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  May 21, 1999

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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

UPN picks up Smackdown

Smackdown The United Paramount Network was so impressed with the debut episode of WWF Smackdown! that they are including the two-hour weekly show on their fall schedule. Smackdown! will air at 8 p.m. on Thursdays directly against WCW's Thunder program.

During their first week of head-to-head competition, Thunder scored its lowest rating ever at 2.5 while Smackdown! pulled in a 5.9 rating. The premiere broadcast of Smackdown was also the highest rated program on the UPN network for that week.

According to UPN president Dean Valentine, Smackdown!'s tone will be far different than Raw on Mondays.

"It will probably be toned down a bit in terms of language and the upraised finger -- you'll see a lot less of it," Valentine said.

As for Canada, WSBK is a Boston-based SuperStation carried on extended cable that is also a UPN affiliate. Smackdown! may or may not be available in Canada through WSBK.

There is also a chance that TSN or SportsNet may pick up Smackdown!, though remember that it took more than six months before the Sunday Night Heat bidding war came to an end, with SportsNet winning. Heat debuts at 7 pm EST on SportsNet on May 30.

-- SLAM! Wrestling with files from the Associated Press.