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April 3, 2009
â€“ Adam Russell
I stated in my Raw Report this week that Raw was, in many ways, the go home show for WrestleMania. Raw, being the flagship of WWE
programming, and being seen by twice as many viewers as SmackDown, was always likely to be a more dramatic show than this weekâ
€™s SmackDown, what was actually the final show before the biggest pay-per-view of the year. What I didnâ€™t foresee was the latter
being little more than a two hour infomercial, and an insult to viewers. It is the nature of the WWE, with itâ€™s one pay-per-view per
month output, that Raw, SmackDown and ECW have taken on the general tone of extended commercials, relentlessly forcing upon us
reminders of the next big show that we are expected to spend our money on. This hawking, however, usually comes in the form of
matches to whet the appetite and wrestlers cutting promos to sell their matches on the big card. Thatâ€™s what people watch the
shows to see- wrestling, or as close an approximation as can be expected. This SmackDown was a sham- a waste of two hours of my
life that, if not for having to write this report, I would have spent doing something else.
It should also be noted that this SmackDown marked Tazzâ€™s last appearance for the company. Tazz, to my mind, has been
consistently the best color man in the company for the last several years, and his voice has come to be an integral part of SmackDown. Iâ
€™ll miss him.
The show started off much like any other, and with no inkling of what was to come, with match action.
--- Maryse and Michelle McCool Vs Gail Kim and Maria
This was Gail Kimâ€™s first televised match since returning to WWE after a successful stint in TNA. It was Maria and Michelle starting off
the match, with McCool taking down her opponent and laying into her with punches. Michelle turned her attention to Gail, who had
blindsided her last week, but after missing a cheap shot, she was caught by a big kick from Maria. Maryse tried to get involved as Maria
ran the ropes, but Maria nailed her with a punch, only to be hit by a McCool big boot. Maryse was tagged in, and tied Maria up in a tree of
woe, tagging Michelle back in who hit a dropkick to the gut of the helpless Maria. Maryse was back in, locking on a camel clutch, but Maria
managed to fight up to her feet and snapmared Maryse over, before making the hot tag to Kim at 2â€™16. Kim came in with clotheslines
and forearms, and then hit a cross body block from the second rope for a 2 count. Michelle came into the ring, but was taken out by Kim,
who followed up with a double-arm neckbreaker on Maryse for the victory at 3â€™11. Kim looked good in the match, and will surely
receive a shot at Maryseâ€™s Divas Championship somewhere down the line.
In the back, Eve Torres was interviewing MVP, asking him who he thought would be walking into the Money in the Bank match at
WrestleMania as the United States champion; him or his opponent later tonight, Shelton Benjamin. Donâ€™t tell me how, but I think I
know what MVPâ€™s answer is going to be. He told us that he has a 3 step plan; step one is to retain his US title, step two is to win the
Money in the Bank ladder match, and step 3 is to cash in the briefcase and become a world champion. At that point Benjamin entered,
and said that it sounds easy, but that tonight he wonâ€™t be facing the Gold Standard, he going to be facing someone with a chip on his
shoulder, someone who is angry and hungry. He told MVP that he is going to take his title back. MVP put Benjamin over, calling him a
great athlete and best of the best, but he said that however good he is, he isnâ€™t better than MVP.
So far, so good then, but this is where the show fell of a cliff. We returned from the commercial break to find Todd Grisham and Jerry
Lawler at the Fan Axxess Centre in Houston, Texas. After taking a look at some of the attractions on display (Hornswoggleâ€™s house,
The Undertakerâ€™s graveyard), we were shown a long video looking at the background of the Hardy Vs Hardy match at WrestleMania.
And by long, I mean looooong.
Next was a look at the very first WrestleMania, followed by more from Fan Axxess, featuring a look at the World Heavyweight
Championship triple threat match. At this point it became clear that this wasnâ€™t just a break from regular programming; this was how
the rest of the show was going to be.
Back from another commercial break, and we had more triple threat talk between Grisham and Lawler, including a recap of Edge beating
down Cena on Raw, followed by a talking head-style promo from the World Heavyweight Champion himself.
Edge, getting progressively more crazy-eyed as the promo went on, told us that while beating down Cena he had an epiphany. He said
that his focus had been clouded by the selfish desires of his wife, Vickie, but as he was bashing in Cenaâ€™s skull, he remembered
that he is the best in the world, and the championship belt backs that up. The belt, he said (well, he didnâ€™t actually say â€˜beltâ€™ of
course), is his key to happiness and allows him to put up with all the people who surround him. He continued that The Big Show might
be bigger than him, but he is better, and that Cena might be stronger than him, but again, he is better, and in 48 hours at WrestleMania,
heâ€™s going to prove it.
