WWE SmackDown (also known as Friday Night SmackDown or simply SmackDown) is a Professional Wrestling series produced by WWE that, as of 2021, airs live every Friday at 8:00 PM ET on Fox, with the latinamerican version Fox Sports simulcasting the program with Spanish-language commentary. One of the promotion's two flagship wrestling programs alongside WWE Raw, the name was derived from a Catchphrase of The Rock, who always looked forward to "laying the smack down" on the "roody-poo candy ass(es)" of his opponent(s). As such, The Rock often referred to SmackDown as "The Rock's show."
Initially airing on UPN on Thursday nights back in 1999, SmackDown was often considered the B Show, lacking quite a bit of the controversial mayhem of Raw. This was largely due to the fact that unlike Raw, which aired on cable television's USA Network, SmackDown aired on network television, which has stricter standards than cable in regard to objectionable content. Raw, starting in late 1999, was also aired live on Monday nights, while SmackDown was taped the next day.
Like Raw did with WCW Monday Nitro, SmackDown had a competitor in the form of WCW's Thursday night show Thunder. This competition was severely downplayed in comparison to the Monday Night Wars, however, and only lasted for six months (Thunder got moved to Wednesday nights on January 12, 2000 solely because SmackDown was creaming it in the ratings). WCW itself went out of business on March 26, 2001.
In 2002, following the company's acquisition of WCW and ECW, the rather bloated WWE roster was split into two brands: the Raw brand and the SmackDown brand. While Raw had well-known veterans comprising a good chunk of the roster, SmackDown became unique in its placement of new, up-and-coming talent in the spotlight, shaping the future of the company (as well as hosting the first incarnation of WWE's Cruiserweight division); eventually, WWE's third brand (the "revival" of ECW) began to function in this manner by introducing new talent, while SmackDown showcased both relatively new talent and veterans alike. Thanks to the brand extension arguably working in its favor, SmackDown is rarely considered a B Show now; in fact, several members of the IWC consider it either at the same level as — or better than — Raw (which would end up happening again after the roster was once more split in 2016).
Soon after the brand extension, SmackDown was moved to Friday nights. Many were concerned about the show being ruined by the Friday Night Death Slot, but in a total aversion of that trope, it scored higher ratings for UPN than the network ever did with its Friday night movies or even what was in the slot prior to SmackDown, Star Trek: Enterprise (which ended its run the season before). Prior to the actual move, WWE took the move in stride by using the slogan "TV that's changing Friday nights" and re-christening the series WWE Friday Night SmackDown; the exclamation point that was a part of the show's logo since its creation was phased out. When The WB merged with UPN to form The CW, SmackDown retained its time slot on the new network, but despite the strong ratings it pulled in for the network, it was eventually booted off. The show moved on to MyNetworkTV, where it usually beat the Friday night lineup provided by The CW in ratings; but even this could not save the fledgling network. MyNetworkTV became a syndication service in the 2009-10 season, with SmackDown being the only original program on the "network". And in 2010, even that ended; in October of that year, SmackDown moved to Syfy. About a year later, the brand extension was phased out; from 2011 to 2016, wrestlers would appear on both Raw and SmackDown interchangeably, a change that WWE would initially capitalize on, briefly rechristening Raw as Raw SuperShow.
This all changed in 2016. WWE announced a big change; beginning in July, not only would SmackDown be going live (meaning it will now air on Tuesdays, thereby ending the possibilities of "dirt sheets" posting spoilers), but both it and Raw would be separated in a brand extension once again. Two years later, USA Network, who had picked up SmackDown from Syfy in 2015, decided to drop the program in exchange for an extension of their rights to air Raw. Effective October 2019, new episodes of SmackDown will air on Fox, marking the show's return to network television and becoming the first WWE program to air on Fox since two episodes of Saturday Night's Main Event aired on said network in 1992. As part of the move, the show will once again air on Fridays, though this time still broadcasting live as opposed to airing on tape delay.
SmackDown was also the name of WWE's series of video games for the PlayStation and the PlayStation 2 (later SmackDown vs. Raw). The games were WWF SmackDown! (2000); WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role (2000); WWF SmackDown!: Just Bring It (2001); the first SD game on the PS2), WWE SmackDown!: Shut Your Mouth (2002); and WWE SmackDown!: Here Comes the Pain (2003). The first three sequels used various sayings of The Rock as subtitles, while the final game broke tradition by using a Phrase Catcher for Brock Lesnarnote . Following Here Comes the Pain, the series was re-branded SmackDown vs. Raw to emphasize the current multi-brand nature of the company, and eventually went Multi-Platform.
