With the announcement that WWE has agreed to a five-year deal with NBCUniversal to bring SmackDown to USA Network in October 2024, something else was added in the mix. WWE will also be producing four primetime specials per year that will air on NBC starting with the 2024-2025 broadcast season.
Great news. These will likely be mini pay-per-views that can draw in huge audiences if they play their cards correctly. Network television specials like this have historically had the potential to do really well, and I’m hoping WWE puts a lot of effort into making them worthwhile, rather than phoning it in, producing “whatever crap they can toss out there” to fulfill the contractual obligation (like the booking approach to Main Event on Hulu) and calling it a day.
So first things first when it comes to this is to ask what they’re going to be called. No name was given during this announcement, which means it’s at least somewhat up in the air what both parties want to call it.
Let’s explore some ideas that I have of what these specials should be named and the pros and cons that come about with each one.
“Saturday Night’s Main Event” or “WWE Main Event” or Some Variation
The go-to answer for most people is to just simply bring back Saturday Night’s Main Event. After all, that’s the traditional NBC primetime special. Why mess with tradition?
While I wouldn’t be opposed to it, I do think there are better alternatives AND there are problems that come about from doing this. As far as the alternatives, you’ll see them listed below. But the problems are related to how this is already in use.
Currently, WWE uses the branding Saturday Night’s Main Event for its Saturday house shows. The Sunday ones are called Sunday Stunner. In my mind, that just works. Why mess with THAT if you don’t have to? If they need to rebrand the Saturday shows to something else, they’ll probably go with “Saturday Stunner” and that just sounds bland to have them both like that. I highly doubt they’d be willing to go with Shotgun Saturday Night to repurpose that, for anyone who would suggest that, either. Maybe “Saturday Slamboree” could work?
WWE could potentially get away with just calling it WWE Main Event if Hulu doesn’t renew its deal to continue producing that. But that’s still such a boring name in my mind. It’s like calling the show WWE Live or WWE Series of Matches.
Ultimately, Saturday Night’s Main Event for the legacy purpose could work, so long as there is a good enough alternative Saturday house show name in place. They can’t just continue to call it that and run the risk of confusing people buying tickets thinking they’re getting a primetime special when they’re just getting a run of the mill house show.
“In Your House”
One of my favorite ideas would be to make these In Your House specials. Those were originally pay-per-views that weren’t good enough to be part of the Big 5 (Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, King of the Ring, SummerSlam and Survivor Series). We haven’t seen an NXT In Your House this year, so it could work for a reset.
A quarterly In Your House gimmick makes sense to me name-wise as well for it being a network primetime special that you can get “in your house” without having to pay for it.
They’ve got most of the set already. Tweak a few things and you’re good to go for that, if you don’t just want to set it up like you do Raw and SmackDown.
“Clash of Champions” or “Night of Champions” or “Gold Rush”
What if WWE and NBC want this to be more akin to how AEW produces its Battle of the Belts specials quarterly? That might even be EXACTLY the model that they are basing this deal on.
If the gimmick is going to be “championships on the line” rather than “a big match to draw in viewers plus some filler”, then I think WWE needs to look at utilizing the Clash of Champions, Night of Champions or Gold Rush names.
Ideally, if I’m making the decision, I’m going with Night of Champions. Why, if that’s my least favorite? Because I still think Survivor Series works best as being quadruple-branded as “Worlds Collide” if you include NXT, “Bragging Rights” should be the Team Raw vs Team SmackDown matches, and “Clash of Champions” should be the champion vs champion matches. Gold Rush works better as an NXT concept, or maybe a special episode of Raw or even just a match itself (like a beat the clock challenge to settle on a new champion after the belt’s vacated)
Night of Champions is simple. It is a night where champions defend their titles. But if they went with Clash of Champions, I’d be more than okay with that, too.
I do think one of the best things WWE can do with this opportunity is to repurpose an old title, rather than create something new. One of the best fits in my mind would be Fully Loaded. I’ve always liked the name, outright, but it also speaks to how this would likely be a Raw and SmackDown crossover event, rather than something for either roster solo.
