The Way Too Long Review of The Best of Smackdown: Disc One

I originally planned to skip the Best of Smackdown.  I know my job here is to review the latest WWE DVDs (and the occasional older release) but the truth is I didn’t think I would be able to sit all the way through this.  I had heard about the format, the less-then-honest match listings that were put out, and so forth.  And then this last week I found out I was to have surgery on my jaw to repair some damage that was done as a result of leaving my wisdom teeth in much longer then I likely should have.  Although the teeth have been out for a while now, I was still dealing with a lot of pain in my mouth.   Well, it turns out that having impacted gum for more then a couple years leaves a mark.

So I had surgery on Thursday and came out of it okay.  I could have held off on it, but I wanted it over with by time I was to leave for LA in December and be fully recovered from it.  But now I will have roughly a full week of downtime and, quite frankly, I’m all video-gamed out.  So when I was shopping for my post-operation foods (most of which has the word ‘broth’ in it somewhere) this last week, I decided to buy this and give it a whirl.  Besides, I got a lot of requests for Best of Smackdown.  I aim to please my fans (and piss off my haters) and thus it’s time for me to eat shit.  And hey, shit is mushy at least and thus an acceptable part of my diet for the next four to six weeks.  This review will be a MONSTER and thus I’m dividing it up over the course of three days.  Not because it makes my total amount of readers seem higher (though that part is nice) but because this could end up being the largest review of anything ever on Pulse.  But at least you’ll know that every base is covered.

As a curious side-note: I’ve never actually seen a single episode of Smackdown since November of 1999 when I moved from Oregon to Washington.  Not one.  Well technically I sat through the Tacoma Smackdown at the start of the WCW Invasion, but I was more concerned with whether or not a riot would break out in the middle of the show then to pay attention to the matches.  But really, the reason I’ve skipped Smackdown is because there’s only so many hours worth of wrestling one should be able to stomach in a week.  I didn’t even have UPN until long after Smackdown had started, and by time I had it my Thursday nights were already occupied by Survivor.  Why not TIVO it?  I actually did for the longest time, but I would either delete the show without watching it or fast-forward through it to get to a match I had read was good.  As far as watching skits and stuff, I haven’t.  So most everything here will be totally fresh for me.

Before we get started, just a reminder that the Stop Replays Now movement is still going.  If you are sick of the WWE’s over-use of instant replays, send them a note on it.  Remember, enough people bitched about the censorship of blood on 24/7 that the WWE changed it’s policy on it.  Go to (website) and let the WWE know that in an age with DVRs and DVDs, replays are unnecessary and ruin the experience of watching a match.  The WWE will *NEVER* listen to the fans when it comes to creative direction, but when it comes to technical issues they will listen and you can make a difference.

My personal pet-peeve is unventilated pyro, but apparently most of my readers are still impressed by colored gunpowder that is set on fire and think the one second of it being pretty is worth the trade-off of having smog surround the ring during entire matches.  So I’ll crusade against instant replays.  But one day I hope you guys will come to  your senses about the fireworks.  That or blow yourselves up on the 4th of July.  Keep the dream alive.

-Michael Cole and Matt Striker host.  It’s presented in a countdown format.

Moment #100: The Spinner (April 14, 2005)

John Cena debuts the spinner title that has stuck around long past anyone thought it would.  Granted, it no longer spins, but come on, the thing is a fucking eyesore.  William Regal says that it’s mental.  Candice Michelle likes it.  That’s why she’s fired.  Todd Grisham said “yo dawg, that’s cool” then looked around to make sure nobody saw him.  Matt Striker says it’s cool, and thus he loses cool points with me.  Santino says “it’s coooooool… it spins!”  Horrible opening segment.

Moment #99: Unlikely Merger (October 31, 2002)

Eric Bischoff, dressed like Vince McMahon, gloats about how Raw is going to land free agent Scott Steiner.  Steph could have said “oh yeah, well I just landed a yeast infection and that beats having Steiner.”  Sadly, she didn’t.  Stephanie goes to bitch-slap Bischoff and ends up getting kissed by him.  This is as close to that incest angle Vince McMahon always wanted to do without actually having Vince himself swap spit with his daughter.  Though I’m sure they’ll have that on stand-by if they ever decide to go back to TV-14.  Todd Grisham at least seems to have a good sense of humor about how horrible this DVD has turned out thus far, saying “That kiss was like living a dream for all us men out there… we would love to make out with Eric Bischoff.”  Said with a totally straight face.  Funny, but fuck that.  If I go gay for any wrestler, it will be Evan Bourne.  He’s just so cute I want to eat him right up.

Moment #98: Here Comes the Chokeslam (July 10, 2003)

Brock Lesnar tries to F5 Big Show through a table but Big Show counters and chokeslams Lesnar through it instead.  Pretty good table bump, actually.  One of the better ones done through one of the WWE’s pre-fab, four piece announce tables.  That’s pretty much the extent of this segment.  But it was neat to watch.

Moment #97: A Smackdown Tradition

Smackdown was originally on Thursdays, and of course that means it aired on Thanksgiving.  We see all the highlights of it, including chicks wrestling in swimming pool full of gravy.  We also get various food fights.  One of the top moments includes Matt Hardy nearly getting knocked out legitimately cold when Christian hits him over the head with a turkey.

-We go back to Matt Striker and Michael Cole, who talk up the Undertaker being the biggest star in the history of Smackdown.

Moment #96 is…

Match #1
The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton
9/16/05 Smackdown

Entrances eat up five or so minutes.  By time we’re supposed to be underway, it’s time for a commercial.  When we get back, Taker is pushing Orton down.  We lock up and Taker grabs a headlock.  Shoot off by Orton leads to him getting shoulderblocked.  Orton gets a hiptoss for two.  Orton slugs it out in the corner, then shoots him across the ring and charges into a big boot for two.  Top wristlock by Undertaker, then slams it into the turnbuckle.  Punch to the arm by Taker, then he catches Orton in a cross-armbreaker as Randy tries to comeback.  More punching to the injured arm of Randy, then a punch to the gut.  Taker goes for the rope-walk, but Orton crotches him.  He tees off on Undertaker on the top rope, then fires off a headbutt and an uppercut.  Superplex by Randy, who then recovers and calls for his father to bring out a moving truck.  Taker does a zombie sit-up which spooks Orton, but he shakes it off and gets a DDT.  Meanwhile, a bunch of movers open up the moving van and bring out a casket.  Kneedrop by Orton, and we cut to a commercial.

