SmackDown (WWE Brand)
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SmackDown WWE Brand
SmackDown
WWE SmackDown (2019) Logo.svg
Logo for the brand and the SmackDown television program as of October 4, 2019
Product typeProfessional wrestling
Sports entertainment
OwnerWWE
Produced byVince McMahon
Bruce Prichard
CountryUnited States
IntroducedMarch 25, 2002
(first split)
July 19, 2016
(second split)
DiscontinuedAugust 29, 2011
(first split)
Related brandsRaw
205 Live
ECW
NXT
NXT UK
TaglineThe Land of Opportunity[1]
Executive Director
Bruce Prichard
(October 15, 2019 - present)

SmackDown is a brand of the U.S. based professional wrestling promotion WWE. The brand was first established on March 25, 2002 with a draft on Monday Night Raw and went into effect one week later on April 2. The brand was discontinued in August 2011, but was brought back in July 2016. Wrestlers assigned to the SmackDown brand wrestle predominantly on the Friday Night SmackDown television program, the seasonal Mixed Match Challenge, the interbrand Worlds Collide, as well as SmackDown branded and co-branded pay-per-view events and WWE Network events. During the first brand split, they also competed on Velocity and on ECW under a talent exchange program.

History

First split (2002-2011)

Stephanie McMahon was the first SmackDown General Manager

In its conception, according to Bruce Prichard in his Something to Wrestle podcast released in October 2018, the then World Wrestling Federation (WWF) originally planned to make SmackDown an all-women's brand but ultimately decided against it because of the lack of talent.[2]

In March 2002, WWF underwent the "brand extension",[3] a process in which WWE divided itself into two branches with separate rosters, storylines and authority figures.[3] The two divisions, hosted by and named after Raw and SmackDown!, would compete against each other. The split resulted from WWE purchasing its two biggest competitors, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW); and the subsequent doubling of its roster and championships. The brand extension was made public during a telecast of Raw on March 18, initiated with the first draft a week later on the March 25 episode of Raw and became official on the April 1 episode of Raw.

Wrestlers began to wrestle exclusively for their specific show. At the time, this excluded the WWE Undisputed Championship and WWE Women's Championship as those WWE titles would be defended on both shows.[3] In August 2002, then WWE Undisputed Champion, Brock Lesnar, refused to defend the title on Raw, in effect causing his title to become exclusive to SmackDown.[3] The following week on Raw, Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff awarded a newly instated World Heavyweight Championship to Raw's designated number one contender Triple H. Accordingly, Lesnar's championship was no longer deemed "undisputed". Following this, the WWE Women's Championship soon became a Raw exclusive as well. As a result of the brand extension, an annual "draft lottery" was instituted to exchange members of each roster and generally refresh the lineups.

SmackDown was the home brand for many top WWE stars including Eddie Guerrero, Big Show, John Bradshaw Layfield, Kurt Angle, Edge, The Undertaker, Rey Mysterio, John Cena, Torrie Wilson. Guerrero would go on to become the WWE Champion as part of the show, thus becoming the main feature of SmackDown! throughout 2004 and the most popular wrestler of that year. The biggest star of the next decade, John Cena, started his WWE career on this brand and rose to stardom as "Doctor of Thuganomics" on the show, eventually winning his first WWE Championship during his tenure on the brand.

On June 6, then WWE Champion John Cena switched brands from SmackDown to Raw as part of the month-long 2005 draft lottery. This effectively left SmackDown without a world title. On the June 23 episode of SmackDown!, SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long scheduled a six-man elimination match between Big Show, Booker T, Chris Benoit, Christian (replacing Big Show, who was picked by Raw in the lottery), John Bradshaw Layfield, Muhammad Hassan and The Undertaker to crown the first SmackDown Champion. On the June 30 episode of SmackDown!, Layfield won the match, but Long appeared afterward and stated that even though he had won the match SmackDown did not need a championship anymore, instead revealing that Layfield was the number one contender for the World Heavyweight championship, at which point Batista, then World Heavyweight Champion, entered the ring as SmackDown's final draft lottery pick.

At the SmackDown! taping on January 10, 2006 that aired January 13, Batista had to forfeit the World Heavyweight Championship because of a legitimate triceps injury suffered at the hands of Mark Henry the previous week. Long decreed a battle royal for the vacant title, which was won by Kurt Angle, who was on the Raw brand, but switched to the SmackDown brand for the duration of his reign as champion. On the April 7 episode of SmackDown! (which was taped on April 4), Long revived the King of the Ring tournament after a four-year hiatus as a SmackDown exclusive tournament. The tournament ended at Judgment Day with Booker T as the winner, defeating Bobby Lashley in the final.

