SmackDown (WWE brand)
Logo for the brand and the SmackDown television program as of October 4, 2019
|Product type||Professional wrestling|
|Produced by||Vince McMahon|
|Introduced||March 25, 2002 |
July 19, 2016
|Discontinued||August 29, 2011 |
|Tagline||The Land of Opportunity|
|Executive Director |
(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.
First split (2002–2011)
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.
In March 2002, WWF underwent the "brand extension", a process in which WWE divided itself into two branches with separate rosters, storylines and authority figures. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. SmackDown regained the World Heavyweight Championship at Backlash when Edge invoked his WrestleMania rematch clause and defeated Cena to win the championship back. 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.
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. 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. 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.
Second split (2016–present)
On May 25, 2016, it was revealed that the brand split would return in July. The 2016 WWE draft took place on the live premiere episode of SmackDown on July 19 to determine the rosters between both brands. On the July 11 episode of Raw, Vince McMahon named Shane McMahon the commissioner of SmackDown. Then next week on Raw, Daniel Bryan was revealed as the new SmackDown General Manager. 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. WWE Champion Dean Ambrose was SmackDown's first pick.
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. 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.
Initially, the Undisputed WWE Championship and the original WWE Women's Championship were available to both brands. The other championships were exclusive to the brand the champion was a part of. When the brand extension began, SmackDown became the exclusive home for the World Tag Team Championship and the original Cruiserweight Championship.
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. SmackDown created the WWE Tag Team Championship and they revived the United States Championship. 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. In July 2008, the Divas Championship was created for SmackDown, allowing the SmackDown Divas to compete for a title.
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. 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.
|Championship||Current champion(s)||Reign||Date won||Days held||Location||Notes|
|WWE Universal Championship||"The Fiend" Bray Wyatt||1||October 31, 2019||14||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||123||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Defeated Finn Bálor on the Extreme Rules Kickoff pre-show.|
|WWE SmackDown Women's Championship||Bayley||2||October 11, 2019||34||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||6||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.
- Note – The WWE Women's Tag Team Championship and the WWE 24/7 Championship can also be defended on SmackDown as they are shared among the brands
|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
Pay-per-view and WWE Network events
First brand split events
Second brand split events
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