20 YRS AGO – WWE Smackdown Report (3/25/2004): Keller’s report on Triple H naming Kurt Angle new G.M., then trade announcement involving Dudleys and Booker T

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

Kurt Angle undergoes knee surgery
Kurt Angle (art credit Travis Beaven © PWTorch)


The following report originally published 20 years ago this week here at PWTorch.com…

MARCH 25, 2004

-Highlights aired of the Draft Lottery on Raw earlier this week. Michael Cole and Tazz then introduced the show and talked about the lottery.

-Triple H’s music played and he was about to walk out on the Smackdown set, giving us a glimpse of life without the brand separation (i.e. Triple H being the centerpiece of both shows, being talked about in glowing terms by both sets of announcers as if he were the second-coming of Dusty Rhodes). Instead of Hunter, though, Kurt Angle walked out in a suit. Tazz and Cole wondered who had been traded, if anyone, since Monday. Angle began in reserved fashion, almost as if he were about to announce his retirement. He said he knows fans were expecting Triple H, but first there was a pressing issue that needed to be addressed. “Who will be the new general manager of Smackdown?” he said.

He said the new G.M. has been named and is present at the arena. He said this person is someone with class, someone they’re all familiar with, someone who has a last name who is synonymous with pro wrestling. Tazz interjected, “It’s gotta be Stephanie McMahon.” (Suck-up!) Angle added the new G.M. is someone willing to sacrifice for the greater good, then revealed that he was the new G.M. The crowd booed. Tazz said he thought for sure it was going to be Stephanie McMahon. Angle has a hard act to follow since Heyman was so good lately.

Angle said unlike his predecessor, he will not back down from anyone or be intimidated by anyone. He said that’s why when Hunter came up to him earlier in the night and demanded a rematch with Eddie Guerrero on Smackdown for the WWE Title, he looked into his eyes and said, “No.” The crowd booed, revealing they care more about seeing a big World Title match than wanting to see top heel Hunter get knocked out of a title match. Angle said instead he traded Hunter back to Raw. He said he is in this for one reason – to take Smackdown to newer and greater heights. He said he believes the wrestlers he acquired in exchange for Hunter will help him do that. He announced The Dudleys were part of the trade. The Dudleys music then played. The Dudleys needed a new atmosphere because they had become very stale over at Raw. He then introduced Booker T as the other part of the trade. Booker walked out. Cole and Tazz celebrated the trade, saying they’d take Booker and the Dudleys any day. Cole said Booker is in the prime of his career. Tazz said Angle is going to be a great G.M.

Booker shook hands with Angle when he got to the ring. A small “Booker T” chant broke out. Booker said he wished he could say he was excited to be part of Smackdown, but he wasn’t. He said he had no choice in the trade and he didn’t like it. He said he liked wrestling on Raw. He said no disrespect to the fans, but he said the Raw fans appreciated and respected everything he did. He said no disrespect to Angle, but compared to Raw, Smackdown is the minor leagues. The crowd booed. Booker said he walked around the back. He said they’re a bunch of guys with great futures and great bodies, but he’s better than each and every one of them. He said he’s better than the champion Eddie Guerrero, hotter than John Cena, and bigger than the Big Show. “Hell, I’m better than the Undertaker,” he added. He concluded, “What I’m really trying to say is I don’t want to be here.” Angle tried to get Booker to see Smackdown differently. “We’re the major leagues, buddy,” Angle said. He agreed that Booker is a bigger Smackdown than everyone on Smackdown. “That’s why I traded for you in the first place,” he said, adding that the Raw fans do appreciate him. He said it’s true that the weakness of Smackdown is that the Smackdown fans don’t appreciate great athletes. He said he knows first-hand. Angle told Booker that he’ll like it here because they can change things together. Angle asked the fans to give Booker a warm welcome. Booker shook hands with Angle and walked away. Cole said on Smackdown you have to earn the respect of your peers and the Smackdown fans.

That was one of Booker’s best promos. He had focus, he was given something to talk about, and he delivered the message believably. I like the potential of how they’re positioning this, too. It’s easy to criticize the angle as demeaning the Smackdown brand, but as much as Vince McMahon has a softspot for Raw because of its longer history, he obviously isn’t booking this angle as a way to hurt Smackdown. He’s positioning Booker this way to further establish the split between the two brands and establish Booker as a heel. The angle actually should foster loyalty to the Smackdown brand without hurting Raw’s popularity. WWE, though, has to walk a fine line here because they don’t want to foster such passionate either/or loyalty to one brand over the other that fans intentionally skip supporting one brand out of loyalty to the other. That’s a challenge they still have yet to clearly address. So while the Booker angle is dangerous, it’s an angle to get Booker over as a heel, not to make Smackdown seem like something not worth fans’ time. This gives Smackdown babyfaces something to prove. Those who have wanted to see Booker get a main event level push, he’s getting it now. He’s the top choice right now to fill the shoes of Brock Lesnar.

