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April 20, 2009
– Adam Russell

Draft Dodging

The annual WWE draft took place almost two weeks ago on Monday Night RAW. A number of wrestlers changed homes, including such
main event stars as Triple H, Chris Jericho and The Big Show. As of this week’s SmackDown, that draft has meant approximately
nothing, as the two major shows continue as if there was no brand extension at all. We were told on RAW this week that the night after
Backlash would see the draft going into full effect. I hope that is the case, because after WrestleMania season, there are certain stars,
and storylines, for which one show a week is more than enough.

This week’s SmackDown, hailing from London, England, began with the number one contender for the World Heavyweight
Championship, Edge, making his way to the ring. Edge started by saying that it was two weeks ago when John Cena called him
desperate, and proclaimed himself tougher, saying that no matter what Edge did to him, he kept on getting up. Edge said that Cena was
right, and as he will stop at nothing to put the champion down, it was going to be a case of the immovable object meeting the irresistible
force at Backlash. Edge then reminded us of his first World Championship winning, cashing in his money in the bank briefcase against
Cena after he had just been in an elimination chamber match. He reminded us of the different ways that he has brutalized Cena in the
past, the titles that he has won off him, and cost him, and even of the time he slapped Cena’s father. But for all of this, Edge said,
Cena kept coming back, that is, until last Monday’s RAW. A video then aired of Edge giving Cena the one man concerto on RAW,
counting Cena down for a ten count afterwards, in anticipation of their upcoming Last Man Standing match. When we returned to the
arena, Edge was illuminated in the ring by a spotlight, as he told us that Cena has the strongest resolve of anyone he’s ever faced
and, if he didn’t despise him so much, it would almost make him want to respect him. He continued that if he doesn’t beat Cena
at Backlash, he has nothing; Vickie Guerrero can’t help him, and he has no friends. But, he said, he is ready to lay it all on the line
one last time, and bring to an end the 3 year long war of attrition they have fought. He finished a strong promo by saying that he will walk
away as the champion, and be the last man standing.

This was simple and effective, and sometimes that is all you need to hype matches. Edge’s point about him finally putting Cena
down on RAW would have been more effective though, had the champion not been on Superstars the previous night to cut a promo of his
own.

After a video recap of Matt Hardy’s attack on his brother, Jeff, on last week’s show, it was time for our first match of the night.

--- Matt Hardy and Kane Vs Jeff Hardy and CM Punk

As the match started, Jim Ross mentioned that at Backlash, Kane and CM Punk will finally go one on one. I know it’s the
announcers’ job to sell the importance of the pay-per-view matches, but this was a ridiculous statement considering the two faced
off in singles competition on last week’s RAW. Indeed, the Punk/Kane match, and the way it was thrown together, is a shining
example of why one pay-per-view a month is too much.

Anyway, to the match. Matt was looking to start off for his team, but upon seeing Jeff across the ring, decided to tag in Kane instead (of
course, no mention was made to the history between Matt and Kane- Kane impregnated Matt’s then-girlfriend, Lita, against her will
no less, and forced her to marry him. Not the sort of thing one readily forgives). Jeff took the fight straight to the Big Red Machine with
punches and kicks, then made a quick tag to Punk who hit a dropkick, locked in an armbar, and tagged back out. Jeff came off the top
rope with a shot to Kane’s arm, but was soon caught by an uppercut from the big man, and Matt came in to pick the bones. Jeff went
straight at Matt with punches, and a clothesline, causing big brother to exit to ring. Jeff didn’t relent though, hitting him with a baseball
slide and a rolling plancha as we went to the break at 1’37. Back from the break at 4’09, we found Jeff and Punk delivering Poetry
in Motion, an old Hardy brothers move, to Kane. After exchanging quick tags, the two then delivered a pair of low dropkicks to the big man,
following up with a double DDT, which only garnered a one count for Jeff. Jeff then turned his attention back to Matt, stepping out onto the
apron in pursuit of his recent tormentor, but found himself eating a big boot from Kane, knocking him to the outside. Matt laid the boots
into Jeff on the outside, and Kane came out and slammed Jeff back-first into the ring post before rolling him back into the ring, and
earning a two count at 5’44. Matt tagged in and hit a powerslam and four leg drops on Jeff for another near fall, before locking on a
chinlock. Jeff made it up to his feet and backed Matt into the corner and, as the older Hardy tried to regain the edge, Jeff caught him with a
pair of boots to the face and a clothesline. Matt managed to tag in Kane, who cut Jeff off before he could tag in Punk, and delivered a
standing vertical suplex for a two count. Matt tagged back in and choked his brother, who JR referred to as the unique enigma (anyone
else notice how Ross’s nickname for Jeff changes every week? Unique enigma, extreme enigma, charismatic enigma- pick an
adjective, Jim!). Matt went back to the ever-successful chinlock, as Grisham remarked that Kane is a 10-time tag team champion. That
doesn’t seem right, but off the top of my head I can think of Big Show, RVD, The Undertaker, X-Pac and The Hurricane with whom he
has held the titles. As I pondered further on this, Jeff Hardy fought out of the chinlock, and hit a Whisper in the Wind, only for Kane, the
modern day Bobby Eaton, to break the resultant pin attempt. This brought Punk back into the match, who took Kane out of the ring and
followed up with a tope. Jeff hit his inside enzuigiri, and a leg drop between the legs on Matt, and tried to follow up with a Twist of Fate,
but Matt pushed him off into Kane, who was back on the apron. The collision knocked Kane back to the floor, and allowed Matt to roll his
brother up and pin him once again at 10’40. The result of this match all but guarantees a victory for Jeff Hardy in the I Quit match at
Backlash, but it was an entertaining match nonetheless.

