Hey there folks. I hope you’ve all had a good week since the last time I typed an article and you read an article and thought: ‘well, I guess I made a good call not watching that SmackDown!. And seriously, could this guy be more pissed about the whole Russian/USA thing?’ Me? My week’s been mixed. I passed my Master’s Degree with a merit, which I’m extremely happy about, but I was also involved in an incident in which a large amount of alkaline was spilled on me, and so a fair amount of my ass and leg started dissolving into soap for a spell. Turns out that some corrosive materials take about five minutes to start that whole burning sensation which lets you know that it’s chewing through your skin.
So yep, eventful week. And it’s under this strange set of circumstances that I turn my attention to this, SmackDown!‘s quinceañera and what is roughly my own one year anniversary writing for this site (either that or last week, but we did nothing last week and it’s not like WWE remembers what happened a year ago). I did say I’d do something a little different for this, so I’ve decided to look back throughout the review on moments from the SmackDown! brand which I regard fondly. This article might run a little long, but if there was any time to do it, now’s probably it.
And away we go.
Lovely opening package to start us off, although the allusion to that HLA incident was not something I expected to see in this day and age (I’d like, as one who was about twelve or thirteen at the time, to thank WWE for some weird moments of puberty). We’re in Philly tonight, and we get underway with the introduction of Stephanie McMahon, first ever general manager of SmackDown!, and actually my favourite of the GMs overall. No matter what shit she pulls week by week in 2014, I remember her in 2002 putting motherfuckers in matches left and right. Sweet moment when they tell you that Tom was ten when SmackDown! debuted, and actually watched JBL in a match.
Steph starts right off getting the shots in, saying that the Rock lost on the first episode of SmackDown! to Triple H. Holy shit, John Laurinaitis is here. He gets a ‘People Power’ chant, so I guess it’s just going to be one of those shows. Big Johnny gets on the mic and what the hell is wrong with that guy’s voice? He seems to want to run the show, but HOLD ON JUST A MINUTE, PLAYA. Teddy Fucking Long is here, and JBL is dancing for some reason. If he puts Laurinaitis in a match…one-on-one…with DAH UNDAHTAYKAH this whole show gets a ten no matter what. Teddy gets a chant, and we’ve got three post-GMs in the ring right now. Laurinaitis steals Teddy Long’s gimmick and makes a tag team match between the Miz and Cesaro against Sheamus teamed with Jack Swagger. Teddy flops his six-man tag team manhood on the proverbial table, adding Bo and Mark Henry to the mix. Johnny sees his Dallas and Henry, and raises him the Dust Brothers and the Usos. Teddy Long then goes all in with a fifteen-man tag team match, and he’s just living the meme right now. Stephanie plays the role of enabler and lets Teddy run rampant with his tag team habit, and says that both Teddy and John will captain a team, and whoever’s team wins will be THE GREATEST SMACKDOWN GENERAL MANAGER EVAH.
Steph then recaps the world’s dumbest idea for Hell in a Cell, and then has Miz host a face-to-face between Ambrose and Cena. And…here’s Adam Rose? Urgh, every time I see this guy, I feel like a disappointed father. I had such hopes. He wishes SmackDown! happy birthday, and says it’s time to party. He wants to party with Stephanie, but she puts him in a match with Kane and then dances at him. Holy hell, I think I just rediscovered my teenage crush on Stephanie McMahon.
Your first SmackDown! memory from WWE is, of course, the first episode. Rock and Triple H fought each other for the title, and Triple H’s first wife Shawn Michaels screwed the Rock over as special referee.
My first SmackDown! memory is actually from SummerSlam 2002: the first wrestling match I ever watched, between Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio. As someone who knew not a single thing about WWE not learned through the PlayStation games or the action figures, this was the match to hook me. Sure, the rest of the show was incredible: Edge vs. Eddie; Shawn Michaels returned and Lesnar took the title, but I just loved watching Rey, and was crushed when Angle beat him.
Apparently ‘smackdown’ appears in Webster’s Dictionary. And us Brits claim that you Yanks ruined our language.
Roses Are Red, Kane Is Red, Adam Rose’s Blood Is Red
Kane approaches the ring, and says he’s not a cheeseburger, a lemon or a Rosebud. He says he’s a demon, but tonight he’s a party-pooper. We ring the bell, and Rose is not taking this seriously, but does get three shots on Kane before he gets caught, only to turn it into a sleeper, which Kane breaks out of. Kane runs into a boot and Adam Rose goes up top. He leaps right into an uppercut, then a chokeslam finishes it.