[Commercial Break]

-Clips aired of the Smackdown wrestlers on last week’s European tour.

-A soundbite aired with Rob Van Dam saying he is “stoked to be part of Smackdown.” He told fans to get used to referring to him as “Mr. Thursday Night” from now on.


Cole referred to RVD as a high-profile acquisition for Smackdown. Cole said Haas is looking forward to being a singles wrestler on Smackdown. Haas would benefit from having a manager. Cole and Tazz talked more about Booker’s heel promo. They hadn’t done a good job at this point of anticipating the possibility of other trade announcements. Given how well Raw did on Monday because of the draft, I’m surprised they didn’t do a better job early on of selling the possibility of a show full of major announcements.

WINNER: RVD at 6:16 with a small package.

STAR RATING: *1/2 — Not particularly flashy or intense, but solid action. RVD scored a near fall after his Rolling Thunder, but he never hit the Five-Star. Haas attempted a pin with his feet on the ropes, but the ref stopped the count when he noticed. RVD then small packaged a complaining Haas for the win. It’s interesting that they didn’t give RVD a clean win over Haas. That’s not an indictment of RVD as much as it’s a way of saying they want to establish Haas as being a legitimate singles competitor. Haas is being protected.

[Commercial Break]

-Cole and Tazz thanked the Raw fans for their hospitality on Monday night. They talked about all of the talent Smackdown still has to go with the new names.


Dupree brought his nicely groomed white poodle to the ring with him. I’ll again reiterated that life on the road with wrestlers for a dog has historically been a terrible life, so I hope somebody who cares is overseeing the treatment of the dog during the travels. Dupree unfortunately is still using the same gimmick as he was as part of the opening-match La Resistance act. He’ll have to rise above the one dimensional gimmick. Tazz said his asset is potential. Cole said there are no cruiserweights on Raw, so Dupree has to adjust to the cruiserweight style of Kidman. Dupree did his French Tickler dance, which belongs in the Rick “The Model” Martel era of WWE, not today’s New Style WWE – that is assuming WWE has plans for Dupree to go higher than Scotty 2 Hotty as a draw. Kidman mocked Dupree’s dance and made a comeback, but Dupree quickly powerslammed Kidman for a near fall. Kidman fired back with a big dropkick. Dupree seemed to get winded wrestling singles. He won with a modified sitout powerbomb.

WINNER: Dupree at 3:38.


-As Dupree waved the French flag, John Cena’s music interrupted. Cena walked out. Cena introduced Dupree to Tazz, calling him “a thug,” and then Cole, saying he “is gay.” Cena told Dupree not to go anywhere near a bathroom after Big Show has been in there. He told Dupree to keep his eyes off his equipment no matter how bad he wants it. He said his chain ain’t for yanking. He then tosseed him a bag of nuts and told Dupree to “choke on these nuts.” Cole said it’s a whole different world here.

[Commercial Break]

-As Josh Matthews interviewed Scotty 2 Hotty & Rikishi about their thoughts on Heyman’s departure, Teddy Long interrupted and offered his services to them.

-Eddie Guerrero shook hands with Orlando Jordan, Shannon Moore, RVD, Rey Mysterio, Funaki, Spike Dudley, and finally Booker T. Guerrero mocked Booker’s “five time, five time” catch phrase. He told him he loved his “twirling around sidekick” (it’s actually a wheel kick, but…). Eddie told Booker he’s going to love it around there. Booker said he doesn’t need anyone to watch his back. Booker told Guerrero he is the champion of the minor leagues. “You didn’t insult every WWE superstar that has held this title, have you?” said Guerrero. “You didn’t just do that, all the family and boys who have sweated and bled and sacrificed everything they have to make this Smackdown show what it’s all about?” Booker spit on the floor and told him to “consider himself insulted.” Guerrero tackled Booker against the wall, and the rest of the wrestler promptly separated them.

[Commercial Break]


Bubba got a hot-tag at 4:00, then the Bashams took control with some double-teaming. The Dudleys fought back and hit the 3D for the win.

WINNER: The Dudleys at 6:34.

STAR RATING: *1/4 — Basic stuff.

-Booker asked Angle what he was going to do to retalliate against Guerrero for attacking him in the locker room. Angle said by the end of the night, Guerrero will be respecting him as the new WWE Champion. Angle said he was going to make Eddie defend the title against hi later.