When we comeback, Orton has Taker in a chinlock.  Taker makes his comeback only to charge into a dropkick for two.  And back to the chinlock.  This goes on forever.  By time Undertaker makes his comeback, Smackdown had moved to Fridays and had changed networks twice.  Uppercut by Orton and a scoopslam before Taker can comeback.  He climbs and goes for something off the second rope, but Undertaker gets a foot up.  Taker slugs it out and shoots off Orton and they trade reversals, leading to Orton wiggling out of a slam and hitting the wrap-around backbreaker for two.  They slug it out, with Undertaker on his knees.  Orton gets to his knees.  I always thought the brawl-on-your-knees spot was silly.  Both guys get up and have an overly-dramatic slugfest.  Taker gets a flying clothesline, then slowly shoots Orton into the corner.  Snake-eyes and a running boot by Taker, and given the pace these guys had been going at, that made Undertaker look like the Road Runner.  MEEP MEEP!  Legdrop and Taker calls for the chokeslam.  Orton counters out of that and PATHETICLY kicks Undertaker as he lowers his head, which is no-sold by Taker.  And given how bad that move looked, I think Orton bought himself some shower time with JBL after the match.  Taker dumps Orton with a clothesline, then loads him up to dump him in the casket.

And then, when Undertaker opens the casket, the body inside is none other then the Undertaker.


Not only that, but it’s horribly edited.  Clearly they filmed Taker in the casket and then mixed it with this match.  Horrible.  Taker is all freaked out about this, so Orton whips him into the steel stairs.  Fans are fucking dead and I can’t imagine how bad that whole sequence was to watch live.  Back in the ring, Orton tries to win the…

TEN-PUNCH THE UNDERTAKER CHALLENGE~!! The rules are as follows: if you are booked in a match with the Undertaker, you can pony up $5 to enter.  To win, you must successfully ten-punch the Undertaker without getting wedgie bombed.  The first person to do it collects the entire accumulated purse.  At the time this match was going, it was roughly at $3,810.  There are similar challenges.  The powerbomb Kidman challenge had run for years and at last count had a purse so high that Barack Obama was thinking of taking a crack at it just so he would have the money to pass the health care reform he wants.

So Randy ten-punches the Undertaker and does his pose, which leads to Taker grabbing the wedgie and… ORTON WIGGLES OUT?  Holy fuck berries!  Orton collects the cash.  “This ought to get those Holiday Inn people off my back!” he cheers.  He then ducks out of the way of a clothesline and Taker wipes out the referee.  RKO and Orton has to wait for a new referee, and it gets two.  That move should NOT be done to save the match for the babyface.  Why make it seem like the only thing that saved the face from winning the match was the ref bump?  It’s not very heroic.  Undertaker recovers and hits a chokeslam for two as Bob Orton drags the new referee out of the ring and kills him.  Taker kills Cowboy, then pushes off another RKO and hits a tombstone for the slow pin.
**1/4 I had a hard time coming up with a rating for this one.  At times it was more angle then match, and the pace was all over the place.  Ultimately, I liked this more then their Wrestlemania 21 match (*1/2) and less then their Armageddon HiaC match (***), and thus this falls in the middle.  Although both guys can be talented wrestlers, they never had chemistry together and it’s unfortunate that their feud dragged on as long as it did.

Moment #95: Mattitude

We get to see the only time EVER that Matt Hardy was not boring.  The beginning of the Mattitude Era.  Michael Hayes talks about how impressed he was about it.  Shannon Moore becomes his MFer and we get highlights of their high jinks.  We also get a good set of Matt Facts, punctuated by a rare Michael Cole line that didn’t suck: “Well, the free-world will be glad to know that Matt loves guacamole.”  Whole segment barely lasted a minute and was covered better in the Hardy Boys set.

Moment #94: Show Hunters (September 23, 2004)

The Big Show is going bald and thus it is decided that he will become generic wrestler with shaved head #395.  The set-up is actually good.  Kurt Angle, vile evil-doer that he is, shoots Show with a tranquilizer dart, as if he’s hunting big game safari.  And yes, they used a real dart.  Of course, not mentioned is the legal shit-storm the WWE got for this.  It turns out the Big Show was on the endangered species list.  After years of court battles, the WWE was fined seven-trillion dollars for this infraction and was forced to fire Kurt Angle from the company just to save face and hopefully get the penalty taken down a peg during the appeal process.  And you thought Kurt was released because of his drug problems.  After the segment, we get a few clips of Show with his new hairdo, in case someone who bought this DVD had quit watching the product in 2004 because of their OUTRAGE over the mistreatment of Show.

Moment #93 is…

Match #2: Steel Cage Match
Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero
9/9/05 Smackdown

God how I hated this feud.  Separately, both guys were really good and together they had a few pretty good matches.  In 2005 they got off to a good start at Wrestlemania 21, opening the show with a very peppy little match that could have been special if the WWE had given it enough time.  Of course, who has time for good wrestling when you can have the retired Steve Austin jaw with Roddy Piper and Carlito in a segment that nobody paid to see.  Get it through your thick fucking skulls WWE: NOBODY ORDERS A PAY PER VIEW TO WATCH PEOPLE TALK!  And let us not forget the Hogan/Eugene/Hassan segment that dragged.  Anyway, the WM 21 encounter seemed like a good way to start the feud.  And then it fell apart.  Pacing issues plagued their Judgment Day rematch (or maybe not, I really need to review that show), and then they stunk up the joint something fierce at the Great American Bash once they added Rey Mysterio’s kid to the angle.  The idea was that Mysterio’s son was really Eddie’s.  Right.  And just by a small miracle it turned out Eddie’s kid looked like a six-year-old version of Rey, who himself looks like a six-year-old when he doesn’t have the mask on.  Guerrero was all over the place during this feud and I remember telling people that his ‘heart wasn’t into it.’  Well, it turned out that his heart wasn’t really into the whole ‘keep beating’ part anymore, but who knows?  Maybe he had a bad year in 2005 because his health was failing him and he didn’t know it.  Maybe there were other factors involved, as some have speculated, but regardless they had a stink-bomb of a ladder match at Summerslam.  Guerrero had lost every previous match, but for some reason they decided they needed to blow off the feud here.

