I was about 13 years old when WWE SmackDown! launched. It was the beginning of my teenage years. It was the beginning of my WWE-fan career.
I will always have a more personal connection to the blue brand—WWE's SmackDown!
As a kid, with no cable television and rarely having the money to spend on WWE pay-per-views, SmackDown! was my only option for pro wrestling when it was aired on the now defunct UPN television network.
Whatever happened on RAW, pay-per-views or even WCW, was relayed to me by my friends at school the next day.
In SmackDown's early days, I also didn't have a computer. And the internet was still a relatively new phenomenon for my generation—as hard as that is to believe.
Thirteen seasons later, SmackDown! still lives.
Many television shows don't even get past their first season. A five to six season run is considered to be very successful. Reaching 10 seasons is rare for most.
SmackDown! is currently on its 13th season and there is no immediate end in sight.
The show has gone through changes, no doubt. It used to be aired on Thursday nights. Now, it is aired on Friday nights.
The show initially aired on the UPN network and then bounced around to the CW, then MyNetworkTV and finally to its current spot on Syfy.
The blue brand certainly has its own identity. While WWE RAW is considered the company's flagship show, I've been impressed by the quality of pure wrestling matches that appear more often on Friday nights.
WWE RAW gets most of the attention and for good reason. The show has lasted longer, created countless unforgettable moments and usually plays a bigger role in storyline development, as well as superstar returns and debuts.
But SmackDown! plays an important role as well, albeit an often underrated one. SmackDown! is used to build its lower-profile superstars, adds texture to existing storylines and feuds and gives fans an alternative in an age where WWE has been able to avoid any real competition.
I believe that SmackDown! has the potential to be just as powerful as the red brand, if only given more resources and attention by the WWE.
While SmackDown! may be considered to be at a disadvantage because of RAW's strong history, the blue brand has the flexibility to be used in new and different ways.
And now that RAW will expand to three hours, SmackDown may get the upper hand if its two hours provide a more concise product. Three hours might prove too much for some fans, especially if that time is used improperly.
Many have also argued that the brand split is pointless, considering that most superstars hold no exclusive position on either show anymore.
But both shows will always be different and regardless of superstar placement, both should be promoted differently.
And if SmackDown! is going to recap RAW moments, there should be reciprocity in that system. RAW should highlight SmackDown moments as well. It adds legitimacy to every product that WWE makes.
RAW's 1,000th episode is a huge milestone. One that I will thoroughly enjoy. But as I'm watching it on next Monday night, I'll pause for a moment and raise a glass.
Here's to you, SmackDown! 674 episodes later.
You are the reason I started caring about pro wrestling in the first place.