As of December 1, 2023, here is the list of people who perform on Friday Night SmackDown. Nick Aldis runs the show as a General Manager. Michael Cole, Kevin Partick & Corey Graves are the commentary team, with Cathy Kelley, and Kayla Braxton handling backstage interviews, and Mike Rome as the ring announcer.
- Austin Theory
- Cameron Grimes
- Grayson Waller
- Karrion Kross (with Scarlett)
- Kevin Owens
- LA Knight
- Logan Paul (United States Champion)
- Randy Orton
Tag Teams and Stables
- Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn
- The Bloodline (Roman Reigns [Undisputed WWE Universal Champion], Solo Sikoa, and Jimmy Uso; with Paul Heyman)
- Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford)
- The Brawling Brutes (Sheamus, Ridge Holland and Butch)
- Damage CTRL (Bayley, Dakota Kai [inactive], IYO SKY [WWE Women's Champion], Kairi Sane and Asuka)
- Hit Row (B-Fab and Ashante "Thee" Adonis)
- Jey Uso and Cody Rhodes (Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions, could appear in any brand)
- Latino World Order (Rey Mysterio, Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde, Cruz Del Toro, Carlito and Zelina Vega)
- The O.C. (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows (inactive), Karl Anderson, and "Michin" Mia Yim)
- Pretty Deadly (Elton Prince and Kit Wilson)
Tropes featured include:
- A Day in the Limelight: The 21st of September 2012 episode was one for Team Hell No and loosely for the Tag Team Division. This counts considering the previous months of SmackDown episodes have revolved around Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio having the Main Event, whereas in this episode Sheamus, Del Rio, Booker T, Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler all made their obligatory appearance, but the whole episode basically revolved around Kane, Daniel Bryan, Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes with those 4 all appearing in the main event, at the time of writing, that essentially makes it one of these.
- B Show: After the brand split was dissolved in 2011, SmackDown quickly became this. Any major storyline continuations would happen on Raw, and SmackDown was seen as a lesser show. When the brand split was reinstated in 2016, this changed. SmackDown also went live, putting the two shows on equal playing fields for the first time.
- Continuity Nod: Eight years after getting rid of the giant fist that graced SmackDown's set from 2001 to 2008, the fist returned in the show's intro for the 2016 brand extension.
- The first stage of the FOX era has entrance brackets along the side as well as a pyro sequence that pays homage to SmackDown's first stage and pyro from 99. The logo is a combo of the first two logos as well.
- Cramming the Coffin: Played with in 1999: In a casket match (where whoever puts his opponent into a ringside coffin first wins) which was originally scheduled to be The Undertaker vs Triple H, the Undertaker pulled out and was replaced by two of his minions, Viscera and Mideon. HHH manages to get Mideon into the coffin and seal it, but then he gets told that because it's a two-on-one match he has to lock both of his opponents into the coffin for him to win. He loses.
- Face/Heel Double-Turn: In 2016 Carmella debuted on the brand as a face (as she had been on NXT), while Nikki Bella made her return on the heel side of a 6-woman tag. The next episode of SmackDown, Carmella was jealous at being pinned by Nikki and attacked her. This turned her heel and Nikki face.
- Force Feeding: In one episode, Mickie James (nicknamed Piggy James) is held down by Beth Phoenix, Michelle McCool, and Layla El in the ring and gets stuffed in the face with a cake shaped like a pig. After that, she then has fruit punch dumped on her head.
- Halloween Episode: The 2002 Halloween episode featured a backstage costume party that was home to a number of zany antics throughout the night (as well as John Cena's first rap, who had come to the party dressed as Vanilla Ice).
- Jobber Entrance: As is commonplace for WWE TV shows post-Monday Night Wars.
- Law of Chromatic Superiority: Just like Raw, SmackDown is called "The Blue Brand" by the WWE staff, while the Superstars performing on the brand are called "Team Blue".
