There was a big celebration on last night’s edition of WWE Smackdown Live because the blue brand was celebrating 1000 episodes. Smackdown premiered as a regular show on August 26, 1999 and has been a part of the WWE Universe on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays over the last 19 years. In a year from now, when Smackdown premieres on Fox, it’s possible that WWE will have a big celebration for 20 Years of Smackdown since we all know WWE loves their celebrations.
The show featured three matches around the ten-minute range, which is typical for Smackdown, while a fourth match featuring The Miz and Rusev finished in under one minute and seemed incredibly rushed. They also had three main talking segments featuring some comedy with the McMahons to start the show, the Evolution reunion, and Edge having a chat with Becky Lynch. The Undertaker’s appearance, which was promoted heavily, featured him walking out in the last five minutes, saying he’s got three words for DX at Crown Jewel (“Rest in Peace”), and that was it.
— Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) October 17, 2018
Should it have been a three hour show? Some people may say yes, but I think if it went three hours like a typical Raw, it would have been boring at times. It felt like everything mattered here. My only real gripe was how fast the Miz/Rusev match went because no wrestlers want to be done in less than a minute. If you tuned in for nostalgia and stars from the past, you may have been disappointed too, but I like that most of the show was centered around the current Smackdown stars.
Since this was a special edition of Smackdown, I thought I’d bust out the “takeaways” gimmick that I normally use for pay-per-views with ten takeaways. This time, I’ll touch on five big points from the show.
1. Batista teased a big match with Triple H during the Evolution reunion
I think the biggest story coming out of Smackdown 1000 was the reunion of Evolution. It was a unique setting because the Evolution group of Triple H, Batista, Randy Orton, and Ric Flair was a stable that dominated Raw in 2003-04. Why are they on Smackdown 1000 then? I think it was mostly because it was in Washington, DC, which is where Batista is from, and since Batista was one of Smackdown’s biggest stars ever, it was fine with me, especially since Orton is also a current Smackdown guy. The four men have combined to win 49 World Titles between them, so if you look at major titles, it can be argued that they are the most successful stable in wrestling history, even though most of those titles were won when they were not in the group. The point is that all four are major stars and obvious WWE Hall of Famers.
They walked out together to the Evolution theme song, and the crowd cheered and gave them a lot of respect. Everybody spoke a bit with Orton bragging about how great he is since he’s a current heel on Smackdown, Triple H did the corporate spiel about how it’s a tremendous accomplishment and Ric Flair got all excited saying that Smackdown isn’t that much compared to 10,000, which is a number he’s thrown out about how many women he’s been with. Why do you think he has four divorces? Anyway, Batista was the one that talked the most.
Batista talked about how great it was to be back in a WWE ring, even though he admitted that cutting promos wasn’t his favorite thing. He talked about being from DC, how he worked a couple of blocks away, and he loved being back home in a WWE ring. He also thanked the fans for supporting him. When he talked about Orton, he said that he knew he’d be great and that he’s got more talent in his pinky than half the guys that have ever wrestled. For Ric Flair, Batista praised him for being great and joked that he should “keep that thing in your pants,” which drew a lot of laughs. See for yourself below, because it’s not in the YouTube clip above.
Batista has me rolling at this Flair bit pic.twitter.com/5zQ8ubPaKZ
— CJ Fogler (@cjzer0) October 17, 2018
Things got interesting when Batista talked about Triple H:
“The Game, 14-time World Champion, this man has single-handedly changed this business, he runs this business and this man is this business. 14-time World Champion, there is nothing, nothing this man hasn’t done in this business…except beat me.”
That drew a loud “oooohhhhh” reaction from the crowd, while Triple H stared to the sky, Batista stared at him, Orton kind of walked away, and Flair tried to calm them down. After a few tense moments, Hunter and Batista hugged in the ring and they laughed about it. But moments later, Hunter kept staring at him.
Does this mean anything? Probably. I doubt Batista would say that unless it was going to lead to something. I know Batista has talked about how he wants to have one more run in WWE, even though he’s got a busy movie schedule. His success in the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies have made him a legitimate Hollywood star, so it’s fair to say he’s a bigger deal today than he was when he left four years ago. Batista still has that desire to have that one more major feud and he wants it to be with an old rival in Triple H. The main event of WrestleMania 21 in 2005 was Batista beating Triple H for his first World Title and they wrestled several more times after that, with Batista getting all of the victories before he was moved to Smackdown.
