Fox originally wanted to purchase the rights to Monday Night Raw when they got involved with WWE, according to Dave Meltzer on the latest edition of Wrestling Observer Radio.
The situation was described as unique because WWE had multiple bidders at the time. The original Fox deal was for Raw but USA had the rights to match any offer, which they did, leading to Fox turning their attention to the blue brand.
Because USA ended up spending a lot of money on their Raw deal, they opted not to match what Fox was offering for SmackDown. This is how WWE was able to raise its numbers for both shows. That situation has benefitted the company from a financial perspective. Fox originally signed the rights deal in October of 2019, which allowed the show to return to network television.
SmackDown has ended up being a more important show because of that deal though. The roster has been boosted by some of the biggest stars in the company like Roman Reigns, Charlotte Flair, and Ronda Rousey.
Former WWE writer Freddie Prinze Jr. recently revealed on his Wrestling with Freddie podcast that WWE wanted Fox to buy the entire product at one point.
“I haven’t said this before, but I’ll say it now because it has been long enough,” Prinze Jr. began. “I was talking to a dude who was interviewing to be their COO, or they wanted to interview. They ended up going with Nick Khan, he had passed but he wanted to talk to me about the company. So we were just talking about the brand and all this. And he goes ‘yeah, they wanted us to buy the whole product.’ He’s an exec at FOX. He goes ‘they wanted us to buy the whole brand but the number they wanted wasn’t a number we were going to pay, so we licensed SmackDown instead.’”