On October 16, 2007, the SmackDown and ECW brands began a talent exchange, allowing their respective talent to appear and compete on either brand, as ECW was broadcast live from the same arena where SmackDown! was taped.[4][5]

During the 2008 WWE draft, WWE Champion Triple H was drafted to SmackDown, resulting in two world championships appearing on the brand - Edge was the World Heavyweight Champion at the time - and leaving Raw without a world title. However, Edge was attacked by Batista on the June 30 episode of Raw and immediately afterwards CM Punk cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to become World Heavyweight Champion, bringing the World Heavyweight Championship back to Raw for the first time since 2005. Also that year, for the first time in the brand's history a women's exclusive championship was introduced, the Divas Championship, a counterpart to the Women's Championship that had been the only active championship competed for by Divas, but which was exclusive to Raw, meaning that the Divas on SmackDown had no championship to compete for. Michelle McCool became the inaugural champion by defeating Natalya on July 20 at The Great American Bash.

On February 15, 2009 at No Way Out, Edge won the World Heavyweight Championship in Raw's Elimination Chamber match, thus making it a SmackDown exclusive title and giving SmackDown two top tier championships.[6] As a result of the 2009 WWE draft in April, then WWE Champion Triple H was drafted to Raw while the World Heavyweight Championship also moved to the Raw brand after Edge lost the title to Cena at WrestleMania XXV, once again leaving SmackDown without a world title.[7] SmackDown regained the World Heavyweight Championship at Backlash when Edge invoked his WrestleMania rematch clause and defeated Cena to win the championship back.[8] In addition, Raw and SmackDown exchanged both women-exclusive championships with Raw gaining the Divas Championship and SmackDown gaining the Women's Championship. This marked the first time in history that the Women's Championship had ever been exclusive to SmackDown. Raw and SmackDown also exchanged the United States Championship (which became exclusive to Raw) and the Intercontinental Championship (subsequently exclusive to SmackDown) for the first time since August 25, 2002.[7]

On the August 29, 2011 episode of Raw, it was announced that performers from Raw and SmackDown were no longer exclusive to their respective brand.[9] Subsequently, championships previously exclusive to one show or the other were available for wrestlers from any show to compete for--this would mark the end of the brand extension as all programming and live events featured the full WWE roster.[10] In a 2013 interview with Advertising Age, Stephanie McMahon explained that WWE's decision to end the brand extension was due to wanting their content to flow across television and online platforms.[11]

Second split (2016-present)

On May 25, 2016, it was revealed that the brand split would return in July.[12] The 2016 WWE draft took place on the live premiere episode of SmackDown on July 19 to determine the rosters between both brands.[13] On the July 11 episode of Raw, Vince McMahon named Shane McMahon the commissioner of SmackDown.[14] Then next week on Raw, Daniel Bryan was revealed as the new SmackDown General Manager.[15] Due to Raw being a three-hour show and SmackDown being a two-hour show, Raw received three picks each round and SmackDown received two.[15] WWE Champion Dean Ambrose was SmackDown's first pick.[16]

After the return of the brand split, most pay-per-views became exclusive to one brand, (with SmackDown producing Backlash (2016 and 2017), No Mercy (2016), TLC (2016), Elimination Chamber (2017), Money in the Bank (2017), Battleground (2017), Hell in a Cell (2017), Clash of Champions (2017) and Fastlane (2018)). Following WrestleMania 34, all pay-per-views became dual-branded again.

On the November 7, 2017 episode of SmackDown, AJ Styles defeated Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship.[17] On April 10, 2018, SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon announced that Daniel Bryan was back as a full-time WWE Superstar for the roster after his in-ring return at WrestleMania 34, therefore "graciously accepted Daniel's resignation as SmackDown General Manager". McMahon then named Paige, who had retired from in-ring competition due to injury the night before on Raw, as the new SmackDown General Manager.[18]

Champions

Initially, the Undisputed WWE Championship and the original WWE Women's Championship were available to both brands.[19][20][21] The other championships were exclusive to the brand the champion was a part of.[19][20][21] When the brand extension began, SmackDown became the exclusive home for the World Tag Team Championship and the original Cruiserweight Championship.[22]

In September 2002, the Undisputed Championship became the WWE Championship again and was moved to SmackDown, prompting Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff to create the World Heavyweight Championship for Raw.[23] SmackDown created the WWE Tag Team Championship and they revived the United States Championship.[24][25] Over the course of the first brand extension, these championships switched between brands, usually due to the result of the annual draft. However, the Cruiserweight title was the only championship to never switch brands, staying on SmackDown from 2002 until the championship's retirement on September 28, 2007.

