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WWF Smackdown 1/4/2001

Written by: Adam King

WWF SMACKDOWN
Thursday, January 4th, 2001

Taped (12/30) at the Freeman Colliseum in San Antonio, TX

List of WWF Champions at the time:
●  WWF World Heavyweight Champion: Kurt Angle (10/22/2000)
●  WWF Intercontinental Champion: Chris Benoit (12/10/2000)
●  WWF World Tag Team Champions: Edge & Christian (12/21/2000)
●  WWF European Champion: William Regal (12/04/2000)
●  WWF Hardcore Champion: Raven (12/25/2000)
●  WWF Women’s Champion: Ivory (11/02/2000)
●  WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Dean Malenko (4/27/2000)

Smackdown comes on the air with highlights of Steve Austin’s on-going war with Stephanie McMahon on Raw. We specially get clips of Stephanie cheating Austin out of his match and costing him a shot at the #1 contendership. We then get a shot of Austin walking into the parking lot and pacing, perhaps waiting for Stephanie to arrive. Uh-oh!

~ We then go to the intro with Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler welcoming us to the show. Tonight The Undertaker, Kane and William Regal do battle for a shot at Kurt Angle and the WWF Title on Raw. And the WWF Champion himself is in action as Angle meets The Rock. Must be non-title since it’s on free TV. The annoucners also fear for Stephanie’s safety once she arrives as Austin can’t be in a good mood after Monday.

~ Things kicks off with Chris Jericho making his way to the ring and we’re going to open the show with a match. Jericho first gets on the mic and talks about winning the Intercontinential Title here on the first Smackdown of 2001. Jericho claims if Lt. Commissioner Debra didn’t give him this title shot tonight he wouldn’t be here in San Antonio, just like Chris Benoit wouldn’t be here either if “old lady Benoit” didn’t forget to take her birth control pills. Jericho gets cut off by Benoit’s intro as Benoit comes out to the stage and looks to offer a counterpoint on the mic. Benoit mentions how Jericho is always telling people to shut up then suggests that he may want to take his own advice, that the puppets in the crowd may eat up all his funny pictures and catchphrases but it does nothing for him. Benoit claims he and Jericho have a routine where Jericho does his funny insults while he responds by beating him up. Benoit wraps up by saying it may be a new year but Jericho will never prove him wrong and the match is on.

  • WWF Intercontinential Title: Chris Benoit © vs. Chris Jericho

So just like that Jericho is back to feuding with the Radicalz. Both men exchange punches and Benoit gets the advantage but Jericho comes back with a Dragon legwhip. Jericho wails away on Benoit and goes for a whip, Benoit reverses it but Jericho hits a forearm to the head. Jericho works Benoit over with chops and goes for a whip, Benoit reverses him into a corner but eats an elbow. Jericho comes out but Benoit catches him with a back suplex then hits an elbowdrop and gets in his own chops. Benoit whips Jericho and htis an elbow then whips him into an elbow and gets him down for the Crossface but Jericho quickly grabs the bottom rope> Jericho grabs Benoit in a waistlock when Benoit goes for the crossface again but Jericho counters it. Jericho takes Benoit down looking for the Walls of Jericho when Benoit kicks him into a corner but Jericho comes out with a clothesline. Benoit goes for a whip but Jericho reverses it and hits the bulldog for two. Jericho whips Benoit and knocks him down with an elbow then goes for the Lionsault but Benoit avoids it. Benoit plants Jericho with a German suplex then holds on for second German suplex but Jericho blocks it. Benoit clubs Jericho and tries the German again but Jericho rolls through it and takes Benoit down by the legs. Jericho tries to turn Benoit in the Walls of Jericho when Perry Saturn runs in and attacks Jericho for a DQ! (2:43) Yep, they gave a Benoit/Jericho match only three minutes. That just seems wrong for some reason. **

Jericho dukes it out with Saturn but Benoit nails Jericho from behind and the Radicals double-team him while Dean Malenko watches this from the apron. Suddenly the Hardys run in and clear Benoit and Saturn from the ring then Lita joins them in the ring as the Radicals walk back up the ramp with Benoit still holding the gold.

