E Centre – Salt Lake City, Utah TV Rating – 4.3
To note, I believe this is the first Smackdown with Marilyn Manon’s “The Beautiful People” as the theme AND the debut of the iconic SmackDown “Fist” entrance set. We’re three days away from Summerslam so how can we start the show than Shane McMahon making his way to the ring… I wonder if he’s noticed we’ve not seen Vince for weeks? Anyway, he goes for the cheap heat option by making cracks about the Utah Jazz that will sail over the heads of anyone not enamoured with American sports. Shane shows some clips from Raw where Booker beat up Rock by hitting the Book End onto Rock onto a chair. Shane teases calling out The Rock but when he says he wants the most electrifying man in sports entertainment to come out, he means Booker T. Booker T mocks Rock’s poses and then mocks him on the mic. And he admonishes Rock for stealing his Book End finisher. We’re in Groundhog Day again it seems, filling in until Rock arrives. Except we’re not quite. Booker nicks the “If you smeeeeellll” catchphrase and that’s it.
Well, we do see that The Rock has just arrived at the arena as we go to a break.
Because if you thought we were only getting a ten-minute opening promo this week instead of the traditional twenty-minute one it turns out we’re just getting two ten minute ones in a row. The Rock is here but Booker and Shane have disappeared. Rock, despite it being a timeline impossibility that he could have heard what Booker said about him because he hadn’t even arrived at the arena when Booker was trash, talks some trash back and bigs up the Rock Bottom. Rock calls Booker out and he and Shane answer. But here comes Shawn Stasiak with his knock-off budget Mr Perfect music. He says he’s going to go into the ring and make an example of The Rock…
The Rock Vs Shawn Stasiak
I’m almost loathe to include this as a match but the bell does ring. A Rock Bottom later, Rock has got the pinfall win. The first win of the SmackDown Fist era!
Rock, who was “rudely interrupted” by all that, then issues a challenge for a “Lights Out” match tonight. There are no rules, there’s no Alliance, no WWE so Booker accepts and then finds out that it’s a match where the lights in the arena are turned off. Ok, then. Rock also suggests that the WWE Title won’t be on the line in this one. Well, no. It won’t. For obvious reasons.
William Regal & Tajiri Vs X-Pac & Albert
Again Paul Heyman at least shills that he’s thrilled that it’s WWE vs WWE in this one as someone is going to get beaten up so it’s all good for the Alliance. Again, the logic isn’t quite there as it’s X-Pac against Tajiri at Summerslam. But at least Paul is trying to make sense of it all. Tajiri is in here so the fans are firmly behind him, which does at least bring some energy to the match. Which is all killed when Albert hits the Baldo Bomb on him for the win. At this point this stuff is what it is.
Backstage Stone Cold and Debra are having a chat and Austin is shilling his “Steve Austin Invitational” that’s happening tonight. We’re yet to really have any clue what that actually is. Debra asks if Steve is sure he wants to do it and of course he is. Then in comes, Earl Hebner and Austin tell him to take his Invitational sign-up sheet to the WWE locker room to get some signatures. Post adverts, Hebner is with the WWE jobbers when Angle walks in and says that he will be the first to sign up for the Invitational.
Edge & Christian are discussing their chances of becoming EIGHT-time tag champs tonight before elsewhere in the building Ivory interrupts Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson to hype them up for Sunday Night Heat where the three of them will take on Jacquelyn and Lita.
After a re-cap of Ausin from Raw, where he cut the likes of Raven, Hugh Morrus and Tazz off at the knees we again go to Stone Cold and Debra. Hebner comes in and says the list is full of names. Austin says that if the list is full he will just pick the first name at the top of it. He gets a little worried when he realises that is Kurt Angle. Austin has started the “what” thing now, by the way, that infects wrestling to this very day.
After ads, Tazz makes his way to ringside to join the commentary team. He and Heyman trade some barbs as Tazz says he wants revenge on Austin but will pick his spot to do so. This doesn’t really chime well with the “I have a problem with Austin because he stripped my manhood”. Surely you’d just challenge him the first chance you got. I.e. now.
Still, Austin comes out to the ring. Before he can speak, Paul Heyman hops in the ring and tells Austin that Tazz has been talking trash about him and the Invitational. Austin no-sells anything to do with Tazz and says that Stone Cold University is now in session. And in essence it’s a training seminar. And Austin is going to teach someone how to be successful. And he’s going to start with the first name on the list…Scotty 2 Hotty. Scotty comes in an Austin is surprised that Scotty is the best that the WWE has to offer and that he expected Angle to sign first. As Austin talks we get the occasional look at Tazz at ringside who is not very happy with what is going on.
Austin calls Scotty pathetic and tells him he will never be successful in this business. He shoves the belt in Scotty’s face and says that that is as close as he’ll ever get to being champion. He says Scotty reminds him of Kurt, in that he’s afraid of Stone Cold. Eventually Scotty snaps and attacks. He knocks Austin to the ground and then decides to go for The Worm. Bad move. Austin fights back and destroys him with a Stunner. This brings out Kurt, who brawls with Austin. The two collide as Tazz steps into the ring. Tazz fakes to go after Austin but instead goes for Angle and locks in the Tazzmission. The beatdown continues until the WWE mid-card runs in for the save. Again, a storyline (Austin attacking Taz, Taz wanting revenge, Taz seeing the light and staying with the Alliance) that could have been dramatically drawn out over several weeks is rushed through in two shows/one week of TV.