To the match, where they slug it out.  Eddie tosses Mysterio into the cage, then lifts Mysterio up as if he’s going to powerbomb him, but instead uses the move to take Mysterio’s face into the cage.  The pace dies and Eddie does a few punches.  Mysterio gets an armdrag and a monkey-flip to set up the 619, but it’s a cage match and he can’t do it.  Rey dropkicks Eddie, then climbs.  Eddie catches him but Rey turns it into an MDK bomb off the cage.  Hmmmm… Murder… Death… Kill…

IT WAS REY ALL ALONG!  I bet he poisoned Eddie’s toothpaste.  Someone get the Mentalist on this.  Or Columbo.  They’ll crack the case.

Rey goes to climb out again but Eddie catches him by the ankle and tugs Mysterio down and into the top rope in a sick bump as we cut to a commercial.  When we get back, Eddie is climbing out, but this time Rey has the ankle.  Eddie kicks Rey off, so Mysterio drops the whole ankle play and instead climbs after him.  Eddie decides that it would be a good idea to hit a Russian-legsweep off the top rope, which knocks him out as well and we get a breather.  Thus they show us replays of what happened during the break.  I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: if the cameras keep rolling after the break, why not include full, commercial free matches on DVD?  They know that these matches will land on disc, and it doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to do.  Some say that it helps the match quality because they only do crappy stalling moves during the breaks.  Sometimes it’s true, and sometimes it’s not.  Let us, the fans decide.  In this match, Eddie fired up a back-suplex and his always glorious tiger-bomb during the break.  And then he ripped part of Mysterio’s mask.

Both guys get up from the double-KO and Mysterio charges at Eddie, then gets flung onto the cage.  Mysterio catches the cage and starts to climb out, then they fight on top of the cage.  Both guys tease falling off and to the floor.  In Eddie’s case, falling to the floor would hurt like hell but have the positive side-effect of winning a match for the first time that year.  But it’s not to be, and both guys end up back on the top rope, where Mysterio dropkicks Guerrero into the cage.  Both guys crumble to the mat and it’s another double-KO.  After quite a decent amount of time passes, the WWE production fuckwits decide to show a replay of the dropkick spot as both guys get up.  Thus we have to use squint-o-vision to see them slug it out.  Eddie hits a DDT, then opts to stagger towards the door instead of going for the cover.  Rey grabs an ankle to save, then the trunks and both guys return to the center of the ring.  Mysterio hits a seated-bulldog and we have ANOTHER double-KO just in time for a commercial.

We come back with Mysterio climbing and Eddie catching him.  Rey fights him off and hits a pretty cool rana off the top rope.  That could have ended in disaster.  Mysterio starts to climb, so Eddie goes to make the save instead of just dashing out of the door.  Wrestling logic.  Mysterio fights off Eddie and goes for a cross-body off the top of the cage.  It whiffs and Eddie is free to casually walk out the door, but he stops on the bottom step so he can add insult-to-injury with a frog splash for the pin.
***3/4 Pretty good actually, despite all my smart-assed remarks and bitching about production issues.  They built in a couple more double-KO spots then necessary, likely to give them plenty of commercial-break options, and that’s the only thing that kept this under four-stars.

Moment #92: Mr. America

I totally missed this whole thing, with the exception of Hogan’s abortion of a match with Roddy Piper at Judgment Day.  CM Punk and Santino can’t even mock this crap.  This whole thing was just a modern version of the Midnight Rider angle that Dusty Rhodes had used in the 80s as yet another excuse to beat the World Champion without actually winning the belt.  Okay, I admit that using the term ‘modern’ to describe anything Hulk Hogan did in 2003 might be a stretch.  Anyway, Hogan hated this angle as much as every smark out there did and quit the company because of perceived ‘misuse’ before they could figure out how to blow it off.  Pretty nice body count for an angle if you stop to think about it.  It ruined the career of Sean O’Haire, Piper didn’t last long after this, and Hogan never again was a regular performer in the WWE.

Moment #91: Out of Tune (July 19, 2001)

This was at the beginning of the Alliance angle.  The previous weeks, Steve Austin had been doing his bizarre clingy-for-Vince gimmick and was singing camp songs to Vince McMahon.  Well, that Steve Austin wasn’t going to cut it when it came to defeating WCW and ECW, so Vince McMahon got the old Stone Cold to return during the Raw that preceded this.  McMahon then grabs a guitar and sings “welcome back” to him.  Austin then takes the guitar and kills McMahon with it.  Which is what Vince McMahon wanted.  “Damn, I’m good!”  Of course, it later turned out that Austin was butt-hurt that all his efforts to be nice to Vince weren’t appreciated by him and thus he joined WCW.  Because when you think of WCW, you think of Stone Cold Steve Austin.  That whole angle had to be the worst in wrestling history.

Moment #90: Signs of Friendship

Edge, during his babyface run against Kurt Angle in 2002, presents some pictures to Kurt Angle that have funny captions on the back of them.  “You suck!”  Then he hands a picture to Angle which says “yes, I do suck.”  Of course, Angle is the only one not in on the joke.  Good stuff actually.  I wish they could mix the playful Edge with the heelish one.  He based his run in 2008 and 2009 on the Joker from Dark Knight, so why not have him play jokes like this, only darker ones that are funny only to him.  Likely too high-concept for wrestling.  Anyway, Edge then gives Kurt a new t-shirt that reads “you suck.”  That was the start of the fans singing “you suck” while his music played.

