WATCH | WWE returns to free TV with TV5’s acquisition of ‘Smackdown Live’

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Randy Orton, Charlotte Flair and AJ Styles are among the headliners of 'Smackdown Live.'

Almost two weeks after TV5 teased on its Facebook page that popular sports entertainment brand World Wrestling Entertainment was coming to the network, TV5 president “Coach” Chot Reyes officially announced that “Smackdown Live,” one of its two enduring flagship programs, will air on TV5 starting this Sunday at 3PM.

Reyes made the announcement during a news conference attended by WWE vice president and general manager for Asia Pacific Chris Mars.

“In the industry of sports entertainment, WWE is second to none. It’s a proven, successful, model organization and an esteemed, iconic brand. We at TV5 are honored and excited to be the platform that delivers the WWE to the free TV audience,” Reyes said during the launch.

“The WWE has a large community and huge following in the Philippines, so now we want to cross it over to free-to-air TV so that our fellowmen, our kababayans who don’t have access to digital or online, can still watch the action.”

In an interview with InterAksyon during the event, Mars said the airing of “Smackdown Live” on TV5 coincides with the recent overhaul of its roster that saw talents from the WWE’s other famous brand, “Raw,” transfer to its fold and vice versa.

As a result of the WWE’s “Superstar Shake-Up,” popular headliners like John Cena and current Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton are now on “Smackdown Live” along with established names like Dolph Ziggler, AJ Styles, Kane, tag team champions Jey and Jimmy Uso, US champion Kevin Owens, and former women’s champion Charlotte Flair.

Also part of the deep bench of “Smackdown Live” are rising sensations Shinsuke Nakamura, Sami Zayn, Jinder Mahal, Becky Lynch and The New Day.

This is not the first time that professional wrestling will air on free TV in the Philippines.

Back in the late 1970s and early ’80s, the then fledgling World Wrestling Federation (WWE’s old name) had a weekly show called “All-Star Wrestling” that was aired on IBC-13. This was during the time when the promotion was headlined by superstars like Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage and Andre The Giant.

Mars noted that as presented by the WWE in general and “Smackdown Live” in particular, the enduring popularity of their sports entertainment programming can be attributed to the storylines that set the stage for the exciting matches.

“It’s the good guys versus the bad guys. In the WWE, the good guys are the babyfaces while the bad guys are the heels. And babyfaces can become heels and vice versa. People see partners or allies eventually becoming rivals. People are excited to tune in every week to see what happens next,” the WWE executive pointed out.

Mars added that, as pointed out by WWE chairman Vince McMahon, the outcomes of the storylines which are not always what the viewers expect or hope for, are what sustain interest in their shows and promotions.

Reyes agreed, adding, “Its great story telling and finally I know there’s a lot of following here in our country, but I also love their mission which is, their mantra, which is, ‘a hero in all of us.’ And so I thought the ‘a hero in all of us’ tagline of WWE fits perfectly with TV5’s ‘Choose Courage’ tagline as well.”

Mars stressed that although wrestling is a contact and combat sports, what the WWE presents in “Raw” and “Smackdown Live” has always been “family entertainment, with your grandmother, your grandfather, your uncle, your mom, your brothers, your neighbors, their brothers, their sisters.”

“It’s the greatest form of family entertainment and a weekend slot would actually be fantastic,” Mars quipped.

For now, the WWE’s contract with TV5 is for “Smackdown Live” only, but the airing of the wrestling promotion’s other brands like “Raw” and “NXT” and pay-per-view specials like “Summerslam and Wrestlemania” remain open for discussions.

“Smackdown Live” will also be simulcast on tv5.com.ph and sports.tv5.com.ph.