WWE: The Renaissance of SmackDown Live


WWE SmackDown is back and it’s better than ever.

Tuesday nights are alive and striving in the professional wrestling world. Smackdown Live is proving to be a powerhouse for the WWE. During the original brand split of the early 2000’s SmackDown was a breath of fresh air. The show each week is a new flavor that the WWE Universe has been craving.

When the WWE first split into two separate brands in 2002 many felt that RAW got the better end of the deal. What people didn’t expect was for the SmackDown roster to take offense to this and step their game up. This would lead to the birth of the “SmackDown Six.”

This would consist of Eddie and Chavo Guerrero, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio and Edge. These six men would become the face of the blue brand. Not only with their stellar tag matches but in the singles feuds that would stem off. SmackDown would also be known as the brand within which opportunity could be sought out. Young talent or wrestlers that couldn’t get the air time on Monday could thrive under the Smackdown banner.

This was a time in the WWE that many of the WCW stars that had sat out the original invasion were beginning to funnel in.  With Raw being the flagship show the big names would often make Monday night’s their home. This gave SmackDown the opportunity to not have to deal with the inflated egos and focus on the entertainment. Of the SmackDown Six, five would become either WWE Champion or World Heavyweight Champion.

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Wrestling fans often give the same explanation for these two shows, with Raw being about wrestling, while SmackDown Live actually is a wrestling television show. There have been different iterations of that idea and each time I always have to take a step back. It is the perfect description. This is the first time I can remember a buzz around the “B show,” since that era.

More from SmackDown

On every Monday night, the fans know Raw will be a three-hour soap opera. There will be matches, some good, some bad. But they won’t happen until after the 30-minute opening salvo. SmackDown will have an open but a fraction of the length and then it’s usually right into some action. It’s that flow that makes the two hours on Tuesday night feel like a treat and less a chore like many Mondays can be.

With Raw, it feels like a Pavlov’s dogs style reaction. Monday, 8:00 p.m. ET, like clockwork. It’s easy to zone out of, due to poor storylines, insignificant matches and little to appeal to the fan.

This is where the stark contrast of Tuesday night steps in. That 8 p.m. start time is full of anticipation, with knowing we’re going to see a similar style of work and storytelling. But for some reason, there’s something about it — potentially being the one less hour, the different announce team or talent.

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SmackDown’s original brand split origins are enough to draw someone in, even though the current version has its differences. We’ll see what this program does next at Backlash.