Wrestleview’s Top Five Stories of 2019
5. WWE SmackDown returns to broadcast television for the first-time in nine years
WWE SmackDown debuted in the United States on the UPN Network as a weekly taped show on Thursday, August 26, 1999 at 8:00pm ET. A pilot episode aired on April 29, 1999. It would go on to air every Thursday night before moving to Friday Nights on September 9, 2005 after the merger of UPN and the WB, that would later become what is now The CW.
In October 2008, SmackDown would move to the FOX owned MyNetworkTV in October 2008. After spending nine years on network broadcast television, it was announced that SmackDown would move to the NBCUniversal owned cable network Syfy on October 1, 2010. SmackDown would continue to air as a taped show on Friday nights at 8:00pm ET, before eventually returning to Thursday’s nights on January 15, 2015.
On January 7, 2016, SmackDown left Syfy and moved to the USA Network, still airing as a taped show on Thursday nights. Later that year, SmackDown moved to Tuesday nights and would air live every week rather than as a taped show.
Back in February we reported that FOX executives attended a SmackDown taping in Los Angeles. On-air personality Colin Cowherd, who was in attendance at the show, not long later, Cowherd hinted on air that WWE programming was “coming to a network near you.”
We reported back in May that WWE agreed in principle with FOX, described as a “massive” offer, to bring SmackDown to the network in October of 2019.
Back in February FOX executives attended a SmackDown taping in Los Angeles, back in February, which including on-air personality Colin Cowherd who later hinted on his radio show that WWE programming was “coming to a network near you.”
Four months after FOX Executives attended SmackDown in Los Angeles, WWE confirmed several reports that SmackDown would move to FOX.
In August, WWE and FOX began a new campaign on August 30 which confirmed that SmackDown would move back to Friday Night’s at 8:00pm ET.
The ads would promote the debut of Friday Night SmackDown on FOX. The campaign was called “We’re All Superstars.” The spots featured a number of everyday and celebrity WWE fans showing their “inner superstar” by impersonating WWE Superstars such as John Cena, Becky Lynch, Ric Flair, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and others.
The premiere episode of Friday Night SmackDown on FOX debuted on October 4, 2019 as a 20th Anniversary show, and drew 3.869 million viewers. The following day, FOX touted the premiere episode peaked with 4.217 million viewers between 8:00 pm and 8:15 pm, which made this the most-watched WWE telecast in almost two years.
The deal in place is a five-year agreement worth just over one billion dollars, with the show still airing live from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET.
SmackDown’s move to FOX marked the show’s return to Friday nights and over-the-air broadcast television and the second time SmackDown has aired on a FOX owned network.
4. CM Punk returns to pro wrestling on the weekly FOX produced show WWE Backstage
After speculation surrounding a tryout back in late September, CM Punk officially made his debut on WWE Backstage which airs every Tuesday at 11:00 pm ET on FS1.
Punk would make his surprise return at the close of the show when main host Renee Young mentioned they will be making some history on the show. Punk then walked out to his old theme song, “Cult of Personality.”
He continues to make weekly appearances on the show.
3. All Elite Wrestling announces television deal with TNT, former cable network for WCW Nitro
AEW announced back in July that TNT, the former home network to the former WCW Nitro would premiere their live weekly television show every Wednesday beginning on October 2.
At the time, no name for the show has been announced, however it was revealed that the but the show would be two-hours long, and air live weekly from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern
AEW’s premiere episode, later to be revealed as Dynamite, aired live Wednesday, October 2 from the Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. The show later announced as sold-out with 14,129 fans in attendance that night.
2. WWE is defeated in a live head-to-head battle for the first time since April 13, 1998
All Elite Wrestling premiering on TNT, the very same network that aired WCW Monday Nitro was successful in defeating WWE in its first head-to-head weekly Wednesday night battle against WWE’s development brand NXT on the USA Network.
In it’s premiere, AEW Dynamite drew an average 1.409 million viewers against WWE NXT’s 891,000 viewers. AEW would go on to defeated NXT for eight straight weeks before being defeated two weeks in a row. For the rest of the year, AEW averaged 900,833 viewers.
This would be the first time since the Monday Night War dating back to April 13, 1998 WWE was defeated by another wrestling company, in what is being called the “Wednesday Night War.”
For the so-called “Wednesday Night War” in 2019, AEW won 8 to 3, with 1 tie.
1. Natalya and Lacey Evans have the first-ever Women’s Match in Saudi Arabia at Crown Jewel Pay-Per View
Natalya and Lacey Evans made history on October 31 as the two women had the first-ever Women’s Match in Saudi Arabia at WWE’s Crown Jewel Pay-Per View.
The deal was met with controversy throughout, particulary when it comes to Saudi Arabia’s stance on women’s rights.
This match came after the Saudi Arabian Government did not approve a match between Natalya and Alexa Bliss for the WWE Super ShowDown pay-per-view, despite WWE flying both women to Saudi Arabia hoping for them to have a match.
Following the match, WWE interviewed both women who were excited and honored to take part in such a historic event.
Natalya noted the match was “life changing” and that she was “so excited for [our] WWE fans in Saudi Arabia and [our] WWE fans around the world” and “for women around the world…”
Lacey Evans noted she was “Honored…to be a part of this history making event. Honored to perform…in front of Saudi Arabia. To get to open doors that have never been opened before.”