April 29, 2019 will mark the 20th anniversary of the SmackDown brand’s debut. Admittedly, the show that marks it is a long way off yet, and the brand has also encountered recent difficulties. Regardless, those of a generation who appreciate what it originally represented will already be speculating as to how the anniversary will be acknowledged.
With SmackDown’s transition to internet-only coverage already a possibility, creating events which have the potential to dominate social media to an even greater extent may become yet more crucial.
SmackDown’s first promo was uncompromising, full-on and bursting with the sort of energy that would enable WWE to crush the WCW into oblivion. The shrewd selection of a celebrity guest can be a pivotal factor in determining whether or not a landmark sports entertainment show can be a success. Where SmackDown’s 20th anniversary is concerned, the guest will ideally come from a combative background.
Infuriatingly for the WWE, most of those that would be worth a cameo are still firmly committed to 8oz gloves. Anthony Joshua, for instance, has been a superlatively popular social media draw in 2017, and is, according to the latest boxing betting markets, an overwhelming favorite (at -4000) to beat Kubrat Pulev on October 28.
Boxers have always been a primary consideration for WWE cameos. For instance, the 2008 edition of Wrestlemania proved particularly memorable for Floyd Mayweather Jr, who recently stormed social media by taking his pro record to 50-0:
The suits at the WWE would also be well-advised to ‘rewind the clock’ if the event is to be a success. Poignantly, the honour of winning SmackDown’s very first bout fell to the Blue Blazer, aka Owen Hart, who defeated Val Venis in just over two minutes. In the prime of his career, Hart would lose his life less than one month later.
Though SmackDown’s resonation among WWE fans may have improved by April 2019, the involvement of a Hart Foundation representative in any context (i.e as a guest referee) would
be a bold, but potentially excellent, move for the blue brand.
The SmackDown brand opened with Blue Blazer taking on Val Venis.
The inaugural SmackDown event was characterised by a series of fast-paced bouts, with the longest being concluded in seven minutes flat. The quick resolution of matches enabled key personnel at board level to analyse crowd reaction in a time-efficient way. Subsequently, there could emerge a clearer picture as to how the franchise might redouble its already iron- clad grip on the sports entertainment industry through this new show.
Now bereft of any real rivals, the WWE does not need a return to quicker matches on SmackDown. Rather, an NXT star that is resonating well amongst fans should be booked in a squash match to take down a more experienced opponent. This would be an intriguing reversal of SmackDown’s second-ever match, in which the Big Show defeated Test in just 47 seconds.
Seen here making his debut at St Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1999, Big Show was one of the most prominent wrestlers of the SmackDown brand’s earlier days.
Once ‘second fiddle’ to the much-loved Raw, the SmackDown brand defied the odds in becoming a live show that stood equal to WWE’s flagship show. The spirit of the Attitude Era was one of rebellion and a departure from the norm, and SmackDown’s birth (at its height) provided an intriguing alternative to the unstoppable red machine that was Raw. If the SmackDown brand is to remain Raw’s equal, a back-to- basics approach is now sorely needed.