It’s a heck of a time for wrestling on television. AEW‘s coming to TNT. NXT‘s moving to USA. And of course, the move we’ve known about the longest, Smackdown Live is leaving USA for Fox, where they’re hoping to make its premiere episode a really big deal. This past weekend, TNT ran their first TV spot for Smackdown, so let’s take a look at that and see what we can prognosticate about the Fox version of the show.
Thanks to Kenton on Twitter, here’s the ad itself:
— Kenton (@Kenton_la) August 19, 2019
It starts with Triple H, which is probably the least surprising choice they could make. Then there’s a shot not of John Cena, but a fan dressed like John Cena. Then another fan seems to be praying to Nikki Bella. Finally, we get our first look at a current member of the Smackdown roster, Charlotte Flair, doing her dramatic entrance spin in her peacock robe. That leads into the first words we see onscreen: “The Pageantry.” Whenever I see the word “pageantry” (accurately) applied to wrestling, I always think of Ron Funches’ wrestling bit, but that’s not a negative association.
Then we see Becky Lynch (currently a Raw Superstar) holding up both women’s titles, followed by a shot of Asuka in her jeweled mask. That’s three women wrestlers before we see any current men, which may not mean anything but it sure is a fascinating choice. Then we get a young John Cena fan, and the second phrase, “The Superstars.” I’m beginning to wonder if they weren’t allowed to use a real image of John Cena in this ad for some reason, so they had to suggest his presence.
That leads to a second shot of Becky Lynch, now beltless but still looking triumphant. Then a similar shot of Roman Reigns, the first current male superstar to appear. Then comes Kofi in a similar pose, followed by Charlotte springing up out of a bridge, and then a young female fan losing her mind with excitement, and the third phrase, “The Thrills.”
Then we see Charlotte doing a moonsault, which leads into a quick montage of wrestling moves by a bunch of people, capped off with Roman punching the stage while the pyro hits. Charlotte and Asuka off the top rope, the New Day entering, the Demon Finn Bálor, and a quick shot of Undertaker follow. We see crowds cheering as Kofi Kingston holds up the WWE Championship, and a little boy in the crowd holds up a replica belt. A couple of quick wrestling moves, Charlotte woos, and then “This October,” and finally the Smackdown Live logo. Interestingly, it’s the current logo from USA, not the supposed new one (which may be still to come).
The point of the ad is clearly to convey the overall excitement of the WWE product, so it would probably be unwarranted to make specific predictions based who’s prominent in this ad. But if I were going to, I’d say that Kofi Kingston is a big player here (and no Orton at all), so he’s likely to remain WWE Champion at least through the premiere. On the other hand, Charlotte Flair is all over this ad, and Bayley isn’t in it at all, which may not bode well for Bayley’s title run. The prominence of Asuka is also interesting, since she’s been so under-used lately. It’s nice to think that might change. Then of course there’s the presence of Becky Lynch, which makes me wonder if she’ll appear on Smackdown, even though the Brand Split is supposed to come back into effect with the move to Fox. Roman Reigns also gets the star treatment here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Becky, and maybe a few others, are considered big enough stars to find a way to move between brands even after the move.
Only time (and maybe a backstage leak or two) will tell what we’ll actually get when October comes, but being wrestling fans, we can’t just stop speculating in the meantime.