A Love Letter To Smackdown’s Fist Titantron

SmackDown goes retro this Friday. Other than flash the show’s original logo and tell us that the show will have an old-school feel, WWE hasn’t revealed much about what fans should expect from the event. Whether it will feature stars from the past who have contributed to SmackDown’s rich history, or how much of the set and the product will give off a nostalgic feel. As far as chatter online goes, it would appear there’s only one thing fans want to see on SmackDown this Friday. The fist.

The Significance Of The SmackDown Fist
Younger fans might be reading this, or seeing the comments online and wondering why older wrestling fans are so eager to see the SmackDown Fist make a triumphant return. No one is clamoring for Raw to wheel out the giant Raw screen Stone Cold almost took out with a truck one time. Nor are they keen to see WWE bring back the swinging scaffold hooks at WrestleMania Backlash later this month.

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Well, for starters, look at it. It is incredibly cool and perhaps one of the most inspired stage designs in WWE history. It also followed on from a time when the SmackDown set was just a little screen at the end of an ever-decreasing tunnel. That stage was laid to rest when Rhyno gored Chris Jericho through it. Seven days later, a fist emerged through the other side and a new era in SmackDown’s history was born.

via The Overtimer
That era was about so much more than a set. However, the set provided the backdrop for what might still be, to this day, the strongest period in SmackDown history. The roster had been split for the first time and the blue brand had to fend for itself. It was taped rather than live like Raw, which meant it was already on the back foot. Vince McMahon also made no attempt to hide that Raw, the flagship show which helped him slay WCW, was his favorite child.

Despite having the odds stacked against it, SmackDown prevailed. Superstars like Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle, and a still very young Brock Lesnar made the show must-watch, taped or not. Not to mention The Undertaker, Chris Benoit, Edge, John Cena, and a supporting cast that made the blue brand better than ever, and possibly the best it has been up until today. Whenever fans wax nostalgic about that era, the fist bursting through the set is an ever-present part of those memories.

The Fist Was The Best, But What About The Rest?
It wasn’t just SmackDown’s giant fist, Raw’s massive titantron, and Backlash’s swinging hooks. Prior to WWE opting to use one giant screen for every single show, all of its PPVs had their own unique set. Looking back, it’s wild to think WWE did that for so long. The amount of work and money that must have gone into designing and creating those sets, not to mention the amount of room they must be taking up in the company warehouse.

It’s that money and effort that makes those sets and the era during which they made air mean so much. Now more than ever, WWE fans feel like they aren’t being listened to. That Vince McMahon has his favorites and he cares very little about whether fans agree with him or not. It’s very much a case of “give them this and they’ll learn to like it” as opposed to “let’s do all that we can to give the fans what they want, no matter what it takes.”

via essentiallysports.com
The similar sets month in, month out are also representative of a bigger perceived problem in WWE right now. NXT and the Performance Center are great additions to WWE, and wrestling as a whole. However, there’s a fear that the system is producing copies of the same wrestlers. That the roster lacks diversity when it comes to wrestling style because everyone has been trained and had their skills honed in the same place. Homogenized wrestlers walking out on a homogenized stage to wrestle the same style as everyone else. It’s a big reason why Daniel Bryan is pushing for WWE to let its stars wrestle elsewhere while remaining under contract.

Where Even Is The Fist Anyway?
The final point is the most mundane, but it might well be the one that dictates whether we see the fist or not. The logistics of it all. As WWE has demonstrated time and time again, it doesn’t like to throw stuff away. Our guess is the fist still exists. But where is it? At best, it’s in storage at WWE HQ in Connecticut. That means transporting the fist, along with the rest of the set, all the way down the east coast in the middle of a pandemic.

That being said, it probably isn’t going to happen. We can hope though, and if not the actual fist, maybe WWE will throw it up in the form of one of those CG graphics it uses during certain entrances. Actually, come to think of it, no fist at all would be better than sullying its image that way.

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