Retro Match Ratings For WWF Smackdown Pilot!

Each month, Fightful Select's panel reviews a retro show, and this edition covers the pilot episode of WWF Smackdown from April 1999!

Notes

Bianca Belair Chooses To Face Sasha Banks At WWE WrestleMania 37
  • THE INTRO-- one of my favorites! The original theme and intro clips. Goldust was still in it, which
  • I wonder how much WCW Thunder influenced this show. They'd been on the air for over 16 months, and had similar colors, but Thunder was not a hot program.
  • The set isn't the one we remember. Instead, it was the Raw set with the curtains that nobody talks about

VINCE AND SHANE

  • Vince is trying to be humble. You just KNOW Vince wrote the "STRIPPED OF MY CLOTHES" and "kept touching me" lines for Stephanie McMahon about The Undertaker.
  • Shane McMahon was still using Vince's theme. He cuts a promo, and this is very soap opera-esque.
  • Shane books Austin and Rock against two opponents. Triple H volunteers himself up. Things like this go a long way in establishing him as a main event heel.
  • Undertaker shows up on the tron and cuts a promo on Shane (I think). It's Triple H & Undertaker vs. Austin and Rock.
  • Shane McMahon was a such a better talker back then.

The Blue Blazer (w/ Jeff Jarrett and Debra) defeated Val Venis
4.75/10

  • Val Venis just implied he was gonna bust a nut in someone. He was hilarious in this character and for this time. He's after Debra.
  • The Blue Blazer shows up after Jarrett volunteers. This is surreal.
  • Owen does a great missile dropkick IN HIS CAPE. This stays on forever.
  • Debra implies she's gonna get naked to distract Venis
  • VAL GETS KICKED IN THE DICK AFTER A FISHERMAN SUPLEX. OWEN wins. Amazing.
  • Nicole Bass comes out, and is after Val. Man, she was terrible
  • Blue Blazer cut a promo and pretended to not know who Owen Hart is.

Big Show defeated Test
SQUASH

  • This version of Test's music really sucks
  • BIG SHOW HITS A DROPKICK!!
  • That chokeslam was insane. Big Show held him up there forever.
  • Big Bossman is there too. He picks the bones and Show comes back and makes the save.
  • The Bossman choke would not be allowed now.
  • We're seeing the precursor to The Union, here.

Austin/Rock Promo

  • The Rock Austin promo just feels big.
  • Austin has his Smoking Skull.
  • Austin says hes gonna BBQ The Rock. Austin is one of a kind.
  • Shane McMahon is SUPER OVER too. I don't think he had even been around for a year.
  • What'd you all think of this version of Taker's music? I thought it was underrated
  • The CORPORATE MINISTRY FORMS. Undertaker, Triple H, Mideon, Viscera, Acolytes, Mean Street Posse, Chyna, Big Bossman, Paul Bearer. Hm.

D-Lo Brown (w/ Ivory) defeated Droz (w/ Prince Albert)
5.5/10

  • I MISS Droz. Today, I think he'd be a coveted WWE Performance Center recruit.
  • Ivory is with DLo, and she's RIPPED
  • ALBERT SHOWED UP BECAUSE HE WASN'T HAPPY THAT A PIERCING HE GAVE DROZ GOT RIPPED OUT BY BOSSMAN! Fantastic
  • Droz taunting after a powerslam was STUPID. D-Lo's running powerbomb was another surreal moment.
  • That sky high rules, but NO PIN!?? WHAT
  • Albert pushes D-Lo off the ropes but D-Lo slingshots out.
  • Albert does the press bomb and the DQ happens.
  • Ivory runs away to get Mark Henry, who got a BIG ASS POP.

WWF Tag Team Championship
Kane & X-Pac (c) defeated New Age Outlaws
6.5/10

  • "Kane" had been around a year and a half at this point. He was still relatively BRAND NEW. X-Pac had only been back a year.
  • This is a tag title shot. New Age Outlaws won it by beating Jarrett and Owen at the pape.
  • I like that Cornette still calls X-Pac "Kid." It's a nod to 1-2-3 Kid, and a way to acknowledge his old persona.
  • X Pac's kick is one of my favorite attacks in wrestling history and Road Dogg's punch is great because he always asked people to bump off of it, or else he wouldn't do it.
  • This match is playing the hits, and it rules. Everyone is working well and bumping awesome.
  • This match was a lot of fun. You didn't know what Kane was gonna do.
  • The Fameasser is a great move. One of the best, period. Nobody did it better than Billy Gunn.
  • Road Dogg falls into Gunn mid body press and X-Pac pins him
  • THIS RULED
  • Billy Gunn isn't happy with Road Dogg. They'd team up once more and start feuding after this.
  • Billy Gunn hunts down and attacks X-Pac, but Kane saves him.

