Smackdown has had more than a few good moments over the course of sixteen years and two weeks. Admittedly, it wasn't groundbreaking like RAW or Nitro or even Lucha Underground, but it did bring wrestling back to primetime network television, some many thought would never happen again after a very low period in the industry in the early 1990s. And in its later years, it gave some of the WWE a chance to shine on a larger than ever roster. Hell, some people may never be world champion if Smackdown didn't exist. Seriously. We should all thank The Rock for this show even existing to begin with. With its best days now behind it, it's time to look back on some of the best of the blue brand with...
The best Smackdown moments ever.
Before we break in the countdown, here are...
Ten honorable mentions.
1. In June 2013, Daniel Bryan, Kane, and Randy Orton (legend killer) did what many thought was impossible: the collective unit I like to call Hell Norton defeated The Shield in a trios match. By submission. Clean. As it turned out, the abrupt defeat may have allegedly been the result of the group injuring the Undertaker and screwing with Summerslam plans for a Brothers of Destruction versus Shield match.
2. Lost to the dustbin of history, but still finding its way on to the Smackdown 10th Anniversary DVD set, TLC 3: The Lost Levels was not as good as its predecessors (no way it could be, I mean, the first two were at the previous year's Summerslam and Wrestlemania X-Seven), but the addition of a fourth team created more chaos than ever. In the end, it would be an injured Chris Benoit that wins it for himself and Chris Jericho.
3. Eddie Guerrero has always been an underrated promo. He's usually not the best on the mic in the room at a given moment, but they always seem to come from the heart, and when he speaks, you feel it. Case in point, Eddie's pre-No Way Out "addict" promo, where he talks how he's overcome the odds before (i.e. drug and alcohol problems and being on the brink of death) and how he plans to do it again at No Way Out. Which he did.
4. The spring and summer of 2002 was spent with the purpose of getting Brock Lesnar over as an absolute, merciless killer—a point made abundantly clear when on an episode of Smackdown, Brock Lesnar killed Hulk Hogan dead, becoming the first man ever to score a knockout win over the legend.
5. The summer of 2001 saw Vince McMahon's WWF crumbling with the invasion of WCW and ECW, so Vince was despondent. So leave it to Kurt Angle and Steve Austin...in their own goofy, special way...to cheer up the boss with singing with an acoustic guitar. I believe this episode also featured Angle with the goofy little hat. Vince might not have had a laugh, but we sure did.
6. In 2002, Kane was in this weird phase of trying to get a personality, quite a contrast from his monster run in 1997 and 1998. Kane was set to join The Rock and Hulk Hogan in a trios match against the rebooted nWo, and Kane pumped up the legends by imitating them. I don't care what anyone says, that was awesome. And if you say you wouldn't run through a wall for the Big Red Machine after this promo, you're a liar.
7. It's often mentioned that Eddie Guerrero is one of the best all-around performers in wrestling history. This is indisputable; don't fight me on this. But in 2005, Eddie Guerrero tapped into the role of "crazed sociopath" with an obsession of defeating Rey Mysterio, something he had not been able to do in years. In 2005, the crazed sociopath-o-meter was turned up to eleven when Eddie talked to the mask of Rey Mysterio in front of thousands with little more than a spotlight on him. Because who talks to a mask? Seriously. Also, this promo was like super intense, you guys.
8. One of the more entertaining feuds of 2003 was Kurt Angle and John Cena. The two personality-wise couldn't be any more different than 6am on a midsummer's day and 6pm in the dead of winter. Not according to Kurt Angle, who one time dressed in John Cena garb, complete with throwback jersey, jorts, a sideways cap, and a sick rap. Angle's got mad street cred, yo.
9. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow once upon a time were BFFs. But BFFs get thrown by the wayside in the name of championship gold, like at Money in the Bank when Sandow flushed his friendship in the name of championship gold, something Cody did not take lightly. Cody, ever the sore loser, decided to take out his frustrations on Damien by stealing his Money in the Bank briefcase and chucking it into the Gulf of Mexico. What a dick.