~ Backstage we find a limo pulling into the garage but instead of Stephanie it’s William Regal who climbs out. Regal is on a cellphone talking to Stephanie as he looks around for Steve Austin then reports there’s no sign of him so he assumes Austin isn’t anywhere to be found. Regal thanks Stephanie for the limo and says that he’ll see her later then hangs up the phone but two seconds later Austin flies into the frame and spears Regal on the hood of his limo. Austin wails away on Regal and rams him into the hood several times as the limo driver makes a quick escape. Austin climbs into the driver’s seat and backs the limo up with Regal still on the hood trying in vain to beg him off. Austin pays him no heed and shoots the limo forward right into a pile of boxes, sending Regal flying off the hood into the pile. Austin rams the pile with limo the several more times then climbs out and continues hammering Regal with his fists. Austin grabs a pipe and clubs Regal with it as the referees finally appear on the scene to try and break this carnage up. The referees order Austin back but it’s far too late for Regal who’s down and bleeding as we go to commercial. Now if it was anyone else then everyone would scream about the attempted vehicular manslaugher we just witnessed. But since it’s Austin I guess that makes it okay and the fans are even cheering his name. Wrestling logic at its finest.

~ Back form break we get a replay of Austin attacking Regal with his own limo and finishing the job with a pipe. We then see Sgt. Slaughter and some referees tending to the injured Regal as the EMT’s bring in an ambulance. Cole and Lawler feel this is simply a sample of what Austin has planned for Stephanie once she arrives at the building. Don’t they care that Regal could be too injured to participate in the big #1 contender’s match later? I guess not.

  • The Dudley Boyz vs. Bull Buchanan & The Goodfather (w/Steven Richards) – #1 Contender’s Match

The winners get a tag title shot at the Royal Rumble. Edge & Christian come out to join the commentary and mention how they beat the “Deliverance Boys” 37,742 times as the Dudleys have words with them. All four guys duke it out to start and Bubba tosses Buchanan through the ropes then heads out to the corner. D’Von goes to whip Goodfather but Goodfather reverses it and hits a shoulderblock followed by a clothesline. Buchanan tags in and whips D’Von when D’Von hits a crossbody for a two then pops Richards off the apron. Buchanan tosses D’von over the ropes then distracts the referee while Goodfather whips him into the steps. Goodfather tosses D’Von back in the ring and Buchanan follows it up with a clothesline that gets a near fall. Goodfather tags in and slams D’Von then follows up with a legdrop and covers him but Bubba makes the save. Buchanan tags in and hits a running powerslam then charges at D’Von in a corner but D’Von sidesteps him and hits a neckbreaker. D’Von reaches his corner and makes the tag to Bubba who comes in with a clothesline. Bubba hits another clothesline and decks Goodfather on the apron then plants Buchanan with a sideswalk slam. Bubba covers Buchanan as Goodfather tries to save it with an elbwodrop but ends up hitting his own partner. Bubba sets Goodfather on his shoulders while D’Von climbs to the top rope and hits the Dudleyville Device. The Dudleys clothesline Buchanan over the ropes and look to finish this when E&C decide it’s time for a run-in. The Dudleys whip Goodfather looking to hit a 3D when E&C pull Goodfather out to the floor to prevent it. However Richards goes and aruges with E&C about the intrusion while E&C insist they were saving Goodfather. Buchanan is back in and goes to whip D’Von but D’Von reverses it and the Dudleys hit the 3D for the victory. (3:34) The Dudleys get another title shot at E&C and we finally get our first match booked for the Royal Rumble. The match actually wasn’t too bad and it had a clean finish. 

Edge hops on the apron but Bubba knocks him off with a right then pulls Chrsitian in the ring by the hair. Bubba sets Christian up while D’Von climbs to the top rope for the “Wassup” but Buchanan shoves him off. Goofather nails Bubba from behind and hits a crescent kick before Christian follows it up with the Tomikaze. Edge takes D’Von out with the Edge-o-matic and the tag champs leave their pay-per-view opponents laying.

~ Backstage we find William Regal being loaded into an ambulance with Sgt. Slaughter deciding to go with him. The amublance then drives off and it looks like Regal’s participation in the #1 contender’s match later is not likely. Of course the announcers are wondering if this same fate could possibly await Stephanie as we go to commercial.

~ Back from break Steve Austin is waiting for Stephanie when Debra comes up to try and talk some sense into him, telling him he’s way out of control and if he attacks Stephanie he’ll lose his job and possibly even go to jail. Debra pleads with Austin to use his head but Austin refuses to even listen to his wife and continues waiting.

~ Back in the arena Lawler is fearing for Stephanie’s safety while Cole hypes tonight’s Rock/Kurt Angle confrontation, saying Rock demanded the match (which is non-title) after Angle cost him his shot at the WWF Championship on Raw after Angle helped Kane beat him.