Apparently that was the end of Adam Rose’s winning streak. I honestly forgot. Match was very short and that was probably how it should have gone, considering the competitors. 2 Stars.
The Rosebuds rush the ring to check on their fallen leader, but Kane comes back and decides to scatter them. He’s left alone with the Bunny, and JBL and the crowd want it dead. Rosebuds interfere, sacrificing themselves to save…Darren Young? So I’ve been told? Imagine the pop if Kane had tombstoned that thing.
Another SmackDown! moment: it’s the debut of John Cena. God, look at that hair. Hell, you have to admit it was a decent way for the guy to start out, especially considering he really got a push when they found out he could rap.
Hm…my next SmackDown! moment has to be from another PPV, although it’s the SmackDown! brand: Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show at Survivor Series 2002. I can still watch this match now and be massively entertained, and the shock value of it was incredible at the time. Brock managed to lose and yet still look like he could have beaten the world’s population to death with his bare hands.
At Least Alicia’s Stopped Making Cat Noises?
Here’s AJ Lee for a match. She’ll be facing Alicia Fox, and Fox starts out as the aggressor as Paige grips AJ’s title on the outside. AJ’s head rocked off the turnbuckle; nice Northern Lights suplex from Alicia for two. Sleeper hold from Fox, but Lee fights out, but Alicia hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker shutting down the momentum…only for AJ to cinch in the Black Widow out of nowhere at all and get the win.
Okay, two good moves from Alicia Fox. I’ll admit; I’ve no idea what this woman is really capable of, but that’s two more moves than more than few Divas back there. Paige could have been lumbered with a Bella. 2 Stars.
Paige jumps AJ post-match, but the plucky short girl from New Jersey fights off both Divas, escaping with the belt.
We relive a bunch of high-spot moments from SmackDown! You could probably name all of them, and of course the ring-collapsing suplex was there. My next favourite moment has to be the two-out-of-three falls match between Angle and Benoit and Edge and Rey Mysterio for the WWE Tag Team Titles (which actually went four falls). It also led to an excellent three-team tag match at the PPV featuring the Guerreros, which had some of the best tag wrestling I’ve ever seen.
My Injury Means I Can’t Go To The Gym For At Least A Week, So I Can’t Even Look At Rollins Right Now
Here comes Rollins, with Mercury and Noble in tow. He’s facing Kofi Kingston, and I don’t think the protection is in case the Ghana native gets naughty. Seth immediately beats on Kingston, taking him to the outside to destroy him some more. Wow, Rollins is pissed, dropping Kofi face-first onto the apron. He tosses him back in the ring and decapitates him with a clothesline, then wrenches back on the nose. Seth works Kingston over in the corner some more, hurling him across the ring. All Rollins right now, and seeing as how he may well be the next guy whose career Cena infects he’d better look good while he can. Roll-up from Kofi, then a boot and some chops, and now a dropkick! Seth hits a…I don’t know. Some sort of neckbreaker of some kind? Powerbomb into the corner, another powerbomb, curbstomp, pin.
I found that a good move. Rollins has been running so much he’s in risk of losing his mad gains, bro; he needed to remind us that he’s actually sort of a badass. 2.5 Stars.
Luke Harper singles push promo. I’m intrigued by the fact that Rowan’s getting these as well. Two singles pushes? Is Bray just moving away from these two, and they’ll remain a tag team? We’ll find out, I suppose.
Another memory: this time it’s a look back at the Money in the Bank cash-ins. Edge was such a lovable asshole. Oh God, and Jack Swagger was once World Heavyweight Champion. Lest we forget.
Something I personally look back on fondly was that Zach Gowen match with the Big Show, with Steph as Gowen’s tag team partner. It was a weird angle, and I have never been into Zach Gowen, but there were some unique moments during that match, and something very heartwarming in Lesnar and Angle’s separate decisions of ‘I’m going to go and fuck up this whole thing’.