10. In January 2000, Mick Foley was reinstated to the WWF as Mankind after briefly being fired following losing a "pink slip on a pole" match. Unfortunately, on the night of his reinstatement, his getting tortured by Triple H continued. Foley then came to the conclusion that Mankind wasn't cut out to face Triple H at the Royal Rumble event, so Mankind went and got him a substitute. And by that, I mean Mick Foley as Mankind morphed into Cactus Jack, throwing everyone into an absolute frenzy because everyone, including Triple H knew shit just got very, very real.
And speaking of shit getting very, very real, here they are, as voted by you...
The top ten Smackdown moments ever. Ever.
Wait... this is an anniversary countdown. Let's go bigger.
The top sixteen Smackdown moments ever.
Much better. Anyway, if your favorite didn't win, that's your fault. You voted and rec'd and stuff. So there.
16. Paul Heyman pipebombs Vince McMahon.
The Thursday before Survivor Series 2001, Paul Heyman as co-leader of the Alliance wanted to leave a few parting words for his soon-to-be-ex-employer Vince McMahon (see, the losing side of the Survivor Series main event had to dissolve. Like forever). The worked shoot is perhaps the most famous of its kind in the show's 16-year history.
He ripped Vince's ideas, the way he got the WWF, his treatment of employees both past and present, the XFL, even the idea of sports entertainment itself. Feel free to read along while watching the video with the promo transcript here... then realize that more than a decade later Heyman is as right now as he was then.
Needless to say, Heyman would pay for his words a few days later because guess which side won at Survivor Series? It all worked out for Paul E. though. He was back on TV within six months, and by that time the following year, he had booked some of the best television WWE's ever produced: the Smackdown Six Era. Plus he manages some guy who conquered some streak or other at Wrestlemania. Totally worked out for everyone.
15. Steve Austin blows up the DX Express.
One thing we've learned over the years is that if you leave something with four wheels around Steve Austin, you're not gonna get it back the same way you left it. It's just the way it is. He's ruined cars, trucks, basically anything with four wheels he's either driven it or ruined it or both. He's a master deconstructionist if you will, which is what he did on the final Smackdown before Backlash 2000. People wondered if Steve Austin could be trusted in The Rock's corner against the McMahon-Helmsley Regime. Steve put all those doubts to rest when he blew up their bus. Yup, in the two hours that the Regime went looking for Austin, Stone Cold probably took the time to rig the bus with explosives, and blow it up just as the show faded to black.
Oh, and surely enough Austin, who wasn't in The Rock's corner for the bout, came through when he needed, and that's what counts.
14. Eddie Guerrero's final match.
I know I've said it a time or three already, but it's true: Eddie Guerrero was one of the most complete performers in wrestling history. But it's true. It's damn true. In November 2005, the big Survivor Series bout would be Smackdown vs. RAW. Yes, like the video game of the same name. This was at a time when the roster split still mattered. One of the bouts to make up the Smackdown team was Eddie Guerrero taking on Mr. Kennedy. Guerrero lied, cheated, and stole his way to victory over the young upstart and made a fine addition to the team.
Unfortunately, we would never find out how much of an addition he would be. Five days after the match was taped (and just two after the match aired), Guerrero was found dead in a hotel room in Minneapolis. Despite being sober for years, his hard living past had caught up with his heart, and Eddie was dead at just age 38. It was perhaps the most heart-wrenching death since Owen Hart. Multiple people have since said that Guerrero was set to win the World Heavyweight Championship on the very next Smackdown, making his passing even more heartbreaking. He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten by anyone who has ever had the pleasure of watching him.
Viva la raza. Viva Eddie Guerrero.
13. John Cena's debut.
Or as one person Fanposted, the real beginning of WWE (wink wink, nudge nudge). In June 2002, the sudden walkout of Stone Cold Steve Austin may have finally convinced Vince McMahon, hey... I better start building the future here. So Vince basically gives the same promo about ruthless aggression that he gave a few days earlier and passes the mic to Kurt Angle, who's now embraced his baldness. Angle challenges anyone in the back with the caveat that they've never had a match with him before. Out comes this local jobber.
