On This Day In History: 13th September 2001
By Divyan Mehta
In WWE, Smackdown is one of the two flagship WWE weekly shows alongside Monday Night Raw. It has been used as a way to develop storylines and introduce new talent to the WWE audience. However, on the 13th of September 2001, WWE broke away from that format after the tragedy that befell America two days earlier.
On the 11th of September 2001, there was a horrific terrorist attack, which saw two planes hijacked and crashed into the twin towers. This shocking and nasty attack resulted in a large number of deaths. Until July of 2016, Smackdown had always been taped on Tuesday and broadcasted every Thursday night.
With America and the world mourning, there was a concern within WWE if it was ethical for Smackdown to be broadcasted on the Thursday of that week.
However, Vince McMahon was adamant that Smackdown would air live on the 13th of September 2001, as a tribute show to those who lost their lives in the attack. The characters and storylines were abandoned for one night as talent and officials gave their condolences to those who were affected by this tragedy.
At the beginning of the show, the entire WWE locker room was filed on stage with Lillian Garcia passionately singing the national anthem through tears. Vince McMahon came out and spoke about his pride in being an American. He also spoke about how the attack will not stop the American citizens from living their lives the way they see fit.
After sixteen years, with Smackdown exceeding nine hundred episodes and still as strong as ever, that episode is still looked upon with great fondness. It’s somewhat ironic that WWE was hesitant about broadcasting the show but now when fans think of Smackdown’s history that is the one episode, which usually comes to mind. Additionally, it speaks volumes to how patriotic the WWE was and continues to be. That patriotism is still prevalent today, as each year WWE pays tribute to the American troops every year over the Christmas holidays.
Vince McMahon gives an impassioned speech on the live post-9/11 edition of SmackDown on September 13, 2001.