ZWrestleTalk Turns 6: SmackDown on FOX, NXT on USA, AEW Full Gear, and WWE Draft IdeasRead Now
Triple Z discusses SmackDown moving to FOX, NXT making the jump to USA Network, AEW prepping for its first PPV in the TNT era, and some WWE Draft ideas to hype the product.
Well, ZWrestleTalk is six. That's really something because this site has gone through a lot of changes over the years but one thing remains the same. It will be the place for me and others to share their opinions on the fantastic and sometimes frustrating world of professional wrestling.
Last year I spent a lot of the anniversary post covering ZWrestleTalk. This year we are going to focus on some hot topics instead. It's simply been too long since I've written about wrestling and a lot has happened that I can't always get to in my monthly predictions!
SmackDown on FOX
I'm still super curious to see how this will work. We have heard numerous rumors about SmackDown on FOX. Even that FOX wanted "Attitude Era" WWE for SmackDown. The other rumor was that FOX wanted a sports presentation that felt more cinematic.
Eric Bischoff, the main guy behind WCW, is taking over SmackDown as Executive Director. What changes will Bischoff bring? That remains to be seen. Yet the roles of Heyman and Bischoff will wield more power than previous positions. Please, let's not kid ourselves Vince is doing this so he doesn't have to micromanage shows anymore. He still might but at least on paper he has the creatives who could very well handle their own shows. I honestly don't blame him. Vince doesn't need to do the hustle anymore.
I also have to assume Bischoff will be an on-screen character. He is too good not to use. I think utilizing mainstream talent will be the key for Bischoff's SmackDown. Similar to the SmackDown commercial that showcased a mix of legends and popular superstars. I wouldn't be surprised SmackDown be the home of the mainstream stars like Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte Flair. Granted, these mainstream stars aren't as recognizable as John Cena, Undertaker, The Rock, Rey Mysterio, and Stone Cold but if they have any bit of mainstream pub I'm sure FOX will want them. I give FOX credit for at least attempting to make WWE more mainstream again.
This should also mean that WWE is calling Ronda Rousey to get her on that first SmackDown show. Rousey is still WWE's biggest female star. FOX needs the names. I wouldn't be surprised if they get Brock Lesnar too. WWE is going to need ratings help because the pressure of getting good ratings on FOX will be higher than it was on USA, SyFy, MyTV, etc. I can't imagine FOX cancelling SmackDown but I can see them moving it to FS1 if things ever went south.
The timeslot of the show is 8PM on Friday nights on the main FOX network. The show will remain at two hours and still be live. I like the move to Friday. I think Friday Night SmackDown just works. It will make WWE's television watching schedule more spread out (somewhat). RAW will be on Monday, NXT on Wednesday, and SmackDown on Friday.
SmackDown's success will remain on how different the show can be. The other task at hand. Which is very similar to Tony Khan's goal of AEW will be can the shows attract former fans of pro wrestling and create new fans of pro wrestling? It seems like FOX, USA, and TNT are all betting on WWE/AEW seeing if this turns out to be another wrestling renaissance like the nineties were.
Bigger question remains... Will the set be different? I'm expecting an old school look to compliment that old school hybrid logo.
NXT on USA
NXT moving to USA Network is a calculated move. Is it necessarily a smart move? Yes, obviously from a business perspective it is. From a fan standpoint? It could end up damaging NXT pretty bad. Now that we know the show will stay at Full Sail University. That raises my interest for NXT on USA. The roster right now is absolutely stacked. There is only one issue I see with it.
Will NXT still remain as a true developmental brand? Remember some of these talents aren't ready and it doesn't matter how many indie promotions they were at before. WWE likes their wrestlers to be ready and have the understanding of how WWE runs matches and its production. There is a good chance some people may be overexposed. NXT's roster is deep but how deep will it be once this show really gets rolling. The show has the blessing of keeping wrestlers like Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Velveteen Dream, Io Shirai, Candice Lerae, Undisputed Era, and others. Those talents are ready for the likes of RAW and SmackDown so having them establish NXT will be good. The bigger worry will be when NXT goes through the transition periods. After WWE does a drain of the brand to reload its main shows. What will be left? It's obvious WWE will continue to lock up talent but will it matter if they aren't truly ready? Obviously, the only people appearing on NXT will be people that are ready similar to now but still it will be interesting to see how the brand remains fresh especially when it goes through an inevitable rebuild after WrestleMania 36.