The "local jobber" is John Cena, who thinks he's got some of that ruthless aggression in him. And he does. He dominates Angle, but ends up losing to him because he's a "local jobber" and that's what "local jobbers" do. Post-match, then-undisputed WWE Champion The Undertaker does what Angle didn't: shake his hand. Within 18 months, Cena would be in high-profile feuds with both of them. And would eventually go on to be the face of the WWE.
12. CM Punk cosplays as Jeff Hardy.
The summer of 2009 saw CM Punk and Jeff Hardy—two people that couldn't be any more different—feud over the World Heavyweight Championship. At the crux of their feud is how they live: Hardy is a free spirit who likes his vices (some of which would get him into trouble—more on that in a moment), while Punk is a straight-edger who did not want to ruin his life with drugs and alcohol the way his father did. The feud ended with a title versus career steel cage match with Punk getting out of the cage first and retaining the world championship. For Hardy, it was goodbye. (In reality, it was a write-off for Hardy to heal his mounting injuries.)
The next week, Punk twisted the knife a little bit...by coming out as Jeff Hardy. And the reaction on the fans' faces when they realized it wasn't Jeff was priceless. Then Punk ripped into Hardy and his fans and his lifestyle. It was an ETHER, you guys... something made even more poignant when one week after the show airs, Hardy's arrested on drug trafficking charges. The villain got booed, sure. But in the end, at least in this case, the villain was right.
11. The Smackdown after 9/11.
September 11, 2001 is perhaps the darkest day in modern American history. Thousands of lives were lost when a multi-layered terrorist attack was carried out in New York and Washington. Smackdown was set to tape in Houston that evening, but, you know, real life and everything.
Vince McMahon decided after careful deliberation with city officials the show would go on two nights later with a live episode. The stones of this guy, you say. After all, Major League Baseball shut down. College football shut down. Even the NFL—which once decided to play their games after the assassination of President Kennedy—decided to take a week off. Instead, the WWF organized the first public mass gathering in a place other than Ground Zero since 9/11.
As with the Owen Hart tribute show in 1999 (and the Eddie Guerrero tribute show in 2005), storylines were put on hold and superstars and divas gave their thoughts on 9/11, and Lilian Garcia gave what may have been her best performance of the National Anthem. It was a unique episode of Smackdown; hell, it was a unique wrestling show that night, one I certainly hope they would never have to do again.
10. Kurt Angle and Sensational Sherri cover "Sexy Boy".
In the run-up to Wrestlemania 21, Kurt Angle feuded with Shawn Michaels. This was an interpromotional feud as Michaels was on RAW and Angle was on Smackdown, so there weren't going to be a lot of opportunities to advance the feud. But they did take advantage of the few they had, including bringing back ghosts of Shawn's past. Marty Jannetty made a one-night only return to the company even. But the highlight of the feud—easily—is Kurt Angle covering Shawn Michaels' theme (sung by Shawn Michaels) with the other vocalist in the song, Shawn's original solo manager, Sensational Sherri. And it wasn't terrible. Kurt Angle's dancing...yeah. That was terrible.
9. Eddie Guerrero's WWE Championship celebration.
At No Way Out in 2004, Eddie Guerrero pulled off one of the biggest upsets in WWE history when he defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship. Let's be honest: he had no shot of winning. Actually, if he had no shot of winning, that would be an improvement. After all, Eddie was a career midcarder in WCW. He was a career midcarder in WWE. He was a "vanilla midget". He wasn't supposed to be WWE Champion. Like ever. He was a mechanic. A workhorse. A guy who'd top out with the Intercontinental or US title with an occasional sniff of the main event when needed.
