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What if there was no Smackdown?


Dickie Hyde
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Now I'm a terrible one for complaining about people who always look into the past and ask "what if this and what if that." But thos questions only really crossed my mind the other week, when I was watching the Vince Russo interview on TWC. I don't know who else saw this particular interview but I thought it was hell of a programme for the wrestling fan.

 

The part which inspired me most was of course when Mr.Russo was asked about how his work went for Vince McMahon. I mean, I've always wondered how the writer's jobs were carried out. Anyway, Vince spoke about the pros and cons for a while before he was asked about Smackdown.

 

He said that in a week he and his partner just about came up with great storylines for RAW, and with Smackdown added, it totally broke up the whole writer's thing. He considered Smackdown to be a mistake, and saw it as the beginning of the downfall.

 

I then asked myself that question and came to the conclusion that what Vince Russo said made perfect sense. I mean, if there was no Smackdown, what would the WWE be like today? How many superstars would there be? How would the shows go down? Would there only be one show?

 

I suppose that most businessmen that had a company like the WWF which was drawing tremendously with the one show, would add another, it makes sense on paper, until you go in depth with it. Every situation is different, so I wondered your opinions on the invention of Smackdown?

 

Do you think it was a mistake to introduce this second WWF flagship programme?

 

Where do you think the business would be today without it?

 

Cheers,

 

SCSA

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to be fair wasn't the reason they did it more to do with WCW starting Thunder' date=' and being successful with it than how well their own shows were drawing? WWF sort of had to follow suit.[/quote']

 

Probably was. I'm not clued up on how or why Smackdown started, I just wanted to know your opinions on the topic.

 

:)

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personally I think it woul dbe better if there had never been a Thunder or Smackdown, but once one came along the other had to follow. It was too much wrestling, especially when none of it was squash matches really. It's just too many guys wrestling each other week in week out. Putting out two quality shows each week is way too tough.

 

Now though, while I think the roster split is awful and have never liked it I don't think that they could take Smackdown away. I'm sure it makes money or they wouldn't do it. I just wish they'd never bothered but as I said, they were pushed into a corner by WCW bringing out Thunder.

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To be honest no-one knows if wrestling would be in a better state but I would of preffered it being one show.

 

If it was still one show instead of having 5 big names on one show (just e,g) and 5 big names on another, you then have 2 big names fueding on a show. Whereas if its one big show, you get the best 10 in the buisness involed in 5 fueds, which is obviously better. Thats a whole show of quality wrestling and part of the reason WWE is at the top.

Having said that I would like having 2 shows but just not 2 brands. Keeping all the talent on one show was better IMO.

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I don't think Smackdown was put there because of Thunder. I always thought that was what Heat began as. Thunder was never presented as on level with Nitro, whereas Smackdown always was on level with RAW, if not bigger. I believe Smackdown was more to compete on network TV the way cable TV couldn't.

 

As for SD, I think it served it's purpose, but I wouldn't miss it if they took it off the iar. I'd just feel sorry for the 50+ out of work afterwards.

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I don't think Smackdown was put there because of Thunder. I always thought that was what Heat began as. Thunder was never presented as on level with Nitro, whereas Smackdown always was on level with RAW, if not bigger. I believe Smackdown was more to compete on network TV the way cable TV couldn't.

 

As for SD, I think it served it's purpose, but I wouldn't miss it if they took it off the iar. I'd just feel sorry for the 50+ out of work afterwards.

I disagree, why was Smackdown given the same timeslot then? thursday thunder, thursday smackdown? Heat was never there to compete with a programme on at a completely different time.

 

Thunder was not on a level with Nitro, but I wouldn't say Smackdown was ever on the level with Raw either. It was always the secondary show. WCW bought Thunder out first, proving that about 5 hours in major shows each week could be successful and wasn't too much (even though in my eyes it was), and WWF followed suit.

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I disagree, why was Smackdown given the same timeslot then? thursday thunder, thursday smackdown? Heat was never there to compete with a programme on at a completely different time.

 

Thunder was not on a level with Nitro, but I wouldn't say Smackdown was ever on the level with Raw either. It was always the secondary show. WCW bought Thunder out first, proving that about 5 hours in major shows each week could be successful and wasn't too much (even though in my eyes it was), and WWF followed suit.

Dunno, still can't buy it. I still think that until the brand split, Smackdown was as big as RAW, because of the network TV spot. Also, Thunder used a lot of guys not used on Nitro, whereas SmackDown pretty much had everyone on, and some huge storylines of it's own. Plus, Thursday night is a typical night for entertainment in America, from what I picked up on in Florida. Much moreso than Tuesday or Wednesday (Monday is NFL time I believe, though I get really confused over NFL coverage because the Simpsons always had Football on a Sunday). I do think that SmackDown was used as a tool to beat Thunder, but I don't think Vince saw Thunder as that much of a threat to say "Ok, we need a show on thursday to compete with Thunder". I'd imagine a much more relaxed "Network TV, awesome, now we're on the save wavelength as the NFL. Let's stick it on Thursday, get some good viewing figures and boost our name value in the entertainment world... oh and we can trounce that crap on TBS while we're there."