Heck, I feel like the move is very uninspired on WWE's end. This would have been nerve-wracking even without AEW being on Wednesday nights. Why screw a good aspect of the WWE Network over? Why screw up a great aspect of WWE? It makes sense why they are going to USA Network but it does make the WWE Network less special. Even if WWE is pulling a Hulu-like deal with USA where episodes of NXT are available the next day on the network. I get Vince doesn't like competition but he just legitimatized AEW in a big way. WWE fans can twist it but at the end of the day this looks like a panic move from WWE.
Am I looking forward to the new two hour NXT? I mean of course but a part of me still wonders how this move to USA Network will affect NXT TakeOver's. If NXT starts losing its quality and they lose what made that brand special it will be an unforgivable mistake.
AEW Full Gear
AEW will be hosting another PPV event in November. This time it will be the first PPV during the TNT era. Full Gear is going to tell us a lot about AEW's production and its roster. This will be the first time AEW will have to do a go home show before a PPV. It will also mark the first time they get a chance to run a show a couple days after a big event. Something that Double or Nothing could've benefited from.
The one thing I don't understand in their build to Full Gear. Why announce Cody vs Jericho for the championship? This feud has some serious potential. Why just announce it randomly? This could've been built through the weeks of television. Of course, AEW (Cody) backpedaled and said that "the card could change." It very well could but that just creates another issue similar to All Out. Moxley/Omega was going to happen then it was pulled because of Moxley's injury. It would look even worse on AEW if Cody/Jericho is advertised and they pull it without good reason other then that they announced it way too early.
Then again this promotion is trying to be different. It seems like they may want to go the UFC route. Announce championship matches with the top talent. AEW may abandon the whole pro wrestling notion of doing true blue storylines and focus on the records of the talent. Which would take some getting use to but could pay off.
I'm excited for Moxley/Omega at Full Gear. That match has serious potential and we have been waiting for it since Double or Nothing ended. The rest of the card we don't know yet but I would assume we will be seeing The Young Bucks, SCU, newly-signed Santana and Ortiz, Britt Baker, Nyla Rose, Hangman Page, and PAC. I would also expect to see Shawn Spears and Tully Blanchard raising trouble again, and having MJF take on Spears at the event.
The only thing that AEW is going to run into will be how often will they be running these $50 PPV events. Even though having to pay $50 for a PPV makes it feel like a bigger deal than just flipping on the WWE Network. At the end of the day it is still $50! I wouldn't be surprised if we get a clearer understanding of AEW's PPV model in 2020 because I have a feeling that the current model won't last too long considering you are competing against WWE Network which only costs $9.99 a month. Maybe WarnerMedia digs AEW and puts them on HBO or even HBO Max. That could be intriguing for wrestling fans.
AEW on TNT on Wednesday nights doesn't have a name yet. I think we can all expect it to be called Wednesday Night Dynamite. That's what AEW trademarked even before they announced the company. Although the show will face stiff competition I'm hoping it puts up good ratings and gives us a true number two Wrestling company that we have desperately needed. Hopefully, it's a good enough alternative that it scares the 800 pound gorilla known as WWE.
WWE Draft Ideas
So, WWE is planning a draft to officially kick off the FOX era of SmackDown. The draft will start on SmackDown on October 11 and then it will conclude on the following RAW. WWE has abandoned the draft concept since its latest brand split. Instead they have done the "Superstar Shake Up" which was awful. Now it looks like WWE will be doing a real sports feel for its draft. Here are some simple ideas:
I'm all for WWE going through changes. As it feels like WWE as a whole outside of NXT has really been dragging. Even though WWE is doing well financially it just feels like the entire company hasn't been as entertaining as it should be. I'm hoping with Heyman/Bischoff, FOX, and AEW will help change the way WWE has been.
Well, the next time you'll be hearing from me will be for WWE Clash of Champions which is this Sunday. I'll probably also be back to discuss AEW's first couple weeks of TV. So, keep your eyes open for new posts to the site.
Thanks for reading!
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Creator of ZWrestleTalk. This page I give you my thoughts on the current state of the WWE product. I look back at the history of WWE. Sometimes even predict the future. If your lucky you get comedic articles too.