Wrestling fans were on their toes as negotiation chips were thrown and deals finalized last month between WWE and UFC, two giants in combat entertainment. Positioned prominently on the stage of the New York Stock Exchange, the companies showcased their authority and set the stage for major changes. The most notable of these changes is the relocation of Smackdown to the USA Network in 2022, a move that has left TKO Holdings reeling with major stock losses and has led to widespread speculation about the future of the title.
Amid increased chatter of Fox distancing itself from WWE due to the financial strain caused by a multiyear deal for Smackdown, uncertainty reigned supreme over the fate of Friday Night Smackdown. However, the clouds of uncertainty have finally parted. The all-clear signal? A five-year contract with USA Network signed, sealed, and set to roll out in 2024.
Despite this promising development, TKO Holdings hasn’t dodged the bullet. The company’s stock took a significant hit in the aftermath of the deal. At Bloomberg’s Screentime conference, Ari Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor and TKO, laid out the three primary factors behind this downturn. According to Emanuel, the lower-than-expected value placed on Raw, the confusion surrounding the P.F.L. situation, and Vince McMahon’s unanticipated wish to liquidate his stock at any time, played heavily into the losses.
Interestingly, WWE’s fees for Friday Night Smackdown saw a nearly 40% surge with their USA Network deal. So the big question remains, will Smackdown truly thrive again when it steps back into the ring on USA Network next year?
A keen observer like Emanuel is likely to have gauged the pulse of the situation correctly, but only time will reveal whether the USA Network will emerge as the best corner for Smackdown. Your opinions are as crucial as ours in predicting the trajectory of this wrestling saga, so don’t shy away from sharing them in the comments.