On This Day: April 29, 1999 – Smackdown Pilot: The Birth Of A Superstable

Smackdown (Pilot)
Date: April 29, 1999
Location: New Haven Coliseum, New Haven, Connecticut
Commentators: Michael Cole, Jim Cornette

So around this time which is about a month after Mania 15, the WWF was REALLY big. WCW was on the ropes and WWF just started pouring it on. This is another example of what they were going to try to do. Much like WCW with Thunder, they wanted to add a second weekly TV show.

Now that didn’t actually happen until August, but this is the test run. This is a pilot for a show called Smackdown that became a regular series in about four months. I have never seen this as I didn’t have UPN at the time, so this is new territory for me as well. Let’s get to it.

We recap Backlash where Shane cost Rock the title and the following night where Rock called Shane out. It resulted in a beatdown which turned Rock face. It also had Stephanie being abducted by the Ministry and Vince going to Austin for help. It was also the night of the Black Wedding which is perhaps my all time favorite moment with Austin riding in like the cavalry to save his archenemy’s daughter because “it was the right thing to do.” I could watch that all day.

Stephanie and Vince come out to no music even though No Chance has been in use for awhile now. She doesn’t have implants or curled hair here nor most of her curves. DANG she looks great. She’s just flat out beautiful no matter how you look at her. The fans say they hate Vince and he agrees.

He would turn mega heel very soon so it’s not like it matters. Vince and Stephanie thank Shamrock, Show and Austin who made the save. In two funny moments, we’re told by Stephanie that her clothes were ripped off and that Taker kept touching her. Both get big pops. That’s just funny. Shane and the Corporation appears and I think I know what’s coming.

Shane says he would have made the save, even though a clip on Raw showed Shane stopping Boss Man, HHH and the Posse from running out to help. Shane is just totally evil at the moment and is on a pure power trip. I loved this character from him. After Vince and Stephanie leave, Shane says he wants Austin and the Rock.

They’re teaming together tonight and need opponents. HHH volunteers but Shane says “are there any takers?” Of course the lights go out and Takers’ AWESOME satanic music hits. Of course he’s the partner, and we’ll revisit this later.

Blue Blazer gets on Jeff Jarrett’s nerves.

Val Venis vs. Jeff Jarrett

This is part of a rather complex/annoying storyline. Basically Val wants Debra but Sable’s bodyguard Nicole Bass wants Val so she’s helping him and expecting sex in return. Problem is she’s rather manly looking. There’s more to it than that but those are the basics. And here’s Blue Blazer who is apparently taking Jarrett’s place. Ok then.

Val Venis vs. Blue Blazer

Ok so Jeff was subbing for Blazer who is now subbing for Jeff. Russo was still on the payroll at this point if that clears anything up. Blazer is in the cape mind you. It’s amazing to think that he had less than a month to live at this point. Cornette wonders why if Owen is the Blue Blazer, why doesn’t Jarrett call himself the Tweed Sportscoat? Debra gets on the apron for a distraction and it lets Jarrett interfere for the pin.

Bass comes out to hit on Val and they both run. Then Godfather comes out to claim Debra who he “won” in a match on Heat. She has to be a Ho for an undetermined amount of time. This was a way too complex four way feud that never went anywhere for obvious reasons. Owen and Jeff beat him down and leave with Debra.

Rating: N/A. Way too short to be anything of note here. It wasn’t bad or anything, but it was yet another layer onto this incredibly difficult to comprehend story already.

Rock talks to no one in particular about nothing in particular.

Blue Blazer says the WWF needs him. This video was played just after his accident. This was a rather funny gimmick.

Big Show vs. Test

Show is freshly face here and also freshly in the company, having debuted about two and a half months ago. He was the first real sign that the war was in trouble for WCW as they were losing young guys like him. Test was recently thrown out of the Corporation so he would become a face either here or very soon.

He would also join what would become the Union which would start the Test/Stephanie love thing. Boss Man comes down almost immediately and Show hits a dropkick of all things. Chokeslam ends this in like a minute. Boss Man beats up Test afterwards but Show saves.

Rating: N/A. This was when the stories were more intricate and things were built far better than they are today. This would evolve into the Union rather soon.

