Pepsi Centre – Denver, CO – TV Rating 4.3
Here we are for the first Smackdown since SummerSlam. Raw was awful so at least on the law of averages, this can’t be that bad. Michael Cole and Tazz welcome us with the news we’re getting a MEGA six-man tonight as The Rock and The APA will be taking on Booker T, Rhyno and Test. But first up it’s a match. Perhaps the McMahon’s aren’t here yet?
Rob Van Dam Vs Jeff Hardy – Hardcore Title
And to think people complain about re-matches in 2021. Of course, these two have had a number of good quality PPV outings in the last few months so the match itself is one to look forward to. But beyond the two having compatible styles, there’s a feeling that we’ve seen this “feud” played out somewhat. Plus it’s less than a week since they met in a Ladder match for this title. Still, the action is as good as you would expect. They pull out the usual stunts and are able to put a few new twists on things to keep it all interesting. The problem is that we get a lovely no-finish. IN A HARDCORE MATCH. After Jeff has done a very cool Swanton Bomb on RVD who was laid out on a table at ringside the referee panics and calls out for help. They’re trying to make it seem a legit injury. Help arrives but so does Raven…and he attacks RVD! The match got ten minutes, then we get this.
So presumably that’s the no-contest as Stephanie McMahon comes down to ringside and tells the two to shake hands. They don’t want to so here comes Stone Cold to read them the riot act. The Alliance is a team, they are not supposed to be fighting each other (except when Austin wants to beat them up, I guess). Kurt Angle won’t cause the Alliance to fall and Raven and RVD should be respectful and get back to the, erm, back. Steph takes the mic and tells Steve the Alliance respects him.
Chris Jericho is next. “Live” he mocks Stephanie’s singing on Raw but as we didn’t see that on the Network Raw they cut that bit out here too. Jericho shows clips of Milk-O-Mania. Jericho challenges Austin to a Title match tonight. Austin says he can have a match but it won’t be for the title. Jericho says he will win that and when he does he will be the official number one contender.
The Big Show & Billy Gunn Vs The Dudleys
Oh, joy. This is one of those occasions when you are glad that it’s likely going to be in and done within five minutes. And it is. It’s a fairly rudimentary brawl with as much back and forth as you can fit in within a few minutes. Dudley’s take control towards the end after Show misses, yes you are reading this right, a top rope elbow. They hit a Double Flapjack on Gunn but when they go for the 3D on Show, he reverses it and when he hits a chokeslam on D-Von it’s all over. The fans, for some unknown reason, seem to love this new team.
The Rock has arrived and he’s asking where the APA are. He’s pointed their way and after an ad break, they are having a chat. Essentially they are going to win tonight but they still have time for a beer and a round of cards.
We’re then with Edge & Christian and Edge is on the phone to their grandma and they pull the same “she hangs up when Christian wants to speak to her” gag we saw at the PPV. They have a tag team title match against Kane and Taker tonight.
Elsewhere, Kanyon is holding court with O’Haire and Palumbo, Chavo and Justin Credible. Kanyon is thrilled Austin has chosen him to get revenge on Kurt Angle tonight. I cannot see that going well.
Kurt Angle vs Kanyon
Maybe I’m in the minority, as I think Kanyon was great, but a ten-minute competitive match between these two would be all kinds of great. Instead, although Kanyon is allowed a few strikes they are only really there to allow Angle to make a comeback. Angle hits a couple of suplexes and then signals for the Angle Slam. Kanyon reverses and hits one of his finishers but Angle kicks out. Angle eventually hits the Angle Slam and then puts the Ankle Lock on and Kanyon taps out. I mean it’s fine for what it is, but nothing more.
The Rock & The APA Vs Rhyno, Test & Booker T
This is a fun six-man, six-minute tag. We see clips of the APA attacking Shane at Summerslam and it’s noted we haven’t seen him since. Which is fine, but why do we not acknowledge that Vince has been MIA for a month? This is one of those matches where we need the Alliance to pick up a bit of steam so Rock gets most of the offence in when he’s in the ring before the lesser lights work the finish and Rhyno gores Farooq from out of nowhere enabling Booker to get the win. APA APA APA APA
X-Pac is at WWE New York and waffling on about being both Light Heavyweight Champion AND Cruiserweight Champion. Commissioner Regal and Tajiri have been watching this in their office when Saturn comes in. Regal has a “Moppy” for him but it’s not “THE” Moppy so Saturn goes on the attack, sinks to his knees and screams “Moooooooooppppppppyyyyyyyy”.
The Undertaker & Kane Vs Edge & Christian – WWE Tag Team Titles
Again, why are WWE guys fighting each other for WWE titles? It’s not so much that it’s illogical in of itself. Just that there never seems to be any rhyme and reason behind it. Christian doesn’t want to start so Edge must go toe-to-toe with Taker. It goes predictably well for him. Kane comes in and Christian hits a low blow but even that has little effect. Taker hits the Last Ride on Christian for the win. Taker & Kane even bury WWE guys in three and a half minutes.
Michael Cole tells us that Jeff Hardy suffered bruised ribs earlier in the night.
Lita Vs Ivory
For better or worse these are two of the better workers in the women’s division in this era. Lita is the bigger star, of course, and would seem to be odds on to win this one. But this is another one where “WCW” is set to thrive. Although Ivory is now “WCW” (see her tee) she can only win when Hurricane Helms run interference. Ho Hum. Post-match, Matt Hardy runs down to check on Lita and because Ivory and Helms are in the alliance they have to run away scared. Matt and Lita kiss.
After a video clip of the Angle/Austin match from Summerslam (Angle kicks out of THREE stunners and Nick Patrick costs him the match), we see RVD and Raven chatting backstage. Raven says he will ask Austin to grant him a Hardcore Title match on Raw (erm, so Austin is booking now?) and RVD says there is no real need because he will give him a title shot anytime he wants one.
Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs Chris Jericho
This is non-title. Except that Commissioner Regal comes out and tells Austin that he may be the WWE Champion but it’s Regal that makes the decision. So this is now…a TITLE MATCH. Bang goes any jeopardy on the result then! The two get eight minutes or so and use them well. The crowd is into it so maybe they believe Jericho has a chance. It’s a good back and forth and there’s plenty of action. Jericho almost gets the win with the Walls but Austin makes the ropes. Jericho then goes for an arm-based submission and again Austin makes the ropes. Austin then reverses a pin attempt, whilst using the ropes for leverage, and picks up the 1-2-3 to retain his title.
After Raw anything would be an improvement. And whilst this show once again has all the unfortunate Invasion tropes we’ve come to expect over the past couple of months it does give us good opening and closing matches and everything else flies past at such a speed that you don’t really ever have time to be bored with it.