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10 Biggest Questions About WWE SmackDown Live's FOX TV Deal

What does Vince McMahon have in store?

WWE SmackDown Live is moving to FOX next year.

Despite the fact that Raw will be staying with NBC Universal past the end of its current deal in September 2019, the blue brand will be moving network and moving days in a deal that is worth a heavily reported $1 billion over the next five years. There are rumours out there claiming that WWE could have got themselves an even more lucrative deal, but chose to go with FOX due to the company's ability to cross-promote with their other sports and entertainment programmes.

I, for one, can't wait to see an NFL-flavoured WWE advert in the near future.

I guess this is exciting news for everyone associated with WWE, fans included. I'm no businessman, but when you tend to have more money it means you can buy more things. Surely, with ONE-pissing-BILLION DOLLARS coming his way over the next five years from SmackDown Live alone, we'll be seeing some 2003 Roman Abramovich-like spending from Vince McMahon et al.

Needless to say, but I'm going to say it anyway, the WWE Universe have so many questions about this new deal as it pertains to what we're going to be seeing each and every week on television. Here are 10 questions we have regarding the new SmackDown Live/FOX deal...

10. Are We Heading Towards Three Hours Of SmackDown?


WWE


Now isn't that a watch all your friends will be jealous of?

There's a horrible rumour being circulated by the New York Post that once SmackDown Live has completed its move to FOX next Autumn, it'll be three hours long. As a man who has to watch every single second of main roster programming for a YouTube series, this disheartens me greatly.

In the early stages of this current brand extension, SmackDown Live proved that a two-hour format is perfect for WWE television. Most of the filler is cut off, everything on the show leads to somewhere - the days of Messrs Ambrose, Styles and Ellsworth at the top of the card were fantastic. Why would they want to trouble themselves with that dastardly extra hour for a second time in a week? Money, of course. You read time and time again just how much that extra hour on Raw is worth to WWE in terms of commercial revenue and you can absolutely see why they'd want a SIXTH hour of TV time each and every week. More power to them, I guess.

What about FOX News, though? I've been reliably informed that takes place at 10 pm and there's no way that's going to change. Either SmackDown will have to start at 7 pm, or we're in for some more delightful two-hour shows. I really hope it's the latter.


9. Will SmackDown Live Become SmackDown Taped?


WWE


A taped version of SmackDown? That'll never catch on...

I personally believe that when you pay over $200 million a year for something you don't want a watered-down version of the thing you've paid all that money for. Why would FOX shell out all of that WONGA and get something markedly worse in return? We all remember how frustrating Friday Night SmackDown was during the last months before the current brand extension, don't we? It was so ineffective. I can remember not covering it for WTF Moments because nothing happened. You could just watch Raw each week and not miss one single detail for every single storyline on the card.

Not knowing anything about how WWE do their business on a week-to-week basis, I guess this comes down to their willingness to split the ring and production crews in half. Currently, WWE's televised shows take place close to each other so the cost of transporting the set and all that technical stuff is relatively low. With Raw being on Monday, and SmackDown heading for Fridays, surely this has to change?

Back in the day, WWE would air Raw on Monday and then tape SmackDown on Tuesday ahead of its Thursday/Friday airing, before leaving the rest of their working week of live events or pay per views. Is there a chance they could go back to this? Of course, but would FOX have paid that much money for a heavily edited, taped product? I just can't see it.

Separate production crews is the answer... says this idiot who couldn't be less 'in the know' if he tried.

8. Is This The End Of Another Brand Split?


WWE


One of the many hot takes I saw online around the time of WWE announcing their pay per views were going to be exclusively co-branded is that it was a clear indication the current brand extension was coming to a close. It's what happened last time. Everything merged into one, the World Heavyweight Championship became more of a secondary title - it was all a bit messed up for a while there. I guess this question stems from that hottest of hot takes.

If I had ONE BILLION DOLLARS coming in from just one of my weekly shows - and again, it's worth noting I know absolutely nothing about how any of this works - I'd hire that show its own, exclusive ring crew and assign it an exclusive roster - of course, this brings up another question:

With ONE BILLION DOLLARS coming in over five years, does this mean SmackDown will be 'the A-Show' meaning most of the top stars in the company will have to appear on it because FOX won't settle for anything else after shelling out ONE BILLION DOLLARS? 

Presumably... we'll have to wait and see how this one plays out, but I would expect we'll have to get used to seeing Roman Reigns running the yard inside the house AJ Styles built.

7. What Does It Mean For WrestleMania Weekend?



Isn't Sean Waltman's dog the best?

So if SmackDown Live or SmackDown Taped is going to be airing every Friday, what does this mean for our traditional WrestleMania weekend? I like the way we go through the gears as the current incarnation of 'Mania week goes on. Friday we get the Hall of Fame, Saturday we get a TakeOver special, then on Sunday we're on the Grandest Stage of them All - POINT!!! - having a bloody good time.

If the new SmackDown is going to be three hours long on the Friday before 'Mania where the HOF would normally be, I think the HOF should be incorporated into that show's third hour. There's absolutely no need for the Hall to last as long as it does in its current form. Induct a couple fewer people per year, have them all recite their speeches inside an hour and we get the exact same result without ever wondering just 'when this is going to end?!'

What's even better with this idea is the fact we'll have two frantic hours before that where numerous storylines are sewn up back-to-back-to-back - undoubtedly leaving us salivating like Pavlov's dogs for 'Mania itself.

Change is certainly coming for the biggest weekend of the professional wrestling calendar - what change that is, however, remains to be seen.


