Fifteen years ago today, this episode of Smackdown, that was taped two days earlier at the Pond in Anaheim aired. The main event featured the third WWF TLC match, that is still on many lists as the greatest match in Smackdown history. Please enjoy our look back at the WWF’s Attitude era.
Steve: This was the first time I’ve watched the show since I was at the taping. I never even watched on TV because I had to work the night it aired and my VCR didn’t record it for some reason. I remember this show being awesome being there live, so let’s see how it held up 15 years later.
The show started with Vince coming out and talking about HHH tearing his quadriceps muscle in his leg, an injury that almost ended his career and kept him out for eight months. He then said that Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit would have to defend their tag-team titles later in the show in a four-way TLC match against the Hardyz, the Dudleyz, and Edge & Christian.
X-Pac vs. Eddie Guerrero
Steve: Man, I still miss Eddie Guerrero. Eddie is in control early in the match, but X-Pac gets control and hits Eddie with a cross body and it looks like Eddie legit hit his head. X-Pac goes for a front flip but Eddie moves. X-Pac hits a spinning heel kick then goes for the bronco buster but Eddie gets out of the way in time. Eddie goes to the top rope but X-Pac trips him up and hits an x-factor to get the pin. A pretty decent match to open the show.
Andrew: I too miss Eddie. This was a fun five minute sprint to kick off the show with a good amount of action. There was an awkward moment mid-match which Eddie covered with a DDT. For a WWF TV match, this was fun.
William Regal and Tajiri are backstage in Regal’s office. Tajiri speaks Japanese and Regal doesn’t know what he’s saying, but assumed Tajiri wanted to be a WWF Superstar. Regal told him that he has to pay his dues and be friends with him. Regal tells Tajiri to stop bowing and ranted about racial stereotypes, and then made Tajiri fetch him some “tea and crumpets.” After this, there’s a recap of an angle between Shane McMahon and Kurt Angle from the Raw before this Smackdown. Kurt Angle is backstage and punks Jonathan Coachman. Bubba-Ray and D-Von argued with Spike about Molly Holly, saying she cost them a match on Raw against her cousins Crash & Hardcore Holly. Meanwhile, Molly is backstage waiting for Spike.
Kurt Angle vs. Spike Dudley
Andrew: First off, the bad acting in the dialogue between Molly Holly and Kurt Angle made me realize how corny the Attitude Era really was. The segment started in the back with Spike confronting Kurt when he was harassing Molly. He wanted the match to start at that moment rather than later, so they enter the ring through the crowd. Spike entered the ring first, and Kurt slowly entered the ring while laughing at Spike. Kurt isn’t even in his gear and is wearing a shirt and track pants. The match starts off with Kurt chasing Spike, and countered a dive from Spike into a belly-to-belly on the floor. Kurt ends up stomping on Spike for awhile, hit some belly-to-back suplexes, and threw Spike around ringside into the barricades and the ring steps. Eventually, Kurt hit an Olympic Slam off the ring steps onto the floor. Kurt brought him back to the ring, hit another Olympic Slam., and made him tap to an Ankle Lock. This might’ve been a short squash match, but it was entertaining and had a story behind it.
Molly made the save for Spike after the match, got in Kurt’s face, and Hardcore and Crash Holly ended up saving Spike. Kurt then put Spike in an Ankle Lock again as Hardcore Holly carries Molly off we she screams for Spike. You know, the backstage segments in the Attitude Era were corny, but it was action like the one in this match that made it so special. That’s what people seem to forget. It wasn’t the “attitude” or anything, but the way the wrestlers performed in that era that made it special.
Backstage, Kurt cuts a promo talking about Shane McMahon. I believe this was the lead up to their infamous match at King Of The Ring where Kurt threw Shane through glass and stuff.
Steve: I agree that Molly was really bad and wooden delivering dialogue. This was a squash but it did a really good job adding to the Spike Dudley and Molly Holly story while really putting Kurt Angle over as a heel.
Dean Malenko vs. Raven
Steve: Raven hits a drop-toe hold, and Malenko counters with some kicks. Raven goes for the Raven Effect, but Dean manages to escape. Raven escapes a reverse leg lock by reaching the ropes. There was some more back and forth action then Saturn interferes and hits a neckbreaker while Terri distracts the ref. Malenko gets the pin. The match was OK, nothing special.
Post match Malenko and Saturn double team Raven but Saturn accidently kicks a chair into malenko’s face. Raven hits the Raven Effect on Saturn and Saturn has to be taken from the ring by EMTs.
Andrew: Watching this, all I could think of how much the WWF/WWE fucked up with so many stars during the Attitude Era. They could’ve done a lot with Raven and Perry Saturn. Instead, Raven amounted to nothing and Perry Saturn would eventually fall in love with a mop. This match was one of the events that would lead to Perry Saturn becoming the idiotic Perry Saturn who said crazy shit. While the match wasn’t special, it sadly does have some significance. Later on in the show, Dean Malenko and Terri Runnels were interviewed by Kevin Kelly, who was asking about Perry condition. Perry came out and uttered the infamous line “bunnies eat radishes so they can make babies. You’re welcome.” Classic WWF.