Back at Fan Axxess, The King tells us what a huge Kid Rock fan he is (Kid Rock will be performing at â€˜mania this year), as we get a full
match recap of the 18-diva tag match from Raw (yes, all two minutes of it), including the after-match mirth-making with Santino.
Next was a WrestleMania 11 video, and then it was back to the arena for the second match of the night, this one for the US Title.
--- United States Title Match - MVP (champion) Vs Shelton Benjamin
Benjamin started off aggressively, with kicks and punches to the champion, but MVP came back with a big forearm, and some punches
of his own. Benjamin stemmed the tide with a kick to MVPâ€™s leg, and then took control of the match by picking up MVP for a power
bomb, and tossing him against the turnbuckle, following up for a two count. He then threw MVP out of the ring, and sent him back-first into
the steel steps, earning him another two count back inside the ring.. Benjamin continued the assault on the back of the champion,
digging a knee into the back, whilst pulling back on his head. MVP managed to fight out of the move, but was caught by T-Bone suplex for
another two count at 2â€™30. Benjamin now applied a camel clutch, but MVP hit an electric chair to escape to 3â€™30, before Benjamin
regained control with a jaw japper. The momentum swung in the championâ€™s favor when The Gold Standard missed a Stinger
Splash, and MVP hit him with an overhead throw for a two count at 4â€™22. A power slam was followed by MVP driving Benjaminâ€™s
face into his knee, and then the Ballinâ€™ Elbow for a near fall at 5â€™18. Benjamin came back into the match by hitting his patented
dragon whip kick, which earned him a two count, and then an impressive neckbreaker from the top rope for another close two at 6â
€™20. MVP managed to recover though, and nailed Benjamin with a big boot, followed by the Playmaker, for the win at 6â€™55. Step
one was complete for MVP. This was a fair match, but was basically the same as the one they had a couple of weeks ago when MVP won
the title. A run-in from the other Money in the Bank competitors might have added some excitement, but this show wasnâ€™t about
Back to Fan Axxess next, for a run-down of the full WrestleMania card, and an in-depth look at the Triple H/Randy Orton saga, including a
recap of last weekâ€™s Raw and the return of the McMahon men.
WrestleMania 14 was given the highlight video treatment next, followed by a video profile of head Hall of Fame inductee, â€˜Stone Coldâ
€™ Steve Austin.
After that came a recap of the Shawn Michaels/Undertaker storyline, and then it was mercifully main event time, as we saw the Smack of
the Night video showing us Jeff Hardy beating Ezekiel Jackson with a chair a couple of SmackDowns ago.
--- Jeff Hardy Vs Ezekiel Jackson
This was hardly a main event-caliber match, but at this point I was willing to sit through anything that wasnâ€™t in highlight package
form. Jeff came out wearing face paint that made it look like he had a pair of underpants on his face, whereas big Zeke was
accompanied by The Brian Kendrick. Hardy started off on the offensive with some punches, but Zekeâ€™s superior power soon came
into play, as he slammed Hardy into the mat. A missed elbowdrop gave Jeff the chance to gain the edge, and he did so by drop toe-
holding Zeke onto the bottom turnbuckle, and then hitting a dropkick in the corner. Zeke came back with a shoulder block, and then
clamped on a bear hug/waistlock, as Jim Ross told us that he would like to erase Matt Hardyâ€™s Raw promo, in which he cavorted with
a puppy, from his mind. You and me both, Jim. Back in the ring, Jeff managed to punch his way out of the hold, and hit Whisper in the
Wind on Zeke, before clotheslining him over the top rope (good way to showcase the difference in size there!) and following up with a
rolling plancha on both Zeke and Kendrick. Jeff then sent Kendrick into the security wall, which allowed Jackson to attack from behind. He
sent Hardy back into the ring, but Jeff caught him coming in with a low dropkick, followed by a DDT, and then a Twist of Fate and Swanton
Bomb for a routine win at 4â€™57. And that, shockingly, was all she wrote for the show. Again, a Matt Hardy appearance would have
made this interesting, but that apparently was too much to ask.
Nothing much else can be said about this show, except the constant shilling made me want to watch WrestleMania less than I did
beforehand. WWE overdid it with this show, but this poor show was a pretty fitting way really to end an overall poor build-up to
I made the decision a while ago that I wouldnâ€™t be ordering the pay-per-view this year, but I hope that those that do order it enjoy it. I
also hope that the buy-rate is poor- I donâ€™t want WWE to think that this yearâ€™s Road To WrestleMania is acceptable.