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The Bell Ringer: S.O.S. to the WWE: Save SmackDown!



8 September 2005

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Hello raslin’ fans how do you do? Welcome to the first instalment of The Bell Ringer. As SmackDown begins a new era on Friday nights beginning September 9, this week I’m going to examine the ramifications of the move and what the WWE needs to do to save their product.

DING! DING! First here’s a history lesson. SmackDown was designed to compete with WCW’s Thursday Night Thunder during the late 90’s. (At the time few people thought it was impossible to fill four hours a week of programming without getting stale). Nevertheless, it worked. The aftermath of Raw and Nitro spilled over into the Thursday night shows and vice versa. After the Time Warner and AOL merger and the Eric Bischoff murder of WCW, Vinnie Mac lucked out and had his competition fall into his lap. Along came the “Brand Extension” or roster split, (depending on who you ask) to give us the modern day WWE. Thus far, for the most part, the idea of two different brands has been successful.

Now SmackDown is “changing Friday nights.” Note to WWE: That’s not a good thing; that’s a bad thing. Under the old SmackDown, this most likely wouldn’t have been too big of a deal. On Raw, the announcers would recap what happened. The wrestlers would issue challenges to other wrestlers as a result of what occurred on Friday night. Storylines would still flow despite losing viewers. But the smoking gun in the night change are the PPV sales. Most the WWE’s revenue comes from Pay-per-views and house shows .If there is a small audience for SmackDown, consequently, there will be an even smaller audience for SmackDown PPVs. The house shows’ ticket sales will also drop. The WWE showcases two brands of entertainment a week, Raw and SmackDown. No other big time programs. No replays. There’s not a person on this planet that’s going to shell out thirty bucks every other month on a product they know little about.

All the talk about moving to Friday nights is going to be good for the company is fool’s gold. Make no mistake about it, the demographic in wrestling is 18-25 year old males. Barring being a complete nerd or being in some other unusual situation, that 18-25 year old male is going to be out dating, dancing, drinking, or D, all of the above on Friday nights. Don’t forget about high school football on Friday nights. That eliminates another portion of your viewers. Vacations and camping trips are generally reserved for weekends. Minus more viewers. It’s my job to watch wrestling and even I’m going be hard pressed to see the show. The WWE can schedule a cage match, bull rope match, Hell in a Cell, or even a shoot your opponent in the ass with an elephant gun match. If no one’s in front of a T.V., they won’t watch it. This is not like TNA’s situation, where the young upstart company will accept any timeslot available. WWE is taking a GAINT step backwards.

WHAT SHOULD THE WWE DO ABOUT SMACKDOWN?

For the USA Network, body slams are meat and bread. Without the WWE, USA doesn’t get feed. The USA Network was the number one watched cable network with Monday Night Raw in its line-up a few years ago. Vince McMahon should contact USA about doing a Wednesday night show using his SmackDown roster under a new name. Then he should reduce the Friday SmackDown to a “B” show.(similar to Heat). Screw UPN since they screwed him. (We all know Vinnie Mac is about screwing).

A Wednesday night show will do two things. 1. WWE’s SmackDown brand will have a great timeslot and people will be available to watch it. 2. It will kill TNA’s weekly PPV. Why pay for the unknown TNA product when you could see the more familiar WWE for free. It makes perfect business sense. By doing this maybe UPN will cancel Smackdown, no problem! Simply move it to Saturday nights to go head to head with TNA.

Whether a change for SmackDown is made or not, I think the WWE should upgrade Heat and move it Saturdays. They need to put the TNA fire out before it gets any bigger. I hope the WWE is not this smart. I want TNA to succeed. I do, however, hope the WWE is smart enough to devise a plan for the soon to be dead SmackDown. Remember, SmackDown is not changing Friday nights, but Friday nights are changing SmackDown.

Buddy Jones

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