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This Week in Wrestling: SmackDown’s post 9/11 show



In the immediate wake of the attack on our nation on September 11, 2001, panic and paranoia were rampant nationwide with citizens not sure who to trust or where could be attacked next. Concerts, sporting events, and other major social happenings were canceled due to the fear of another attack on a large crowd. That all changed on Thursday September 13th; just two days after the terrorist attacks, WWE Smackdown! went live on TV in what would become the first public gathering of any sort since the 9/11 attacks.

The show opens in the ring with Vince McMahon, who tells the fans in attendance and those watching around the world that “the spirit of America lives on here in Houston, Texas”. McMahon restated the Presidents decree to American citizens to continue their everyday routines, and for a fair number of Americans, WWF Smackdown! was their Thursday night routine. Vince gives a very patriotic speech addressed to the American People regarding his wish for Americans around the world to fight back terrorism by not living in fear.

My review this week will be relatively short with no focus on match description as the show was not centered on matches or storyline progression, it was just about performing for American citizens and putting their minds at ease. With WWE superstars and backstage personnel lining the rampway, Lillian Garcia performs an amazing rendition of the National Anthem as shots pan to superstars seem crying or reciting the lyrics under their breath. The main focus of my review this week will be on the taped segments from various superstars and other officials regarding the 9/11 attacks. These segments were filmed in the style of the testimonials produced when Owen Hart passed. Just floating head interviews showcasing real people displaying real emotion during one of the most stressful and scary times in recent American history. Testimonials from people like The Rock, Terri, Road Agent Ricky Santana among others bring to light how human the larger than life superstars we see on TV truly are.

I highly recommend readers to watch this episode on the Network if they have the time; not for match quality but for the significance of the time period, not just in the realm of pro wrestling, but rather popular culture as a whole. After this show, people were shown that there is no need to be afraid. I remember watching this episode as a child and though I wasn’t old enough to understand the seriousness of the time and what was happening, I remember noticing how different the episode felt at the time opposed to the normal flow of WWF programming. As an adult now I see why this was, but I feel that this episode ages very well as it shows what can truly happen when a nation stands together as one on the face of supreme tyranny.