WWE Smackdown, set to air tonight, was filmed on Tuesday—that's no surprise. But for the first time, a pre-production broadcast of the show—with unedited crowd noise, missed cues and all—has made its way online. It is, like the Raw script that leaked last month, a genuinely fascinating look at how the spectacular behemoth that is televised pro wrestling comes to be.
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The episode showed up on Youtube, but has since been taken down. But it's been preserved on more secure hosts—you can watch it here. (Spoiler alert, obviously, if you care about the outcome of the matches.)
But the production is what matters! Worth taking note of:
- Announcers Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield making entrances, with their own music, prior to the start of the show—and JBL getting a playful shove off the ring stairs from the cameraman. Cole: "I cannot wait until he takes that bump coming down that ramp."
- The audience's actual reactions. The pretaped Smackdown is notorious for sweetening (even dubbing over) cheers and boos to reinforce the ostensible facedom or heeldom of wrestlers.
- Cole and JBL's constant chatter through their headsets with show producer Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon—it's amazing to me how involved McMahon still is with his product.
- Starting at 1:50 of the first video, ring announcer Tony Chimel's botched introduction of Jimmy Hart. Cole: "Is he going to introduce Jimmy, since he just did? Chimel just introduced him. Somebody might want to tell him, I don't think he knows." JBL: "He doesn't know, he's looking over there like a goof."
- At 51:52 of the second video, Cole asks McMahon about some talking point, "Do you want me to say that every time, because I've said it a shitload of times tonight." We don't hear Vince's reply, but we do hear Cole's cowed reaction: "OK...yes sir...yes sir...OK, I've got it sir."
Again, you can find the broadcast here. If you catch anything noteworthy, leave it in the comments below.