What the hell!?

  • The Brood shows up and Gangrel cuts a MISERABLE PROMO where he laughs here and there. He seems like he wants it to be over now. This was horrible. Legit one of the most awkward promos I've ever seen in my life.
  • Edge's first promo is mediocre but you can HEAR teenage girls screaming the whole time.
  • Christian didn't talk.
  • Dok Hendrix calls them a gimmick. They call him MICHAEL and he gets attacked.
  • Jim Cornette talks so fast trying to give the backstory of Michael Hayes.
  • BLOODBATH.

Hardcore Match
Ken Shamrock defeated Bradshaw
N/A

  • Ken Shamrock cuts a pretty realistic, UFC style promo backstage.
  • Shamrock beats up Bradshaw and applies a kneebar.
  • SHAMROCK DOES A DAMN RNC WITH A BALL BAT. Damn, dude.
  • Shamrock snaps on Sgt. Slaughter beats him with a bat!

Mankind defeated Big Bossman
5/10

  • Meanwhile Mankind is in the boiler room with Kevin Kelly
  • Mankind cuts a promo, that doesn't really say that much.
  • The Corporate Ministry are backstage in a pretty weak locker room. I like it though
  • Bossman is out. It was cool to see him back out after being featured earlier. Usually he'd be gone for the night these days
  • Double Arm DDT but Bossman runs away, only for Test to throw him back in. Big Show too.
  • Mankind wins with the Mandible Claw.

The Rock & Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Triple H & The Undertaker
5/10

  • We hear No Chance In Hell for the 30th time.
  • Jim Cornette has used the term CAHOOTS 300 Times too. This was an overused term during the formation of Kane & Taker vs. Austin
  • "PERHAPS THE GREATEST TAG TEAM MATCH IN WWF HISTORY."
  • Rock gets beaten down and the glass shatters. PERFECT WAY TO get Austin out there and to put the rock over as a new babyface.
  • Austin has kind of a lazy Thesz Press on Taker
  • In modern days, Rock and Austin would have already teamed together multiple times.
  • Sometimes I think there is too much energy, too much back story. That's Cornette. or maybe I'm conditioned to think so.
  • This is four super over people just existing
  • The Corporate Ministry is here.
  • THE UNION IS HERE.
  • Vince McMahon is here and punches Shane. He takes a FILTHY CHAIR SHOT FROM TAKER. This was GNARLY, dude.
  • "The higher power" wasn't revealed for five weeks and makes this NONSENSICAL. It was supposed to be Christopher Daniels, but it was "Vince all along?" Jesus.
  • Austin hits a Stunner and his music plays. Shane eats one too. Well then.
  • The new Corporate Ministry goes down on night one

Other notes

  • The show drew a 4.0 rating and 6.4 share, which was considered a disappointment. It still dominated WCW Thunder, which was a 2.55 rating.
  • UPN had been averaging a 3.7 in that spot. No deal had been reached at this point, and UPN was set to finalize their schedule three weeks later.
  • A dark match included Kurt Angle vs. Grand Master Sexay. They also filmed Shotgun and Super Astros.
  • This was a the New Haven Coliseum in Connecticut. This is a one hour straight shot along the water to Stamford.

10- Perfect, 9- MOTY Territory, 8- Excellent, 7- Great, 6- Good, 5- Average to above average, 4- Slightly below average, 3 or below: Poor

Each match starts at a 5 and slides up and down based on entertainment, execution, time, environment, reaction and stakes. The ratings are in no way an indication of a "star rating," which is a completely different system. A standard, non-offensive "TV match" lands at a 5. The gap between 5.75-6 is generally the largest, with anything reaching 6 being recommended viewing.
These are opinions, and incredibly inconsistent ones. Don't take them too seriously, and have (and share) your own!

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