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WWE News: FOX TV Plans for Smackdown Launch in October, NXT Possibly Moving to FOX Sports 1 and More

The debut date for WWE Smackdown on FOX is less than three months away. Smackdown heads to FOX TV for their first show on Friday, October 4 from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. As we get closer to that date, there’s more news coming in every week about what’s going to happen when Smackdown is on FOX.

Here is some news on WWE teaming up with FOX following a summit meeting yesterday with thanks to the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer for these notes.

– Smackdown will be airing 51 weeks per year on Friday nights on the main FOX channel. The WWE deal with FOX runs for five years so that would be from October 2019 to October 2024. The only week in the year where it will be pre-empted is when FOX airs the World Series (Major League Baseball’s championship series) where FOX may move Smackdown to FOX Sports 1 (aka FS1) on cable for that week. It’s usually the last week in October where that would happen.

– There will be a one-hour launch show in late September that will be designed to set up the first Smackdown episode on October 4. It will be a way for WWE and FOX to introduce their superstars to the FOX audience. There’s no word yet on the format of that show or if there will be matches. They still have two months to figure that out.

– The rumor of NXT moving to FS1 on Wednesday nights is back. Meltzer noted that “FOX is in talks about getting NXT onto television” so that likely means it is likely to happen.

If NXT is moved to FS1 for one hour on Wednesday nights then that would put it head to head with the new All Elite Wrestling show on TNT that is expected to debut on Wednesday, October 2 from 8-10pmET. That AEW date and timeslot is not confirmed, but Wednesday is the expected date because TNT airs NBA games on Tuesday and Thursday nights while they don’t want to put AEW against WWE’s two shows on Monday and Friday, so Wednesday is likely what it will be for the AEW show rumored to be named “Wednesday Night Dynamite.”

Is it WWE wanting NXT to be on cable TV against AEW or is it FOX wanting to do it? We don’t know the answer to that and we may never will, but the expectation is that NXT will be against AEW at least for one hour every Wednesday. The difference is AEW’s Wednesday Night Dynamite show will be live while NXT is expected to remain a taped show.

– It was already announced back in April by Triple H that there will be a WWE studio show on FS1 starting in October. It’s expected that current Raw announcer Renee Young will be the host of the program and it’s going to tape in Los Angeles. That show is expected to air on FS1 on Tuesday nights.

What hasn’t been revealed is how they are going to deal with FS1 showing live programming sometimes because when there are baseball playoffs or some other sporting event, it’s going to be tough to get this WWE studio show and NXT on the air sometimes. That’s something we’ll see later in the year in terms of how WWE deals with it.

– FOX wants to promote WWE as a legitimate sport although we all know the outcome are not real. What it means is that, as Meltzer wrote: “It is a choreographed sports presentation as part of a Thursday through Sunday sports block in the fall with the NFL on Thursdays and Sundays and College Football on Saturdays.”

FOX airs NFL games from September to December on Thursdays, then Smackdown on Fridays, there’s a College Football game on Saturdays and then the NFL’s main day of games is on Sunday afternoon on FOX as well as CBS while NBC airs the night game.

It’s expected that FOX will heavily promote Smackdown during the NFL and College Football broadcasts. I am a huge NFL and College Football fan, so it’s going to be a little surreal to have WWE mentioned during those games.

– This is year is the 20th year of Smackdown, so it’s believed that in mid-September, WWE will start promoting the 20th anniversary of Smackdown and they will have the big celebration on the first Smackdown on FOX episode on October 4. During the summit, it was mentioned there will be a lot of surprises on that October 4 Smackdown. I have said all year that may be WWE’s most important broadcast this year, including WrestleMania, so I’m eager to see what happens.

– It is expected that FOX is going to launch a digital primer where it will teach viewers about WWE terminology and give them an inside look at the product. We all know WWE documentaries are great, so it’s a good idea to roll out some new content to promote WWE to casual fans.

– Lastly, FOX is planning a huge promotion of WWE Smackdown where superstars will appear in moving trucks or buses in big, middle and some small markets to promote the move to FOX. There are already jokes about it being like the “Lex Express” bus from 26 years ago. It’s actually a good idea to have trucks or buses on the roads to promote the move.

Thanks again to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter for the info. Head over to WrestlingObserver.com for info on subscribing. I’ve subscribed for nearly 20 years now.

TJR Thoughts: All of these ideas sound good to me. Fox is paying WWE over $200 million per year to air Smackdown, so they might as well do everything they can to build up the audience.

Here’s a video from May with WWE at the Fox upfronts. I think it’s funny just because of all the actors and non-wrestling people that try to bullshit their way through interviews when you can tell they clearly don’t watch WWE anymore.