WWE SmackDown to hold its 20th anniversary episode for debut on Fox in October
SmackDown will air on broadcast TV for the first time since 2006 when it moves to Fox
With the Oct. 4 return of WWE SmackDown to network television for the first time since 2006, the company is looking to use old stars to bring improved ratings. As detailed in a WWE press release, the debut of SmackDown on Fox will function as the brand's "20th Anniversary Celebration."
Wrestling fans with a keen memory may recall the debut of SmackDown was April 29, 1999. While the actual 20-year mark came and went months ago, the celebration serves as an opportunity for a reunion show blowout. Names already announced for the show include Kurt Angle, Lita, Mick Foley, Booker T, Hulk Hogan, Trish Stratus, Goldberg, Jerry "The King" Lawler, Mark Henry, Ric Flair and Sting.
Despite some big names being listed in the press release, WWE is likely not showing all their cards. With the show having been named after one of The Rock's iconic Attitude Era catchphrases, he's on the short list of names who could make a ratings-rocking surprise appearance.
NBCUniversal networks have aired SmackDown since 2010 with USA Network serving as the show's home since January 2016. When NBCUniversal declined to re-sign Smackdown -- while significantly increasing their deal to retain Raw on Monday nights -- Fox swooped in with a package reportedly including substantial marketing commitments.
The deal between WWE and Fox is reportedly valued at $1 billion, according to The Hollywood Reporter, so there's plenty of motivation for WWE to swing for the fences in an attempt to garner big ratings out of the gate.
There is some extra motivation for the world's biggest wrestling promotion, however, as new potential power player All Elite Wrestling make their TV debut on TNT just two days prior. Bringing in a parade of Hall of Fame talent gives WWE a chance to steal some of AEW's thunder from week one, especially two days before the WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view.
With a new company with significant financial backing debuting on cable and WWE airing a non-syndicated weekly show on a "big four" network, October marks the beginning of a new chapter in wrestling history.
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