In 1999, the WWE decided to add a second weekly television show to their programming due to the success of Monday Night Raw, and thus SmackDown was born. Originally referred to as The Rock's show, owing its namesake to his catchphrase "Lay the smackdown", the show has undergone several changes throughout the years. It's changed networks multiple times, thrived in the early years of the brand extension, switched from Thursday nights to Fridays and back again, and in recent years has struggled to stay relevant due to a lack of big name talent and internet spoilers that often ruin the enjoyment of a pre-taped show.
There have been some memorable SmackDown moments over the years. The "SmackDown Six" of Kurt Angle, Edge, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio, and Chavo and Eddie Guerrero put on some phenomenal matches under the leadership of Paul Heyman, elevating them to superstar status after they had been underutilized on Raw. Smackdown has been home to some of history's greatest matches including TLC III and the unforgettable Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar Iron Man match.
Unfortunately, there have also been many regrettable moments in the show's history. These are moments that we wish we could forget, but stand out as the worst the show had to offer. The fact that SmackDown has been pre-taped for much of its history has kept some of these moments off of television while others were made worse by the timing of their airing. Many of them just make us wonder how these ideas every came to pass.
Here are the 20 Worst Moments in SmackDown History:
20 The Great Khali wins the World Heavyweight Championship
The Great Khali has never been known for his in-ring abilities and in recent years was primarily used for comedic purposes. However, in 2007 the SmackDown writing team thought it was a good idea to give him a main event push. The Great Khali was scheduled to fight Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship at the Great American Bash, but an injury forced Edge to vacate the title and an over the top rope battle royal was held on SmackDown to determine the new champion.
The Great Khali of course won the battle royal over better suited champions like Kurt Angle and Batista, beginning a forgettable title reign that would last all of two months before he dropped the belt to Batista.
19 The Big Show is full of it
During a 2003 SmackDown angle between the Big Show and Eddie Guerrero, Guerrero had burritos that were laced with laxatives sent to the Big Show's locker room. Believing that the burritos were meant for Guerrero, Big Show spit in one and then ate the rest. As a result, Big Show ran out of the ring during a match and to the bathroom where Guerrero had stolen all of the toilet paper. The toilet humor didn't end there though. The angle later featured a segment in which Guerrero rode a septic tank to the ring and proceeded to spray the Big Show with sewage.
18 Natalya’s flatulence
As the daughter of Jim The Anvil Neidhart and niece of Bret The Hitman Hart, Natalya comes from one of wrestling's most respected families and is an extremely talented in-ring performer, yet the WWE decided to give her an embarrassing gimmick. Natalya's character on SmackDown had a gastrointestinal problem that caused her to fart a lot. She'd often break wind during backstage segments, but also did it several times during matches, causing the referee to run out of the ring with his nose plugged. Thankfully, the gimmick was eventually dropped, but the fact that it ever made it to air is not something fans of Smackdown would like to remember.
17 Brock Lesnar pushes Zach Gowen down the stairs
In 2002 Brock Lesnar quickly rose to the top of WWE and in the summer of 2003 he was set for bigger things after turning heel. However, much of Lesnar's time as a heel was initially spent picking on smaller wrestlers, namely Zach Gowen, the first one legged wrestler. Gowen was quickly becoming a fan favorite due to his underdog status and he defeated Lesnar via disqualification after having his one leg "broken. The following week on SmackDown, Lesnar attacked the wheelchair bound Gowen, choked him, and pushed him down a flight of stairs. That's not exactly the type of behavior that would go over in a WWE that now preaches against bullying.
16 Daniel Puder nearly breaks Kurt Angle's arm
During the fourth season of WWE's Tough Enough, Kurt Angle challenged the competitors to a shoot wrestling match on the November 4, 2004 episode of SmackDown. Angle quickly defeated the first opponent before facing off against Daniel Puder. Once the match was taken to the mat, Puder, a trained mix martial artist, quickly put Angle in a Kimura Lock and was on the verge of breaking his arm before referee Jim Korderas reacted with a quick three count, despite Puder's shoulders not being fully pinned. After the two got to their feet, Angle berated Puder for his actions. Puder would go on to win the Tough Enough competition, but was released from his contract after one year.
