We’re now done with SmackDown 1000 and that means it’s time to get ready for Crown Jewel. And….yeah I’m sick of hearing about that show too so let’s keep talking about SmackDown instead. Last night’s special 1000th episode was a combination of a historical retrospective and regular show with some fairly big matches. That got me to thinking, which is rarely a good thing.
SmackDown Live debuted over nineteen years ago and that’s an eternity in the wrestling world. There are several fans who either weren’t alive when the show debuted or don’t remember most of the show’s run, which is quite the shame given how many great matches there have been on the show over the years. That’s where an old fan like me can come in and that’s where we’re going today. This week we’ll be looking at a match from each year that the show has been on the air that you might have forgotten and are worth remembering.
Note that I’m not saying this was the best match of the year or a classic of any kind. These are just matches that I remember that you might like to take a look at from the show’s history. Since they aired on the regular show, each is available on the WWE Network, making them pretty easy to find if you have the time. Also, each date listed is the date the show aired, not when it was taped.
August 26, 1999 – Billy Gunn vs. Jeff Jarrett
Since there isn’t much history to go with in a year that wasn’t even three and a half months long, we’ll go with historic in the first match in the show’s (well, regular show, as in not counting the pilot) history and that has to be a trivia question that someone would ask. Maybe. Somewhere. Gunn rolled Jarrett up for the pin if you need bonus points.
April 20, 2000 – Triple H vs. Tazz
This is a little more infamous as Triple H was the WWF World Champion and Tazz was the ECW World Champion despite being signed to the WWF at the time. Of course Triple H won and really, what else were you expecting? The match is more of an historical curiosity than anything else but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth seeing. Tazz was more than just a commentator and he had a nice match against a top star here.
May 31, 2001 – WWF Title: Steve Austin vs. Chris Benoit
Have you ever wanted to see if Austin can wrestle a technical match with the best of them? That’s exactly what you got here and it’s a heck of a performance all around. Austin is capable of going to that style when he needs to and it made for an awesome match with both guys working hard and suplexing each other from one side of the ring to the other. Great match, with Austin showing off a different side.
December 5, 2002 – Edge vs. Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle
I know this year was built around the idea of the SmackDown Six so putting four of them into one four way elimination match for the #1 contendership was a great idea. Edge was starting to move up in the singles ranks around this time and he got very close to pulling off the huge upset here. These four beat the heck out of each other and it became a question of whether the injured Edge could pull off the miracle. He came close, and the path to the near victory is excellent
September 11, 2003 – John Cena vs. Eddie Guerrero
This wasn’t your traditional match as this took place in the parking lot inside a circle of cars. However, that was the right way to go as the two of them needed to be able to beat each other up in a different way than just a regular match. It let both guys show off what they could do and it turned into one of the more entertaining matches of an already entertaining year.
June 24, 2004 – Undertaker vs. John Cena
Does this one need any explanation? This would be a dream match just a few years after (though we got it at WrestleMania fourteen years later) but this was the only time that it happened when the two of them were young enough to make it work yet still over enough for it to be important. Really though, the name alone should be more than enough for this one to make sense.
June 30, 2005 – John Bradshaw Layfield vs. Booker T. vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Muhammad Hassan vs. Undertaker
So this one wasn’t so much a great or important match as much as it was a match about me getting to smile. The winner of the match was to be the new Smackdown World Champion but it turned out that there was one final Draft Pick from Monday Night Raw. That would be Batista, meaning the winner, Layfield, actually didn’t win the title. Layfield was crushed, giving me something to smile about. If there’s one way to guarantee happiness, it’s Layfield not winning something.
April 7, 2006 – World Heavyweight Title: Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton
Mysterio won the title at WrestleMania 22 in a big surprise and the right idea would seem to be having him face his biggest rival from before the show. That’s what they did here in a long and entertaining match that helped establish Mysterio’s still young title reign. That’s one of the reasons you have Orton around and he was very good at making others look great. Even those like Mysterio who are already great on their own.
February 15, 2007 – Shawn Michaels/John Cena vs. MVP/Mr. Kennedy
This is a good example of one of the all time great booking strategies: take two people who are going to be fighting each other (Cena and Michaels at WrestleMania 23 in this case) and make them be tag partners. Shockingly enough, it turns out that they’re great together as a team because they’re both incredibly talented wrestlers. Oh and the WrestleMania match is awesome too if you have the time to watch it.