[Commercial Break]

4 — CHAVO GUERRERO JR. vs. SPIKE DUDLEY – Cruiserweight Title match

Bubba and D-Von remained at ringside to cheer on Spike. Cole and Tazz talked about Spike having to adjust to facing Cruiserweights instead of Raw’s heavyweights. Good back-and-forth opening few minutes. Spike leaped onto Chavo’s chest feet-first for a near fall at 3:00. Chavo lifted Spike for his Gory Bomb, but Spike reversed it and scored a near fall on Chavo at 3:45. Chavo side-stepped Spike’s missile dropkick off the ropes. He followed up with a backbreaker for the clean pin.

WINNER: Chavo Jr. at 4:18 to retain the Cruiserweight Title.

STAR RATING: *1/4 — Very short, but good action. That’s not exactly how I would have booked Spike’s debut in the Cruiserweight Division since he’s the freshest face they have to liven up the division. Cole said Spike has nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re a wrestler and an announcer says that about you, you know you’re in trouble.

[Commercial Break]

-A recap aired for the departure of Faarooq with Bradshaw failing to stand by his partner.

-Bradshaw came out with his new gimmick dressed up in a suit and a cowboy hat. He explained that he was going to use the change in G.M. to try to get Faarooq his job back, but instead he decided it would be better to focus on his career. He said he is now to be known as John “Bradshaw” Layfield. He talked about how he has succeeded in ways the fans never will because unlike him, they’re too afraid of failure to even try. He said his portfolio has outperformed the market seven of the last seven years. He talked about his Fox News commentator position, his financial advice book, and his pending book on how to strengthen America (that should be good considering his thoughtful advice after 9-11 was to “turn the Middle East into a parking lot,” as if killing millions of innocent civilians while the terrorists hid in their isolated caves would help keep America safe). He gave perhaps his best promo ever, but went on and on a bit too long. Quite a bit too long. But it was a good heel promo otherwise. He said he had been sidetracked by wanting to have a good time and drink beer, but now he was going to get serious about his wrestling career.

[Commercial Break]

-Hardcore Holly confronted Booker T backstage about his comments about Smackdown being the interior brand. He said after Guerrero took care of him, there was a locker room full of Smackdown wrestlers ready to take him on and show him Smackdown wasn’t minor league.

-The ring introductions took place for the main event.

[Commercial Break]

5 — EDDIE GUERRERO vs. BOOKER T – WWE Hvt. Title match

The opening minutes were back and forth, with Guerrero delivering early offense, then Booker coming back. They exchanged chinlocks. They cut to a break just as Booker sent Guerrero over the top rope to the floor at 6:00.

[Commercial Break]

After the break, Booker got Guerrero in a sleeper. Guerrero escaped and went to the top rope. Booker suplexed him to the mat for a two count. Booker hit sidewalk slam for another two count. Booker went back to a chinlock. Booker needs to learnn learn a new mat hold. It’s 2004, not 1984, and mat holds have to be more interesting than chinlocks, headlocks, and armbars. Tazz and Cole did their best to make the chinlock seem interesting. Booker choked Guerrero over the middle rope, then threw some chops. Guerrero came back out of nowhere with chops of his own. He took Booker down with two clotheslines at 14:00 followed by a head scissors takeover. Guerrero then went for his suplex series, but Booker escaped and hit the Book End for a two count. Booker fired back with a superkick for a near fall at 15:30. Guerrero avoided a scissors kick and then gave Booker his triple vertical suplex series followed by a celebratory wiggle dance Norman Smiley style. Guerrero followed with a frog splash. When he went for the cover, Bradshaw interfered. He

WINNER: Guerrero via DQ at 16:30.

STAR RATING: *** — A decent three star match, but it didn’t feel great if that’s the best Smackdown has to offer now. I was surprised they gave away a match they should have built anticipation for instead. Throwing it on TV right away actually cheapened the impact it could have had. It just felt like a 2002 mid-card match shoved into the main event due to a lack of options, which is what Smackdown should be avoiding right now.

RECOMMENDED NEXT: 20 YRS AGO – WWE Raw Results (2/22/2004): Eddie Guerrero vs Triple H for WWE Title, plus Jericho, Ric Flair, Batisa, Kane, RVD, Booker T, Heyman, Biscoff

OR CHECK THIS OUT AT PROWRESTLING.NET: Becky Lynch on what’s left to accomplish, the pressure of living up to the expectations for her WrestleMania XL match with Rhea Ripley, taking pride in the growth of women’s wrestling

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