In October 2007, SmackDown and ECW began a talent exchange agreement, which meant that SmackDown talent could appear on ECW and vice versa. This allowed the United States Championship and WWE Tag Team Championship to be shared between the two brands.[26] In July 2008, the Divas Championship was created for SmackDown, allowing the SmackDown Divas to compete for a title.[27]

With the brand extension ending in 2011, all Raw and SmackDown titles were merged. After five years, a new brand extension was introduced on July 19, 2016. SmackDown drafted the WWE Champion and the Intercontinental Champion. As SmackDown was lacking a tag team championship and a women's championship, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan introduced the SmackDown Tag Team Championship and SmackDown Women's Championship.[28] In the 2017 Superstar Shake-Up, the Intercontinental Championship was moved to Raw and in exchange, the United States Championship moved back to SmackDown. The following year during the 2018 Superstar Shake-Up, the United States Championship was moved to Raw, but returned to SmackDown the next night. At Crown Jewel on October 31, 2019, SmackDown wrestler "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt won the Universal Championship, thus bringing the title to SmackDown. On the next night's episode of SmackDown, WWE Champion Brock Lesnar quit SmackDown and went to Raw, taking the title with him.

Current championships

SmackDown
Championship Current champion(s) Reign Date won Days held Location Notes
WWE Universal Championship "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt 1 October 31, 2019 18 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Defeated Seth Rollins at Crown Jewel in a Falls Count Anywhere match that could not be stopped for any reason.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Shinsuke Nakamura 1 July 14, 2019 127 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Defeated Finn Bálor on the Extreme Rules Kickoff pre-show.
WWE SmackDown Women's Championship Bayley 2 October 11, 2019 38 Paradise, Nevada Defeated Charlotte Flair on Friday Night SmackDown.
WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship The New Day
(Xavier Woods, Big E and Kofi Kingston)
5 November 8, 2019 10 Manchester, England Big E and Kofi Kingston defeated The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson) on Friday Night SmackDown.
Aired on same-day tape delay. Woods is also recognized as champion due to the Freebird Rule.

Previous championships

Championship Time on brand
World Heavyweight Championship June 30, 2005 - June 30, 2008
February 15, 2009 - April 5, 2009
April 26, 2009 - August 29, 2011
ECW Championship January 22, 2008 - March 30, 2008
WWE Divas Championship July 20, 2008 - April 13, 2009
WWE Women's Championship April 13, 2009 - September 19, 2010
WWE Intercontinental Championship July 30, 2002 - August 25, 2002
April 13, 2009 - August 29, 2011
July 19, 2016 - April 10, 2017
April 16, 2019 - present
WWE Cruiserweight Championship March 25, 2002 - September 28, 2007
World Tag Team Championship (original) March 25, 2002 - July 21, 2002
WWE Tag Team Championship (new) October 20, 2002 - April 5, 2009
WWE United States Championship July 27, 2003 - June 23, 2008
July 20, 2008 - July 22, 2009
April 26, 2011 - July 22, 2016
April 11, 2017 - April 16, 2018
April 17, 2018 - April 22, 2019
WWE Championship September 5, 2002 - June 6, 2005
July 19, 2016 - November 1, 2019

Personnel

Pay-per-view and WWE Network events

First brand split events

Date Event Venue Location Main event
October 26, 2002 Rebellion Manchester Arena Manchester, England Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman vs. Edge
July 27, 2003 Vengeance Pepsi Center Denver, Colorado Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show vs. Kurt Angle
October 19, 2003 No Mercy 1st Mariner Arena Baltimore, Maryland Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker
February 15, 2004 No Way Out Cow Palace Daly City, California Brock Lesnar vs. Eddie Guerrero
May 16, 2004 Judgment Day Staples Center Los Angeles, California Eddie Guerrero vs. John "Bradshaw" Layfield
June 27, 2004 The Great American Bash Norfolk Scope Norfolk, Virginia The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley) vs. The Undertaker
October 3, 2004 No Mercy Continental Airlines Arena East Rutherford, New Jersey John "Bradshaw" Layfield vs. The Undertaker
December 12, 2004 Armageddon Gwinnett Arena Duluth, Georgia John "Bradshaw" Layfield vs. Booker T vs. Eddie Guerrero vs. The Undertaker
February 20, 2005 No Way Out Mellon Arena Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania John "Bradshaw" Layfield vs. Big Show
May 22, 2005 Judgment Day Target Center Minneapolis, Minnesota John Cena vs. John "Bradshaw" Layfield
July 24, 2005 The Great American Bash HSBC Arena Buffalo, New York Batista vs. John "Bradshaw" Layfield
October 9, 2005 No Mercy Toyota Center Houston, Texas Batista vs. Eddie Guerrero
December 18, 2005 Armageddon Dunkin' Donuts Center Providence, Rhode Island Randy Orton vs. The Undertaker
February 19, 2006 No Way Out 1st Mariner Arena Baltimore, Maryland Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker
May 21, 2006 Judgment Day US Airways Center Phoenix, Arizona Rey Mysterio vs. John "Bradshaw" Layfield
July 23, 2006 The Great American Bash Conseco Fieldhouse Indianapolis, Indiana Rey Mysterio vs. King Booker
October 8, 2006 No Mercy RBC Center Raleigh, North Carolina King Booker vs. Batista vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Finlay
December 17, 2006 Armageddon Richmond Coliseum Richmond, Virginia Batista and John Cena vs. King Booker and Finlay
February 18, 2007 No Way Out Staples Center Los Angeles, California Batista and The Undertaker vs. John Cena and Shawn Michaels

