Since WWE announced their next television contracts, word’s been out that SmackDown’s new network wants the blue brand to feel more like so-called “real sports” than the sports entertainment we’re used to getting from Vince McMahon-produced shows. There’s a quote making the rounds which ties that talk in to the item from last week about UFC champ Daniel Cormier trying out for a WWE commentary role.
Here’s Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio (courtesy of Wrestling Inc’s transcription):
“The Cormier thing is, Fox wants Cormier. That’s the deal. That’s where that comes from. Vince isn’t yelling as much at the guys on SmackDown every week, because Vince doesn’t go to Smackdown that much anymore. And they want him (Cormier) for Smackdown. Although when SmackDown’s on Fox on Friday, that may all change. He (Vince) may be at every SmackDown again. But Fox wants Cormier, that’s the deal with Cormier. Because number one, they want more of a sports presentation, and number two, they love Cormier from the UFC, and they don’t want to lose him. So that’s what that is about.”
Fox plans to promote their new Friday night flagship on football and baseball broadcasts, and use SmackDown to promote the NFL and other non-scripted competitions under their Fox Sports umbrella. So, as much as we love those things, it follows they probably don’t want Joe Buck intro-ing a clip from Fashion Files or Tom Phillips transitioning from a Truth TV dance break to talk about an upcoming Cowboys/Eagles game.
But what does “more of a sports presentation” look like, exactly? Tournaments? Rankings? I’m a long time advocate of trying to make every match matter, but I’ve rarely seen attempts to integrate things like win/loss records into pro wrestling lead to compelling television.
Can it work? Sure. But so can the weird variety show WWE’s been for most of its existence. The good/bad determination comes down to consistency and quality of the work, not the format itself. In and of itself, deciding to make SmackDown be more like a sports show isn’t going to fix anything. And WWE’s track record isn’t great when it comes down to consistency and quality.
But maybe Daniel Cormier is key. Let’s hope so.