-We move onto the Chyna/Jericho feud.  Are you kidding?

Moment #89 is…

Match #3: Intercontinental Championship
(c) Chris Jericho vs. Chyna
12/30/99 Smackdown

This was part of Chyna’s weird “I respect Jericho even though he took a hammer to my hand and crippled me” phase.  Speaking of which, that show where Jericho took the hammer to her hand… that one really disturbed me.  No joke.  It was very unnerving and I one of the few instances where I’ll say that the WWE went too far to set up a match.  It didn’t fit in at all with the character Jericho was playing.  He was playing a snaky, wise-cracking smart ass.  You can’t mix that kind of villain with Kathy Bates from Misery.  I get why the WWE did it, because it was a panic decision when the fans had spoken clearly in favor of Jericho for this feud, which is not what the WWE had intended to happen.  So instead of letting Jericho ride it and see if he could get over on his own like the Rock or Steve Austin had, they decided to do anything it would take to get him over as a heel.  Taking a hammer to Chyna’s hand was not going to change the tide.  And although I’m sure this might take away my cool factor, I think it was morally wrong of the WWE to book that part of the angle.  A hammer, really?  He couldn’t have pillmanized her with a chair?  It wasn’t just the act of hitting her in the hand with a hammer, it was the premeditation of it.  He had tied her down to a chair.  It was disturbing and wrong.  I hate to be preachy when it comes to critiquing wrestling angles, but that one crossed the line.

Well, for this stage of the feud, Chyna shows off that her thumbs is all healed now and she had only been saving Jericho from losing the title so that she could match up with him and take the belt back.  Jericho shows up and says that she has a crush on him.  Time for the match.  Circle and lockup, with Jericho grabbing a headlock into a hammerlock.  Shoulderblock, then Chyna gets an elbow up.  Brawl to the corner, where Chyna whips Jericho to the corner and hits her hand-spring elbow.  Kick to the gut by Chyna and a DDT for two.  She punches Jericho into the ropes, where he gets tied up.  She charges but Jericho was escapes the ropes and low-bridges her out of the ring.  Springboard dropkick by Jericho takes her off the apron.  Jericho gives chase and brawls her on the floor.  He tosses her back into the ring and climbs, but the Kat (Jerry Lawler’s ex-wife and Chyna’s manager at this point for no goddamn reason) gets on the apron to distract the ref.  Jericho comes off the ropes with a sledge, countered with a fist to the cock by Chyna.  I’m thinking this match won’t be bad, then Chyna botches a swinging neck-breaker.  Bulldog by Jericho, and then he ‘hits’ the lionsault.  Actually, he totally whiffed it, except to catch the tip of his toes on Chyna’s thighs.  I know this won’t be a ‘cool’ thing to say, but at this point Jericho was about as bad as Chyna in the ring.  He was very botch-heavy early in his WWE run.  That looked horrible, but he still covers for two.  Shoot off and Jericho gets a spinkick that wipes out Chyna and the referee.  Jericho bails to grab a chair, but it’s a swing and a miss.  KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! by Chyna gets two from a new referee.  And now things get wonky as Jericho hits a back-suplex on Chyna on the steel chair, and both get an arm over the other and both referees count the pinfall for Chyna and Jericho.  Thus, they become co-champions.  By the way, whoever held up the sign that said “I fathered this row” is my new hero.  Excellent sign.  The segment ends before we are officially told the outcome of the match, and they gave us no follow up to it.
*** Honestly this wasn’t that bad.  Truthfully.  Really.  Hate mail goes to  Hey, he hired me.

Moment #88: Hardcore Injury (June 29, 2000)

Hardcore Holly has a match with Kurt Angle, and as Michael Hayes says, luck was not on his side.  Every time he started to ascend the ladder, an injury would come about.  Angle slams Holly, then shorts a moonsault and breaks Hardcore’s arm.  Holly was out over a year.  That’s it for the segment.  You know, when Holly came back the WWE actually had a really good idea for him that totally worked… for one week.  They matched Holly up with Chris Benoit, who could not place the crossface on him because of the steel plate that was put in his forearm.  Great idea that was dropped as soon as the match was over because the live fans didn’t understand what was happening.  The television viewers had the benefit of the announce team saying ‘he has a steel plate in his arm!’ but the live fans didn’t and thus didn’t react at all when Benoit couldn’t get the move on.  But the WWE had no patience to wait and see how the fans would react the next week.  Fans who presumably knew why Chris Benoit couldn’t get the crossface on him.  And the whole angle was dropped.  I admit I’m not a big Bob Holly fan, but the ‘bionic (insert body part here)’ gimmick has seldom failed to work and it could have really got him over.  By all accounts Holly came back from his injury acting like a diva with a sense of entitlement, but if nothing else he could say that the booking team fucked him over when he had a legitimate gimmick that was money in the bank.

Moment #87: No Way Out (February 24, 2000)

Cactus Jack is nearing the end of his career.  In fact, this was his final show as a full-time wrestler in the WWE.  He had destroyed DX’s bus, and thus he gets arrested and… placed in a cage backstage?  What is this, Oz?  Anyway, DX then hooks a chain to the cage and drags it across the pavement and out of the arena.  And that’s it for the segment.  Top 100 material?  Not a chance.  I’ll address format issues in part three.

Moment #86: Return of Piper’s Pit (April 10, 2003)

Everyone talks about how special it was to have Piper’s Pit back.  His first guest is Vince McMahon.  Piper gets some digs at Vince McMahon’s hair and the XFL.  The angle sticks around long enough for Rikishi to come down with a coconut to presumably get Jimmy Snuka’s heat back.  And then Sean O’Haire comes out and… hey wait a second… HOLY SHIT SEAN O’HAIRE MAKES A BEST-OF DVD!!

And what do you know… it’s raining fire and brimstone and the moon is blood red.  Oh well, we had a good run.

