Could a new deal for WWE and SmackDown lead to more changes in wrestling’s weekly calendar?
WWE is undergoing some major changes of late with the company now merged with UFC under the TKO Group banner following the takeover of the company by Endeavor. That brought an end to forty years of majority ownership of the sports entertainment giant by Vince McMahon who became Executive Chairman of TKO Group when the deal was finalised on September 12th.
TKO Group and NBC Universal have now agreed to a new five-year deal that will see SmackDown return to the USA Network beginning in October 2024. The deal will also see the company produce four specials a year for NBC primetime.
What could SmackDown switch mean for WWE and AEW?
Speaking about the situation on Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer noted that WWE could be open to changing the nights of other shows now that SmackDown is moving from FOX:
“From a WWE standpoint, as far as trying to save money and make life easier on the executives, [Paul] Levesque and all the people that are overseeing everything. It makes the most sense to have the shows on 2 consecutive nights. Whether that’s Monday Tuesday, Tuesday Wednesday, Thursday Friday, or whatever. It saves money, you are not flying everybody out, flying the production crew out to set up on a Monday and then come back on a Friday.
“The reason it was Monday Friday was that there were overriding things and FOX wanted Friday. It was Monday Tuesday but they wanted it as a bridge. They wanted to do football on Thursday, SmackDown on Friday, College Football on Saturday and NFL on Sunday. That was the method of their Friday night idea.”
Meltzer added that the consequences of WWE moving shows around throughout the week could then have a knock-on effect on other promotions such as AEW:
“I think it will be interesting, then what happens to everyone else. If they [WWE] go on Wednesday does AEW stay on Wednesday or do they try and move to an open day? AEW, when they were on TNT they were limited in the sense that they can’t run Tuesday.
“Tony Khan wanted Tuesday and it would coincide with SmackDown moving to Friday. The problem was that TNT had the NBA on Tuesday, so there was no chance of doing that. Now they are on TBS, there are different schedule things. There are different days of the week open.
“If WWE makes the move and does a show on Wednesday, AEW can move it to another day. I think the whole schedule will be interesting to see how it turns out. Then IMPACT would move to any free day if WWE or AEW do something on a Thursday. I guess it’s a wait-and-see thing.”
As it stands, SmackDown looks like it will remain on Friday nights on its new station but there are questions arising as to the future of Raw and NXT which both air on the USA Network.
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