15 The Big Show's attempted murder of Kurt Angle
In 2004, the Big Show promised to retire if he couldn't win a match against Eddie Guerrero. He lost the match and then accused Torrie Wilson of laughing at him and chased her towards a 20-foot balcony where he threatened to throw her off. Kurt Angle intervened and received a chokeslam off the balcony. The camera then showed Angle lying on the ground with his leg twisted and blood pooling from the back of his head, implying that he was dead. The Big Show then disappeared from television for several months, while Angle was back within two weeks without a scratch on him. Perhaps someone realized that having a wrestler commit murder was not the best of ideas.
14 Kurt Angle tranquilizes Big Show
After the Big Show returned a few months after having tried to murder Kurt Angle, he teamed up with Eddie Guerrero to take on Angle and Luther Reigns in the main event of the September 23, 2004 edition of SmackDown. During the match, Mark Jindrak interfered to help Angle's team, then Angle left the ring and put together a tranquilizer gun which he used to shoot the Big Show before shaving the giant's head. Various weapons, like sledgehammers and 2x4 pieces of lumber, which would kill a person in real life have often been used in wrestling matches, but using a tranquilizer gun was a bit over the top, even for the WWE.
13 Al Wilson's funeral
In the latter part of 2002 and the beginning of 2003, Torrie Wilson began feuding on SmackDown with Dawn Marie after the latter fell in love with the former's father, Al Wilson. Everything about the angle was atrocious, including\\ Dawn Marie marrying Al Wilson with the two of them in their underwear. Things got worse when Al Wilson "died" from a heart attack as a result of too much love making and Dawn Marie and Torrie Wilson brawled at his funeral. The angle was mercifully put to bed a short time later after Torrie Wilson came out as the victor in a Stepmother vs. Stepdaughter match at the 2003 Royal Rumble.
12 JBL's racism
When John Bradshaw Layfield began his push as a main event wrestler, he was put into a feud with Eddie Guerrero. There were a number of things about Guerrero's character that JBL could've targeted to draw heat, like the fact that Guerrero lied, cheated, and stole his way to victories, but he chose to target Guerrero simply for being Mexican. The poorly thought out and racist angle was a terrible idea from start to finish and the height of its stupidity came when they actually aired a SmackDown segment in which JBL went to the Mexican border to chase away a family of "illegals".
11 JR is drafted to SmackDown without being told
Jim Ross is inarguably the greatest wrestling commentator of all time. He's loved and respected by fans across the globe, but the WWE has tried to make him the butt of their jokes on more than one occasion. During the 2008 Draft, JR was drafted from Raw to SmackDown without being given any prior warning that such a move was taking place. He tried to hide his feelings, but anyone watching could tell by his and Jerry Lawler's reactions that JR was not pleased about leaving the program he had called for 12 years. The next day he wrote a blog post in which he stated that he had thought about quitting, but decided to stay on to help Smackdown become wrestling's best show.
10 Piggy James
In 2009 SmackDown featured a disgusting angle between Mickie James and LayCool members Michelle McCool and Layla. LayCool would mock Mickie's weight, referring to her as "Piggy James" and they even dressed in a fat suit to make fun of her. James claims that the angle played an important role in addressing the bullying issue, but the way that it was done made it seem more like the WWE was condoning bullying rather than condemning it. Not surprisingly, the angle did not go over well with the public and it earned a "Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic" award from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
9 Paul Heyman is fired as head writer
As mentioned in the intro, SmackDown's peak years came under the guidance of Paul Heyman. Heyman did fantastic work with the brand's talent in 2002 and 2003 to earn himself two "Booker of the Year" awards from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Yet in 2004 he was unceremoniously fired. Heyman has since stated that he was terminated after being caught listening to a Raw conference call between Stephanie and Vince McMahon and then admitting that he didn't hear much of the meeting because he had fallen asleep. Heyman's departure led to a drop off in the quality of the SmackDown product, one it hasn't yet recovered from.
8 The Big Show's father's funeral
The fact that the Big Show is a part of so many moments on this list is a testament to just how poorly he's been utilized over the years. His worst storyline came in 1999 and featured his "father" dying of cancer. The tasteless angle involved Big Boss Man paying police officers to tell the Big Show that his father had died before he actually did. After his actual "death", a funeral service was held on the November 11th episode of SmackDown and interrupted by the Big Boss Man who attacked the Big Show and then tied his father's casket to a police car and drove off with the Big Show clutching on to the casket. What a great way to commemorate Remembrance/Veterans Day.
