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If you’re a fan of professional wrestling, this fall is going to be a slobberknocker of a good time.
As of Oct. 4, there will be nine hours of pro wrestling available on major broadcast and cable channels every week. WWE programming comprises most of that time, with “Monday Night Raw” airing on USA Network, “SmackDown Live” making its move to Fox Friday nights, and the WWE’s developmental brand NXT debuting its full two-hour show Wednesdays on USA. Meanwhile, the new promotion All Elite Wrestling, or AEW, will launch its two-hour show “Dynamite” on TNT on Wednesday.
SmackDown - Move - Culmination - Deal - WWE
The “SmackDown” move is the culmination of a billion-dollar deal between the WWE and Fox that will see the sports entertainment brand air on the broadcaster for the next five years as part of Fox’s new push into more live sports events, now that it is a standalone company post-Disney/21st Century Fox merger. Fox has been promoting the “SmackDown” debut, set for this Friday, for months, with WWE talent appearing across multiple Fox Sports programs as well as at major Fox events like the recent Emmys telecast.
“There probably isn’t a live event going back to February with the Daytona 500 where you haven’t seen some kind of organic creative integration from the WWE,” Eric Shanks, CEO and executive producer of Fox Sports, tells Variety. “It’s like we had all these closet WWE fans in the booth and in the truck and now the shackles have been lifted.”
Shanks - WWE - Fox - Fridays - Network
Shanks says getting the WWE on Fox Fridays allows the network to air live events from Thursday through Sunday. Fox is entering its second season broadcasting the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” under a five-year, $1.6 billion deal signed last January, and continues to aire NCAA and NFL football and Saturdays and Sundays.
Friday’s Fox kickoff show will feature appearances by...
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