If you had to write down a list of things that most American’s love, apart from NFL and keg parties, wrestling would be high on that list. World Wrestling Entertainment – aka WWE, (formally known as World Wrestling Foundation – WWF) is the king of professional wrestling television programs, and beyond being a multi-billion-dollar industry, has beamed its various tournaments into American households, since its original inception in 1980. One of its most popular shows comes in the form of well recognizable WWE SmackDown. The series (which is recorded in front of a live audience in sporting arenas around the US) originally premiered on UPN television network April 29th 1999 and has since hopped over various television networks, before finally finding its latest home on USA Network on January 7th 2016 – airing on Tuesdays, and complements Raw as the two weekly shows for the network, as well as Tough Enough, which airs less frequently.
Over the course of the show’s long and rich history, SmackDown has been broadcast from 162 different arenas, in 147 cities and towns, in seven different nations – namely the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Iraq, Japan, Italy and Mexico. During the shows final move, Rich Brennan was replaced by Mauro Ranallo as lead announcer, and Booker T was swapped out for commentator Byron Saxton. To date SmackDown has run for an impressive 18 seasons and aired over 860 episodes of its 120-minute show.
If for some reason you’re not familiar with professional wrestling shows like SmackDown, allow us to clear up the confusion. Professional wrestling in North America is pre-rehearsed (like any television show), and the content and match outcomes are choreographed and pre-decided (although an alarming of people still believe it is ‘real’, which is a result of its ‘fakeness’ being originally hidden from the general public – although now it is openly talked about). The wrestlers are effectively actors, who are trained to use their bodies to give the impression of physical blows and hard attacks, whilst simultaneously displaying expressions of simulated pain. However, during the course of the shows, the wrestlers do occasionally get injured, and there have been rare instances of death. Generally, the promotion and fanfare that surround shows such as SmackDown encourage willing suspension of disbelief from the audience. The show itself (apart from the goading and spectacle by the various wrestlers who all play their parts), involves the act of wrestling itself, with the ultimate aim of either knocking an opponent unconscious, getting them to tap out (slap their hand on the mat, indicating submission), getting them to stay out of the ring until they are disqualified, or pinning them in various holds for a count of three victory.
So now you know how WWE wrestling works, we’ll fill you in a bit about the first show that aired on USA Network and how popular it’s been since its latest outing. The main event matched female wrestler Charlotte against Becky Lynch in a defence of the Divas Championship. In addition, Dean Ambrose wrestled Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens ¬ both to a countout. A big return of the show came the return of wrestling veterans Brock Lesnar and WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H. It’s not even worth contemplating whether or not the show will return for a nineteenth season, because it’s like wondering whether the sun will rise in the morning – the WWE is simply too powerful and the sport too popular for the show to go anywhere. The most that might happen is that it turns into a different show and gets a rename. In terms of popularity, the premier of the 18th season had an impressive 2.75 million viewers, with the numbers averaging out over the current season to 2.0 million, with a 0.6 viewership rating among the 18-49 demographic. The show in its entirety also has a pretty decent score of 7.2 out of 10 on IMDB and an audience score of 72% on review aggregator site, Rotten Tomatoes.
There are currently no Blu-Ray copies of SmackDown available to buy, but you can pick up many of the seasons (also including Raw), for various prices, ranging from $7.00 – $15.00. Additionally, you can watch a handful of random episodes for $2.99 on content streaming service, Amazon Instant Video. Apart from that – if you live within the US – your best bet is to try and catch reruns and new episodes of the show by going to USA Network’s channel. You can access it via DirecTV: 242 (HD/SD), Dish Network: 105 (HD/SD), Time Warner Cable: 28 (HD/SD) and 101 (HD/SD), Wave Broadband: 127 (West, HD) and 26 (West, SD), AT&T U-Verse: 1124 (HD) and 124 (SD), CenturyLink Prism 1124(HD) and 124 (SD), Verizon FiOS: 550 (HD) and 50 (SD). Unfortunately, if you live outside of the US, then Amazon Instant Video or YouTube is going to be your only shot of watching episodes legally.
How do you feel about wrestling as a form of entertainment – is it a great way to spend a couple of hours of your evening, or is it a travesty that uses a traditional sport to push a paper thin concept for the purpose of selling merchandise and tickets? Are you a big fan of wrestling and have a favourite wrestler – who is it and what is it about them that really appeals to you? Have you ever been to a live showing of Smackdown – what was the atmosphere like? As always, we want to hear what our users have to say, so if you have some spare time feel free to pop your thoughts and musings down in the comments section below, and connect with other readers on the site. Plus if you want to know instantly whether your favourite shows will be around to binge on next season then just click the subscribe button! You’ll receive news and updates on whether your selected television shows have been renewed or cancelled, and you’ll receive an automatic email when the exact release date for the nineteenth season of SmackDown is officially announced by USA Network.