The Hardyz are backstage with Lita
Steve: Trish goes into Steve Blackman’s dressing room and was going to get changed behind a screen. One of those screens you can see the shadows through. Eventually she calls Steve Blackman back and asks for help. He goes back there and she starts asking about his kendo stick. It is positioned so it looks like his penis. Of course Grandmaster Sexay walks in and is in shock at what’s going on as Trish comments on how hard the stick is and Steve says “that’s why I like to hit people over the head with it.”
Andrew: After that great moment in wrestling history, Stone Cold Steve Austin cut an awesome promo on HHH for getting injured and costing them the WWF Tag Team Championship, He also talks about the Undertaker. Austin was such a great heel and got so much heat from the fans.
Trish Stratus, Steve Blackman, & Grandmaster Sexay vs. Right To Censor (Ivory, The Goodfather, Bull Buchanan)
Andrew: I completely forgot about how much the entire RTC/PTC thing and this match brought back memories of seeing news reports about people being upset at the content of WWE’s programming. Grandmaster Sexay had a fun sequence with the Goodfather here. Grandmaster Sexay did a hot tag spot with Steve Blackman. He got some offense in on Bull Buchanan and the Goodfather. Trish and Ivory went at it to distract the referee after Bull hit Steve Blackman with a Bicycle Kick to the back of the head of Blackman, and as he was pinning him while the referee was distracted, Grandmaster Sexay hit a top rope leg drop on Buchanan as he was pinning Blackman. Blackman pins Buchanan and the babyfaces get the win.
Trish, Blackman, and Grandmaster Sexay dance in the ring after the match. Not trying to be racist or anything, but white people are awful dancers. Yeah.
Steve: Trish Stratus had so much charisma, probably more so than any other women’s wrestler in WWF/WWE history. I thought this was a pretty fun match and I remember live the dance after getting one of the loudest pops of the night. I thought the dance sequence was really fun.
Andrew: Edge & Christian cut a promo about TLC 3 and insulted Lilian Garcia.
Kane vs. Rhyno
Steve: Rhyno demanded a match from WWF commissioner William Regal. First he wanted a shot at the Hardcore title, but was told no, then he asked for a shot at Steve Austin and the world title, and was told no. He then asks for Kane and a shot at the Intercontinental title. The match is set.
Kane no sells some of Rhyno’s offense at the beginning. Kane gains control and hits a sidewalk slam on Rhyno. Eventually Rhyno hits a clothesline, but Kane hits a devastating clothesline. Rhyno eventually gets some offense in, hits his own clothesline and goes for the pin but only gets a two count. Kane hits a running powerslam on Rhyno and then goes for his own pin, but Rhyno kicks out at two. Rhyno goes for a gore, but Kane evades and gets the chokeslam then the pin. I thought this was another OK match.
Andrew: There was a really cool clothesline spot by Kane on Rhyno in this when he caught Rhyno charging at him in the corner. Kane also hit a cool Electric Chair slam on Rhyno. This was an okay match. Nothing great, but nothing bad either.
Backstage, Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho talk about being the underdogs going into this match.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs 3 – Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit (c) vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von) vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy)
Andrew: This match was probably my favorite of the famous early TLC/Ladder matches involving the Dudleyz, Hardyz, and Edge & Christian. It felt like there was a faster pace to it than the other ones, and the spots were setup really well, especially the first table spot with Benoit attempting to hit a splash on Matt Hardy, only to end up crashing through the table as Matt moved and leaving Jericho to defend the titles for most of the match on his own. It created a cool dynamic that made the champions even bigger underdogs than they were going into this match, and added more to the story behind this match.
Eventually, Benoit comes back out after a series of bumps and spots in the ring. Edge & Christian worked over his body, and hit him with a Con-Chair-To to the ribs. The Dudleyz hit a Super-3D off the ladder onto Christian. Moments after that, Jeff Hardy hit a leaping legdrop off one ladder over another, putting Bubba Ray through a table. I honestly think that spot might’ve been one of the most underrated spots in wrestling history. Bodies end up flying everywhere as the match went on until Chris Jericho was alone in the ring. He was climbing up a ladder and then speared by Edge after he climbed another ladder that was setup near Jericho’s. It seemed like an obvious spot, but it still looked cool. Benoit ended up winning the match, and Michael Cole and Tazz put over Benoit the most and played up all the punishment he overcame to retain the titles for him and Jericho. Like I said, this might’ve been my favorite early TLC matches involving the Dudleyz, Hardyz, and Edge & Christian. It was just lots of fun, had a good story, and wasn’t short of cool spots. I recommend people check it out if you’ve got WWE Network and haven’t seen this match before.
Steve: I’m in agreement that this was the best of the early TLC matches. The pacing was spot on. They did a fantastic job of telling a story through the match. It’s worth checking out this show just for this match and to see how much different WWE is now from how the WWF was then. Sure, the McMahons are still involved in the show, but as a whole the shows seemed so much more fun back then.
This episode of Smackdown is available on the WWE Network.