~ Backstage Kevin Kelly interviews The Rock who’s serious about tonight since he doesn’t even do his “Finally” bit. Rock congradulates Kurt Angle on costing him the one thing he fights and breathes for, a shot at the WWF Title. Rock then mentions there’s more than one way to get a title shot and starts talking about the upcoming Royal Rumble, how he’s going to fight and claw his way through 29 other men and doesn’t care if he’s #1 or #30, he’s going to win the Rumble then go on to become WWF Champion again at Wrestlemania. Rock says Angle may have made sure he wouldn’t face him for the title next week but he’ll still have to face him tonight and for one night only he’s not concerned with the WWF Title, he just wants give Angle the beating of a lifetime. Rock says Angle made it personal so he’s going to beat him up all over San Antonio, if ya smell and you know the rest.

~ Today’s Royal Rumble replay is the four seconds Jerry Lawler was in the 1997 Rumble thanks to Bret Hart.

  • The Rock vs. Kurt Angle © – Non-Title Match

When a world champion is in a non-title match with a big name usually it means he’s getting pinned tonight. Angle is out first but gets on the mic and calls Rock a crybaby just like all the loud “yahoos” in San Antonio. Angle clams he wasn’t going to interefe in the match on Monday, he was just out there scouting the opposition while Rock was the one who put his hands on him and he just retaliated so what happened is Rock’s fault. Angle adds the people here may remember the Alamo but also forget how to hold a job or use a toothbrush. Angle tells Rock if he has a problem with him to “just bring it” and he even does the hand motion on top of it. Angle goes out to meet Rock on the ramp but Rock gets in the first shots and pounds him down to ringside. Rock tosses Angle in the ring but Angle stomps away at him as he comes in and works him over in a corner. Angle goes for a whip but Rock reverses him into a corner and clotheslines him then lays the boots to him. Rock goes for a whip when Angle reverses it and hits an elbow but Rock comes back and hits a Samoan Drop. Rock goes for a whip but Angle counters it into a belly-to-belly suplex then chokes Rock on the middle rope. Angle follows up with a suplex for a two count and Rock again fights back but Angle rakes the face to stop it. Angle goes for a whip, Rock reverses it and Angle kicks the face but Rock tosses him over the ropes in turn. Rock goes out and rams Angle into the announce table repeatedly as the referee tries to get them in the ring. Rock sets Angle up for a Rock Bottom through the table and Angle fights out of it when the table collapses. Both men try to get back to their feet but Angle is up and plants Rock with an Olympic Slam onto the floor.

Angle crawls back in the ring to catch his breath while the Rock is down as the referee begins the 10 count. Rock starts to stir so Angle goes out to punish him some more instead of just accepting a countout victory. Angle tosses Rock back in the ring then climbs to the top rope and connects with a missile dropkick(!!) but that only gets a two count. Angle argues with the referee but that allows Rock to get back to his feet and Rock wails on Angle. Rock goes for a whip but Angle reverses it and both men end up clotheslining each other. The referee begins the count but both men get to their feet with Rock getting in his shots and Angle responding. Angle comes off the ropes but Rock hits a belly-to-belly suplex then works him over and hits the Smackdown. The referee orders Rock back but Rock shoves him then kicks Angle below the belt … yet there’s no DQ called. Rock hits a spinebuster and readies for the People’s Elbow…but goes out and brings a chair in the ring instead. The referee takes the chair away and Rock argues with him then turns and plants Angle with a Rock Bottom. Rock again grabs the chair and again the referee takes it away so Rock takes him out with a Rock Bottom two. A second referee comes in but he eats a Rock Bottom as well and Rock scares away the others with the chair. Rock waffles Angle with the chair then then grabs Angle’s title belt and poses with it as if he’s WWF Champion. After doing his posing Rock drapes the title over Angle’s fallen form and departs and I guess that’s the match. (8:46) It was actually a good match until the bizarre non-finish. I guess they couldn’t job both guys, especially Angle since he has that big title defense on Monday. ***

~ We get a shot of Steve Austin still anxiously awating Stephanie’s arrival as we to commercial.

~ Back form break we see limo arriving at the building and the annnouncers figure it must be Stephanie. Austin comes up to open the door but finds it locked so he demands Stephanie come out of the limo and face him. Stephanie comes out the other door and tries to flee from Austin who stalks after her while saying her rear is his now. Stephanie pleads with Austin as she tries to keep her distance but Austin is dead set on making her pay for Monday. A security guy tries to stand in Austin’s way but Austin beats him down then continues storming after Stephanie.