7 Randy Orton Invokes Eddie Guerrero's death
After Eddie Guerrero's death on November 13, 2005 the WWE honored one of their most beloved superstars with tribute shows and an induction into the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before they decided to use Guerrero's death for storyline purposes. His long-time friend Rey Mysterio was given a World Heavyweight title push and put in an angle with Randy Orton. On one episode of SmackDown, Orton taunted Mysterio about Guerrero's death yelling, "Eddie ain't in heaven. Eddie's down there, in hell!" The segment crossed the line for a lot of people and the angle was dropped a short time later.
6 Mr. McMahon threatens The Undertaker's Family
In 2003, Mr. McMahon was involved in a feud with The Undertaker that ultimately led to a Buried Alive match at Survivor Series. In the lead up to the event, McMahon cut a scathing promo on the Deadman, telling Paul Heyman on SmackDown that he would have The Undertaker's children kidnapped, his house burned down by terrorists, and his wife "raped by a motorcycle gang right in front of The Undertaker". He then threatened to choke Heyman to death if he didn't put McMahon's plan into action. If that isn't offensive, I don't know what is, but suffice to say, there's no way the WWE would get away with that today.
5 Melina accuses Batista of sexual harassment
This angle featured Melina seducing Batista backstage prior to a match against MNM for the tag team titles. Batista later left the locker room and thanked Melina for the "warm-up" and then went on to win his bout alongside Rey Mysterio. The following week on SmackDown, Melina head a press conference in the ring to announce that she had been sexually harassed by Batista. The point of the angle was to paint Melina as a liar and strengthen Batista's role as a babyface.
This was a disturbing idea as sexual harassment is not something that should be made light of and the angle only would've perpetuated the false belief that women often lie about sexual violence for personal gain. The angle was put to rest shortly after it begun, but not because basic human decency prevailed, but rather because of a Batista injury.
4 Billy and Chuck Don't Get Married
In 2001 Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo formed a tag team. The pair did everything together and it was insinuated that they had a homosexual relationship. Rico became the team's "personal stylist" and eventually Billy and Chuck got engaged. The angle lasted for over a year and drove positive media attention towards the WWE and support from GLAAD. The storyline culminated in a September 12, 2002 episode of Smackdown that was to feature the pair's marriage.
The wedding never went through and the angle ended with Billy and Chuck announcing that the whole thing had been a publicity stunt. Rather than make a positive statement about equality, the WWE made it into a joke and upset GLAAD who felt they had been lied to about the angle.
3 Stephanie McMahon's 9/11 comments
In the aftermath of the tragic September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the WWE aired a special edition of SmackDown that featured various superstars giving testimonials. While most everyone took the moment to talk about American pride and patriotism, Stephanie McMahon chose a different approach. The Billion Dollar Princess compared the attack on America to her father's arrest for steroid distribution, aka an attack on her family. She stated that America would bond together to fight off an attack just like her family had done. At a time when everyone wanted to focus on America's strength, Stephanie chose to focus on the McMahons.
2 Muhammad Hassan's Attack on The Undertaker
The character of Muhammad Hassan debuted in 2004 as an Arab American who was trying to fight back against racial stereotypes in a post 9/11 world. In 2005, Hassan began a feud with The Undertaker and on the July 4th Smackdown taping, Hassan's manager, Daivari, was put in a match against the Deadman. After the bout, Hassan summoned several men in ski masks to attack The Undertaker, and then choked him with piano wire before the masked men carried Daivari away as a martyr.
The airing of the episode coincided with the London bombings and led to a severe backlash from the media and the UPN Network on which the show aired. Hassan ultimately took the fall for the incident, which likely wasn't his idea, and was released from the WWE soon after.
1 Droz's Accident
During the October 5, 1999 SmackDown taping, Darren "Droz" Drozdov was wrestling in a match with D'Lo Brown when Brown tried to execute a running powerbomb. However, Droz was wearing a loose shirt and Brown wasn't able to get a proper grip on him, while Droz was unable to jump properly to aid in the maneuver. As a result, Droz landed on his head and fractured two disks in his neck, leaving him a quadriplegic. He's since regained some movement in his upper body. The match itself was cut out of the SmackDown taping and footage of the bout has never seen the light of day, although the WWE has used footage of Droz leaving the ring on a stretcher in their "Don't Try This at Home" public service announcements..
Droz continued to work for the WWE after the accident and holds no ill-will towards Brown for the incident, but the tragic moment is easily the worst in SmackDown history.