Anyway, O’Haire comes out, kills Rikishi, then Piper smashes a coconut Rikishi’s head.  O’Haire and Piper didn’t last long after this, though O’Haire’s pre-debut vignettes are still talked about to this day.  I disagree with anyone who says the gimmick couldn’t translate to the ring.  They never really gave it enough time to figure out if it could.  No, what killed Sean O’Haire was sticking him with Roddy Piper as a lackey instead of a protégé.

-Striker and Cole go over all the talk shows that tried to emulate Piper’s Pit, including Carlito’s show.  Hey, speaking of Carlito…

Moment #85 is…

Match #4: United States Championship
(c) John Cena vs. Carlito
10/7/04 Smackdown

This is Carlito’s debut.  Only here his name was “Carlito Caribbean Cool.”  One of my pet peeves in wrestling is single-name wrestlers.  One time Honky Tonk Man was working a show in the Tri-Cities in Washington, where I live.  We were shooting the shit at the show with the other boys there, and the discussion turned to why people don’t get over as much today as they did back in his day.  Today wrestlers have pyro, titantrons, elaborate entrances, backstage skits, and so forth.  But even with all of that, most guys have trouble getting over.  Honky said that he believes that a big factor in that is having only one name.  He pointed out that with one exception (the Rock… I’m guessing “the” doesn’t count), nobody with a single name has ever been a mainstream, household name in wrestling.  You can go back and see that he has a point.  Even people who don’t watch wrestling know who Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin are, of course.  But they’ve also heard of Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Ric Flair, or “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.  But non-fans likely don’t know single-name wrestlers, even if they’ve been around forever.  Undertaker for example.  Well these days the WWE has a hard-on for using single names.  He can’t be “Dave Batista.”  He’s just plain, boring Batista.  Or Kane.  Or Umaga.  Or Christian.  Or Edge.

Quick: who were the biggest flops as WWE champion?  Yokozuna and Diesel, right?  Single named wrestlers.  And, as Honky pointed out, when Diesel jumped to WCW and started using his full name, Kevin Nash, he caught on more then he had in the WWE and suddenly non-fans knew who he was.  The WWE tries to make it up by giving guys nicknames, but a single name doesn’t roll off the tongue any better just because you add a nickname to it.  Thus “The Animal” Batista doesn’t get any more attention.  “The Big Red Machine” Kane is a complete unknown outside of the world of professional wrestling, and he even starred in a movie.  Honky told me that there are three keys to being a success in wrestling: (1) Have a cool name that rolls off your tongue.  (2) Dress better then your neighbor when you have a match.  Don’t look like you just bought your gear off the rack.  (3) Have a style that is completely your own in the ring.  These are three things that are lacking in today’s environment.

In this case, Carlito was pretty over when he debuted, but he was Carlito Cool.  The WWE decided to drop the ‘cool’ part, and it’s no coincidence that his heat vanished with it.  Because here, before he even had one match, the fans just give him holy hell.  I know it’s a taped show, but the heat is not canned.  You can see how the fans don’t like him.  He has heat.  But single-names are easier to copyright, plus the WWE is lazy anymore.  They know it.  Just look at the PPV bookings over 2009.  Vince McMahon might be the hardest working guy in wrestling business, but the people he surrounds himself with certainly don’t share his work ethic.  Who has time to come up with creative names?  We’ll just call him Kane/Umaga/Edge/Christian/Batista/Finlay and be done with it.  There is a glimmer of hope, as more and more guys are using full names.  Dolph Ziggler, John Morrison, etc.  Of course, they just got started, relatively speaking.  If the guys writing out the names during the match-listings get lazy and decide to start calling them Ziggler and Morrison, kiss their careers goodbye.

End of rant, and to the match, where Cena slugs it out on Carlito, who bails.  Cena gives chase and clotheslines him on the floor.  Carlito takes it with a sick bump on the floor.  Cena grabs a rubber hand from Mae Young’s cootch a fan at ringside so he can do the ‘you can’t see me’ thing with it, then slugs it out.  Back in the ring Cena kicks away, then shoots Carlito into the turnbuckle.  Delayed suplex, and I do mean delayed as Cena holds him up there forever, even pressing him up and down.  It gets two.  More punching from Cena and a backdrop.  Carlito’s facial expressions are so perfect here.  Legdrop by Cena gets two.  Shoot off and a delayed side-slam gets two.  Cena kicks Carlito out of the ring, then whips him into the stairs.  Holy squashopalooza.  Back in, Carlito finally gets an offensive move in, kind of.  He low-bridges Cena on a charge.  To the floor, where Carlito brawls Cena around.  Back in, Cena slugs it out and Carlito rolls out of the ring again.  Rake of the eyes by Carlito and a kick to the gut to load up a piledriver.  Cena counters with a catapult that sends Carlito into the front row as we go to a commercial.

When we come back, we’re back in the ring and Cena is smacking Carlito into the turnbuckle.  Crossbody off the ropes by Cena misses and Carlito takes control with some punches and kicks.  Swinging neck-breaker gets two.  Slam into the turnbuckle by Carlito and a shoot off into a back-elbow for two.  Suplex gets two.  Float-over elbow gets two.  Now a grounded-sleeper by Carlito.  Cena tries to fight out of it so Carlito stands up on it, then eats a backdrop and we have a double-KO.  Both guys up and Cena slugs it out.  Shoot off and a back-elbow, then a clothesline.  Flying shoulderblock gets two.  Bulldog and the five knuckle shuffle gets two.  Cena pumps up his shoes and loads up for the FU, but Carlito holds onto the ropes.  He ends up on the apron, where Cena clotheslines him down and sends him into the stairs.  Carlito grabs the title belt, but Cena cuts him off.  Cena goes to hit Carlito with the belt, but the referee stops him.  Carlito loads up his hand with Cena’s chain and punches him with it while the referee is disposing of the belt, and it gets the pin and the title in his first match.
**** Pretty good actually.  It goes to show the difference between motivated Carlito and the Carlito we’ve had for years now.  Nice pace, with your typical TV issues such as pauses for commercials.  As a launch platform match, it was exactly what it needed to be.

Moment #84: Sewage Bath (October 9, 2003)

Eddie Guerrero rides out on a sewage truck and sprays the Big Show with shit.  “Potty humor is golden” says Miz.  Big Show cries over this.  Matt Hardy said the smell was an improvement.  That’s pretty much it.

