The SmarK Rant for WWF Smackdown – 04.27.99
It’s the original pilot, which the Network files under the “12 Days of Attitude” section in the Vault, rather than with the other episodes of the show. Because WWE. Fun fact: UPN was not available in Edmonton at the time, so I never saw this show.
This was of course in the thick of the Vince Russo era, following the Russo-est show ever in the form of Wrestlemania XV. This was originally pitched to upstart network UPN as an all-Divas show, headlined by Sable, but cooler heads prevailed and we got RAW Jr. instead, where it remains to this day.
Taped from Hartford, I think? They never mention it on the show.
Your hosts are Michael Cole & Jim Cornette
Vince McMahon and a very fresh-faced Stephanie join us to start, and Vince wants to change his ways and be a better person. I think Shane was in control of the company or something at this point, who can even keep track of this era’s storylines? So Vince thanks Shamrock, Big Show and Austin for saving Steph from, you know, being crucified and/or raped by the Undertaker on RAW. Funny how they ran a “Steph is married against her will” angle TWICE in 1999! Steph was still kind of cute and gawky at this point, and her angry promo against Undertaker doesn’t quite have the gravitas that she’d develop later. She’s all “He stripped me and tried to take me against my will, hee hee!” So Shane and the Corporation interrupt (HHH, Chyna, and Bossman, for those who don’t remember, like me), and Shane’s offended that his family would think he wouldn’t save his own sister. Also, Vince has gone soft in his old age, so Shane kicks them out of the building. He’s tired of Austin and Rock, so tonight they’ll team up against HHH and Undertaker. That was at least a fresh matchup at the time.
Val Venis v. The Blue Blazer
This was supposed to be Venis v. Owen Hart, but the mysterious super-hero Blue Blazer attacks instead to take the match. Blazer with a missile dropkick, but he runs into a boot in the corner and Val drops elbows and follows with a suplex. Val stops to leer at Debra, distracting the ref long enough for Jarrett to kick Venis in the nuts and give the Blazer the pin at 2:00. * And then Val runs away from Nicole Bass to continue that idiotic storyline. And then Godfather attacks both Jarrett and Blazer and tries to collect Debra for his Ho Train. They fight him off, which for those keeping track makes them the heels because they were trying to prevent someone from being forced into prostitution. Can you even imagine them trying these ridiculous storylines today? Bonnie Hammer would literally have Vince’s nutsack cut off and hung on her wall to appease angry sponsors. There was some wonderful aspects of the Attitude era, but Vince Russo portraying every woman as a sex object to be kidnapped or exploited was not one of them.
Big Show v. Test
Test was freshly kicked out of the Corporation and goes after Big Show, who puts him down with a DROPKICK. Jesus H. Chokeslam finishes at 1:02. Big Bossman tries to attack Test afterwards, but Big Show saves him.
The Rock is here, as the show continues at breakneck speed. At least when it aired with commercials you could stop and breathe for 5 seconds. Rock’s still working on getting “Roody Poo candy ass” over as a thing at this point, but the crowd is into it. Steve Austin interrupts and nearly blows the roof off the arena. Who even comes close to getting that kind of heat these days outside of maybe Daniel Bryan? Austin is unimpressed with Rock’s nursery rhymes, but before he can fully express his disgust, Shane interrupts. So after months of feuding, Undertaker comes out with Shane to introduce one of the stupidest ideas that Vince Russo ever shat from his womb, the CORPORATE MINISTRY. Undertaker tried to MURDER Big Bossman on live PPV! How does this even make sense?!
Meanwhile, Kevin Kelly tries to stir up shit between X-Pac and Kane. Just because Kane chokeslammed him in the heat of a bloodbath from the Brood!
Droz v. D-Lo Brown
No, not that match. Droz clotheslines him out of the corner and follows with a powerslam, but goes up to gloat and gets powerbombed as a result. D-Lo drops the leg, and catches Droz with the Sky High. To the top, but Prince Albert shoves him off. The heels collide on the floor and D-Lo hits them both with a dive, but now Albert just comes in for the DQ at 3:20. The heels threaten to forcibly pierce D-Lo’s tongue, but Mark Henry makes the save.
WWF tag titles: X-Pac & Kane v. The New Age Outlaws
Billy Gunn, on the verge of turning heel, no-sells the usual intro because he’s all business. Gunn’s singles push is of course an all-timer on the list of laughable failures of this era. X-Pac trades hiptosses with Road Dogg and they crotch-chop each other to show it’s just business. Or something. Gunn slugs away on Kane, but Kane puts him down for a legdrop that gets two. Kane puts him down with a clothesline as we’re past 3:00 and thus the crowd is already bored of the match. It took a LONG time to re-train the fanbase to have an attention span longer than Russo’s. It was just a side-effect of the Crash TV booking, unfortunately. Gunn pounds away on X-Pac, but misses a charge and it’s hot tag Kane. Kane is a house of fire, much like the one his parents burned to death in, but the Outlaws double-team him. It’s BONZO GONZO and Dogg goes low on Kane to set up the fameasser for two. Gunn tries a press slam on X-Pac, but Dogg accidentally clips his own partner and X-Pac falls on top to retain at 7:00. *1/2
The Brood, still rocking one of the best entrances of all-time, join us for an interview with Dok Hendrix or Michael Hayes or whatever he was going by at that point. Who the fuck thought giving Gangrel a live mic was a good idea? Edge would of course get much better, this rambling bullshit promo aside. Dok actually accuses them of smoking something weird, which marks the historic first time that Michael Hayes was ever concerned about someone else doing too many drugs, and he ends up getting a bloodbath to ruin his nice yellow outfit.
Street fight: Ken Shamrock v. Bradshaw
Bradshaw with a pair of corner clotheslines and a fallaway slam for two, but Shamrock clips him and rolls into a heel hook , forcing Bradshaw to bail. Shamrock grabs the baseball bat, but Bradshaw uses it on him until Shamrock takes the ankle out again. A sign at ringside notes “89 days until RAW is Jericho”, which was pretty darn close if not exactly correct. Shamrock puts him down with the bat and then chokes him out at 4:00. This was OK. *1/2 Shamrock snaps and tries to bludgeon Sgt. Slaughter to death with the baseball bat…and now let’s go to a wacky interview with Mankind.
Big Bossman v. Mankind
Bossman attacks and slugs away to start, but walks into a double-arm DDT. Mr. Socko is threatened, but Bossman runs away, so Test tosses him back in for the Mankind rollup that gets two. Bossman runs away again and this time Big Show tosses him back in, and Socko finishes at 1:30. So yes, this was the start of the biggest loser stable of the era, the UNION.
Steve Austin & The Rock v. Undertaker & HHH
Austin pounds on HHH to start, but runs into a knee that gets two. HHH puts him on the top, but Austin fights off a superplex and it’s over to the Rock. He comes in with a clothesline on UT, but a DDT gets two. Taker slugs away, but Rock gets his own DDT for two. They clothesline each other and the Corporate Ministry all runs in for the DQ at 4:25. Nothing match. * The fight splits off into Undertaker v. Austin and Rock v. HHH, setting up the Over the Edge PPV, and Taker destroys Vince with a chairshot before walking into a stunner. Shane also gets his shots on Vince, but Austin destroys him as well and drinks some beer to end the show.
Unsurprisingly, this show scored a monster rating for UPN and led to the series that still runs today. The show itself was total junk, however, Vince Russo’s worst instincts on full display with short meaningless matches and a million angles in every segment.