We cut to the arena as Stephanie emerges on the stage and heads down the ramp just as Austin’s music starts playing. Stephanie backs into the ring apron and is frozen in fear as Austin grabs her by the hair and throws her in the ring. Stephanie is cowering on her knees as Austin grabs a mic and reminds her what he said about not playing her games. Austin threatens to teach Stephanie how to listen to him but gets interupted as Vince McMahon puts in an appearence. Vince and Austin stare daggers at each other as Vince comes in the ring and stands in-between him and Stephanie. Vince grabs a mic and tells Austin that this his obsession with becoming WWF Champion has made him a raving lunatic. Vince says Stephanie may have gotten carried away on Monday but feels that’s no reason to want to do her any harm. Vince tells Austin that he won’t harm a hair on Stephanie’s head because he can give him what it is he wants tonight. Vince offers to change the record to say his loss to William Regal never happened, that Regal was disqualifed and as a result Austin would advance to meet The Undertaker and Kane in the #1 contender’s match later on. Vince adds that should Austin win that match he would get the title shot he’s been looking for this Monday on Raw. Vince offers to do all this for Austin right here on the condition that he agrees not to harm Stephanie in any capacity. Vince also warns Austin if he doesn’t accept then he’ll be put through more pain than they’ve been through in the past. Austin responds by calling Vince a j*****s for making him choose between revenge on Stephanie or a title shot but eventually agrees not to harm “Daddy’s Little Girl” so apparenlty Austin gets in the contender’s match after all. Austin then points out that Vince said noting about himself before laying him out with the Stunner just like old times. Austin has some parting words for Stephanie then grabs some beers and heads out as we go to commercial. This whole segment only took 10 minutes and was pretty effective since Vince got to the point without his long-winded rambling.

~ Back from break we get a replay of Vince barganing with Austin for Stephanie’s safety and getting a Stunner for it. We then find Stephanie backstage tending to Vince who’s hurting but says he’ll feel better by the end of the night because he’s decided that the triple-threat match needs a special troubleshooting referee who’s last name his McMahon. Stephanie feels Vince is talking about her but Vince says he will be the troubleshooter and Stephanie calls him a genius.

  • Matt Hardy & Lita (w/Jeff Hardy) vs. Perry Saturn & Terri Runnels (w/Dean Malenko) – Intergender Match

Matt clotheslines Saturn during Terri’s posing then takes a swipe at Malenko who backs off the apron. Lita grabs Terri by the hair when Saturn grabs Liat by the hair but Matt saves her and wails away on Saturn. Saturn comes back with headbutts and applies a headlock, Matt shoves him away but eats a shoulderblock. Saturn comes off the ropes and blocks a hiptss but Matt whips him into a corner and rams him into the buckle. Matt hops to the middle rope when Malenko grabs his ankle and Matt fights him off. Matt then leaps at Saturn but Saturn catches him and rams him into the buckles then shoulderblocks him and drops him with a pair of rights. Matt fights back and goes for a whip but Saturn hits a Death Valley Driver (or “what a slam” if you’re Cole). Saturn tags Terri and holds Matt as Terri goes for a kick but Matt escapes and Saturn gets hit below the belt. Lita gets the tag and takes Saturn out with a top rope huricanrana before Matt clotheslines him over the ropes. Matt leaves Lita in the ring alone with Terri who tries to flee through the ropes but Lita cuts her off and slams her. Lita spears Terri and hits the Twist of Fate then covers but Malenko pulls her out to the floor and kisses her. Lita slaps Malenko and Jeff nails him from behind but Saturn ducks Jeff and this match is breaking down now. Saturn rams Jeff into the announce table when Matt climbs to the top rope and takes him out with a plancha. In the ring Lita connects with the moonsault on Terri and covers but the referee is busy keeping Saturn back. Malenko comes in and DDTs Lita then heads out while Terri drapes an arm over Lita for the cheap pin. (3:22) Well that was a trainwreck. *

~ Backstage Lillian Garcia interviews Kane on facing Undertaker and Steve Austin for a chance at the WWF title. Kane says there’s nothing he won’t sacrifice and no man who’ll get in his way of what he’s waited for, a chance. Kane mentions how through his whole life people laughed at him, stared and pointed at him and called him a freak, but now he’s going to punish Austin and Taker tonight for a chance to tell those people that he’s their WWF Champion.