Second brand split events

References

  1. ^ Matt Wilansky (April 26, 2017). "SmackDown Live recap: Breezango proves 'Land of Opportunity' isn't just a tagline". ESPN. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ Former WWE producer reveals they thought about making SmackDown an all women show - WrestlingEdge.com "We definitely discussed it, we looked at it, but we just didn't have the depth to do it on a consistent basis week after week. We really didn't have enough talent to do that, and in addition to that, if you were going to do that maybe not do it on the broadcast show because Vince McMahon was looking at that the more eyeballs."
  3. ^ a b c d Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE: History of WrestleMania. p. 57.
  4. ^ "Partnership Forming?". World Wrestling Entertainment. October 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007.
  5. ^ "Setting the night on fire". ECW results. World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2007.
  6. ^ Tello, Craig. "Elimination chamber result at no way out". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2009.
  7. ^ a b Sitterson, Aubrey (April 13, 2009). "Rough Draft (Televised draft results)". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2009.
  8. ^ "Results:Fueled by hatred and desperation". World Wrestling Entertainment. April 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  9. ^ Nemer, Paul (August 30, 2011). "Raw Results - 8/29/11". Wrestleview. Retrieved 2016.
  10. ^ Tom Herrera (January 11, 2014). "The 10 most important moments in Raw history". WWE.com. Retrieved 2014.
  11. ^ "WWE NEWS: Stephanie McMahon says why brand split is gone". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2013.
  12. ^ Steinberg, Brian (May 25, 2016). "WWE's 'Smackdown' Will Move To Live Broadcast On USA (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2016.
  13. ^ "WWE's destiny to be determined during SmackDown's Live premiere". WWE. June 20, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  14. ^ Caldwell, James. "7/11 WWE Raw Results - CALDWELL'S Complete Report". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2016.
  15. ^ a b Caldwell, James (July 18, 2016). "7/18 WWE Raw Results - CALDWELL'S Complete Live TV Report". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2016.
  16. ^ "2016 WWE Draft results: WWE officially ushers in New Era". WWE. Retrieved 2016.
  17. ^ "Breaking News: Aj Styles is now WWE Heavyweight Champion!". TSJSports.com. November 9, 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  18. ^ "Shane McMahon announced Paige as the new General Manager of SmackDown LIVE". WWE. April 10, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  19. ^ a b Zimmerman, Christopher Robin (March 26, 2002). "WWE Draft 2002 Recap". Archived from the original on July 23, 2012. Retrieved 2008.
  20. ^ a b "WWE Raw (March 25, 2002) Results". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2008.
  21. ^ a b "WWE Raw (March 25, 2002) Results". PWWEW.net. Retrieved 2008.[dead link]
  22. ^ "WWE Cruiserweight Championship History". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2008.
  23. ^ "Triple H's first World Heavyweight Championship reign". World Wrestling Entertainment. Archived from the original on February 21, 2008. Retrieved 2008.
  24. ^ "WWE Tag Team Championship History". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2008.
  25. ^ "WWE United States' Championship History". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2008.
  26. ^ Dee, Louie (October 18, 2007). "Even Exchange?". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2008.
  27. ^ "Divas Championship". WWE.
  28. ^ Parks, Greg. "8/23 WWE Smackdown LIVE - Parks's Complete, Real-Time Report". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2016.
  29. ^ Raw 2/18/19 - WWE.com
  30. ^ Satin, Ryan (May 20, 2019). "WATCH: Mick Foley Unveils New WWE 24/7 Title, First Champion Crowned". Pro Wrestling Sheet. Retrieved 2019.

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