Smackdown – March 18, 2004

Smackdown
Date: March 18, 2004
Location: FleetCenter, Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance: 6,000
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

It’s the first show after Wrestlemania and, much like this week’s Monday Night Raw, the level of importance of this show might be pretty low. Eddie Guerrero is still Smackdown World Champion, having vanquished Kurt Angle, meaning he now needs a new challenger. There aren’t many options though and that makes things a little more complicated. Let’s get to it.

Here’s hometown boy and new US Champion John Cena to open things up. Cena is glad to be home and talks about how he used to buy tickets for the old Boston Gardens. Back at Wrestlemania, he put Big Show on an FU diet and Show came out ten pounds lighter. Cena brings championships home like he’s Tom Brady. The FCC is getting on him and they suck just like the Yankees. It’s time for Cena’s first match but here’s Paul Heyman instead.

Heyman confirms that Brock Lesnar is gone from Smackdown and WWE as well, so maybe Cena can be the new face of the show. This Monday though, Cena might be getting sent over the Monday Night Raw. If Heyman was one of the superstars in the locker room, he would be on his knees praying to be drafted to Raw. Everyone left on Smackdown will be suffering Heyman’s wrath and that includes Cena. Heyman slaps him and gets knocked down but here’s Rhyno to start the title match.

US Title: John Cena vs. Rhyno

Cena is defending and takes an early spinebuster for two. He charges into a hard elbow in the corner to make it worse but the fans are still behind him, despite his tendency to charge in too soon. The real comeback (after being on defense for all of a minute) starts with some shoulders and the Shuffle, complete with pumping up the shoes. The FU retains the title in a hurry. Cena has taken about three giant steps forward into stardom since winning the title and you can see that fire in his eyes.

Edge is coming back. Still no date given.

Heyman is upset by what happened but runs into the APA, who laugh at him over what they saw. Therefore, if they don’t win the Tag Team Titles tonight, they’re fired.

Smackdown Tag Team Titles: Scotty 2 Hotty/Rikishi vs. APA

Rikishi and Scotty are defending. Bradshaw starts with Scotty, who tags out for the showdown with Rikishi. A slugout goes badly as Rikishi takes over with a headbutt and now it’s off to Scotty for some right hands of his own. Scotty’s middle rope crossbody goes as badly as you would expect and Faarooq comes in to slowly punch away. Bradshaw comes back in for a torture rack (still would be a great finisher for someone) and Faarooq puts on the chinlock.

Faarooq starts jumping onto Scotty’s back but eventually lands on raised knees, ala Arn Anderson. A tornado DDT to Bradshaw gets Scotty out of trouble and it’s off to Rikishi for the house cleaning. Everything breaks down and Faarooq breaks up the Worm with a right hand. Now why did no one else ever think of that? Not that it matters as Rikishi superkicks Bradshaw to retain.

Rating: D. Pretty bad match here and that’s not exactly a surprise. Why would you expect the APA to do anything more than bad at this point? They haven’t had a good match in a long time and it’s way past their expiration date. Scotty and Rikishi aren’t very good champions but with the rest of the available options, they’re about as high a level as we’re reaching right now.

Post break the APA storms into Heyman’s office so he can fire them to their faces. The thing is, they didn’t listen to Heyman because only Faarooq is fired (Heyman did say that if Faarooq and his partner didn’t win “you are fired”) because Bradshaw has too much value. Faarooq says they’re both out of here but Bradshaw stays, turning himself heel in the process. It should be noted that Faarooq was fired earlier in the day so this wasn’t the most shocking result.

We see Vince’s Lottery announcement from Raw.

Dawn Marie has gathered Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, Billy Gunn and Rey Mysterio in a locker room. Heyman comes in to talk about the Smackdown locker room being united against him last week so tonight, they’re going to play Divide and Conquer. He can’t control what happens on Monday, but he can control what happens tonight. The four of them are running a gauntlet and the winner gets a WWE Title shot tonight. Haas and Benjamin aren’t interested in fighting each other so Heyman makes them the first part of the gauntlet.

Video on Wrestlemania.

Gauntlet Match

Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin get things going, showing off their blue and gold singlets. To the shock of no one, they go straight to the mat for a fight over arm control. Charlie gets the better of it for all of a few seconds before they get back to their feet where Shelton takes over with a headlock. That takes us to a standoff until they fight over a top wristlock. This time it’s Haas taking him down into a leglock, which is reversed into another headlock.

Shelton tosses him down and taps Charlie on the jaw, meaning it’s time to get serious. After a trip to the floor, they’re right back inside with Shelton hooking a front facelock. Shelton slaps him in the jaw again and Charlie isn’t having any of that. Back in and Haas gets two off a suplex (you would have expected more than that), followed by a bridging German suplex for the same. Shelton jumps over him in the corner though and the Dragon Whip (to the chest) is good for the pin.

Back from a break, Faarooq tries to leave but gets stopped by Bradshaw, who begs him not to leave. Bradshaw is a freaking one man conglomerate and he can’t be fired just because Faarooq said something stupid.