6. Will There Be More Televised Content Across The Week?


WWE


During the course of a week on FOX Sports (apparently. I'm neither an American or TV fan so I don't have a clue what I'm typing here) numerous UFC shows are aired. Could the same thing be about to happen to WWE once SmackDown's move is complete? Again, with that ONE BILLION DOLLARS in mind, there's got to be a chance.

UFC shows like Fight Night, Road to the Octagon and The Ultimate Fighter help to fill some hours on FOX Sports, apparently; and apparently once more, the relationship between FOX and FOX Sports is like Sky One and Sky Sports in the UK, only if they never talked nor never acknowledged each other anywhere - which is pivotal. I've been reliably informed, however, that even though the new SmackDown will be on FOX next year, the possibility of FOX Sports airing WWE related content during the week isn't out of the question.

Further questions here are:

  • Would FOX (or FOX Sports) want to air more WWE content?

  • Would WWE allow it?

  • And if they did, what that would mean for the WWE Network and the shows already on there?


To be honest, at this point with the mountains of content we're treated to each week, I don't see WWE having any problem keeping their current Network schedule intact while coming up with six new shows to air every single day of the week except Fridays when SmackDown's on. We just can't get enough!

Imagine if Talking Smack made a triumphant return...

5. Are We Going To See Something Completely New?


WWE


This is a brand new start for SmackDown (maybe) Live. New channel, a new night of the week - they have the chance to rip up everything we've known from blue brand shows before and start again.

There is, of course, a chance that FOX are paying over $200 million per year to see the thing we currently see each and every week, expecting it to continue in the same vein. I get that, it's the safe option. Minus the 500 camera cuts a second I'm sure there won't be too many fans within the WWE Universe who would be upset if things stayed the same as they are now.

But it must be tempting for those who are involved in putting the show together to blow the bloody doors off with something revolutionary. A stage we've never seen before, new filming techniques - the door is open to set a completely new precedent for what to expect from WWE television.

We know they have the money, whether they have the desire to use it to give us something absolutely fresh is up for debate.

4. How Can Cross Promotion Between Raw And SmackDown Possibly Work?


WWE


Raw and SmackDown Live currently being on USA means that cross-promotion between the shows couldn't be simpler. We know that WWE chose FOX due to the potential reach of their new adverts for SmackDown that would air during NFL shows and the like. What we don't know, however, is how the relationship between FOX and USA will affect the cross-promotion between WWE's red half and blue.

I'd say it's a pretty important thing now we're in an era of co-branded pay per views - unless, of course, that hottest of hot takes from earlier in this article is actually right and we're going back to a one roster WWE... (I still think the new set up suits two exclusive rosters treat differently from one another. And imagine how many people would have to leave WWE if we went back to one team?!)

I don't think we're going to see SmackDown ads airing on Raw or vice-versa, which is going to feel really weird at first. Are WWE at risk of alienating both shows from each other completely? And creating a horrible disconnect for PPVs? Imagine being up to speed with everything happening on Raw but not having a clue what was happening on FOX's SmackDown?


3. How Will The Incoming Money Be Spent?


New Japan Pro Wrestling


I don't mean this in terms of production costs and all of that stuff, I've covered that already. I mean - and I'm only bringing this up because that dark place in my mind won't let this notion leave my head - will WWE just spend a portion of that ONE BILLION DOLLARS over the next five years on all the remaining indy talents they don't have to kill off anyone getting a sizeable foothold in a particular territory?

There's a chance, you'd have to think they can afford to, keeping these wrestlers in the Performance Center until they may have a need to use them on television. Stranger and way more petty things have happened under McMahon's watch in the past.

Maybe I'm being silly, but it's going to be interesting to see how and where these massive sums of cash are spent to improve what is already a fantastic operation. Maybe they'll invent something...

2. Does FOX Allow Things That USA Doesn't? And Vice-Versa?


WWE


A short while back we learned that if they wanted to, WWE could use explicit language in the third hour of Raw. Obviously, because of sponsors and whatnot, they choose not to but it does beg the question that with ONE BILLION DOLLARS coming from a television network alone, will they change their approach slightly as it pertains to the type of content we see?

I'm not one of those people who believe that if WWE brought back profanity and more 'edgy' storylines their perceived problems would be solved - you don't need to swear to tell a good story. However, it's going to be interesting to see if they do try to get away with more since so much money is coming in from one source, meaning the reliance on funds from the other sources (presumably) isn't so heavy.

1. Who Will Be Heading The Operation?


WWE


Just throwing it out there; give Triple H one show and allow Vince McMahon to run with the other. NXT would suffer, although you have to believe with the likes of William Regal et al at the helm they'd be in more than safe hands if HHH's time was taken up by a main roster show. While I also believe that if this was to happen, Vince would take SmackDown if he had to pick between the two because of those ONE BILLION DOLLARS. Obviously, he has the final say on what happens in WWE today on every single show, but with this new dawn coming, and The Game's standing in the company seemingly growing year on year, maybe this is the chance for Vince to stand back - WINK - a bit more than he normally would and see what his son-in-law is really made of.

Again, the chance to do things completely differently and provide us with something so fresh, so revolutionary, from the very top to the very bottom is there. I hope they take it. It'll sure as hell make things more interesting going forward.

Then again, everything I've brought up here might be completely redundant meaning things might stay the same, with the only difference we see on the new SmackDown is a FOX logo in the corner of the screen. We wait with bated breath...

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Ross Tweddell

Written by Ross Tweddell

Presenter over on the Cultaholic Wrestling YouTube channel. Email: [email protected]