And like Raw, SmackDown has had the capacity to surprise us gawkers at home with some truly startling moments. It can be argued that the blue brand doesn't have the volume of big moments that Raw has (due to SmackDown feeling like placeholder theatre at different points in its existence), but certainly, SmackDown isn't free of shocking moments. This list will prove that point.
What follows are the absolutely most shocking ones of the bunch, moments that either roused you from your seated position with a genuine "OMG!" reaction, or simply left you stupefied, blinking with exaggeration as if to say, "Huh, didn't see *that* coming." And some, well, were rather regrettable, flipping the aforementioned "OMG!" into three emphatic letters that our good friend Ross Tweddell deals in. Point being, plenty of SmackDown's output from 1999 onward has gotten us talking, hasn't it?
10. The Boss Gets KO'ed (2017)
We've seen Vince McMahon take punishment on countless occasions. As a consummate performer, McMahon knows the value of getting his ass beaten, because he knows 1) how to comically sell a beating, and 2) that the crowds will eat it up. But the older Vince has gotten, the less we've seen him get physically involved, and that's understandable. Despite being in extraordinary shape for his age, McMahon is indeed in his seventies now.
That's why it was quite a startle when McMahon bled off of an unpulled Kevin Owens headbutt in September of last year, crumpling to the mat with a large red glob at the bottom of his brow. Given McMahon's advanced age, and the awkward way he felt to the mat (especially off of subsequent blows like a punch and a Superkick), the moment was quite unsettling, which was probably the goal.
9. Hellish Name Drop (2006)
Much can said and written about the manner in which Eddie Guerrero's name was invoked in storylines after his tragic 2005 passing. Throughout Rey Mysterio's trek to the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 22, and even beyond (when widow Vickie Guerrero got involved in an angle involving Mysterio and her nephew, Chavo), it could be uncomfortable, the lengths WWE went to keep Eddie's name in the stories.
The most pointless exercise in "Eddiesploitation" came when Randy Orton goaded Mysterio into defending his #1 contendership by saying that Guerrero was in Hell. The line upset not only fans, but reportedly also Guerrero's friends and relatives that worked for the company. Mick Foley, stirred by the angle, even wrote a scathing blog on WWE.com, in which he said WWE "cheapen(s) (Eddie's) life" by exploiting his death in that fashion.
8. (Damn) True Surprise (2006)
A torn triceps would rob Dave Batista of the World Heavyweight title come January 2006, putting an end to his impressive nine-month reign with the gold. To fill the vacancy, a battle royal would be held later in the evening, with the winner earning the strap. The field was pretty thin on main event talent, with JBL, Rey Mysterio, and not much else looking like truly viable contenders. Wasting Randy Orton and Chris Benoit in an earlier match seemed like a fruitless move.
That's why it was a pleasant surprise to see Kurt Angle, fresh from Monday Night Raw, arrive as something of a mystery participant. Angle ended up winning the match, last eliminating Mark Henry after 25 minutes, to claim the gold. Well, SmackDown certainly needed the star power.
7. Bad Analogy (2001)
Not every entry on this list is going to have redeeming qualities, but I'll do my best to get most of the icky stuff out of the way early. On the live episode of SmackDown that aired after the attacks on September 11, 2001, many WWE personalities recorded segments, giving comments that were rich with patriotic, hopeful, and humble sentiment. Then there was Stephanie McMahon's testimonial.
You can't compare apples to oranges, is the old adage, and certainly one shouldn't try comparing any sort of produce to any sort of mass killing. When Stephanie drew comparisons between her father's 1994 trial for steroid distribution and the 9/11 attacks, there was plenty of "Wait, wait?"-ism to go around. Suffice it to say, when WWE looks back on that broadcast through subsequent video packages and such, you don't see Stephanie's part getting re-aired.
6. 48 Hours Of Joy (2011)
One of the forgotten highlights of a frenzied 2011 saw Christian capture the vacant World Heavyweight title in a ladder match at Extreme Rules over Alberto Del Rio. The recently retired Edge had made the save for brother Christian in the match, just as Brodus Clay and Ricardo Rodriguez were aiding Alberto, and seeing the Brothers of Awesomeness stand tall made for a wondrous moment. It seemed as though the torch had been passed to Christian, that his time had arrived.