 

I agree that Thunder showed Vince that more wrestling could work, which is why he added Sunday Night Heat to the weekly timetable, and then struck gold with UPN to help boost their sinking ratings at the time thanks to their rivals the WB Network kicking their asses. But I think Thunder only provided Vince with proof that SmackDown could work, not with competition of any sort, especially when WWF was firmly trouncing WCW anyway.

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I agree that Thunder showed Vince that more wrestling could work, which is why he added Sunday Night Heat to the weekly timetable, and then struck gold with UPN to help boost their sinking ratings at the time thanks to their rivals the WB Network kicking their asses. But I think Thunder only provided Vince with proof that SmackDown could work, not with competition of any sort, especially when WWF was firmly trouncing WCW anyway.

at the point Thunder debuted WCW wasn't getting trounced at all. The guys used on Smackdown that you say weren't used on Nitro were. You're looking too far down the line, they had those same jobbers on Nitro as well around the time Thunder debuted. Nitro was a three hour show with a lot of padding out. And I stlil maintain, had there been no Thunder there would have been no Smackdown.

Edited by Jayden
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I never said that WCW was getting trounced when Thunder came about. I said it was getting trounced when SmackDown came about, which it was because RAW was doing exceptional numbers at that point.

 

And I said that I agreed that Thunder "tested the waters" for more TV, and that Vince capitalised on it with SmackDown. My disagreement comes with Vince seeing Thunder as competition: "I disagree, why was Smackdown given the same timeslot then? thursday thunder, thursday smackdown?" - Knowing just about enough of American TV, Thursday is predominantly a premiere night for the big networks with shows such as Friends, Frasier, etc (bear with me, I'm going back a few years here). So I'd argue that with Vince's fascination with breaking the mainstream entertainment industry at that point, he wanted to make himself as big as Friends, Frasier, etc, and then kill Thunder just as an added perk. The way Heat was presented when first concepted was more "Thunder" than I saw Smackdown to be. The only thing that killed SmackDown for me (and still does) was the fact it's not live. But that's irrelevent I guess.

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Thunder was two hours, Heat was one, they were different timeslots on different days. There's no comparison between the two really.

 

Even as late as January 4th 1999, Nitro drew nearly 40000 to the Georgia Dome for Nitro. When did Smackdown debut? I don't think they were getting trounced, whether WWF had got ahead or not.

Edited by Jayden
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Thunder was two hours' date=' Heat was one, they were different timeslots on different days. There's no comparison between the two really.[/quote']

If you compare products, there was actually quite a strong comparison. It wasn't until SmackDown came around that Heat was put on the back burner with Jakked/Metal (and why the hell did that have to change from Shotgun? I loved Shotgun), and SmackDown was the main show equal to RAW, give or take the live aspect, which in fact does kind of make the "is it live or is it memorex" argument relevent.

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Dunno, I've just never seen Smackdown as equal to Raw. The only time they've even tried at times to suggest that it is is once the roster split started and for the most part they've failed. The live thing is a big point and does make a difference. It's just never been quite as big, in terms of the cards and matches it's had, to the general feel of the show. It was, and probably still is, always the secondary show.
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Even as late as January 4th 1999' date=' Nitro drew nearly 40000 to the Georgia Dome for Nitro. When did Smackdown debut? I don't think they were getting trounced, whether WWF had got ahead or not.[/quote']

Smackdown debuted as a full-time show on August 26th 1999, with a 5.7 rating, a 5.3 the following week, and then a 3,5, 4.5 and 4.3, before settling into the late 4's. Thunder, on the 26th, scored a 2.0, a 1.9 the week after, and 2.1, 2.2 and 2.4 over the next three respective weeks. Nitro on the Monday beforehand only scored a 2.9, followed by a 4.0 and 4.1, and whilst RAW did similar on the first two weeks, they were back up to 6.0 on the third week.

 

So ok, trounced was a fairly strong word, but WCW was still visibly sinking at this point. I only wish I could find the ratings for CBS, NBC, WB and FOX at this point.

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Dunno' date=' I've just never seen Smackdown as equal to Raw. The only time they've even tried at times to suggest that it is is once the roster split started and for the most part they've failed. The live thing is a big point and does make a difference. It's just never been quite as big, in terms of the cards and matches it's had, to the general feel of the show. It was, and probably still is, always the secondary show.[/quote']

Dunno about the matches - they hosted a fair amount of big matches and storylines to equal RAW, and had the benefit of network TV which means better quality production and editing (you'd think that after signing to TNN, RAW would be allowed the same through the whole system owned by Viacom, but it never worked out that way). To RAW's advantage though, it was THE TV institution of WWF. It was live, it was in your face, and obviously was allowed to go a lot further on USA than UPN would allow. So in that sense, I would have to concur that RAW was superior. But I don't think it was a conscious effort to "downgrade" the show to second fiddle. If anything, Vince's whole level of success in mainstream America depended on if he could hang on network TV with the big boys.

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Guest wildbeast1628
Indeed.

 

Back in the day, all we had was an hour of RAW and an hour of WAR Zone back to back, an hour of Shotgun Saturday Night, an hour of Livewire with Todd Pettingill, and an hour of Superstars. We're spoilt now :)

 

Ah Shotgun...decent show to see upcoming stars....first time we saw the likes of Rikishi, etc was on Shotgun. Didn't they rename Shotgun, Superstars, etc at one point?

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