When Batista was on Chris Jericho’s podcast in May 2017, he said this about a Triple H feud: “I said I would come back and run a whole program with Hunter. That’s the only thing I’m interested in and they’re just not interested in it.” It could have been a timing thing back then, but maybe it’s the right time now, because I think WWE and Hunter are interested in it based on what Batista said on Smackdown 1000.
I think the timing is right to do one more Batista vs. Triple H match. We know WWE loves nostalgia these days. Batista and Hunter are both 49 years old, so time is ticking on them having matches, but they are in great shape. I think if it was agreed upon, then certainly Batista could get in ring shape again over the next few months, leading to a WrestleMania 35 match in New Jersey. I don’t know for sure if that’s the plan, but I have a feeling that it is.
2. Becky Lynch continues to thrive as Smackdown Women’s Champion
Edge was back to host The Cutting Edge. I thought he did an excellent job of talking about how Smackdown felt like his show since he was a guy that had a lot of success on there. He really was one of Smackdown’s top guys in the late 2000s. He brought out Smackdown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch as his guest.
Edge talked to Lynch about how he can relate to her because he did some of the things she has done to become a champion. By that, he means cheating to win and hurting your friendships, like Lynch did with Charlotte (although Lynch really didn’t cheat to win the title, but she is more evil in her behavior). Anyway, Edge talked about how winning titles is great although you end up feeling alone when you have no friends to celebrate with. Edge said that you end up not liking yourself.
Lynch had a great line in response to that when she said “I don’t like myself. (pause) I love myself!,” leading to cheers from the crowd. Lynch continues to be booked like a cocky heel, yet the fans love her because she’s able to show off her personality and a side of her that we didn’t see before. It doesn’t bother me that WWE still books her like a heel, because if they made her act like a face, she would be boring. Right now, she’s definitely not boring and is doing great. Lynch came off as even more of a jerk when she told Edge to get out of her ring and said that he better not hurt his neck again when he left the ring. Ouch. The crowd didn’t boo it and it got a good reaction. Edge had to retire in 2011 due to a serious neck injury, so that line from Becky was cruel on her part.
— Rebecca Quin (@BeckyLynchWWE) October 17, 2018
Charlotte Flair interrupted the segment, but I guess you could say she was already invited to it because that’s how it was promoted. That led to the two women getting into a brawl around ringside like they have done so many times. That was broken up by referees to end the segment.
I thought Lynch killed it in terms of the lines she delivered and the tone in which she said them. Edge was used perfectly in the segment too, which was really well done.
Lynch is set to defend the Smackdown Women’s Title against Flair at Evolution on October 28 in a Last Woman Standing match. It’s going to be awesome and I hope they get the main event slot.
3. No video message from The Rock was disappointing, but at least there was John Cena
Huge #SD1000 congrats to my @WWE family!
Fun fact, in 1998, I said to @VinceMcMahon “I’m gonna use the word ‘Smackdown’ tonight in my promo”. He said what’s that mean? I said it means I’m gonna whup some ass. He belly laughed and said say it!
The rest was history! #IfYaSmell 🎤 https://t.co/IVXI0WkkGl
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) October 16, 2018
The Rock will always have a special bond with Smackdown because the show was named after one of his catchphrases. One of The Rock’s (many) catchphrases was that he would “lay the smackdown on all their candy asses” when talking about his opponent. As you can see in the tweet above, Rock told the story of how he came up with Smackdown, pitched it to Vince McMahon, and Vince loved it, which led to “smackdown” becoming a part of our everyday lives.
A lot of people speculated that maybe The Rock would show up for this show, but it didn’t happen. The Rock is in England filming a Fast and the Furious movie spin-off with Jason Statham. If you follow him on social media, you knew that already, but what I don’t get is why The Rock couldn’t film a quick video segment talking about Smackdown, how he misses the fans, and how he’ll maybe return one day. That takes little effort and WWE could have asked him to do it months in advance. The Rock records Instagram videos all the time, and I thought he should have been part of the show in video form. They did show the tweet, but it would have been fun to see a “if you smell what The Rock is cooking” type of promo.
Meanwhile, John Cena and his awkward new haircut appeared on the show with a video message talking about how Smackdown was where he got his start in 2002. Cena spent a few years rising up the ranks on Smackdown before becoming a Raw guy in 2005 following WrestleMania. Cena returned to Smackdown two years ago after the brand split. He still has two more months of movie filming in China, and who knows if he’ll be back on WWE TV again in the new year. I would guess he will be back for Royal Rumble season, but I don’t know his schedule.