~ Back from break Cole and Lawler hype the upcoming debut of the XFL which is just one month away and mention tickets for the inagural XFL weekend go on sale this Saturday. Get excited, people!

  • “The One” Billy Gunn vs. Val Venis (w/Steven Richards & Ivory)

Will this be the night Billy finally avenges Chyna getting taken out by the RTC? Val bails out of the ring as Billy chases him but Val heads back in first and stomps Billy as he comes in. Val stomps BIlly down in a corner and chokes him with his boot as Richards adds in some words from the floor. Billy comes back with a clothesline then whips Val and hits an elbow and the Rocker Dropper … but gets two! I could have sworn that was his finisher. Billy whips Val and tosses him over the ropes then goes out and press slams him face-first onto the barrier. Billy then goes for a whip but Val reverses him into the steps and Billy is holding his knee as Val kicks at it. Val rolls Billy back in the ring and Billy drills him with a DDT but can’t capitalize because of his hurting knee. Both men are up and Billy gets in a shot then whips Val and hits a powerslam and a tilt-o-whirl slam for a two. Billy whips Val into a corner but Val boots him and rolls him up with his feet on the rope but the referee sees it. Billy plants Val with the cobra clutch slam and covers him but Ivory distracts the referee from counting the pin. Richards goes in and nails Billy with a Stevenkick then heads out and Val is able to get the cheap pin. (3:21) And thus Billy gets denied his vengeance once again. This feud just seems to never want to end, does it? DUD

Richards tends to Val on the floor while Ivory celebrates when Billy grabs her and brings her in the ring and sets her up for a piledriver. Before Billy can hit it Richards breaks it up so Billy turns and decks him with a right then clotheslines him over the ropes.

~ Backstage Vince asks Stephanie to get him some painkillers since his neck is still bothering him from the Stunner. Vince also asks Stephanie to have the sleeves cut out of a referee shirt, feeling he can’t wear a shirt with sleeves.

~ Back from break we get a series of clips showing what an out-of-control night this show has become, such as Austin taking William Regal out with a limo and taking his spot in the #1 contender’s match as a result as well as Rock taking out a pair of referees who didn’t really do anything except stop him from using a chair. Which only goes to show that Rock and Austin can perform all he henious acts they want with no reprecussions.

~ Backstage we find Vince getting a massage from Trish Stratus as they talk about how their holidays went when Stephanie comes back with the referee shirt and isn’t too thrilled with Trish hanging out with her father again. Trish claims she really came to see Stephanie and asks if she’s pleased with what she did to Test on Monday. Stephanie suggests that Trish please leave and Trish heads out but not before thanking Vince for some sort of favor. Stephanie asks Vince what that was about but Vince just says it’s a personal favor and Stephanie doesn’t like it.

~ Elsewhere Johnathan Coachman interviews The Undertaker for his thoughts about the big main event still to come. Coach asks if Vince’s involvement is a roadblock but Taker says the only thing in his way is space and oppertunity. Taker says Austin and Kane could win the title at anytime and with Vince thrown in the mix who knows what will happen. Taker says he’s going to do whatever it takes to get his WWF title shot and if he has to mess them up, then so be it. Taker says he’s seen many things during his 10 years in the WWF and anyone who’s jumped in his yeard regretted it. Taker dares Austin, Kane and even Vince to jump in his yard but if any of them try him then he’ll make them famous.

~ We then get a shot of Austin lacing up the boots for the main event as we go to commercial.

~ Back Stephanie demands Vince tell her why Trish is hanging around him so much but Vince tries to cal her down since they need to concentrate on him being the troubleshooting referee.

  • Test vs. Albert (w/Trish Stratus)

Test makes his way to the ring anxious to beat up his former partner. Albert and Trish then appear on the stage but Trish first gets on the mic and says that she got tired of carrying Test’s dead weight around. Trish says she knows Test wants Albert but Vince granted her a favor and she and Albert have the night off. Trish then informs Test that he’ll be facing Rikishi instead and Test is less than thrilled with this surprise.