April 24, 2008 – Undertaker vs. Batista
They had the feud of the year back in 2007 so why not pick up where things left off? Sometimes you need two big guys to beat the heck out of each other and see what they’re both made of. That’s what you had here and as usual, these two seem incapable of having a bad match with each other. Oh and there were no disqualifications, just so they could be a little rougher than usual.
September 4, 2009 – Intercontinental Title: Rey Mysterio vs. John Morrison
This was a case where the ending wasn’t exactly in doubt as Mysterio had been suspended due to the Wellness Policy, but they had a heck of a match to send him out. They passed the torch over to Morrison, which is the point of something like this. It was a heck of a match with both guys working hard to show off how awesome the title can be when two talented people are allowed to go out there and steal the show.
August 6, 2010 – Intercontinental Title: Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler
These two fought so many times over the years that it would have felt wrong to not include them somewhere. This time around it was Kingston defending the title against Ziggler in a losing effort for what feels like one of their 1944 title changes. These two are always good for a fast paced match and this was no exception with both guys working hard for the title that defined them for a long time.
December 30, 2011 – Wade Barrett vs. Randy Orton
Sometimes you just need a gimmick to make a match work and what better way to do it than have them fight throughout the building? This included through the backstage area and into an elevator. It was a fun match and while there are matches that did it better, this one stands out just for how many things they manged to do to each other.
July 27, 2012 – Kane vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio
There’s something to be said about having four people thrown into a match for a future World Title shot. It doesn’t have to be anything great and this wouldn’t fit the definition anyway, but at least you had four top names fighting for something that matters. It made for a good match too and that’s really all you could hope for it to be.
June 14, 2013 – Shield vs. Daniel Bryan/Kane/Randy Orton
The thing you have to remember here is how big of a deal Shield was back then. They hadn’t lost a match coming into this one and had turned away every challenger that came against them. Bryan and Kane had been trying to beat them for months and learned from their previous mistakes to make it work here. It’s a heck of a match and an incredible performance with the crowd losing their minds on the finish. This was a major part of Bryan’s push towards the top of the company and it’s something to see for the reaction alone.
November 14, 2014 – Intercontinental Title: Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro vs. Tyson Kidd
Every now and then you need to have some young people go out there and have an awesome match for twenty minutes. That’s what Ziggler did here as he defended his Intercontinental Title against two talented young guys. They tore the house down like few others could do and it was a heck of a performance from all three. I had a blast watching this back in the day and it was one of the first matches that came to me when I was thinking back over the years.
February 12, 2005 – Tag Team Turmoil
Now you know I have to get a Roman Reigns match in here somewhere (it’s in the contract) so let’s go with something that lasted over an hour (or about forty seven minutes if you take out the commercials). This was part of the eternal struggle to turn Reigns into a top star by having him team with Bryan for a really long time before finally facing him at Fastlane. They worked the whole match and while it wasn’t great, it was certainly different and that’s often a good idea.
September 20, 2016 – Intercontinental Title: The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler.
These two had a heck of a rivalry going and the fact that it’s a battle of Ohio makes it all the…well actually it doesn’t really change anything. This was another good match between the two as Ziggler can show off his dramatic near falls and Miz can win in the end because it’s what he does best. It’s an underrated feud and these two work so well together, though their rematch at No Mercy was even better.
February 14, 2017 – WWE Championship: Bray Wyatt vs. AJ Styles vs. John Cena
It’s one thing to give someone a major championship but you also have to give them a big title defense to make the whole thing stick. That’s what happened with Wyatt here, who had won the title two days earlier but needed to prove he wasn’t a fluke. What better way to make that happen than by beating the two top singles wrestlers on the show, including by pinning Cena? It helps that it was a heck of a match too.
August 21, 2018 – SmackDown Tag Team Titles: New Day vs. Bludgeon Brothers
Ok so this might be an easier one but there hasn’t been much to pick from over the course of the year. We’ll go with the match that is overrated (WWE calling this one of the ten best matches in the show’s history is insane) but still a lot of fun. New Day beating the Brothers to win the titles was entertaining, even if there was little doubt to the ending as Rowan was injured. That doesn’t make it any less fun.
A single year is a long time in wrestling but nineteen years is longer than a lot of fans have been alive. The fans might remember the bigger things but how many matches are out there that you might not think about very often? There’s so much great wrestling to see out there and a lot of it is hidden back in the archives. Check some of these matches out and have a good time watching wrestling.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the the Complete 2003 Smackdown Reviews.
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