WWE fans excited for 'Smackdown Live' to come to Louisville
The huge production that will be broadcast around the world.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In wrestling a great storyline gets a payoff or culmination that leaves a crowd feeling a sense of resolution and satisfaction.
In many ways Tuesday represents that "payoff" for World Wrestling Entertainment fans in Louisville. On a scale of one to ten 11-year-old Jack Wise ranked his excitement, "428!"
WWE's Smackdown Live will broadcast from the KFC YUM! Center Tuesday night. It's the first time the company has brought a television production into the sate in nearly seven years.
For years fans have lost out on the long feud between the world's largest sports entertainment company and the commonwealth. With Kentucky banning blood in wrestling, the WWE stopped bringing marquee events to the state. Leaders were unwilling to risk having to stop a match on live television.
Meanwhile, the WWE kept bringing big events to border states.
Jack's father John Wise explained, "We drove to Columbus, Ohio to see the 'Money in the Bank'" The pay-per-view event emanated from Buckeye state in 2015. "They (WWE) weren't going to come anywhere near here, so it was like what's the closest place we can go," Wise said.
In 2016 as ticket sales flourished in neighboring states, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin initiated a "red tape reduction" program. Bevin said he wanted to make it easier for companies to do business in Kentucky.
The creation of the Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Council was one of the first changes. The new set of regulators were tasked with rewriting rules to oversee combat sports. New leaders immediately addressed the blood ban, opening the door for the WWE's return.
Tuesday, lines stretched nearly a block as fans waited to greet WWE U.S. Champion Kevin Owens at a public event at a cell phone store. Some dressed as their favorite wrestling superstars, other wore merchandise and dawned replica belts.
"It never gets old, I'm always excited to see the support and see how many people are excited to meet me," Owens said.
For Owens and many other names on the Smackdown roster, the River City retraces old roots.
"My first real attempt at getting to WWE was actually in Louisville back in 2004 so it's been a while," Owens said.
Owens' tryout came at a time when Kentucky was like the lifeblood of WWE. Louisville based Ohio Valley Wrestling served as its developmental or AAA training system up until 2008 and sent more than 100 athletes to the main roster.
Casual fans may remember the WWE in town a couple of months 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. Many WWE "Smackdown Live" shows sell out.
Loosening the reigns on the blood restriction also boosts state funds. Kentucky takes 5 percent from every ticket sold and the difference in a televised versus a non-televised event can be 10,000 to 15,000 people.
Fans like the 11-year-old Wise, who said, " It's just going to be an awesome night. I just feel like it's going to be really monumental."
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