoff was around and heavily involved in things like the Monday Night Wars and the nWo during its peak. However, that was a long time ago, and WWE fans have already seen Bischoff on WWE television as an on-screen character.
While he has been brought back in an executive role, the hope here is he has been given strict guidelines to stay largely - if not entirely - off camera. Sure, Bischoff was good during the WCW run, but his WWE time was a mixed bag. One thing is certain, Bischoff is not someone WWE needs to use on-screen in order to fix what ails the show's current ratings.
8 Hope For: New Superstars
There are two ways to spin this (at least).
First, exactly as the line implies - when SmackDown has its first show on Fox, WWE could treat it similar to the RAW or SmackDown following WrestleMania. Of course, that typically means at least a couple of new Superstars. Usually, these are call ups from NXT, and WWE does have a few down in Orlando that could end up being perfect candidates for a promotion in October.
The other way? WWE goes out and lures in someone who is not in NXT. This is a bit more of a challenge. All Elite Wrestling has signed a number of the biggest and brightest names that could have been perfect in this slot. Surely there are still some options out there, but there isn't necessarily someone with the cache of a Cody Rhodes or Kenny Omega anymore.
7 Don't Want: A Constant Parade Of Has-Beens
This is not an indictment of the RAW Reunion - far from it. That show worked, as did its previous versions, because they are special events. We get one of those every couple of years, and that's fine. Every so often, we will have another Legend or Hall of Famer on television for a special appearance.
That's why those work. They are special. They do not happen every show. While Fox will no doubt want some big splashes early on to ensure ratings don't sag, WWE needs to keep with what works week in and week out. Parading out a bunch of 50-ish, retired guys? That's not the right move. Sure, we might see The Rock early on (and that would be fitting, considering his ties to the show name and all), but that's a special thing. We don't want to turn in every week and watch some washed up stars look bad.
6 Hope For: A More Distinct Brand Split
There's a decent chance we are already seeing this happen. In very recent weeks, it seems like WWE has been moving away from the blurred brand lines we've been witnessing ever since Vince McMahon announced the wild card rule.
Those kinds of things were easier to do when the shows were on back to back nights, broadcast on the same network, and usually from the same, or close by, arenas.
Now, it wouldn't be impossible to keep the blurred lines, but the expectation is that Fox will want to ensure it has its own specific Superstars. It's unlikely that Fox wants to see USA using SmackDown Superstars to bolster RAW ratings, since the networks do compete and do worry about ratings.
5 Don't Want: A Continuation Of Wild Card Rules
This goes hand in hand with the desire for a more distinct brand split - and the betting money says this no longer happens.
Wild card rules might have worked (though many never liked them, fans or talent) when the brands were using the same network and same road crews. Now that we will have shows on Mondays and Fridays, there's a decent chance all the shared logistics and infrastructure will either be lessened, or completely no longer shared.
Part of that is the traveling Superstars-Fridays could end up being a RAW house show, or perhaps even a RAW off day. Conflicts like those, along with Fox protecting Fox interests? They make any continuation of the wild card rules seem unlikely.
Still, it's worth putting here as something most fans hope goes away, sooner than later.
4 Hope For: A New Champion
No, this is not a call for a new championship - though it's at least worth wondering what will happen with the 24/7 Championship moving forward, especially if we see an end to the brand split and wild card rules.
Rather, this is a call to see a brand new champion crowned on night one. Give fans a huge match to tune in for, and a title change to send everyone home happy. Could it be Roman Reigns taking the WWE Championship? A new SmackDown Women's Champion? Those two titles are, of course, the most high profile belts on the show, so if there's going to be a worthy title change, the guess is it would involve (or, should involve) either of those belts.
A world championship match is, in and of itself, a great reason to tune in. Capping off the debut on Fox with a new champion crowned? That ensures it's a memorable show and will likely get people to tune in to future episodes.
3 Don't Want: Uninspired Writing From The Creative Team
This has been something that has plagued both WWE main roster shows for quite some time. In recent weeks, WWE has brought in some familiar faces in new roles (Paul Heyman on RAW and Eric Bischoff for SmackDown) to try and shake things up. It's still a bit early, but both shows have seemed to be better since they were brought in.
That said, there's always that risk that the creative team will again get complacent and begin trotting out some lame, uninspired or just plain insanely ridiculous ideas. WWE needs to ensure that, with a move to a new on-air home, it cleans up the creative process and keeps things humming. Bad ratings early on in the relationship could make for a really interesting (and not in a good way) fall.
2 Hope For: A Pleasant Surprise
Sure, this is a bit of a very general catch-all statement, but it makes sense.
It's not a new show, but it is going to be a new network and a new night. Fox and WWE will want to deliver a great debut show. What's one way to do that? Have a big surprise, or two or three. One such surprise could very well be a new champion. Could you imagine if, for example, John Cena came back and challenged the WWE Champion to a match, and on the debut of SmackDown on Fox, finally managed to capture that elusive record-tying world championship?
What if Ronda Rousey returned on the first show to chase the SmackDown Women's Championship? Rousey to SmackDown has been rumored for a while, so there's reason to think it could happen. Even something like The Rock coming in for a brief segment could be enough to make fans happy.
1 Don't Want: The Status Quo
This is another vague, purposefully general statement... but it's an important one. WWE can't get comfortable. They must not get predictable. The entire team can't be satisfied with the status quo.
If anything, you almost hope that with the more distinct split-with two shows separated by days and on different networks-might inspire WWE to see RAW and SmackDown as in competition with each other, as opposed to being complimentary.
As long as WWE doesn't allow complacency to set in, then SmackDown on Fox should be in good shape. If the team rests on their laurels? Then all bets are off and SmackDown might still need some major help, even after a major move.