Previously on the Vintage Best and Worst of WWF Smackdown: Mankind was really trying to endear himself to The Rock, but people kept stealing the gifts he made for The Great One. Edge and Christian began facing off with the Hardys in a best-of-five series that would begin to cement their legacies as WWF tag team royalty. Also, Jeff Jarrett got humiliated by the women of Smackdown, and Mark Henry revealed that he was a sex addict. One of those things is not like the other, but they all happened.
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And now, the Vintage Best and Worst of WWF Smackdown for Oct. 7, 1999.
Real-Life Worst: Wrestling Had A Really Bad Week
I alluded to bad stuff happening last week, and it turns out it’s kind of a double whammy.
The first thing you’ll see on Smackdown this week is a tribute to the recently deceased Gorilla Monsoon, narrated by Vince McMahon himself. Like a lot of “golden age” wrestling stuff, Monsoon’s career as a wrestler and commentator happened well before I even started watching, and there were periods of my wrestling fandom strictly dedicated to retroactively educating myself about him and other stars of the past. After retiring from in-ring competition in the early 80’s, Monsoon memorably made his way to the commentary booth.
Like a lot of people, you probably remember him best as the straight-man foil to Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. He was tasked with reigning in the anarchic irreverence of Heenan, and he would often fail hilariously. After a while, they were playing off each other as naturally as Abbott and Costello. In fact, even though he’d made the jump to WCW, Heenan requested time on the October 11 episode of Monday Nitro to publicly say goodbye to his friend.
As if the loss of Monsoon wasn’t enough, this is also the episode of Smackdown where Darren “Droz” Drozdov suffered a career-ending injury that ended up paralyzing him. He landed on his head after a D’Lo Brown powerbomb with enough force to break two disks in his neck. It was a freak accident, and Droz (eternally to his credit) holds no ill will against Brown for what happened. And after being told he’d be a quadriplegic for life, he actually ended up regaining limited movement above the waist. So, it could have been a lot worse, but a young and promising career was still cut short.
Now, imagine you’re on the WWF roster or production team after all this happens, and you’re realizing that you have to put on a TV show that features Jeff Jarrett throwing elderly women into a mud pit. They would have been forgiven for cancelling the episode, that’s all I’m saying. Geez, what a week. And somehow, No Mercy is only 10 days away! Didn’t we just have a pay-per-view?
Worst: X-Pac Is Still Chasing Windmills
I wish he’d stick to the rivers and the lakes that he’s used to.
I don’t know why X-Pac is getting so hung up on his “being your own man” experiment. Every time he gets indignant that big guys are helping him and he strikes out on his own to prove himself, he gets damn near murdered in the process. And then, he returns to the tag team or stable from whence he came, never once realizing his lesson. At this point, the scientific method should be making it explicitly clear that he can’t be trusted on his own. I’m sure he doesn’t greatly enjoy the company of his seven-foot hellfire nanny, but Kane’s the only person keeping him from sticking his fingers in electrical sockets and getting thrashed by the Ministry.
In this tag team bout, Kane picks up the win after blind-tagging X-Pac and chokeslamming Mideon. You’ve got to feel for him at this point. He seems to genuinely care about his weird, green, energy drink-swilling friend, and all he gets in return is the “you’re not my real dad” treatment. Anyway, they’re so busy arguing after the match that they get easily blindsided by the Acolytes, setting up their four-corner match at No Mercy. And yes, it’s a match X-Pac asked for, because he’s an idiot.
Worst: I’m Running Out Of Ways To Throw Shade At 1999
I got so caught up watching Crash and Hardcore mansplaining things to Michael Cole that I almost missed something: Has Crash always worn tights that say Hardcore’s name?
As another prelude to No Mercy, we get Road Dogg vs. Hardcore Holly in a singles match, since the New Age Outlaws and the Holly cousins are set to do battle for the tag team titles. That’s not the most important thing, though. The most important thing is that I found the clearest, most perfectly crystallized image you could possibly use to describe the year 1999 to someone who wasn’t there. The most 1999 image you can find is an arena full of dudes in Fred Durst hats simultaneously doing Road Dogg’s “tag team champions of the worrrrrrrrrld” schtick.
The match is all over the place, with Crash eventually running enough interference on Billy Gunn to allow Hardcore to hit his falcon arrow for the win. By the way, if you’d told me that any of these four guys would eventually be in New Japan’s World Tag League, I probably would have called you crazy.