Now back to the match with Billy Gunn in third to face Shelton. Gunn takes too long getting in so Shelton stomps away in the corner. A running clothesline drops Gunn again and they head to the floor. This goes a bit better for Gunn as Shelton is whipped into the barricade for two back inside. Shelton doesn’t seem to mind as he elbows Gunn in the face and knees him hard in the head. Gunn gets out of a reverse chinlock with a jawbreaker and catches a charging Shelton with a raised boot. The good looking tilt-a-whirl powerslam gets two but the Fameasser misses. Shelton grabs a rollup (and the rope) for the upset (Maybe?) pin.

Before we get to the next name, here’s Big Show to say he’s not happy about losing the US Title to a cheater like Cena and is entering the gauntlet as the last man.

Back to the match again with Mysterio as the fourth man. They trade some rollups to start until Shelton snaps off an exploder suplex to take over. A delayed belly to back suplex gets two and some knees in the corner have Rey in even more trouble. Shelton whips him hard into the buckles and it’s off to a cross armbreaker. That switches over to a regular armbar, which Rey reverses into the sitout bulldog. Shelton is right back with a powerslam but Rey slips out of a German suplex. The 619 lets Rey Drop the Dime for the pin in the best section of the gauntlet so far.

Hall of Fame video. Why are they doing all of these breaks in between the matches?

So it’s Mysterio vs. Big Show for the title shot with Rey getting smart early on by rolling to the floor. Back in and Rey dives between Show’s legs but gets backed into the corner, allowing Show to toss him around. Show stands on Rey’s head but Rey snaps him throat first across the top. A springboard missile dropkick rocks Show, who kicks Rey in the face for two as the comeback is cut off in a hurry.

Show standing on Rey’s back has Mysterio bailing outside again, this time with a good bit more pain. Back in and Show gives him a rather impressive gorilla press drop, launching Rey into the air so the crash is even bigger. Cue Cena for a distraction though with Show going outside to get him, allowing Rey to hit a 619. The referee yells at Rey, allowing Cena to get in a belt shot to bounce Show off the post for the countout.

Rating: D-. This was a bunch of lame matches and while the most interesting choice won, it felt like they were doing the least interesting thing they possibly could have, which made this a very long match with almost nothing standing out as good. Mysterio vs. Benjamin was passable, which is probably why it was the shortest section of the whole thing. At least the title match has serious potential though.

Smackdown World Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio

Mysterio is challenging and they shake hands to start. An exchange of wristlocks and armdrags give us a standoff with Rey holding his arm. Eddie trips him down and puts on a headlock, only to have Rey snap off a heck of a headscissors to send the champ outside. Rey motions that he wants the title as Eddie looks stunned. Back in and Rey slaps him in the face for some reason so Eddie sends him arm first into the buckle to stop Rey cold. An armbar goes on but Rey realizes he’s next to the rope for a fast break.

Eddie, having a brain, takes him down into another armbar but Rey, being Rey, spins out and monkey flips Eddie down. Mysterio pulls him to the floor for an Asai moonsault and we take a break. Back with Eddie hitting a top rope superplex for two and staying on the back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. To really crank things up, Eddie puts on a cross between a Gory Stretch and a chickenwing (egads that looks painful), making Rey tap twice. Why these taps (with Tazz and Cole saying Rey is tapping, as he’s clearly slapping his shoulder) don’t count isn’t clear but Rey reverses into a small package for two.

Eddie takes him down again and twists the arm even more, followed by some stomping to the arm. Rey fights out of another armbar and tries a springboard moonsault to Eddie’s back, driving him face first into the mat for two. The springboard seated senton gets the same as the pace is picking up. There’s a tornado DDT for two more but Rey is spent. Two rolling verticals connect but Rey reverses the third into a rollup. Eddie finally hits the third and tries the frog splash, which only hits mat. Rey hits the 619 and Rey Drops the Dime but Eddie rolls away. La majistral retains Eddie’s title.

Rating: B+. Oh come on like these two were going to have anything short of a great match. They know each other so well and it was no surprise that they were able to tear it up out there. Mysterio wasn’t likely to win but he’s good enough to make you believe that a miracle could happen to give him the title. That’s a valuable asset and Mysterio can do it as well as almost anyone else ever.

Post match Heyman comes out to say he didn’t know Spanish was the new language around here. He hopes Eddie and Rey’s families get deported because they have no place on his Smackdown. Next week he’s the only person guaranteed to be on Smackdown….and the gong strikes. Heyman decides to get back in the ring with Mysterio and Guerrero as Undertaker takes off the coat and hat (revealing a bandanna for a weird look). Eddie shoves him into a Tombstone to end the show.

Overall Rating: D. It says a lot when a really good Eddie vs. Rey match can’t save your show. This was as much of a punt of a show as you could imagine and unfortunately that’s not the biggest surprise in the world. They could have done something better than this, but I guess Shelton Benjamin vs. Billy Gunn was one of their best available ideas at the moment. Really lame show, but I can kind of understand why it happened.

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