And here’s The Rock. The fans are doing his lines for him which is always funny. Rock says that even though he and Austin are partners tonight, they’re not friends. Cue Rattlesnake to a bigger pop than Rock. Austin says Rock is a punk kid and just owns Rock here. Rock wasn’t ready for this spot yet and it was clear.

Here’s Shane again, and this is a very important moment if I remember correctly. Yep I remember correctly, as the lights go out and here’s Taker. After being told three times that Shane and Taker are indeed standing next to each other, we’re told that there is a CORPORATE MINISTRY!

I remember hearing about this on Raw a few weeks later and being SHOCKED. Vince would join soon to make them completely unbeatable but Austin would get the CEO spot and then the world title that he would lose lately shorter once again.

X-Pac and Kane say they get along, which to an extent was true.

Darren Drozdov vs. DLo Brown

This isn’t the match where Droz had his neck broken by Brown. That wouldn’t be until August. Albert is with Droz here and is brand new. Ivory is brand new here too and looks something close to decent. Blast it it’s great to hear Cornette just being awesome.

Obviously we only talk about the merger which is understandable here. Brown gets the Sky High out of nowhere but Albert stops the Lo Down. He interferes a bit later and that’s good enough for the DQ. Albert tries to pierce Brown somewhere but Mark Henry returns for the save.

Rating: D+. Not bad for what it was I guess but to say this was a contrast of styles is an understatement. Droz had been around for about a year at this point so it’s not like he was new or anything. If nothing else he had a good look I guess. Still though, pretty boring match although it set up the tag feud.

Sable has gone Hollywood. Even Howard Stern said she was hot.

The Outlaws argue over having friends.

Tag Titles: XPac/Kane vs. New Age Outlaws

The team that aren’t the Outlaws are the champions here. Kane doesn’t trust Pac yet they’re tag champions. My goodness: what WACKY tag champions! I believe this marked the 38475th time Russo wrote this up. Dang the Outlaws are over. Where in the world is this show? We’re never actually told that. Thanks to Disarray for showing me that website as it’s been rather useful.

Billy is being all serious here for some reason as he won’t do his usual shtick. Kane and Billy beat on each other a bit and we hear AGAIN about how Billy is the best pound for pound athlete in the company. Who thought that as they’re rather stupid. I’m sure he’s far better than Big Show who weighs 500lbs and is 7’2 yet can throw a standing dropkick that is rather good while being strong enough to lift things that are rather heavy.

Billy throws a dropkick and it’s legitimately not as good as Show’s was. The idea here is that Pac is a friend of the Outlaws so they don’t want to fight him that much, although Billy isn’t seeming to have many issues with it. Kane comes in to NO pop as the Road Dogg is way more popular. That’s rather odd but I think this is face vs. face. Yeah it is. Pac misses the Bronco Buster and I begin to smile.

Road Dogg hits a low blow in front of the referee for a lack of a disqualification and the Fameasser gets two. In a somewhat creative ending, Gunn gets Pac in a gorilla press but Kane knocks Road Dogg into Gunn and Pac falls on him for the pin. That protects both teams actually and it worked. A nice thing here was Cornette doing the wrestling commentary while Cole was all about the angles etc. That’s a balance they need to get back today.

Rating: C+. Not bad here but nothing really all that special. They did a decent job of furthering the Kane is confused stuff while setting up the future Outlaws split. For the life of me I don’t get why they didn’t have that as the final of the KOTR but went with Pac vs. Gunn instead but whatever. Match was fine.

Austin is getting ready.

Gunn is pissed at Road Dogg and says the team is done.

Michaels Hayes introduces the Brood, which is still some of the coolest music I have ever heard. Also they had that ring of fire for an entrance. Cornette says they’re the three best talents in the sport. Well two out of three isn’t bad I guess. Gangrel’s voice SUCKS. They’re breaking their silence that Taker insisted they have apparently. I see why he didn’t get to talk that much.

He cuts a badly rambling promo which makes no sense as he talks about their search for something or other. Edge is just AWESOME looking here as his eyes are just insane looking. His voice is also much better and he doesn’t ramble. Hayes thinks it’s all a gimmick and they call him Michael. Was there a point to him being there at all? He gets a blood bath and I flat out do not care. I never liked Hayes so there we are.

Gunn is looking for X-Pac.