What The Hell: Mark Henry’s Sex Therapy
I recently learned about a phenomenon known in biology as “extinction boom.” In the years leading up to the extinction of a species, there is sometimes a brief, observable spike in the population of the species as it desperately attempts to spread its numbers in the face of peril. It’s a last-gasp false positive before the end.
I’m saying this because this episode of Smackdown was filmed on the day that Vince Russo was released from the WWF, and yet he still managed to work in a segment where Mark Henry admits that he’s been regularly having sexual relations with his sister since the age of 8. Life finds a way.
Best: Bada Boom, Hardest Working Guys In The Room
The best match of the night (by far) is part of the Hardys/Edge and Christian best-of-five series for the services of Terri Runnels. E&C are up 2-0, and Terri decides to make things interesting by making Round 3 a tornado tag match. I have two big observations here. The first is that all four guys are just working their asses off here. If you’ve ever seen Edge’s You Think You Know Me documentary on DVD or the WWE Network, he mentions that this was a period of time where he, Christian, and the Hardys banded together in making damn sure that they wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle.
This is the good kind of desperation, where you’ve got very little to lose and you just let it all hang out. If you want proof, just check out Matt Hardy up there. Remember when he was still doing bad-ass cruiserweight stuff? He rebounds off the ropes in handstand position when Christian tries to give him a back body drop, comes back down, and instantly DDTs him. That’s some AJ Styles shit right there. The ending is great, too: Edge and Christian attempt their tower superplex again, but Jeff has learned from last week and he uses the tornado rules in his favor, giving Christian the Swanton while he’s still recovering. Continuity!
As for my second observation? Well, you know how the Smackdown Titantron was oval-shaped? Yeah, it cuts off the bottom of words like “BROOD” sometimes. Matt and Jeff aren’t as threatening when the word “SPOON” is displayed behind them in a weird Gothic font.
Worst: Jeff Jarrett Equips His +5 Waders Of Misogyny
Best: At Least It’s Working
Last week, Jeff Jarrett got Benny Hill’d out of the arena by a mob of women he’d attacked for weeks. It was pretty satisfying, but as I mentioned, it felt too much like a go-home segment before a pay-per-view. So now, with ample time left before No Mercy, Jarrett’s got room to do what so many people do when they get publicly shamed … he doubles down on the behavior that got him there in the first place.
Instead of examining his conscience, Jarrett goes back to the drawing board and determines that the best possible way to reinforce male dominance on Smackdown is by staging an old-fashioned mud wrestling match and signing up his valet, Miss Kitty, as one of the participants. Ivory is also called to ringside to give the proceedings a touch of class, but it’s a ruse, and Jarrett ends up chucking her into the mud as well. It’s a few minutes of uncomfortable thrashing that finally ends when Ivory manages to rip off Kitty’s bra, or “second top” as Michael Cole bewilderingly calls it.
Mae Young and Fabulous Moolah take issue with this, of course, but they still haven’t seemed to grasp that Jeff Jarrett is stronger, faster, and likes to use weaponized guitars. They get thrown into the mud as well, but this is enough of a distraction for Chyna to sneak up behind Jeff and give him his own turn in the mud. Devil’s advocate to myself here: As uncomfortable as this is to watch, I’ll be the first to admit that it did wonders for the way Chyna was received. She ends up looking like an absolute hero by the time this feud is all said and done, even with her ties to uber-villain Triple H. I just wish the monster we created for the hero to slay wasn’t so sleazy.
And while I’m still on this … did anyone ever really find mud wrestling sexy? By the end of this, Kitty and Ivory just look like humanoid, matte-finish mounds of clay. I mean, if you thought the Putties from Power Rangers were hot, then go ahead and knock yourself out. Also, I’m pretty sure this was the night Jerry Lawler started formulating his plans to marry Miss Kitty.
Worst: Amnesia, The Dark Descent
TROUBLE IN PARADISE, GUYS AND GALS. At WWF Rebellion in England, British Bulldog got so mad about The Rock walking all over his title shot that he flung a trash can across Vince McMahon’s office, inadvertently hitting Stephanie. Shane McMahon reveals that her condition is improving, except for that whole pesky “having amnesia” thing. It’s not super cringey or anything, I kind of just Worst anything with lazy amnesia stories. This will unfortunately postpone the Sports Entertainment Dream Wedding of the Decade, but don’t worry, it’ll eventually happen and it’ll go off without a hitch, I promise.
Worst: He Did It For The Rock
The wrath of Vince and Shane McMahon will have to wait, though. Bulldog’s got a match with Mankind here, and it’s way out of control from the start.
