A first-hand account of Friday Night SmackDown’s debut on FOX

WWE Friday Night SmackDown moves to FOX on Friday, October 4, 2019. Image: WWE.com
WWE Friday Night SmackDown moves to FOX on Friday, October 4, 2019. Image: WWE.com /

WWE rolled out the blue carpet for their debut of Friday Night SmackDown on FOX and being in attendance was an experience of epic proportions.

Seeing a WWE show live is a spectacle unlike any other. Part rock concert, part big game day the production value is unmatched. For the debut of Friday Night SmackDown on Fox they dialed it up to an almost pay-per-view quality.

The city of Los Angeles found themselves under a takeover as the blue brand decorated billboards off the 405 freeway announcing the WWE’s big move to FOX. The Staples Center was draped in imagery celebrating the event and with the faces of legends and the next generation of talent watching over the throngs of fans, excitement started to peak as anticipation grew.

As we piled inside I found myself seated directly behind the massive production display and saw just how much effort it took to produce what’s seen on TV every week. Rows of computers that looked like they were sent from the future lined about six different long tables each adorned with roughly four screens each.

More than once, Superstars like The Miz poked their head out to see the arena and actor David Arquette was seated right in front of me. This was also the first time anyone in the public would see the new SmackDown set. Fans were in awe of the set-up and chants of “we’ve got pyro” filled the arena as the return of the pyrotechnic intros for the Superstars has been a long-sought prize.

When you go to the shows you go to be entertained and have fun. The crowd was there for just that on October 4 and the WWE presented a dazzling display. A dark match saw Ali take on Buddy Murphy to get the crowd hyped and each time a legend was meant to be in the crowd for the TV viewers they were introduced in grand fashion for the live audience.

As soon as Vince McMahon’s “No Chance in Hell” theme hit at the top of the show the Staples Center erupted and the cheering continued throughout the firework display to open the event. With no chance to take a breath “The Man” Becky Lynch came out to kickoff SmackDown keeping fans on their feet. But it was when The Rock entered the arena that the roof almost blew off the Staples Center. Chants of “Rocky” were mixed with chants of “Becky” as The Rock and The Man delivered an exciting opening.

The energy and excitement in the arena remained high throughout. More than once chants of “this is awesome” broke out during the Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon ladder match. The Four Horsewomen match also received the chant of respect for their work. Shock from Kofi Kingston’s abrupt loss did wash over the crowd but it was quickly replaced with “holy s–t” chants as soon as Cain Velasquez appeared.

Only a few years back, if you said you watched wrestling you received a snicker of a laugh in return. Now the WWE have integrated themselves into the mainstream appearing on a network known for sports. That is a huge testament to the hard work put in by all to build recognition around what these athletes do in the ring day-in and day out.


At the close of the show I ran into Senior Director of Talent Development for WWE, Canyon Ceman, who made a point of asking my name before saying he was just a fan that night himself there to enjoy the show. I capped off the weekend by meeting Becky Lynch where, gracious as always, she too was still pumped up from the previous night’s event sharing the ring with The Rock.

Maybe it doesn’t always come across on TV screens but the energy in an arena can be so electrifying you never want it to end. That’s how the debut of Friday Night SmackDown on Fox felt on October 4. As I prepare to attend the second showing, which includes the big roster draft, I’m anxious to see how production compares going forward.

Next. WWE SmackDown recap for October 4, 2019: The Rock and the Man. dark