4. The eight-man WWE World Cup tournament features only American competitors
The next WWE pay-per-view featuring male wrestlers is Crown Jewel on November 2. There will be a one night tournament at the show featuring eight male wrestlers. The four men from Raw are John Cena, Kurt Angle, Seth Rollins, and Dolph Ziggler, while the Smackdown wrestlers are Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, The Miz, and Rey Mysterio. Seven of the eight men had to win matches to qualify, while Cena was just given a spot. The tournament will take place to “determine the best in the world,” even though something like that would likely contain guys that hold major titles like Roman Reigns and AJ Styles, but they have title matches booked. Basically, it’s just a tournament with some big names to make the Saudi backers of the show happy.
All eight men are former World Champions and they are also all American, which has led to some complaining given that the “world cup” label has been slapped onto the tournament. Mysterio, if you’re curious, is actually from San Diego, although he is quite popular in Mexico, where he has had several successful stints in the ring.
The reason that the field has led to some complaining is that you would think WWE would book some of their international stars for the tournament, like Finn Balor, Rusev, Sheamus, Cesaro, and Jinder Mahal, but they opted for only Americans instead. It doesn’t really bother me, but I can see why people are questioning it. It could be a case of WWE wanting to send a smaller roster to Crown Jewel, and if you run a tournament, you’re adding upwards of seven matches to the card without adding more people to the trip.
If you’re wondering about a bracket for the tournament, WWE hasn’t released those yet. I assume that will be next week.
Crown Jewel takes place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 2, but if you watched Raw and Smackdown this week, you may have noticed that WWE didn’t mention Saudi Arabia one time. That’s because WWE is currently “monitoring the situation” with regards to recent actions that took place in Saudi Arabia involving the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey. For now, Crown Jewel is still expected to take place in Saudi Arabia, even though WWE didn’t mention the country once during their five hours of primetime TV this week.
5. Big Show helped The Bar become the Smackdown Tag Team Champions
The most noteworthy thing that happened on Smackdown in terms of matches was that The New Day defended their Smackdown Tag Team Titles against The Bar duo of Sheamus and Cesaro. The title match was surprising because it wasn’t advertised. We just saw these teams have a title match at Super Show-Down two weeks ago with New Day winning clean, so why was The Bar getting another title shot? That question was not answered.
It was a good match, with Xavier Woods and Big E in there for New Day and Kofi Kingston lurking at ringside. The match was even with both sides getting several believable nearfalls. At one point, Big E hit Cesaro with a one-armed slam that saw Cesaro take a bump hard on the neck, but Cesaro was thankfully able to continue. Cesaro also got an awesome nearfall on Big E when he hit a Neutralizer slam on him. Woods also came close to beating Sheamus with a Shining Wizard running knee attack.
After about nine minutes of action, Big Show’s music started up. That was pretty random, because Show has been absent for the last year until last week on Smackdown, when he lost the main event match to Randy Orton. Show walked down to the ring, grabbed Kofi Kingston, and gave him a Chokeslam through an announce table at ringside. It was pretty random since he has had no interaction with Sheamus and Cesaro recently. That distracted everybody, which led to Sheamus hitting a Brogue Kick on Big E, leading to the pinfall win and new Tag Team Champions. Big Show went into the ring to celebrate with the new champs.
The win for The Bar was surprising, but I like them a lot and now they are five-time Tag Team Champions and have been one of the best heel teams in WWE this decade. It also gives Big Show something to do, perhaps as a third wheel in the team or even taking a page out of New Day’s book (via the Freebirds), where any of the two men can defend the titles. I’m not sure where it’s headed, and that’s okay because I have faith in the Smackdown creative team. The Smackdown Tag Team Titles are generally booked quite well, unlike Raw’s Tag Team Titles.
I thought Smackdown 1000 was a fun show. I rated it 7.5 out of 10 in my detailed review on my site, which means I enjoyed it a lot. It wasn’t the best episode of Smackdown by any means, but I like that they featured the current stars most of the night with a bit of nostalgia mixed in. Could they have done a better job in three hours? I doubt it, because two hours was more than enough for me. I’ll leave you with this video package that featured some of Smackdown’s greatest moments.