Moment #83: The Boogeyman


Moment #…

Okay, I’ll be a professional.  We get various clips of the Boogeyman doing his shtick, including eating the huge wart off of Jillian Hall’s face.  Hard to believe that the American Idol reject gimmick she has now is a step up.  JBL’s sell job of watching this thing play out is a sight.  Mark Henry was disgusted by this, and he once was booked to fuck Mae Young, so that says something.  Really though, THIS is the Best of Smackdown?  I didn’t miss much.

Moment #82: Hulkster Returns (January 23, 2003)

Everyone talks about what a big moment it was.  Matt Striker turns up the hyperbole meter by saying “you’ll always remember where you were when he returned?”  Really, was it THAT memorable?  A crappy match with the Rock, a brawl with Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania, and a couple months replaying the Midnight Rider gimmick?  Hogan did get a nice ovation that wouldn’t end, but hell, he got that everywhere he went in 2002.  What’s the big deal?

-Matt Striker and Michael Cole talk about how weird it would be for two wrestlers from different promotions wrestled each-other.  Hey wait, I think such a situation occurred…

Moment #81 is…

Match #5
Triple H vs. Tazz
4/20/00 Smackdown

Triple H was the WWE Champion here, while Tazz had just won the ECW Championship from WCW wrestler Mike Awesome in one of the more bizarre moments in wrestling history.  It likely would have meant more historically if both WCW and ECW hadn’t folded less then a year later.  Adding to the weirdness of this match is that earlier in the year Chris Benoit had jumped to WWE without having actually lost the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in the ring, and immediately jobbed to Triple H in his first match in the company.  To put this in context, that would be like Hulk Hogan beating Ric Flair AND Nick Bockwinkel in 1985, or Bruno Sammartino beating Lou Thesz and Verne Gagne in the 60s.  Pretty fucking significant.  Neither title is on the line here, of course.

Lockup and Tazz smacks Trips down.  Trips slugs it out himself and eats a clothesline, then another.  Tazz loads up for a suplex but Trips hits a clothesline.  Tazz slugs it out but lowers his head into a kick.  Tazz hits a 360 clothesline to send Trips to the floor, then brawls with him there.  Tazz rams him into the table, then slams him on the floor.  Trips reverses a whip and sends Tazz into the stairs.  Slam onto the rail by Trips, then mounted punches.  Back to the ring where Trips fires off a vertical suplex and a kneedrop for two.  Tazz tries to fight back and does manage to get a back-suplex for a double-KO.  Shoot off and a back-elbow.  Tazz catches a clutch-suplex with a bridge for two.  He lowers his head into a face-buster, but then ducks a clothesline and hooks in the Tazzmission.  Stephanie distracts the referee and Trips hits a low-blow and a pedigree, BUT WAIT~!! because Tommy Dreamer shows up to break up the count.  He misses a shot with a chair and wipes out Tazz.  KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! to Tommy Dreamer, and then Trips covers Tazz for the pin.
* Not very good.  Trips was on a hot-streak but Tazz could never find his groove as a wrestler in the WWE.  Everyone blames the booking, but maybe his bush-league gimmick couldn’t work in the WWE.  Of course, everything is always their fault, so this was just another example of Triple H holding down a guy who ‘threatened him.’  Ha.  Tazz couldn’t threat Triple H’s position if he was packing heat.  On a side-note, they should have just made this a WWE title match.  That way Tazz could say that Dreamer had cost him a chance to be WWE and ECW Champion.  If his shoulders were going to be on the mat, why not?  It might have drawn a little more fan-interest.

Moment #80: Bar Room Brawl (January 20, 2000)

The New Age Outlaws get into a fight at referee Tim White’s bar, the Friendly Tap, with a drunk who says the APA is going to take the tag belts from them that Sunday at the Royal Rumble.  Then the APA shows up, and things go hell.  A couple harmless arcade games get beat on as well.  It sure looks like the skit didn’t last long, and this is another example of something that had no place in a ‘best of ANYTHING’ set.

Moment #79: Gore!  Gore!  Gore!  (August 9, 2001)

Al Gore shows up on Smackdown to challenge Global Warming to a Hell in a Cell match.  He ended up losing when his old rival, a manifestation of the entire state of Florida, showed up and gave Gore the dreaded “Hanging Chad Deathlock” at which point Gore’s manager, Tom Daschle, threw in the towel.  I wish they had given us the full match.

Actually, this moment is about Rhyno hyttyng the gore on Chrys Jerycho through the entrance screen.  This lead to an abortion of a match at Summerslam where Jericho, wearing lifts and at his most sloppy as a result, blew two major spots in a row and nearly killed himself in the process.  This DVD will hence forth now be known as the “Best” of Smackdown.  The sarcastic quotes will remain in place until this set stops sucking.

Moment #78: Time to Play the Game (September 23, 1999)

Vince McMahon, fresh off winning and forfeiting the WWE Championship, books Triple H against all five of his opponents for that weekend’s Unforgiven Six-Pack Challenge.  If Trips fails to win three out of five of those matches, he’s out of the pay-per-view.  Now THIS is an angle that worked.  Every match was a specialty match.  Big Show and Trips faced off in a choke-slam challenge, which Show won.  Viscera and Mideon represented Undertaker for a casket match, and would you believe it, they won!  That’s right, Mideon and Viscera have a clean (relatively speaking) victory over Triple H, on television.  Following this segment, Undertaker bowed out of the Unforgiven match and wasn’t seen again for eight months.  Davey Boy Smith was given his spot.  Trips beat Kane in an inferno match, then beat Mankind in a boiler room brawl after someone (I think later revealed to Al Snow) pushed Foley off a fifteen foot tall structure.  Davey Boy guest-refereed a strap match with the Rock, turned heel and helped Trips win his spot on the PPV, where he would win the WWE Championship in a much more proper fashion then he originally did.  That match actually rocked.  I wonder when it will show up on disc.