Just Keeping Him Warm For You, Cena
Rusev is in the ring, ready for a match against Ziggler. I have nothing but good things to say about that Rock segment. Still the most electrifying man, in any context. Bell rings, and this should be good. Rusev manhandles Ziggler into the corner and stomps him to the mat. Just imagine if Dolph got the win here: screw Big Show; screw Cena; just push the hell out of Ziggler with one pin. Sleeper hold is battled out of by Ziggler, and he hits a dropkick. Rusev ducks a stinger splash as we go to break.
As we come back, Ziggler is lacing Rusev with punches, but gets caught by the big Bulgarian, takes some knees to the ribs and eats a fallaway slam. Big Show is still in what has to be the most lengthy and comprehensive sensitivity training ever. Seriously, I took a food hygiene course once: six hours and a thirty-question multiple-choice test. I like to think it’s just a video of everything HBK did to the Canadian flag with captions saying ‘this is not okay’. ‘Or this’. ‘Definitely don’t hump it’. ‘Bret Screwed Bret’. ‘Best for Business’. ‘Don’t be a lemon’. ‘What the hell is a Goldust, anyway?’ Rusev facelocks Ziggler, and it’s nice to see IC champ Dolph Ziggler go back to his traditional role as both the IC champ and Dolph Ziggler. Ah, but Dolph hits a jawbreaker, dropkick, stinger splash! He ducks a kick, goes for his DDT, counters a fallaway slam and hits a fameasser! Both men up; Rusev catches a kick, flips Ziggler and applies the Accolade. Dolph taps.
I fairly got into that. Ziggler continues to impress, as he has done for years. Rusev looks dominant as hell, and hopefully he’ll destroy Show when they meet. 3 Stars.
Lana gets on the mic and talks shit. She runs down the Rock, but gets so turned on that she switches to Russian and has to hand the mic to Rusev. Rusev says ‘the Rock will pay for the consequences’, so nice fucking job giving him a microphone, Lana. He challenges Show to a match on RAW, and SUMMONS THE FLAG.
Another look back, and it’s Stone Cold hunting Booker T. Before my time, although I have watched this, and it’s just so ridiculously funny. My SmackDown memory is actually when Austin showed up on SmackDown! to get his quadbike back. The SmackDown! locker room remembered that Brock Lesnar was a giant dick and him and Austin finally brawled. God, they could fire you up back then.
Recap of RAW, even on the fifteenth anniversary, but it features the Rock and the Authority being unable to just be nice to people. It is like they have some sort of mild social disorder, and they’re the kind of villains you sort of feel sorry for as an adult. Also, the Rock and Triple H did intensity and comedy better than most of the locker room in the same segment. And Steph breaking it up was wonderful, although considering that woman raised three daughters, Triple H and the Rock are probably all in a day’s work.
JBL has a cake, and it lasts literally three seconds before he throws it at Tom. Honestly, I’m impressed he had three seconds of restraint. Booker T comes out, and it’s kind of endearing how happy JBL is to see retired black guys this show. Teddy Long brings out his team, and thankfully they do not all get their own entrances.
Another SmackDown moment, and it’s Stone Cold destroying the DX Express. When it came to being an asshole, he was extremely inventive. My next moment is most definitely when Kurt Angle won the World Heavyweight Championship at that battle royal. The intensity, the shock factor, the derailing Mysterio becoming champ ‘because Eddie Guerrero! *speaks Spanish for a bit*’. They turned the guy face through him kicking a ridiculous amount of ass that night; how could I not be on board with that?
Teddy Long Makes The Losing Team Face The Undertaker And Randy Orton
We come back with Teddy Long’s team in the ring, and then down comes Laurinaitis’ team of vaguely dickish dudes. Goldust starts off with Fernando, going on the offence. Fernando comes back, chopping away before Dust escapes to his corner, but doesn’t tag out. Hurricanrana off the top rope; Stardust is in and gets headscissored by Diego; Slater gets dropkicked and everyone’s in the ring! Oh, but Kane gets disqualified for one big boot.