Kevin Kelly is with Shamrock who says he’s going to destroy Bradshaw in a street fight.

Bradshaw vs. Ken Shamrock

They start very fast and we hear the name UFC which is just weird to hear on Raw. Bradshaw is put in a knee bar like 30 seconds in but he gets out. Shamrock swings a ball bat at Bradshaw and pay no attention to it bending when it hits a table or Bradshaw getting up mere seconds after taking a shot to the head with it from a grown man that is rather strong.

Shamrock chokes him with the bat even though it’s parallel to his head and not over his throat but it works. Talk about a mess. Referees come out for the save and it doesn’t work as he beats everyone up including Sarge.

Rating: N/A. This was a total mess that went nowhere at all. Shamrock destroyed him and made him look weak, although not as weak as the bat. To be fair though, he was supposed to crush Bradshaw who was just a tag guy at this point. This wasn’t much at all and went by way too fast to tell what was going on. Again, it’s the Russo era shining through.

Foley is in the Boiler Room and says he wants to call off the match but can’t do it. He explains his character and it makes things even more confusing. Dang I love Foley.

Gunn is still looking for Pac.

Shane gives the Corporate Ministry a quick pep talk.

Big Boss Man vs. Mankind

Vince and Stephanie have allegedly left. Foley gets a great pop as Cornette says how great he is. Truer words have never been spoken. He’s my favorite wrestler of all time so expect a lot of bias for this. Cornette: “He’s going for Mr. Socko and folks if you don’t know the story behind Mr. Socko, we don’t have time to tell you.”

Yeah Jim could be a bit weird at times. Boss Man tries to run but Test throws him back in. The Union continues to have the seeds planted. Here’s Big Show to throw Boss Man back in as well. When I say that I mean he picks him up and throws him over the top rope. Mandible Claw ends it immediately after that.

Rating: N/A. This was all angle here and that’s all it needed to be. The Union was on the way which was a needed thing to help fight against the massive Corporate Ministry. It only lasted a month though which was odd.

Billy jumps X-Pac and Kane makes the save. Seriously, why did anyone care about Gunn?

Rock and Austin head to the ring separately.

The Rock/Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker/HHH

The Mean Street Posse and Chyna are here with HHH as Cole tries to tell us this is going to be the best tag match of all time. That’s just amusing. If this has a clean finish I’ll be stunned. Taker has Paul Bearer and Shane with him. Rock looks strange here. His look changed a lot over the course of like a year or two. Taker’s hair looks freaky here. Rock is surrounded since Austin of course comes out late.

It’s Rock vs. Taker in the ring and Austin vs. HHH on the ramp. HHH is in long tights here which is still weird to see. They switch off and I’m not expecting many tags here. Taker and Austin start officially and it’s all Austin. HHH comes in for a save and just stays in. Ok then. Rock and Austin make their first tag after Austin has been in there for three minutes and Cornette says they’re working very well together. That’s just amusing.

Rock and Taker hit a double clothesline and we’re back to even. It amazes me sometimes how a single clothesline or whatever can be equivalent to so many big moves that a guy has taken. And there’s the brawl and here are the others for the run in and double DQ. Test, Show and Shamrock run out. No Foley for some reason. It’s a near riot with Austin and Taker being the only two left.

Austin takes a chokeslam and OF COURSE Vince is here. He takes a chair shot to save Austin which fits in pretty well actually. Cornette of course is losing his mind as usual. Austin pops up and hits a Stunner on Taker as Shane beats up Vince. Shane gets a Stunner too and beer is consumed to end the show. Austin pours beer on Vince to wake him up.

Rating: C-. Like I said, were you expecting anything else? This was fine as far as going through with the angle but not much else. For a five minute match though, this was fine. It’s your traditional Attitude Era main event tag match so it’s par for the course. Not terrible, but it works fine for what it was.

Overall Rating: C+. Keeping in mind that this was a one off special and not a regular show, this came off pretty well. It’s more or less a commercial for the main event but that’s what it was supposed to be. This came off fine though and it set the stage for four months later when this became a regular deal.

Decent enough show though and it’s mostly harmless. One big angle is enough to give it a pass though. Not really recommended, but if you watch it you won’t be wasting your time if that makes sense.

 

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