And then sometimes talent doesn't get denied. So what do you do when you win a match and a championship you had no business winning? You celebrate. I mean go full Super Bowl ticker tape parade. Without the police escort and all that. For anyone who knew his life story to that point, this was well deserved. If you got about a minute to kill, here's Eddie's first minute after walking back through the curtain as WWE Champion.
8. Rhyno gores Chris Jericho through the Ovaltron.
The first Smackdown set may be the most unique set ever used for a televised wrestling show. Instead of a big screen and entrance ramp, you have an oval-shaped big screen to the side of the stage. On top, you have a smaller oval-shaped screen. It was odd considering Smackdown didn't have an oval-shaped logo. In 2001, the once unique set showed its age. Chris Jericho at the conclusion of a match gets assaulted by his rival at the time, Rhyno. That assault ended with one of the sickest GORES ever as the half-man, half-bearpig beast sent Jericho through the smaller Ovaltron...which turned out to be just a square screen with an oval cut. The set was replaced the next week by the famous "fist through the glass" set that would be used for even longer than the original: five years plus before going with the universal HD set (which has lasted longer than the fist).
7. Randy Orton RKO's Mark Henry and jumps for joy.
Forget context. Just watch this.
6. Eddie Guerrero's frog splash from the top of the cage.
More Latino Heat awesomeness. In February2004, Eddie Guerrero won the WWE Championship to much joy and fanfare. As it happens with every WWE Champion ever pretty much, eventually they lose it through nefarious means, and it was no different for Guerrero. Four months later, John "Bradshaw" Layfield won it in a bullrope match due to a shady judgment call, and Smackdown proceeded to go on a tailspin which it arguably never recovered.
Fast forward a few weeks to the rematch in a cage, a cage, a cage. Guerrero, who had been tormented by JBL for more than a month, wanted to put the self-made millionaire in his place in style with a frog splash off the top of the cage. Never mind Guerrero didn't win thanks to luchador in disguise Kurt Angle. That frog splash is awesome every single time.
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5. Booker T and Stone Cold fight in a supermarket.
The WWF was just getting out of the Invasion business, and let's just say times were weird. Stone Cold suddenly made nice with the company again for... reasons, Booker T , despite being fired was brought back for...reasons, and basically everything around this time was being done for... reasons.
Fate brought the former Alliance members together in December 2001 when after Booker T cost Stone Cold a WWF Championship match against Chris Jericho, Austin looked to take it out on the Bookerman. Eventually the wild goose chase led Booker to a Bakersfield, California supermarket, where surely he was safe. Not quite. Austin followed him to the market and beat Booker down in a mess that would rival the classic kids game show Double Dare. Grey Poupon, nuts, flour, milk, eggs, beer, and whatever else was an instrument of destruction for Austin. And ever the crafty individual, Austin escaped just as the police arrived. Price check on jackass!
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4. The sliding People's Elbow.
There have been many great People's Elbows in the career of its creator The Rock: the one as the Undertaker tried to sit up, the one where Kane tried to sit up, the ones mocking Steve Austin, the one mocking Hulk Hogan come to mind. But the best one came in the early days of Smackdown.
The Rock refereed a bout between Triple H and The British Bulldog for the WWF Championship when The Rock was...well, being The Rock, taking a few moments to sass Michael Cole for questioning The Great One's refereeing abilities, and giving Bulldog and Triple H guff because he's The Rock and those jabronis are not. After the match goes to a no contestu because screw those guys, they don't deserve to be the champ (moments after he does the best "it doesn't matter" ever), Rock takes out Triple H, plants Bulldog, and hits the best People's Elbow ever.
Ever. Do not fight me on this. Nothing in the history of ever will match the magic of that elbow on that night.
3. Angle-Lesnar III: The Ironman Match.
On the September 18, 2003 Smackdown, WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and challenger Kurt Angle fought one last time with the biggest prize in the game on the line. But this time, it would be a one-hour Ironman match. An Ironman match on broadcast television. Mind. Blown.
Of course only like 40 minutes of the match was shown because, you know, broadcast television, but it was still an awesome match. And per Ironman Match Booking RulesTM, it must be either a tie or the heel up a fall in the final minutes, meaning you only have to watch like the last ten minutes or so.