For those of you keeping score at home, Mankind continues to play the role of Me In High School by desperately vying for the attention of someone who doesn’t give a flying fornication about his existence. You see, The Rock has agreed to take on Val Venis in tonight’s main event because of last week’s revelation that Venis was using a custom-made Rock sock as The People’s Jockstrap. Mankind interprets this as The Rock sticking up for him, but the truth is that Rocky is a terrible narcissist who cannot bear the thought of his likeness pressed against a man’s genitalia. But hey, it’s close enough to affection for Mankind, and in return, he’s made it his mission to take care of The Rock’s bulldog problem.
The ensuing match is pretty much just chaos. Either man should have been disqualified and/or counted out on several occasions, especially considering that the referees now have the magic power of Vince McMahon Believing in Them. In fact, referee Mike Chioda does eventually wave the match off as a no-contest, but it’s off-screen right after getting accidentally bumped by Mankind. That’s two straight weeks of referees calling for the bell after taking nasty falls … maybe they have too much power. Vince, you monster!
Best: Steve Austin Is Ready To Literally Murder Triple H For The Title
Jim Ross catches up with Stone Cold Steve Austin on the Pre-Broken Skull Ranch to see how he’s preparing for his upcoming championship match with Triple H. And as it turns out, he’s doing something incredibly rational – he’s sticking promo 8x10s of Triple H to pumpkins and using them for target practice. Beats going to the gym, right? Even Jim Ross is like, “Hey… this is a little unconventional, even for you.”
Honestly, I wish this had played out like the shooting range scene from Atlanta. “Have you seen the wrestlers in my neighborhood?” But don’t worry, Triple H has something equally over-the-top prepared in response. More on that in a bit.
Best/Worst: Who’s Ready For The Next Big Boss Man Feud?
Unfortunately, this match between Big Show and Big Boss Man doesn’t really amount to much. Show wins by disqualification after Boss Man clocks him with the nightstick, but Boss Man then fails in his attempt to handcuff Show to the ropes and takes a chokeslam for his troubles. However, as a prelude of what’s to come between these two, I’m willing to give it a pass. If you were wondering how Boss Man could possibly be more evil after a month of dog abduction and butchery, you’re getting the groundwork right here.
Best: Triple H, Amateur Herpetologist
Throughout the night, we’ve been seeing shots of this room with the giant warning label on the door. First of all, supplemental Worst for irresponsible labeling – snakes are venomous, not poisonous. This is something you learn when you actually grow up in rattlesnake country. Second of all, what kind of Acme Corporation bullshit is this door anyway? You’re telling me that the Nassau Coliseum has a designated snake room? Is it next to the storage room for human-sized slingshots and rocket boots?
It turns out the reality of the situation is even better. To show that he’s not afraid of “The Texas Rattlesnake,” Triple H went to a pet store, bought a bunch of snakes, printed out a warning label at Kinko’s or something, and just sort of stood among the snakes. He actually picks one up and claims it’s a rattler, but again, I grew up in the South and I laughed right in his face at that claim. The Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas was more of a rattlesnake than whatever Triple H was holding.
The segment kind of stops being fun there, because after putting the snake in a bag and waiting for a suspiciously long camera move, he picks up his sledgehammer and beats the bejeezus out of the bag, eventually bringing it out to the audience
Obviously there’s some trickery at play here, but it’s still kind of gross, especially if you’re a weirdo such as myself who actually likes snakes. I’m guessing PETA wasn’t a fan of this segment, but they were probably too busy calling the cops about Mark Henry and his sister at the time.
Worst: Trouble On Rock ‘N Sock Island
As previously mentioned, The Rock is taking on Val Venis in the main event because he’s super uncomfortable with his airbrushed visage making contact with another man’s ballsack. He’s a man of principle, you know? It’s also a no-disqualification match, but with the loose officiating tonight, you’d hardly notice. It goes on for too long, but there are some bright spots. Rocky puts on a headset and does some more commentary on his own match, so there’s always that. And remember when he was busting out bridging fisherman’s suplexes? Those were some times.
Things come to a head when Mankind charges the ring and steals the chair that Venis was going to use against The Rock. But because he has the all the grace and coordination of a pug on laughing gas, he misses and hits The Rock instead. Luckily, the Great One shakes it off, gives the Rock Bottom to both Mankind and Venis, and picks up the win. We go off the air as Michael Cole tries to turn it all into a “MEGA POWERS EXPLODE” moment. I’ve got to say, it kind of feels weird to see Val Venis in a main event, but I guess it makes sense that he would come last.
(I told you these jokes were going to be the best part of my day.)