Until 48 hours later at the SmackDown tapings, when Christian lost the belt to fellow babyface Randy Orton in what was admittedly a great match. Fans were up in arms over multi-time champion Orton's victory, as it seemed like Christian was merely a vessel to other Orton run on top. Given that Christian was turned into a whining heel through the course of the feud, they had a point.
5. Hulkamania Runs Mild (2002)
The rebirth of red-and-yellow Hulk Hogan in WWE is basically why the company revels in nostalgia as much as it does to this day, as Hulkamania: The Second Wave proved extremely lucrative. It was cool to cheer for the Superman Comeback, the finger-wagging, the ear-cupping, etc, once more. The return run was handled so well that fans were accepting a 48-year-old Hogan as a top guy in 2002. It was fun to believe again.
The Hulkamania revival found itself on a collision course with the rise of a Beast Incarnate, and when Hogan matched up with the invincible Brock Lesnar weeks before SummerSlam 2002, it didn't end well for The Immortal. Seeing Hogan bleed from his open mouth as Lesnar cinched up an unconventional Bear Hug, before the referee stopped the match, may have been the most decisive loss of Hogan's that most could remember. It was like watching Superman get fed to a Doomsday-like woodchipper head-first.
4. Injustice Of The Peace (2002)
Gotta give it to Eric Bischoff and the make-up department, with similar high praise - Bischoff's strained voice and the heavy plaster job really did make him look like a 128-year-old near-death wedding official. You knew there would be some sort of swerve at the end of the Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo Commitment Ceremony, and some may have bet on a rather lame write-off. But no, this was pretty elaborate.
Bischoff's sudden verbal reveal got the Minnesota crowd buzzing, as did the unmasking, the heel turn of Rico, and the sudden gate-crash from Three Minute Warning. This Raw assault on SmackDown was much cooler than the bare bones "under siege" attack in which mortal enemies put aside differences to don the same t-shirts. And again, Bischoff hit it out of the park with his portrayal of Benjamin Franklin's rickety uncle.
3. World McChampion (1999)
I'll never forget coming home from school on a Wednesday afternoon, seeing the spoiler that Vince McMahon had become the WWE Champion, and giddily waiting for my older brother to come home from work so that I could tell him just what in the f**k happened last night on SmackDown. We had long enjoyed Vince's phlegmy, grunty proclamations, and his unique brand of physical comedy. Now he was the freakin' champ.
It took some interference from both Stone Cold Steve Austin and his own family, but McMahon did in fact pin Triple H to win the big belt, a sign of Attitude gone completely berserk. Sadly, Vince wasn't much of a fighting champion, vacating the belt nights later on Raw, but at least we'll always have the moment.
2. Bad Timing, Worse Idea (2005)
The original Muhammad Hassan gimmick was a unique idea - an Arab-American who rued facing discrimination from the paranoid and ignorant as he navigated through life in a post-9/11 world. There were plenty of directions to go with such a character, so of course he eventually became a villainous stereotype of the "foreign heel" trope, which would only be made more explicit when he ventured over to SmackDown in the summer of 2005.
And boy how, did WWE create a moment. On an episode of SmackDown taped in early July, Hassan summoned masked men armed with clubs and piano wire (how's that for explicit?) to assault The Undertaker. The episode wound up airing on 7 July, the same day that the London bombings took place, so certainly few people would've had patience for a rasslin' angle with terror overtones. The segment aired unedited in the US and Canada, which only drew scores of outrage.
1. The Fall Of Humanity (2003)
We'll conclude the list on a lighter note, though 'light' is the antithesis of this entry. Brock Lesnar's WWE Championship defense against Big Show on an episode of SmackDown in June 2003 seemed to be on its way to some sort of ho-hum conclusion. (Lesnar wins clean, DQ ending, run-in for non-finish, etc). That's what happens, of course, when you make assumptions.
Enter the heaviest Superplex in captivity, with Lesnar herking the 500-pound Big Show up and over with a manoeuvre that collapsed the ring like a pop-up tent. Fans screamed and shouted, Tazz dropped a faecal swear, and Lesnar and Show lay motionless in the wreckage, as ring posts timbered over, and ropes went slack. WWE has redone this stunt twice (both times with Show involved), but none matched the awesomeness of the original.