- Looks Like Cesare: Jeff Hardy sported this look in one episode, as he got in touch with his "extreme side" to take out The Undertaker.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: An infamous storyline in 2005 in which the late Eddie Guerrero claimed that Rey Mysterio's son Dominik is actually his.
- Mrs. Hypothetical: While serving as a commentator, John "Bradshaw" Layfield would refer to Michelle McCool as the "next ex-Mrs. Layfield".
- Network Redheaded Step Child:
- SmackDown has been this on every channel it's appeared on, though it tends to bring in consistently superb ratings. Despite that, The CW eventually dumped the show because of this. Now it's on Syfy, which is decaying now anyway and had previously aired WWE's version of ECW.
- This seems to be no longer the case. SmackDown has given Syfy some name recognition, had the show moved back to Thursdays after years of being on Fridays, and an announcement came earlier in 2015 that the show would be moved to the USA Network in the fall (NBCUniversal owns both networks). 2016 saw the show go live weekly on Tuesday nights for the first time.
- Seems to be even less of a case of this after the reinstatement of the brand extension. Since the second brand split, the WWE and Intercontinental Championships, WWE's original world heavyweight and secondary championships, are exclusive to SmackDown, while Raw was left with the Universal (a championship created due to them losing the WWE Championship) and United States (which was originally WCW's secondary title, brought to WWE during the Invasion) Championships. Because of that, you can make a reasonable case for Smackdown being the flagship show now (though since then Raw and SmackDown swapped the Intercontinental and United States Championships).
- No Theme Tune: Like WWE Raw, the opening credits were seemingly dropped between 2012 and 2014 in favor of an opening recap.
- Not Me This Time:
- A storyline in 2010 involved Kane looking for the one who put The Undertaker in a coma. When he accused CM Punk of doing the deed, Punk replied that while he wanted to do it, it wasn't him this time.
- An early storyline in 2011 had SmackDown General Manager Teddy Long getting taken out. Since Wade Barrett had just formed The Corre on that episode, had done something similar to the previous Raw GM (Bret Hart) during his time, and Teddy had just tempted fate by telling them that he would not allow himself to be cowed by their beatdown antics, they were naturally the first suspects. However, they denied having anything to do with it. It eventually turns out that they were telling the truth. It was Vickie Guerrerro and Dolph Ziggler that did it.
- Power Fist: The famous "closed fist" design in the entrance ramp from 2001-2008.
- Precious Puppies:
- An episode during the Chyna / Eddie Guerrero angle, had Eddie do something that had Chyna about to dump him — until he gave her a puppy.
- There was also Al Snow's brief run with having a chihuahua named Pepper as his, um, companion object. He gave Pepper to Jim Ross, who was doing commentary, while he went to do his match. Jim Ross held the dog, noticed that he was scared of the crowds, and got legitimately angrier (for the dog's sake) as the match went on, mostly neglecting the commentary. Pepper would only make one other appearance on live TV, before being (kayfabe) cooked and eaten.
- Big Show once tried to give The Undertaker a peace offering, by giving him a wooden crate with a puppy inside. Right on cue, the entire audience (not very far removed from the Attitude Era, mind you) broke out in an "Awwwwwwww", all in unison.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- In a deliberate contrast to Raw, SmackDown had a consistent, fair general manager for several years in Teddy Long. You can say the same now for current commissioner Shane McMahon and General Manager Paige. Even from 2002-2003 when Stephanie McMahon was the GM, she played a Face.
- Notably averted when Paul Heyman and Kurt Angle were the general managers in the 2003-2004 period.
- Running Gag: Teddy Long constantly scheduled impromptu tag team matches with people that happened to be arguing in the ring. Constantly. And the trend continued long after he was no longer general manager and eventually released from the company. Thus, every time this happened (which might as well have been every week), someone, be it a fan on the Internet, a podcast, or even a performer on the actual show, would comment how nice it is to know that his spirit still lives on.
- Series Mascot: There have been several wrestlers synonymous with the show throughout its run:
- The Rock, due to the show being named by him.
- The Turn of the Millennium:
- Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, John Cena, and Brock Lesnar are the most synonymous with the brand during the first half, while Batista, Booker T, and Edge became this during the latter half of the decade. However, The Undertaker and Rey Mysterio were the only ones to have been a big presence on the show throughout the decade and the first few years of The New '10s. Tellingly, Taker outright says that "SmackDown will always be his home" during the lead-up to Survivor Series 2016 despite him being a part-timer since 2010, while Mysterio chooses to be in the brand after he came back to the WWE full-time late in 2018 (he has since been drafted to Raw).