When we come back, Titus is taking it to one of the Usos. He tags in Goldust, then Slater comes in. I know that it’s stupid and doesn’t mean anything, but it irks me that they’re deciding who the GREATEST SMACKDOWN GENERAL MANAGER EVAH is due to whichever team wins a match; surely it would be more ably accomplished using quantifiable facts and figures. It’s like when they let an audience of non-scientists vote on whether or not Pluto is a planet: who the fuck cares what they think in that context? Stardust comes in, but Jimmy uppercuts him, tagging in Jey. More chops to Stardust; Jey gets tossed out on the apron and Disaster Kicked by Stardust. Goldust comes in and takes the fight to Jey, then tags in the Gator. Slater comes in, but Sandmiz gets chants and gets tagged in. Shit, if Sandow can thrive on this gimmick, then let the glorious bastard do whatever he wants to do. Pop for Sandmiz, and he hits a bodyslam and a knee-drop. Sleeper to Jey as everyone on commentary laughs at the atrocity which was Mike Adamle. Titus comes in and hits a back-breaker. We get a ‘thank-you Mizdow’ chant, because why not and Jey takes Titus down before Cesaro tags in and gutwrenches him.
We come back from the break with Slater in control of Jimmy Uso (that’s what commentary are calling him, but they were calling him ‘Jey’ before). Jimmy hits his dragon kick; Cesaro is tagged in and decides to knock out Mark Henry. Yep, because there aren’t like five other guys on that apron. Backdrop to Cesaro and Jimmy/Jey tags in Sheamus. The Irish guy’s on fire, hitting everyone that ever there was; high knee and clubbing blows to Cesaro, but switches the blows to Stardust, then Heath, and then just pounds everyone. White Noise to Cesaro, but Sandmiz interferes; Swagger takes him out, but gets ejected by Slater/Gator; they get yanked out of the ring by the Usos; the Matadores dive on them; the Usos take out the Dust brothers and dive on them. The Gator tries to dive, but gets dropkicked by El Torito, who gets caught and tossed out by Bo Dallas. He gets caught by Henry, but manages to low bridge him out of the ring! Sheamus Brogue Kicks him, but gets caught by the Cesaro Swing! Jimmy kicks Cesaro and they both go out of the ring, and Sandmiz gets the tag! The crowd erupts! He tries to hit the Skull-Crushing Finale, but gets Brogue Kicked and then splashed for the pin!
Ah, that was just fun. I don’t even know why they bothered with the traditional wrestling; that whole thing unfolding at the end was hilarious. I’m actually glad they’re still using Sandow as a running joke rather than actually trying to ruin something we all enjoy out of good-intentioned idiocy. 3 Stars.
Promo for Erick Rowan. Must be getting close to whatever it is they’ll be doing with him. Also, Bray can’t spell ‘innocence’, so that’s a thing. I also don’t know what the pregnant lady implies; probably a baby.
Here’s the guy who plays the Miz worse than Damien Sandow: the Miz. Remember when Miz was starting out and was denied access to SmackDown!? How right they were. We recap the general events of everyone wanting a piece of Seth Rollins; wow, I typed that and both King and Rollins said it at the same time. Miz brings out Dean Ambrose, who is now going to be in a contract on a pole match. 1) that is a really, really, really, incredibly, really stupid idea. 2) Who the fuck hired Vince Russo again? John Cena comes out to an actually decent reaction, then goes into the crowd to hug a child in the Make a Wish programme. Hate the character, respect the person.
Miz starts being a shit-stirrer immediately, but Ambrose isn’t the kind of guy you can guilt and says he’ll be taking no crap from nobody. He wants Seth Rollins, and gives all the good reasons why he should get him, and actually uses the word ‘stealing’ to describe exactly what this is. John Cena does his awkward thing where he admires the guy he’s going to bury later. He uses baseballs to imply balls, like he’s in the movie version of Glengarry Glen Ross. Cena claims to know what the audience wants, and if he did then maybe he wouldn’t be getting booed by half of that same audience. At least he’s only made one joke, I’ll admit. Not sure what accent he’s slipping into, though.
Miz gets on the microphone, which nobody wants to see or hear, and asks if Ambrose thinks he has any chance against Cena. Ambrose just says ‘yep’: solid gold. Credit where it’s due: they’re selling him as a serious guy. Miz tries to stir again, but Cena tells him to shut up. Miz isn’t satisfied with calm stuff and spells out the rest of the script for these two. Wow, he really can get energetic. Cena and Ambrose demolish the Miz, with Cena giving Ambrose Miz to DDT, and then Attitude Adjusts Ambrose to close out. Seth is laughing backstage, despite the fact he’s going to have to fight one of them.
I really enjoyed this: the atmosphere and the recaps and the comedy and everything. Just a fun night altogether, and screw it: a ten. Happy Birthday, SmackDown!