SmackDown Live is moving to Fox, giving the WWE its first television show on network television in decades. With the move, many changes are expected. With Monday Night Raw remaining on USA Network and SmackDown Live on Fox, expect the shows to feel different but also expect them to become truly separate entities for the first time in a long time.
There have been a lot of rumors about visions Fox has for SmackDown Live, and they differ from what Vince McMahon is used to. It makes it an interesting prospect to see what the show will look like when it moves to Friday nights on the biggest network it has ever existed on.
One of the first rumors that started circulating when Fox bought the rights to SmackDown Live was that it wanted to make it more about the in-ring competition between athletes. The good news is that SmackDown Live was always about the wrestling first, but this makes it sound like it will go all the way in that direction.
There are rumors that Fox wants to cross-promote with other sports shows that it airs, making SmackDown Live about the wrestling first and the skits few and far between will help it stand out from Monday Night Raw and feel unique to Fox. With AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, and Asuka, this should be easy.
More focus on athletic competition and less time for skits mean fewer comedy asides on SmackDown Live after the move. There has always been less foolishness on Tuesday nights than there is on Monday nights. Guys like Fandango and Tyler Breeze gained a lot of popularity due to their Fashion Police skits on SmackDown Live, but they were moved to Raw.
With Daniel Bryan as the current champion, AJ Styles as one of the best in the company and guys like Kevin Owens and Randy Orton as no-nonsense fighters, there is plenty here to replace comedy skits. Of course, this also could mean losing three of the brand's most popular wrestlers.
Kofi Kingston has proven since the week of Elimination Chamber that he is easily one of the top performers in the entire WWE. Fans want to see him succeed at a high level and he has what it takes to deliver the athletic competition that Fox wants from SmackDown Live. However, he is part of New Day.
While Big E is a super talented big man and Xavier Woods is an exciting wrestler that could fit in with the Cruiserweights, the marketing money comes in New Day, a group more concerned with throwing out pancakes and Booty-O's than turning in great matches. If they stay together, New Day is moving to Raw.
There is one huge name that Fox has reportedly mentioned for SmackDown Live when it moves to Friday nights on its network. Fox want Ronda Rousey. With WrestleMania looking like it will end up with Rousey defending her Raw women's title against Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair—and losing it—a move to SmackDown Live this fall is in the cards.
Plus, if Ronda Rousey moves to SmackDown Live, it will legitimize it. She is one of the most successful UFC fighters of all time and she could be a huge name if Fox wants to cross-promote between sports and even have WWE stars show up on sports-related talk shows.
The big thing for Fox is that it has a large hand in the sports industry. It put SmackDown Live on Friday nights so that it doesn't have to worry about preempting it for college football games. Fox lost UFC to ESPN but quickly replaced it with the WWE.
Now, there are thoughts that WWE will start to play a role in Fox's sports news shows. There is also a chance that it tries to co-promote the WWE during those other sports shows, maybe having former football players now in the WWE showing up for gameday shows and getting their faces out there for the world to see while also bringing in athletes from other sports to appear on SmackDown Live.
While the WWE has started doing a little more crossover between Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live, there is a chance that ends when the Blue Show moves to Fox. Now, that will be hard with the women since the new tag team titles will be defended across all brands (including NXT) but don't expect too much when it comes to the McMahon's popping up on both shows.
Also, there is the question of the yearly brand split where stars move between shows. If Fox has SmackDown Live, will it want one of its biggest stars to move to Raw and the USA Network? Moving stars will be harder since WWE will likely have to discuss it with its network partners first.
Batista just returned to Monday Night Raw to start an angle that will lead to him fighting Triple H at WrestleMania 35. Once WWE moves SmackDown Live to Fox, expect more big names to show back up on a more regular basis.
Remember when SmackDown Live first started, it was named after one of The Rock's catchphrases. Studios love to see wrestlers like The Rock or Batista show up after they shoot a movie to help promote it. Imagine how many more people will see it on Fox than even on the USA Network. Expect big names to show up on SmackDown Live when it moves to make Fox executives very happy.
Back in the '80s, there was a show that aired on various Saturday nights on NBC in place of Saturday Night Live. That show was called Saturday Night's Main Event and was considered a big deal because it brought WWE to network television for a special show.
Expect Fox to look back at that and see a strong possibility. While the WWE has lots of specials on WWE Network for events like the Super Show in Australia or the events in Saudi Arabia, expect it to work something out with Fox for possible Prime Time shows or events to air outside of the Friday night timeslot.
When asked about their relationship with WWE, Fox reported that it was concentrating on SmackDown Live for now. However, it did not deny that there might be something else that could come later, possibly on one of its Fox Sports networks. While SmackDown Live could be huge on Fox, if it is a big success, it could offer up a show on FS1 as well.
The biggest rumor right now is a talk show — similar to the beloved Talking Smack that WWE Network offered up with Renee Young and Daniel Bryan as hosts. However, with Fox's interest in athletic competition, what better fit is there than to put a show like NXT on FS1?
USA Network and Monday Night Raw have had a strong relationship for many years. While Raw left for a short time, it returned to the USA Network and has been the flagship WWE show for many years. As a matter of fact, while the WWE never referred to it as such, most fans know Raw is the A-show and SmackDown Live is the secondary show.
If SmackDown Live is a success on Friday nights on Fox—a broadcast network that everyone has access to—would the WWE consider it the new A-show over their cable network show? It will be an uphill battle since Friday nights are not a great television night, but Fox could make SmackDown Live the new A-show if it hits big.