- For the female wrestlers, Torrie Wilson filled the role for most of the decade.
- The New '10s has Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles filling the role for the men, with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair filling the role for the women.
- For authority figures, Teddy Long is the most remembered.
- Show Stopper: When Hulk Hogan returned to WWE, his applause lasted an entire TV segment (approximately 15 minutes). When they came back from commercial, the crowd was still applauding — but since it wasn't broadcast live, it could have been only a short time after they "went to break" that they stopped. (Or conversely, it could have gone on for even longer.)
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Of the Tropes Are Tools variety; the "SmackDown Six" (Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Edge, Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero...and Chavo Guerreronote ) seemed to make it a mission to steal every TV show and PPV with astounding matches. Paul Heyman, who was the booker of the show, seemed to realize it and basically had the six face each other almost exclusively for the last six months of 2002 to great success, and in fact, they were, in the order listed beforehand, the first three tag teams to hold the WWE Tag Team Championships created that same year.
- Stock Footage: During the 2011-16 time, when the brand extension was lifted (and even some time beforehand), the show spent a considerable amount of screentime recycling footage of what happened on Raw, particularly during the "Road to WrestleMania" months. On the UK versions of SmackDown, there would be a weekly "From the Vault" segment replaying an old match - purely to fill the amount of time taken up by commercials on the US broadcast.
- Stock Sound Effects: The so-called "Seagull Pop,"note which WWE definitely used to a great effect on SmackDown before the 2016 brand split which saw the show go live.
- Talk Show with Fists: The most prominent is MizTV, though it's been overshadowed by Truth TV, which even started Smackdown 1000.
- Technician Versus Performer: Raw was often seen as the entertainment show, whereas SmackDown was more of the wrestling show. Raw had the big names while SmackDown had more solid workers. During the first brand extension it was the other way around with the women's division - where Raw treated the division as serious athletic competition (for the most part), SmackDown had Divas who were used for Fanservice. While the Women's Championship was on paper available for both brands, it was clear that de facto it only for Raw, and SmackDown didn't have a women's championship until the creation of the Divas Championship in 2008. With the re-introduction of the brand split in 2016, the women's division followed SmackDown's lead of being more wrestling-focused.
- Thanksgiving Episode: It would have a Thanksgiving-centered episode when it aired on Thursday nights, since it would obviously land on the holiday itself. It was pretty much a yearly tradition for the show to have a Thanksgiving party and food spread backstage or in the ring, and inevitably give way to a big food fight, including the obligatory pie to the face. Best known for the memetic segment with Luther Reigns, who never had a proper Thanksgiving due to being in prison for "five calendars", demanding a serving of a Thanksgiving plate:Luther Reigns: Why don't you give me somma this TURKEY?! Somma them maaashed potatoes! Lemme get somma them peas, I had peas b'fo!
- Thematic Theme Tune: There were a few. When the show first debuted, it had an instrumental theme with someone doing a beatbox "boom bo-boom-boom" effect in the background. From 2003-2004, the theme was more rap oriented, and seemed to be called "I Want It All". Though it was never officially released, many have ripped it from the Here Comes the Pain game and can be found easily. Finally, the move to MyNetworkTV provided what many see to be the worst theme the WWE had come up with, "Rock Like Me" (which was featured on a WWE The Music CD, no less). WWE's in-house band CFO$ wrote all of the SmackDown themes from 2014 to 2019, with "This Life" (2014-2015), "Black and Blue" (2015-16) and "Take A Chance" (2016-2019). However, with the move to Fox, they decided to bring out "Are You Ready" by AC/DC.
- Trash the Set: In an August 2001 episode of Smackdown, Alliance member Rhyno gored Chris Jericho through the Ovaltron, leading to the "Giant Fist" Stage used from 2001-2008.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: While SmackDown is known for its fair and benevolent authority figures, it was ran by four notoriously Heel General managers on different occasions; Paul Heyman from late 2003 to early 2004, Kurt Angle early to mid 2004, Vickie Guerrero from late 2007 to mid 2009, and John Laurinaitis throughout the middle of 2012.