WWE's SmackDown! Premiered Seventeen Years Ago Today

Seventeen years ago, the wrestling landscape was far more different. Not just from who occupies [...]

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Seventeen years ago, the wrestling landscape was far more different. Not just from who occupies the roster, but the rivalry between WCW and the then-WWF was still going strong. To increase their viewership, WCW had started Thursday Night Thunder each week. In a form of retaliation as WCW did to counter Monday Night Raw with Nitro, WWE premiered SmackDown! on UPN on this day in 1999.

The card for the first episode was stacked which included three title matches for the Hardcore Championship, Tag Team Championship, and WWE Championship, that featured a cameo by future Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels. Michaels would go on to "screw" the Rock out of the championship and wouldn't be seen til May 2000 at the Judgement Day pay-per-view, where he would special guest referee yet another title match between Triple H and the Rock.

The ratings for the premiere broadcast was a 4.2, which was almost on par with the Raw for that week which was a 5.6, which is an outstanding number considering today's kind of ratings. Now, with over 900 episodes and multiple set changes, it continues to thrive and entertain fans world wide. In its newest incarnation, now formally called SmackDown! Live, it's no longer taped and now airs live on Tuesday nights. It's gotten high praise from wrestling critics and fans as having the better wrestling of the two brands and with Daniel Bryan debuting two brand new titles for the big blue brand, the SmackDown! Tag Team Titles and Women's Championship, it is in every way on par with Monday Night Raw.

SmackDown! has a history of providing stellar in-ring performances and being the launching pad for such careers for world champions like Batista, John Cena, The Miz, and Randy Orton. It was also a place for wrestlers like Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Brock Lesnar, Shelton Benjamin, and yes, even Chris Benoit to showcase their technical wrestling abilities. Now, guys like Dolph Ziggler and AJ Styles has a place to shine and become even bigger stars at the end of the night.

WWE's black and blue show might not get the recognition that is reserved for its counterpart and is sometimes seen as the "second" show, but SmackDown! has a proud history and has given fans some incredible moments that helped define both the Attitude Era and the generations that followed.