More professional wrestling joining TV schedules
Television viewers had better be ready to rumble as three new professional wrestling programs are hitting the schedules like the piledriver. It starts with IMPACT Wrestling slated to launch Oct. 1 on AXS TV, followed by “All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite” launching on TNT Oct. 2. If that isn’t enough time on the mat for WWE’s flagship program, “WWE’s SmackDown Live” (seen most recently on the USA Network) moves to FOX starting Oct. 4.
“SmackDown” — the wrestling franchise that launched the careers of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and John Cena — will be a two-hour broadcast every Friday night for 52 weeks. Charlotte Flair, the nine time WWE Women’s Champion who will be a part of the “Smackdown” family, is excited the wrestling program will be broadcast on a network because it will give more exposure to the messages the WWE has been pushing in regards to women.
“For me as a woman, with the females moving the needle in the WWE and having the opportunity to take the women’s evolution from cable television to broadcast television and this message that we have been sending the last two years, is so much bigger than what we do at WWE. It’s worldwide,” Flair says. “I know how loyal our fan base is and to have it from 80 million homes to 100 million homes is going to be huge.”
The move takes “Smackdown” from the basic cable channel of the USA Network to the new network home. Flair doesn’t expect the type of ring battles that have driven the WWE for so many years to change by going to a new home. There still will be an emphasis on highlighting both the athleticism and entertainment elements of the matches. “Smackdown” will continue to tell the story of good guys versus bad guys.
Over at AXS TV, IMPACT Wrestling will launch on the network with a series of special starting Oct. 1 that will showcase the IMPACT Wrestling pay-per-view events. The weekly show “IMPACT!” — set to start Oct. 29 — will feature profiles on IMPACT Wrestling’s biggest stars and exclusive untelevised matches from the biggest pay-per-view event of the year. This will all add up to more than 100 hours of original wrestling programming for the cable channel.
Ed Nordholm, chief corporate officer of Anthem Sports & Entertainment and president of IMPACT Wrestling, calls the agreement with AXS TV a very positive move because the cable channel has been “a premier destination for world-class sports entertainment programming.”
Those on the IMPACT roster include Brian Cage, Ken Shamrock, Rob Van Dam, Rhino, Tessa Blanchard, Rich Swann and TJP.
All Elite Wrestling
“All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite” will feature matches taking place in Washington, D.C.; Boston; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; Indianapolis; and Chicago. The new wrestling program was founded by President and CEO Tony Khan. The league is headlined by Cody and Brandi Rhodes, The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), Kenny Omega, Hangman Adam Page, Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, Nyla Rose, Awesome Kong, Dustin Rhodes, Jungle Boy, Dr. Britt Baker, MJF and SCU.
The lineup is a mix of veterans and new talent, including Jungle Boy (whose real name is Jack Perry).
“This is the first professional, professional wrestling company that I’ve ever worked for,” Jungle Boy says. “And, it’s just kind of wild because for me it was the thing I always dreamed about. And now I’m here and it’s happening. And to be with this group of people and the professionals and just to have everyone there as a support net and to go to for advice whatever it is, I don’t really think I could ask for anything better.”
One of the driving forces behind All Elite, Cody Rhodes, knows the new product is joining a heavy schedule of professional wrestling already on the air. His suggestion is not to look at what has been on the air, but rather the new things All Elite brings.
“I think the thing we have to do is not focus on WWE. It’s very different from what we’re providing. WWE has often coined themselves ‘sports entertainment.’ We’re coining ourselves ‘pro wrestling.’ We want pro wrestling to be what entertains you,” Rhodes says. “It’s very different. It’s a sports-centric broadcast that we’d like to present with AEW on TNT.
“And we just want to be our best selves. I don’t think the shows will really look at all like one another or sound like one another. So it’s important that we stay true to what we’ve done already with the events we’ve had. And I think that will make that impact for us.”