  • Test vs. Rikishi

Test has words with Trish and Albert when Rikishi goes for the running butt splash but Test is able to dodge it and get in the first shots. Test comes off the ropes with a clothesline then stomps Rikishi down in a corner. Albert taunts Test who lunges at him then Test whips Rikishi but Rikishi comes back with a belly-to-belly suplex. Rikishi connects with the massive legdrop and stomps Test down in a corner. Rikishi whips Test but lowers the head, Test goes for a Sunset Flip and can’t get Rikishi over when Rikishi goes for the sit-down splash but misses it. Test fights back and comes off the ropes with the big boot then goes out after Trish on the floor and grabs her. Albert saves The then charges at Test for the Avalanche but runs into the ringpost and eats a clothesline. Test climbs to the top rope and hits Rikishi with a flying elbow that gets a two count. Test goes for the ropes when Trish grabs his ankle so Test grabs her by the hair but Albert pulls Trish away. Test goes for a whip but Rikishi reverses into a Samoan Drop then hits the sit-down splash and that’s that. (2:43) Eh, I’ve seen worse. *

Albert and Trish then climb in the ring and Albert has some words for Test before hitting the chokebomb. Albert then tells Rikishi to finish Test off so Rikishi climbs up the ropes and hits the Banzai Drop on Test.

~ The participants for the main event are shown heading to the ring as we go to commercial.

  • Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Kane vs. The Undertaker – #1 Contender’s Match

The first man to score the pinfall or submission will meet Kurt Angle for the WWF Championship on Raw. Vince makes his out first to serve as the troubleshooting referee wearing his usual sleeveless striped shirt. Taker and Kane are out next and start going at it to jumpstart the match as Austin makes his way to the ring. Austin takes it to both brothers at first but Taker hits a shot to the throat to stop that. Taker and Kane double-team Austin then whip him and hit a double-elbow before going back to fighting each other while Austin is down. Taker goes for a whip but Kane reverses and connects with a big boot. Kane clotheslines Taker over the ropes but Austin is back up and hammers away at Kane when Kane regains the advantage as Vince looks on from ringside. Kane goes for a whip but Austin reverses it and hits the Thesz Press then wails away on Kane with right hands. Austin then looks to add in the elbowdrop but Taker pulls him out to the floor and rams him into the steps. Kane goes out and scoops Taker onto his shoulders but Taker slips out and shoves Kane into the ringpost. Taker follows up with a clothesline on Kane but Austin pounds on Taker before tossing him back in the ring. Austin whips Taker and hits him with the Thesz Press then unloads on him and this time hits the elbowdrop. Taker nails Austin with a boot while Kane climbs to the top rope and hits Taker with the flying clothesline. Kane stomps Austin out to the floor then whips Taker but lowers the head and Taker comes back with a DDT. Taker sets Kane up for the Last Ride when Ausitn tries to make the save with a clothesline and Taker ducks it but Earl Hebner gets nailed instead. Kane nails Taker below the belt then tosses him through the ropes but Austin takes him out with the Stunner. Austin covers Kane as Vince doesn’t know what to do. Referee Tim White comes in to count the pinfall but Vince pulls him out and orders him to check on Hebner then counts the pin himself but only gets two. Austin yells at Vince for not counting for him immediately but Taker comes back in and nails Austin from behind. Taker works Austin over then whips him hard into a corner and he has some words of warning for Vince as well. Austin manages to fight back and whips Taker but Taker comes back with the chokeslam. Taker chokeslams Kane as well then turns toward Austin… but wouldn’t you know it Rikishi is coming out now. Taker sets Austin up for the Last Ride but Rikishi climbs in and nails Taker with a superkick to break it up. Cole says this match supposedly has no disqualifications. Serious, you guys tell just us this now? Taker fights back and takes Rikishi out with a chokeslam but Austin is back up and nails Taker with the Stunner. Austin covers Taker as Vince moves in and counts 1..2…3!! Vince actually counted a pinfall for Austin!!! (5:33) Austin gets the win and his title shot but is surprised (along with everyone else) that Vince counted the pin. Okay main event but a little too short, plus once Austin was added to the match you had a feeling who was moving on. You just probably didn’t expect they way it went down, though. **

Austin glares out at Vince who backs away while holding up three fingers to confirm it was a three count. Austin finally gets his shot at the WWF Championship this Monday but why would Vince take him there? That’s the mystery as the show goes off the air.

Conclusion: Okay but unmemorable episode of Smackdown that seemed mainly focused on buildng up Raw with a little build for the Royal Rumble. The in-ring action was decent for the most part with a good Rock/Angle match that needed an actual finish. However once again the McMahons and Austin dominated the focus of the show with their issues as well as Stephanie’s developing feud with Trish. Not to mention a Benoit/Jericho match that criminally got cut short, the Rock/Angle match not having a real ending and a just-okay main event with a somewhat surprising finish. So thumbs in the middle for this one.

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