After that ad’s, Coach is with Angle. Angle say’s he will bring back the gold on Sunday just like he did in 1996 and issues a challenge to Tazz for a match tonight.
Chris Jericho & Jeff Hardy Vs Rob Van Dam & Rhyno
What’s that? Singles opponents at the upcoming PPV facing off against each other in tag team competition? When does that ever happen? And again, a match that looks interesting on paper has to settle for five minutes of TV. Still, it does get five minutes and that’s more than any other match does tonight. Rhyno has Stephanie with him as if to hammer home the point that he might be facing Jericho at Summerslam but it’s Y2J and Steph that’s the real issue. We are reminded that Jeff won the Hardcore Title on Raw thanks to the 24/7 rule. Which Michael Cole tells us isn’t in place tonight. The match itself is another of those perfectly acceptable ones where the talent involved does what they can in the time allotted. RVD pins Hardy after a springboard into a ladder is followed up by the Five Star Frog Splash.
Tazz is backstage and accepts the challenge from Angle. He reminds him that he has never beaten Tazz. Even if that is true, I can’t see that statistic still being valid in half an hour. He throws out a few of his old ECW catchphrases for good measure.
Elsewhere, The Hardys and Lita are having a little chat. Lita asks Jeff if he is ok. He sort of is but if RVD wants to use ladders then Hardy wants to raise the stakes for their Hardcore Title match at Summerslam…and make it a Hardcore Title Ladder match!
Kanyon & Diamond Dallas Page Vs Edge & Christian
WWE Tag Team Titles
I mean they hot-shotted both sets of tag titles to set up Kanyon & DDP Vs Undertaker & Kane at Summerslam so it seems very unlikely that Edge & Christian are going to win here. But then again I suppose one plus point of completely off-the-cuff (seemingly) random booking in 2001 is that you really do feel that anything could happen. Of course, your other inevitability is that WCW guys can’t win anything high profile without some form of help/assistance/distraction. This time it’s provided by Lance Storm (who I suppose is at least fighting Edge on Sunday) who runs in and superkicks Edge before being chased off by Christian. It only gets Kanyon a two count but a Diamond Cutter later and the champs have retained.
The Coach has Undertaker (w/Sara) and Kane with him backstage and he wants to know about their feelings headed into SummerSlam. Taker says that he needs to make an example out of DDP on Sunday and that if DDP wants to be famous it will be forgetting his ass kicked by his wife, Sara. He says DDP should have studied his WWE history and what Taker does to people in Steel Cages. He kind of puts over Kanyon as someone with promise but wonders why he would be dumb enough to want to be in a cage match with Kane.
At WWE New York the APA are drinking some beers. They are going to get revenge on Test for being a “back-stabber”, showing no self-awareness at all.
Kurt Angle Vs Tazz
Tazz has the Dudley’s, O’Haire & Palumbo and Test accompanying him but Angle has been anticipating this obviously as he has Taker, Sara, Kane, Albert, Billy Gunn and the Big Show with him. After they’ve all reached ringside we see Stone Cold is at the top of the ramp watching on. Angle starts the beatdown but Tazz gets some licks in himself. Angle soon fight back though and seems odds on for the win. Tazz however manages to get the Tazzmision locked on by Angle reverses into an Angle Slam and that’s it. Over and done within two minutes.
Post-match, Angle calls out Austin. The champ looks set to accept but after walking to the ring he turns around and backs off. Only to turn again to make his way to the ring. Tazz uses the distraction to attack but he gets tossed again and Austin and Angle go at it. Austin goes for the Stunner but Angle reverses into the Ankle Lock before the inevitable big mass brawl kicks off. The commentators note how Angle reversed the Stunner and if that happens on Sunday we will have a new WWE Champion.
The Rock Vs Booker T – Lights Out Match
The lights all go out in the arena, teasing that the Lights Out part is going to be literal. I mean that would make for GREAT TV wouldn’t it? Booker’s music kicks in and the light from the Tron light him up. Oh, all the lights are back on. The Rock runs to the ring and we soon realise that this is just a No DQ match. Book gets a couple of punches in before Rock takes control. The two fight around the aisle and up the ramp. They go back to ringside and mess about with the announcers table. Before Rock can hit a move though we see that Shane McMahon was hidden under the ring (presumably this was why the lights had to go out pre-match) and he hits a low blow on the People’s Champ. Booker then hits the Book End on Rock through the table. Shane and Booker then get in the ring, Booker does the Spinarooni and his music plays. And that’s it. To quote Stone Cold, “what”?
As a go-home show for Summerslam, it’s difficult to say that it whipped up more and more anticipation and excitement for that show. It’s not as if they don’t try. Austin/Angle and Rock/Booker feuds are played into but we don’t see anything there that hasn’t been happening for weeks. Jericho/Rhyno and X-Pac/Tajiri rivalries are set up almost exactly as they were on Raw. Taker and Kane talk about DDP & Kanyon whilst Jeff Hardy randomly tags on a stipulation onto his match with Rob Van Dam. Other than the rushed Tazz upset with Austin but re-joining the Alliance swerve nothing on this show really matters or makes any real difference to how hyped you are for the PPV. It’s just a filler show to tide things over… but hey, Smackdown Fist & Beautiful People!