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Thursday, November 24, 2016

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EOTR: The Greatest Years In Smackdown History

By @TrueGodImmortal 

The WWE has had Smackdown on since 1999, for a whopping 900 plus episodes in that 17 year period. Regardless, the WWE has seen some good years for Smackdown, as well as some bad ones, but today we are here to talk about the best years in Smackdown history and why. Let's get into it, shall we?

5. 2011

-I want to put 2016 on here, since it has been a consistent year for Smackdown since the brand extension, but I just can't yet. The year isn't even over yet. However, once could not deny 2011 as an overall year, as the WWE attempted to make strides to improve Smackdown as a whole, and though they got off to a weak start leading into Wrestlemania 27, I was still mostly intrigued. There was a lot of tension in the Edge vs Del Rio feud, which seemed flat at first, but eventually picked up when it needed to. Rey Mysterio vs Cody Rhodes was an early highlight as that feud served to help push Cody over the edge and give him a huge year, that would culminate in him bringing back the traditional Intercontinental Championship belt. I enjoyed Dolph Ziggler during this period as well, as he seemed to be putting on great matches regularly in what was his prime IMO. The most significant feud of 2011? Christian vs Randy Orton. Shortly after Edge retired, Christian took the title instead of Del Rio, as he would finally win the big one and what followed was the best Smackdown feud of the year between he and Orton. Aside from that, we also got Mark Henry and his Hall of Pain, Sheamus turning face oddly enough, Cody Rhodes becoming a serious force, the rebranding of Wade Barrett, and the becoming of Daniel Bryan. This year is underrated in Smackdown history and one of the best from a feud and rising stats perspective.

4. 2008

-This may come as a shocker, but 2008 was actually a pretty good year for Smackdown, though RAW truly lacked. Instead of the Cena vs Orton vs Triple H nonsense that seemingly dominated RAW for so long, the Smackdown was bristling with a lot of upcoming stars and guys that were right there on the cusp. From the ending and finalization of the great MVP vs Matt Hardy feud to the Edge vs Undertaker feud that led us throughout the year, Smackdown was rolling. After the trade of Batista to RAW, we got to see Mr. Kennedy come over to Smackdown, Triple H grace the blue brand for a while, and Jeff Hardy staked his claim as a top guy in the company as well. We were treated to quite a few amazing main events during this year, like Triple H vs Undertaker, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels vs Edge, Chavo Guerrero and Hawkins & Ryder, Triple H vs Shelton Benjamin, a triple threat with HHH, Matt Hardy and Chris Jericho, and much more. The WWE was trying to push the focus of the show to the upcoming guys while still keeping their veterans strong. If only they took the chances on guys like MVP, Mr. Kennedy, and a few others, the following years after would have been much better. Still, this was a truly good year for WWE on the Smackdown side.

3. 2001

-This is the most underrated year in wrestling history to me and it's not even close. WWE suffered with the botched storyline for the Alliance angle, but I'll never take away from the matches, the action, and the all around fun feel that Smackdown had during this time. There was no brand extension yet, in fact, the rosters were hugely over, but I was partial to Smackdown due to the creative ways they tried to entertain us. The beginning of the year saw some great main events like The Rock, Undertaker and Stone Cold vs Kane, Kurt Angle and Rikishi, a Fatal four way between Taker, Rock, Kane, and Rikishi to determine the 30th entrant in the Rumble, another Triple H vs The Rock match, and a triple threat match between Rock, Angle, and HHH. As the year rolled on, we saw Austin turn heel and then we got some of the best matches of the year during this period on Smackdown, from Austin vs Benoit to Austin vs Angle to Austin vs RVD, and more. Who could forget that TLC 3 took place here with 4 teams going at it for the Tag Team Titles as Benoit and Jericho bested The Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian, and The Dudleys. Overall, 2001 had so many great moments and matches from Austin and Angle backstage vying for Vince and his attention to Booker T and Austin in the Supermarket to the old Stone Cold hitting Vince with a guitar, this year was pure gold and I almost put it higher than my no. 2 choice. 2001 is a truly slept on and legendary year.

2. 2003

-This year was honestly amazing to witness from top to bottom. It had some dry spots near the end, but for majority of the year, Smackdown was covered by the Smackdown six and Brock Lesnar. I'm more partial to the beginning of the year, as I feel that whole 3-4 period before Wrestlemania 19 is the best part of the year from a wrestling standpoint, as we got to see amazing matches like Rey Mysterio vs Kurt Angle, Team Angle vs Los Guerreros, Shelton Benjamin vs Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle vs Chris Benoit, and more. There was also a very very good story in place with Brock vs Angle that would continue all year. It was the feud of the year for Smackdown, and it gave us one of the greatest matches in Smackdown history with their Ironman Match on TV in September 2003. We also got to see Eddie Guerrero feud with John Cena, who was on the rise as a rapping heel, and he was a highlight on the year too. The most slept on match to me comes from the end of the year as Benoit and Lesnar put on a very solid match against each other. The reason why this year is as high as it is all comes from the match quality. It was absolutely a superb year with in ring work.

1. 2002

-The greatest year in wrestling history from an in ring standpoint and the best year for Smackdown in a major way. Now, the reason why this year is so revered is because Smackdown was flowing smoothly ALL year long, even before the brand extension happened. The year started with Vince saying he wanted to bring back the NWO on Smackdown, Austin stopping Flair from signing over the company to Vince, Booker vs Austin, the arrival of the NWO, The Rock vs Kevin Nash, The Rock vs Scott Hall, and a dope tag team match of Ric Flair and Triple H vs Vince and Kurt Angle. Smackdown after the Brand Extension would see the return of Hulk Hogan to the yellow and red, the rising of Edge as a singles competitor, the arrival of Rey Mysterio, the cementing of Benoit and Angle as solid guys, and of course, the crowning of Brock Lesnar as the guy. We saw tag matches like Edge and The Rock vs Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero, crazy moments like Brock beating down Hulk Hogan, but once we hit September, Smackdown knocked it out the park match wise, EVERY SINGLE WEEK. Angle vs Rey vs Benoit, Angle vs Rey, Eddie vs Edge, Angle and Benoit vs Eddie and Chavo, and my personal favorite Smackdown match ever, the fatal four way between Benoit, Angle, Edge, and Eddie. Those matches are all 4 stars and better, and make 2002 easily the best year in Smackdown history. WWE barely missed with Smackdown in 2002. They could almost do no wrong.



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