The debut of a live “Smackdown” comes as two of the WWE’s biggest attractions, John Cena and Seth Rollins, are returning to competition from injuries. And the company is expected to create strong points of differentiation between “Smackdown” and USA’s other live program, “Monday Night Raw,” according to the WWE. A draft will be held before the “Smackdown” launch date to determine which wrestlers on the company’s talent roster will be assigned to which program. Each show is expected to feature separate cast, plots and writing teams.
“WWE’s flagship programs will both leverage the incredible depth of our talent roster, distinct storylines and the unpredictable nature of live TV,” said Vince McMahon, chairman and CEO of WWE, in a statement. “This move will undoubtedly build more excitement and deepen engagement with our fans around the world.”
Let the Tuesday night wars begin!
WWE previously split Raw and Smackdown into two separate “brands” back in 2002, a decision which held until August of 2011. It’ll be interesting to see how WWE organizes and manages this with their recent roster cuts and injuries, as well as post-brand split decisions like unifying the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships. Will the WWE World Heavyweight Champion float between shows like he did when he was the Undisputed Champion, or is the Roman Reigns/Seth Rollins/Money in the Bank situation about to get crazy?
Smackdown goes live every week starting Tuesday, July 19, at 8 p.m.