SmackDown: The Main Event at the new CW
SmackDown will make its huge CW network season premiere this Friday, and the stars and executives of the new CW are thrilled. The partnership between WWE and the CW will bring sports-entertainment fans to the new network and new viewers to SmackDown. The WWE show is the foundation and cornerstone of the CW's Friday night programming.
"SmackDown is huge for the CW," said Kevin Levy, Senior VP for Scheduling and Acquisitions for the CW. "Typically, Friday nights have been a really tough night for television. And if you look at all the other networks, it's been years since they've had anything as stable and as successful as we've had on SmackDown. It's great to know that SmackDown is there. It's able to draw its fans to Friday nights, and honestly, Friday night is not usually a place people would turn to for television, but with SmackDown, it's rock solid."
At a recent launch party for the network, celebrities and WWE Superstars gathered to express their excitement about being involved in the new TV endeavor.
"UPN is merging with the WB. You know, you got the best of both worlds." Queen Sharmell said, with King Booker by her side.
"Right now we're in New York City, the Big Apple -- right here on the red carpet initiating something new, something exciting," King Booker said. The World Heavyweight Champion will face Undertaker on the SmackDown premiere Friday night.
Celebrities from other CW network shows were at the celebration, including America's Next Top Model host, Tyra Banks; Smallville's Lois Lane, Erica Durance; and star of the new drama, Runaway, Donnie Wahlberg, who's especially excited to see Batista kick off the SmackDown premiere on its new TV home.
"I don't know if Runaway can compete with SmackDown. That's a pretty big, primetime show," Wahlberg said. "But that dude, Batista, I could take him, man. He would be scared of me," he joked.
WWE Superstar Batista agreed that SmackDown's move to the CW will play an important role at the new network. "It's an honor and privilege to represent SmackDown. I believe we're the best show on the network," he said.
Levy said he's positive that the big WWE Superstars of SmackDown will draw new fans and viewers to the CW.
"In a huge portion of the country the CW is going to be located on stations that were not the UPN stations in the past. It's a whole new viewing option for a whole new group of people. If anything can draw people to the TV, it's WWE," Levy said.
Annette O'Toole, who plays Martha Kent on Smallville, is also looking forward to watching SmackDown on Friday nights, as she's already a WWE fan.
"I'm very excited about the whole wrestling thing because I'm like the biggest Ric Flair fan in the world," O'Toole said.
(WWE fans: Don't forget, Batista will be taping an episode of Smallville in early October.)
Levy said the new CW's shows will make a great pairing with SmackDown on the CW -- it's a perfect partnership.
"I think SmackDown itself is going to benefit a lot more from its new home on the CW than it did previously, just because of some of the new programming we're surrounding it with. There's a lot more compatible than the stuff that SmackDown was used to having as lead-ins. Now we've got more male-skewing shows like Smallvile and Supernatural airing the night before. It really helps to have those types of shows feeding viewers into SmackDown and vice-versa. There's a lot better schedule flow than we had on UPN. We're going to be a bigger network, a better network, and we have more distribution. I think it's a win-win for SmackDown and the CW," Levy said.
All of the stars on the new CW agree that moving to the network is a positive experience.
"The CW is a bigger network. To have this opportunity to be everywhere, you can't ask for more," said Terry Crews, who plays Julius on Everybody Hates Chris.
"I think it's good. I think variety is the spice of life. You just have a whole different mix of things," said Durance.
Jason Dohring, who plays Logan Echolls on Veronica Mars, thinks SmackDown's move to the CW is a good thing. "I think wrestling brings a great audience to the network," he said.
SmackDown's own World Heavyweight Champion perfectly summed up the WWE/CW partenership:
"SmackDown is going to fit right in, if not just take over the whole scene if you know what I'm saying," said King Booker.
Watch the season premiere of SmackDown this Friday at 8/7 CT only on the new CW.
Find the CW in your area.
Preview this Friday's SmackDown premiere.
Batista will guest star on an episode of CW's Smallville.