There’s no denying a lot can happen when a television program manages to reach one thousand aired episodes.
On April 27th 1999, Smackdown launched it’s very first episode, and four months later it would become a weekly show. Now, nearly two decades later, we are on the eve of the 1000th episode of WWE’s “B show”. As you can imagine, almost twenty years of weekly programming results in countless unforgettable moments. So, with that said, I’ve been tasked with the challenge of siphoning through all that history and giving you fine fans my top 5 biggest moments to happen in the last 999 episodes of Smackdown.
5. Formation of The Corporate Ministry (SmackDown Pilot: April 27th, 1999)
Well, if you’re going to start anywhere, it should probably be at the beginning. WWE in the late 90’s, much like current day NJPW, was all about stables. It was extremely scarce to see a talent that wasn’t associated with a larger group in some way. Two main heel units served as the primary antagonists at this point in the attitude era: Undertaker’s gothic Ministry of Darkness, and the ever present Corporation, now under the leadership of Shane McMahon. A quick promo at the opening of the show would tease a union between these two factions, and less than forty minutes later it would be made official as Shane and the Phenom would be joined by all members of each respective group at the top of the entrance ramp. McMahon declared this new faction would now be referred to as the “Corporate Ministry”. In retrospect, the Corporate Ministry would prove to be the last dying breath of this faction heavy phase of the attitude era, but the unification of these two groups into a monster heel faction is something that fans would rarely, if ever, see again.
4. Tables, Ladders and Chairs 3 (Episode 92: May 24th, 2001)
Question: How does WWE follow up the first two critically acclaimed TLC matches? Well, they air it on free television, they add a fourth team to the mix, and they make that fourth team Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. The sheer volume of the crowd present during this match is enough on it’s own to secure this moment a spot on my list. This match is a perfect introduction to TLC for someone who may have never seen one. It has everything! Table spots galore, a Walls of Jericho atop two ladders and a 3D from the top turnbuckle, through a table! TLC 3 takes the benchmark that the first two made, and completely obliterates it. Finish reading this article, and then go watch this match.
3. Big Show and Brock Lesnar Break The Ring (Episode 199: June 12th, 2003)
Firstly, I know that this spot has been labeled as “gimmicked” as of late, but it still stands out as one of those hard to forget moments. I also know that WWE has opted to us this same spot twice since this, so they must think it still has some value as well. This one moment, had shock factor in abundance.
2. The Birth of the SmackDown Six (Episode 162: September 26th, 2002)
When Smackdown and Raw had completely separate rosters, Smackdown had to build its show around someone, and they chose admirably, it must be said. As the shows centrepieces, there was Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle, Edge, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero. Any booker with two superstars with the wrestling ability of those above would have an armchair ride to make their show a success. Having all six meant Smackdown was stocked to the brim with technical talent and that meant big things for the brand and arguably kept Smackdown on the air when having to compete with Raw.
1. The First Episode After September 11th (Episode 108: September 13th, 2001)
One of the, at the time, rare episodes of Smackdown that aired live, and for obvious reasons. Understandably the episode was a sombre affair, which starting with a rousing cheer of USA from the live crowd in Houston and a speech from Vince McMahon. A speech, which was equal parts patriotism and raw emotion as an act of defiance against the terrorist acts. Even watching it back in 2018, I can feel the emotion from Vince’s words and although I’m not American, the words still hit deep. Then followed one of the most raw renditions of the Star Spangled Banner from Lilian Garcia. The rest of the episode featured some amazing matches, but it will be remembered for Vince’s speech and the National Anthem. This episode showed the quality of wrestling to endure and bring people together.