USA to broadcast wrestling award show

Awards season is heating up and even World Wrestling Entertainment is getting in on the act of handing out kudos again.

After an 11-year absence, WWE is bringing back its Slammy Awards tonight during an expanded three-hour broadcast of “Monday Night Raw” on USA Network.

Awards, with a statuette in the form of a wrestler lifting another grappler over his head, are presented across various categories like Superstar of the Year, Match of the Year, Diva of the Year and Tag Team of the Year.

WWE is naturally having some fun with the honors.

The Slammy was created in 1986 by the Academy of Wrestling Arts and Sciences, and the WWE calls the event “an awards show with muscle.”

Slammys also go to the Extreme Moment of the Year, Finishing Maneuver, OMG Moment of the Year and Musical Performance.

The Slammys were handed out in only 1986, 1987, 1996 and 1997.

Bringing back the Slammys is part of a strategy by WWE to air more specials as a way to continue boosting the brand’s profile with audiences. Already this year it’s launched a kids mag, social networking site and has moved its “Friday Night SmackDown” series from the CW to MyNetworkTV.

In August, its wrestlers teamed with Jenny McCarthy, Ben Stiller, Toby Keith and Jewel in an NBC special to spotlight autism and help support org Generation Rescue. It also will air its sixth annual “Tribute to the Troops” special, taped in Iraq, Dec. 20 on NBC as a standalone that’s not part of its three regular series that air on USA, MyNetworkTV and Sci Fi.

Depending on the ratings for the Slammys, WWE hopes to make the kudocast an annual event.

“It won’t be another 11 years before we do another Slammys,” says Geof Rochester, exec VP of marketing for WWE.

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