After 7 years away, WWE cameras set to return to Louisville with 'Smackdown Live'
For the first time since 2010, the WWE will bring television cameras to the state later this year.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- For the first time since 2010, the WWE will bring television cameras to Louisville later this year.
WWE is bringing "Smackdown Live" to the KFC Yum! Center on April 18. The show averages 2.6 million viewers when it airs nationally on Tuesday night. It also airs worldwide throughout the week.
"This is a big thing for the state of Kentucky," said Kevin Cordell, a WWE fan and host of the wrestling podcast Talkin' The Business.
Fans lost out on the feud between WWE officials and state regulators. With Kentucky banning blood in wrestling, the sports entertainment company stopped bringing marquee events to the state as leaders were unwilling to risk having to stop a match on live television.
In 2016, Gov. Matt Bevin tossed out the Kentucky boxing and wrestling authority and appointed new regulators to rewrite the rules and change state law.
"The wrestlers and entertainers in that field are now subject to the same exact regulations that all the combat sport athletes are," said Chad Miller, Chairman of the newly formed Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Council.
Wrestling companies must notify the KBWC in advance of an event where blood may be shed. Each competitor involved in the segment must obtain required blood tests for things like HIV and hepatitis and a KBWC approved medical professional must attend the event.
The new rules are relatively easy for WWE to comply with as the company travels with its own medical staff, and physicals are a part of talent's employment. They may prove more financially burdensome to smaller local promotions in Kentucky as the blood tests alone can run $80 a piece.
The casual fan may remember the WWE in town a couple of weeks ago, but here's the difference: The company would only run smaller events in Kentucky with fewer stars that are not broadcast around the world. It forced local fans to drive to surrounding states like Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee for better WWE shows.
The "bottom line" came down to money. TV cameras boost sales, and many WWE "Smackdown Live" shows sell out. Kentucky takes 5 percent from every ticket sold. The difference in a televised versus a non-televised event can be 10,000 to 15,000 fans.
"It's kind of the pinnacle of pro wrestling," said Brian Cannon, a WWE fan and Louisville pro wrestling blogger. "So for them to be back with a big show instead of just a live event is very, very cool."
It's also a homecoming for some of the WWE's top stars.
"Outstanding," said Dean Hill, the longtime voice of Ohio Valley Wrestling. "The guys which came from OVW, which is a training center in Louisville, Kentucky, that have ventured forth into the WWE ... to be able to see guys like (Dolph Ziggler) ...and especially Randy Orton, I remember him when when he first started in OVW."
"Smackdown Live" has never emanated from the KFC YUM Center in Louisville. The last televised wrestling event at the venue was a WWE Monday Night Raw broadcast on December 6, 2010.
It''s a comeback seven years in the making and a big win for local wrestling fans.
State officials say they're also in talks with UFC and major boxing promoters to return to Kentucky.
Smackdown tickets go on sale Friday.
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