Moment #77: Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection

We get various highlights of the Mankind and the Rock’s funny moments.  The point of the feud was going to be having the Rock warm up to Foley then get turned on in violent fashion.  But for whatever reason, the Rock never played off any type of affection for the situation (despite being told to by creative) and blew the whole thing as a result.  In fact, the Rock came off like a huge asshole during the whole angle and it’s shocking that the fans liked him when it was over with.  Truth be told, Foley thinks that because the Rock never acted nice to him, he wouldn’t have gotten as a heel if he turned on him.  I say ‘fuck being a heel’.  If he had turned on the Rock he would have been the top babyface of the year, by far.  The fans would have loved him for it.  If I’m booking I have Foley snap after being treated like dirt one time too many, had him kick the ever loving shit out of the Rock and leave him laying in a puddle of his own piss.  Every week, the minute the Rock entered the building Foley would resume the beating.  Within a month wrestling fans all over the world would be trying to recall Jesus Christ and replace him with Mick Foley.

-Back to Matt Striker and Michael Cole, who talk up Hogan turning babyface following Wrestlemania X8.

Moment #76 is…

Match #6: WWE Undisputed Championship, No Disqualification
(c) Hulk Hogan vs. Chris Jericho
5/2/02 Smackdown

Never seen this one.  Hell, I didn’t know it even existed.  Lockup and Hogan shoves Jericho off.  Another lockup and another shove-off.  Jericho bails and throws a tantrum.  Back in, Hogan grabs a headlock, then blocks a top-wristlock.  Shoot off and Hogan gets a shoulderblock, a hiptoss, a scoopslam, and an arm-wringer.  Jericho thumbs the eyes and gets a back-suplex to take control.  He then wipes his armpits with Hogan’s bandana.  Stompery follows, but Jericho whiffs on an elbowdrop and Hogan takes control with some chops.  Shoot to the corner but Hulk charges into an elbow.  Jericho climbs but gets caught and tossed off.  To the opposite corner where Hogan gets a ten-punch, but Jericho counters a bite with a low-blow.  More stomping by Jericho and some chopping, but Hogan side-steps a charge and Jericho wipes out over the ropes and to the floor.  Outside, Hogan goes for a slam but Jericho wiggles out and pushes him into the post.  Jericho climbs and drops a sledge off the top and to the floor, then hits a Randy Savage diving-hangman.  Jericho brawls Hogan on the ropes and chokes with his wrist-tape.  Head of steam misses and Hogan takes control with a scoopslam and a couple elbowdrops.  A third one misses and Jericho hits the bulldog.  Lionsault hits, BUT WAIT~!! because Triple H is out to run a distraction.  Triple H can’t touch Jericho or he blows his Hell in a Cell match at Judgment Day.  Jericho is distracted by him, while Trips casually sits with the announce team.  Hogan hits a punch to the throat and shoots him off.  Big boot misses and Jericho hits a DDT for two.  It’s HULK UP TIME~!!  No-sell, no-sell, no-sell, finger point, punch, punch, punch, big boot, but Jericho counters the legdrop into the Walls of Jericho.  Hogan get to the ropes, and Jericho is freaking out.  He bails to get a chair and hits Hogan over the back for it.  BUT WAIT~!! because the Undertaker’s music hits, despite the fact that he’s banned from showing up here.  This allows Hogan to get a school-boy for the pin.  Trips then saves Hogan from further beatings.
***1/2 Pretty good use of the Hogan formula, even with the two lame uses of distraction.  Certainly worth watching.

Moment #75: Gold Medal Thief (August 30, 2001)

This was during Austin’s run as the paranoid leader of the Alliance.  Austin stole Kurt Angle’s gold medals, then tries to run over Angle with a car.  He threatens to throw the medals into a sewer, but instead opts to throw them off a bridge in a rare bit of continuity by the WWE, paying off Austin’s earlier antics with the Intercontinental Championship from 1997.

Moment #74: Gold Medal Auction (July 29, 2004)

Continuing with the theme of Kurt Angle getting tortured by having his medals taken away, Eddie Guerrero steals them this time and attempts to auction them off.  If the WWE really wanted to be funny, they should have gotten the 2004 USA Basketball Team to bid on them, since that’s the only way those losers would have gotten gold that year.  He also auctioned off Angle’s cast, Angle’s WWE Championship, his wheel chair during his Lex Luthor phase, and a picture of Kurt that Eddie had drawn a mustache on.  Angle comes out and attempts to steal Eddie’s low-rider, which then sprays powder in his face.  Good stuff.

Moment #73: Funeral Fight

I’m beginning to think that this DVD is some kind of elaborate joke that is so inside only the production people would get it.  The Dawn Marie/Torrie Wilson feud was universally shat upon by smarts and marks alike.  Dawn Marie marries Torrie Wilson’s father and fucks him to death during his honeymoon.  Torrie and Dawn get into a cat-fight during his televised funeral.  With all the very real deaths in professional wrestling that have brought incredible shame on the business, having a fake one is beyond tasteless.  Of course, Smackdown is not a ‘wrestling show.’  Just ask Vince McMahon.  It’s an episodic action-adventure-dramedy, and it has to have the occasional death episode just like any other show on TV does.  And by gawd, if the wrestlers don’t legitimately kill themselves fast enough, we’ll stage a death.  Disgraceful.

Michael Hayes tries to save some face by saying that at least they kept the whole angle as trashy as possible.  Fake deaths in wrestling are trashy by default.  If you guys want a televised funeral so bad, then end the wellness policy.  Given how self-destructive wrestlers are, you should end up having one at least once a year, maybe more if you’re lucky.

Moment #72: Life Sucks… (May 11, 2000)

Vince McMahon comes out with DX and tells the fans how lame they are, how ugly they are, and how poor they are.  “Life sucks, and then you die.”  You have to wonder when Vince McMahon is talking if it’s Mr. McMahon the character or the real Vince McMahon.  I mean, given how horrible the booking is at times, to the point where it’s downright insulting, it’s pretty clear that Vince McMahon holds his own customers in contempt.  Not that you can’t be successful doing so.  Look at Nintendo and Sony these days.  (Don’t read into that as me being a 360 fan.  That fucking machine breaks down so often that they should replace the red rings of death with a glowing picture of Dave Batista)

Moment #71: Al Snow & Steve Blackman

Wow, Head-Cheese makes a DVD.  We get their highlights of their various skits.  I have to admit, I laughed at the skit in the old-folks home.  Blackman taking a nunchuck to a cow is awesome as well.  Actually, this whole segment was gold.

