By Will Pruett, ProWrestling.net Senior Staffer (@itswilltime)
Smackdown 1000 was an almost perfect encapsulation of WWE’s weekly aesthetic. They provided some major moments, but unlike so many of WWE’s landmark anniversary shows, Smackdown 1000 was unafraid to be absurd.
Let’s start with the beginning: Truth TV with R-Truth and Carmella is one of the greatest and dumbest things WWE has come up with in months. It’s ridiculous, but everyone has fun with it. This version of everyone included the McMahon family (aside from a member of the Trump cabinet). There wasn’t much to say other than “welcome and thank you” but this was a highlight segment. It was one of WWE’s few attempts at comedy that really made me laugh.
The photos going in and out of commercial breaks also displayed the tone of the night. While some featured the serious moments of Smackdown’s history, others gave us the greatness of Big Show chasing his father’s casket, Edge and Vickie Guerrero’s legendary romance, and Randy Orton’s act of cabin arson. While many of the notable Raw episodes (1000, 25, etc.) feel self-serious, this show felt fun in its best moments. It recalled how ridiculous being a WWE B show has been for the last 19 years.
The Evolution reunion was another moment of silliness that somehow worked. Batista finally received the return reaction he deserved in 2014 and held court in the ring for an extended promo. The reactions of Ric Flair, Triple H, and Randy Orton (who legitimately seemed to be giggling pretty often) made this even better. This was not a super serious reunion. This was joy distilled into pro wrestling nostalgia. Getting serious at the end with Triple H and Batista elevated the moment, but it didn’t take away the fun.
Speaking of great wrestling segments, Edge doing his best Mick Foley promo segment brought some gravity to Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair’s storyline. This was a notable chapter and continued the pseudo-Stone Cold Becky Lynch revival. It’s nice to see Becky getting cheered while saying unforgivable things, but it does make me pause and wonder what happens next.
The only returning legend who truly bored me on this show was Undertaker. Somehow the morally abhorrent Saudi show build has made one of the greatest spectacles in WWE feel utterly pointless. Undertaker’s entrance should be enough for any show, but it was downright boring. The Deadman has been limited in his promo abilities for years, but recycling a line from the night before and saying little else was a new low. I’d be fine with WWE just cancelling the Undertaker and Kane vs. DX feud, never having Shawn Michaels return, and pretending they never produced propaganda for Saudi Arabia’s murderous regime.
The rest of the Smackdown roster felt wedged into a rather mundane show. Sure, The Bar won the tag titles with Big Show’s 1,000th heel turn and Daniel Bryan and A.J. Styles had the standard babyfaces getting ready for a title match tag. It all happened, but it truly showcased how much week-to-week WWE programming doesn’t matter. There are standout moments every once in a while, but WWE TV, even on the 1,000th episode of a show, is constantly reaching new levels of pointlessness.
I’m fine with the mundanity, as long as I know to expect it. At five hours per week, mundane viewing is probably more in line with most people’s schedules. It is not interesting. It is not fun. It is, however, present. As background noise in my life, WWE’s mundanity should be praised. How else would I have written my MFA thesis, accomplished anything as a writer, or figured out how to sleep with background noise?
While this blog is about the joy and mundanity in WWE’s non-serious reunion episode of Smackdown, maybe I should be writing about the joy IN the mundanity of it. I’ve been ignoring WWE weekly TV since the birth of my daughter a month ago and plan to continue doing so, but when I come back, know that I’ll have a new appreciation for the background noise it provides.
Will Pruett writes about wrestling and popular culture at prowrestling.net. Of interest to him are diversity in wrestling and wrestling as a theatrical art form. To see his video content subscribe to his YouTube channel. To contact, check him out on Twitter @itswilltime, leave a comment, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.