WWE Smackdown has been a permanent TV fixture for nearly 17 years, whilst in recent years the importance of Smackdown has delinquished, the possibility of a brand split can only improve this. Between 2002 and 2004 Smackdown was arguably the better show, even getting better ratings than it’s Monday night competitor. Over the years Smackdown has had plenty of incredible moments and today we look back at 15 of Smackdown’s greatest moments.
Smackdown originally aired as a special in April 1999, to compete with WCW Thunder. Smackdown was launched as a full-time show on August 26th 1999, headlined by a WWE title match between Triple H and The Rock. More about that later. Since then it has aired every week, originally on a Thursday before moving to the Friday Night slot in 2005, where it stayed till the end of 2015. Smackdown moved back to Thursdays with its move to the USA Network. Whilst in recent years with the blurred roster brand split Smackdown has been more treated as the B show, you can’t deny the impact a 16 plus year history of any show.
15 – John Cena Debuts – June 2002
Some things happen for a reason, on June 27th 2002 a new era was born. Walking out with generic entrance music and rookie pants John Cena accepted Kurt Angles open challenge, making a huge impact with “ruthless aggression” on his debut beating the Olympic champion. Looking back at 2002 and John Cena almost never even got started, WWE saw great potential in the star, however didn’t find his niche until a Halloween party. However having a huge rub by Kurt Angle in your debut isn’t too bad.
14 – The JBL Era – 2004/05
No man “dominated” Smackdown like JBL, I use the word dominate losely. After being drafted to Smackdown as Bradshaw, JBL was born when he won Kurt Angles real american competition, by highlighting the Mexican border issues. This gave JBL a title shot against Eddie Guererro, who shockingly won the title from Eddie in a very bloody match at Judgement Day 2004. JBL feuded with Eddie, Undertaker and Big Show before losing the belt to John Cena at Wrestlemania 21, making JBL the longest reigning champion in Smackdown history and the longest since Diesel in 1995. What made JBL so important was his simplistic approach to being a heel. He never cleanly won a match, had a huge group of people helping him out at every cost and he was entertaining.
13 – Rhyno Gores Jericho Through the stage – Aug 2001
At the height of the Invasion, Jericho was deep in a feud with Stephanie McMahon. To help Steph combat the evil Jericho, she acquired the services of Rhyno. In a memorable moment, Rhyno lined Jericho up for the gore on the stage. In a very unexpected moment, Rhyno gored Jericho through the Smackdown stage. The next week the iconic Fist stage appeared, making the moment even more clever and fitting.
12 – Rock vs Triple H – WWE Title Shawn Michaels Special Referee – Aug 1999
Nothing seemed more fitting than the debut episode of Smackdown to be headlined by Triple H defending his WWE title against long time rival The Rock. Just as it looked like The Rock would win the title on”his” show, the special referee Shawn Michaels superkicked The Rock allowing his friend Triple H to retain the gold.