Moment #70 is…

Match #7
Batista, Rey Mysterio, Finlay, & Jeff Hardy vs. MVP, JBL, Kane, & The Brian Kendrick
10/03/08 Smackdown

Wow, did Kendrick get fucked over when this team was drawn up.  He has to singlehandedly carry 800lbs or more of the dead-weight that occupies his corner.  This is the most modern match on the entire set, and in fact after this the most recent match will be from 2004, then everything else is from 2003 or earlier.  Very weird.  Was Smackdown that bad from 2004 to 2009?  I understand that we lost some classic matches because of the Chris Benoit situation, but come on… NOTHING left in this set from 2005 to the present?  Yeesh.  Hell, I’m checking the match listing and I just noticed that the famous match where Kurt Angle dragged a damn-near five star match out of Kane is NOT included.  What the FUCK?  If you witness a miracle on television, you better package that fucker on disc.  In fact, that match wasn’t even in Kane’s DVD set.  I don’t get it.  The best match of his fifteen-plus year career and it gets snubbed… twice… in sets that it belonged in.

This is the first main-event for the My Network TV era of Smackdown.  Finlay starts with Kendrick and brawls him around.  Atomic drop to Kendrick and a shoulderblock.  Tag to Batista, who hits shoulderblocks in the corner and a vertical suplex for two.  Tag back to Finlay who kicks away and uppercuts Kendrick.  Slams into the apron, then an elbow which causes Kendrick to land on the floor with a thunk.  Finlay does his ‘catch a baseball slide with the ring drape’ spot as we cut to a commercial.

We come back and Mysterio gets the tag and an elbowdrop.  Tag to Hardy who drops a chop across Kendrick’s arm.  Snapmare and a dropkick by Hardy gets two.  Tag back to Finlay, who eats a dropkick.  Buzzsaw kick by Kendrick and he showboats instead of making the tag.  Hornswaggle is wearing Kendrick’s jacket and mocks him with a dance, causing Kendrick to bail and chase him.  He eats a clothesline from Finlay on the outside, then Finlay gets KOed by Ezekiel Jackson.  Back in, JBL gets the tag, but it’s more important to watch replays of the stuff we just saw ten cum-gargling seconds ago then it is to watch what JBL does.  If you squint hard enough, you might catch JBL brawling Finlay into the corner.  Short-arm clothesline and some elbowdrops from Joey Styles’ bitch gets two.  Tag to Kane who slugs it out and stomps away.  Whip to the corner and a clothesline, then more punching, which is the extend of Kane’s usefulness.  Then again, according to some punching and kicking with nothing else to offer is more then acceptable in wrestling, even in 2009, although I’m guessing that only extends to wrestlers that you’re man-crushing on.  Anyway, MVP tags in with a slam and a kneedrop for two.  And now to a front-facelock, then a tag to JBL for some brawling.  He distracts the referee and allows Kane to cheat.  Finlay fights back only long enough for JBL to hit a stiff forearm for two.  JBL lowers his head into a DDT and a double-KO.  Tag to MVP, hot tag to Batista.  MVP gets made into a bitch, then Kendrick runs in and eats a forearm.  Batista tosses Kendrick into MVP, then blocks a chokeslam from Kane and it’s spinebusters for all.  Batista loads up MVP for a powerbomb, but instead backdrops Kendrick.  He slams Kendrick, then slams MVP.  Tag to Mysterio, who hits a splash on MVP off of Batista’s shoulders.  He sets up Kendrick for the 619, then preps MVP for it as well.  Kane stops it and jerks Mysterio out of the ring as we cut to a commercial.

When we come back Kane kicks Mysterio for two, then grabs a chinlock.  Well that’s horrible timing.  If only Smackdown was a taped show, they could have edited the match so that the chinlock lead to the commercial break.  That would have been swell.  Kane tags in Kendrick and holds Mysterio for some free shots.  It gets two.  Stronghold by Kendrick, and then he tags in JBL before Mysterio can escape it.  Fall-away slam gets two but Batista saves.  Tag to MVP, but the referee misses it.  So they redo it.  Well, that was fucked up, yo.  MVP does a body-drop to Mysterio, then tags Kendrick who hits a stomp off the top for two.  Mysterio blocks a charge and counters something from Kendrick with a reverse DDT.  Hot tag to Jeff Hardy.  Flying forearm to MVP and a clothesline.  Whisper in the wind connects, but JBL comes in illegally and boots Hardy down.  Everything breaks down.  Batista is in to spear JBL.  Kendrick in to kick Batista down.  Finlay in to punch-out Kendrick.  Kane in to boot Finlay down.  Mysterio in off the top rope with a dropkick to take Kane out.  619 to MVP and a seated-senton off the apron to Kane while Jeff Hardy hits the swanton on MVP for the pin.
****1/4 Solid, entertaining tag match with a hot finishing sequence.  Easily the high-light of the set so far.

THE STORY THUS FAR: The first disc presented several matches of pretty decent quality mixed with some incredibly horrible skits and angles that shouldn’t be on any set that claims to be the best of anything.  If you treat this solely as a match collection, the seven presented so far are worthwhile.  It would have been helpful if the WWE had set up this disc with the ability to watch it all as a feature OR just told you which moments were the ‘matches’ and let you select them separately.  Actually, it would have been better to have done one disc which was nothing but skits and moments and then two discs that were full of matches.  After one disc, the set is likeable if extremely flawed in it’s format.  But the inclusion of the Al Wilson funeral bit pisses me off to the point where I kind of want to call for a boycott of this set.  Nothing excuses it’s inclusion.  It’s absolutely shameful.

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