Therefore, it is a “fully loaded” event in that both rosters can be represented, and they’re packing it with some big stars.
Just don’t go with that logo up above. I don’t know what they were thinking with that. There shouldn’t be a gun emphasis, either, like the bullet-based logos I see online. This should be about the loaded roster, not a loaded pistol.
Similar to the Fully Loaded idea, but less so, would be Super ShowDown. They love the Supershow name, and I think that’s rather bland. At least with the ShowDown concept, it seems more like a conflict / action based thing.
Plus, WWE doesn’t seem to be using this branding anymore for the international events. We had seen the Australia show and then several Saudi Arabia events. Now, they’re just sticking to Crown Jewel as a fall Saudi exclusive (and we can assume that would happen again this year, though it hasn’t been announced), and the one at the beginning of the year is whatever they want to fit at that moment. Elimination Chamber was a Saudi show, a Canada show and will now be an Australia show. Who’s to say the spring 2024 Saudi show isn’t just Backlash like how they went to Puerto Rico?
Super ShowDown is easy because of the alliteration and the trademark. They don’t even really need to create new assets for logos. It’s far from my first pick, but it’s certainly one of the easiest, least effort options available.
A lot of hardcore fans would throw a hissy fit over this, but Starrcade underneath WWE isn’t the same as WCW Starrcade. They’ve already used it for house shows. At least a Saturday primetime special would be better than that.
Plus, once more, it goes in the same “stacked card with people from multiple rosters” concept. This is a star-driven event. Starrcade.
I think one of the biggest drawbacks to this would be that some people just wouldn’t know it has 2 Rs in the name. That sounds ridiculous at first, but you should never underestimate the stupidity of the average person. Guaranteed, some people would be searching their TV guide screens for “Starcade” and getting confused. And others might just be confused in general, because what the hell is a Starrcade?
A Brand New Name
More than likely, I think we could see WWE create a brand new name for this if they don’t just go with Saturday Night’s Main Event. What that name would be is anyone’s guess, and it will likely be underwhelming like some of the pay-per-view names we’ve gotten over the years.
If I were to suggest a brand new name that I could come up with, what about WWE All Star Smash? I don’t think it would make sense to have 4 separate new show names, I’ll say that.
Who Says It Has to Be Just 1 Name?
Maybe WWE has a plan to make each of these unique by repurposing old names as they are fitting. That might actually be the absolute best idea of them all, and it could mean that any number of these names could be used at any time.
Four specials per year for five years gives us twenty events to work with. If they don’t just make this similar to Battle of the Belts where it is given a roman numeral, or it’s just Saturday Night’s Main Event coming around four times per year or something, WWE could build some excitement as pitching these as free pay-per-views.
Hell, call the first one of them Free-For-All. Then, do a King & Queen of the Ring tournament and bring that back for a one-shot. Do Rage in the Cage for one with a steel cage main even big draw match.
Call it Capitol Punishment if you book an arena in Washington, D.C. Have Clash at the Castle back in Cardiff and sell out a big arena and put it on television, as there’s no need that these have to be pre-taped (which would kill the ratings) or that you’d have to worry about buy rates for premium live events.
Do a Halloween Havoc one in quarter 4. Fall Brawl if you do it in September through November but not on Halloween. New Year’s Revolution if you do it around January 1st. Bring back a show like Bash at the Beach at any time, particularly in the summer, to go with SummerSlam and Heatwave and Great American Bash.
As far as what I’m hoping for, my personal picks would be “a different event name for each show” as my #1 option, “Night of Champions” if this is title defense specific and they want just one name across the board, “Fully Loaded” or “Super ShowDown” if they’re one name and generic events without a championship focus, and I guess “Saturday Night’s Main Event” if they change the Saturday house shows to some other name that isn’t awful.
What do you want these NBC primetime specials to be called? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!