Anyway, Brock had a 5-2 lead with 15 minutes left, but Kerrangle got it to within 5-4 with four minutes left. Twice Angle locked in the anklelock, even using ANKLELOCK II with 20 seconds left, but it's a tragic finish as Brock held on for the win to retain the WWE Championship. The two never met in a WWE ring again in a singles bout, and though there was a bit of a tease for Angle's return the last year or two, Kurt announcing he's taking time off pretty much ensures that we'll never see this match in a WWE ring ever again. At least this rivalry went out with a bang.
2. The Shield murderdeathkills everyone.
Shortly after Wrestlemania XXX, the Shield ran afoul of Evolution, led by the leader of the Corporate Authority, Triple H. On the April 25, 2014 Smackdown, Vickie Guerrero on orders of Triple H enlisted about a dozen men to take down The Shield because, as you all know, Triple H don't work Tuesdays (or Fridays). Knowing that they were up against damn near impossible odds, the hounds of justice did what they did best: they took a bite out of crime.
Basically, the Shield killed anyone in that match they could find. Jack Swagger: dead. 3MB: dead. Brad Maddox: probably wasn't part of the match to begin with, but dead. Fandango: dead. Only six of the eleven made it to the main event, of which five of them would die too. Only Wade Barrett escaped the carnage because Wade Barrett valued his life. As for the ten that didn't make it through, well... that's what you get.
1. Brock Lesnar and Big Show break the ring.
Long before Kim Kardashian "broke the Internet", a couple of men did what many considered was nigh impossible despite there being evidence to the contrary: they broke a wrestling ring.
On the June 12, 2003 episode of Smackdown, Brock Lesnar defended the WWE Championship against The Big Show. Lesnar, more often than not the bigger of the two men in any given match at nearly 300 pounds was the smaller dude by a considerable margin. Yet, the smaller dude is crazy strong. Brock, moments away from being chokeslammed out of his championship, fought his way out and got the former "big nasty bastard" in a position to do something that by itself was pretty awesome: he superplexed The Big Show. From the top rope.
And then the ring broke.
And people absolutely went bananas.
It was one of the craziest visuals ever seen in a professional wrestling event. Mind you, by 2003, we were desensitized to the business because we'd pretty much had seen EVERYTHING by this point. Then you get this bit of wackiness. For years, people actually debated whether it was real or not. Well, earlier this summer, the debate was finally settled by one of the men that were there.
"I've kayfabed this whole thing for years and told everybody, ‘Oh the ring broke,' and 'It was really crazy timing.'
" He then goes on to explain how it happened: "We did a spot right before we broke the ring where we're both down and they shoot a real close-up of both of us selling. Well in that time, [WWE Stunt Coordinator] Ellis [Edwards] had airbags under the ring. So they had lifted the ring a couple inches. So now, when I'm standing on that top corner, that ring is like standing on marbles. Because it's moving. Of course now I've got my fat ass up in the air, 500 pounds on a not very stable surface ... So then the ring broke. I just remember when it happened because ... you don't know how the stunt is going to look. But man, it was so perfectly timed the way we did it and Ellis did a great job of setting up. That thing collapsed and everybody they bought it so long.
Afterwards, he admitted to lying about the move for years: "And this is the first time out all the interviews I've ever done, I've admitted the truth that that was a rigged angle. On hundreds of interviews, I have lied right through my teeth and said it's a shoot. But if you get a chance to suspend people's reality just for an instant, for a second, it's good for them"
So what if it was rigged? It was still awesome. So awesome, you guys thought it was the greatest moment in Smackdown history. For the record, the moment was selected as second best on the 2009 Smackdown top 100 moments countdown, behind only the Smackdown following 9/11. You did good, Cagesiders. You did good.
Anything we missed? Does your knowledge of how the top moment was made change your feelings about it? Talk to me, Cagesiders!
And when you're done debating, check out these other Cageside Countdowns.