A lengthy recap was shown next of the Triple H/Randy Orton situation, dating all the way back to Orton’s initial attack on Vince
McMahon the week before the Royal Rumble.

Following this the Big Show made his way out to the ring for his match against The Undertaker, as we learnt that on next week’s
show MVP will defend his United States championship against the man who pinned him last week, Dolph Ziggler. So much for the draft
going into effect on the RAW after Backlash.

Before the match started, The Big Show, who the company seems to be trying to rebuild as a genuine threat, grabbed a microphone, and
said that the SmackDown superstars can sleep easy at night now, knowing that he has been drafted to RAW. He then said that when he
‘locks, loads and fires’ his big right hand, the lights go out on his opponents, and tonight, that will be The Undertaker’s fate.

--- The Undertaker Vs The Big Show

The two started off in boxing stances, no doubt a sign of the punch-heavy contest to come. After a lock up, The Undertaker tried to control
Show with a headlock, but Show fought out of the hold with some body blows, and a headbutt, before ‘Taker came back with some
punches of his own. The Undertaker tried a headbutt of his own, but was knocked down by another from Show, who followed up with
more punches. Show then came at The Phenom with a big boot, but The Undertaker moved, causing Show to get hung up on the top
rope. The Undertaker then hit a big boot of his own, sending Big Show out of the ring, as we went to commercial at 2’24. We came
back at 5’49 with ‘Taker delivering his ‘vintage’ legdrop on the apron to his opponent and then, back in the ring, running into
a big side kick. Show now focused on the injured neck of The Undertaker, delivering a headbutt to the back of the head area, and then an
elbow to the neck. Another headbutt was followed up by a clothesline at the 9’00 mark. The Undertaker fought back with some
punches but, when he grabbed Show by the throat for a chokeslam, Show elbowed him away and hit a chokeslam of his own for a two
count at 10’14. Show next applied a dragon sleeper on ‘Taker, as Todd Grisham commented that Show could be mistaken for a
double decker bus- that’s truly how big he is. Truly, Todd? The Undertaker managed to reverse the dragon sleeper into a DDT for a
two count, and then the two exchanged punches as the fans got involved with a boo-yay chant. The Big Show came out of the exchange
on top, but ran into a big boot from ‘Taker, who then hit his classic flying clothesline. More classic ‘Taker next, as he went up to the
top rope for ‘Old School’, but as he came off, Show caught him with a knockout punch. ‘Taker writhed around the ring for a few
moments, as Show watched on triumphantly, waiting for the perfect moment to deliver another big right hand to the back of the head,
causing the referee to call for the bell and award the World’s Largest Athlete the match at 14’21. As Show celebrated his victory,
The Undertaker worked his way back to his feet, and invited Show to come back for more. A smiling Show again got into fight stance, but
was rocked by a series of blows from his punch-drunk opponent, before he left the ring still smiling, and victorious. This was a dull,
overly-long match, with both men, I feel, overestimating how much the fans care about their ‘striking’ gimmicks. A victory over the
Undertaker is a good way for The Big Show to leave SmackDown though, and I’m interested to see now what kind of impact Show, in
the midst of something of a career renaissance, will make on RAW.

--- Divas Title Match - Maryse (champion) Vs Gail Kim

This was a rematch from last week’s show, in which Kim scored the none-title victory. The two squared up centre-ring, and the
champion caught Kim with a slap to the face, before the challenger fired off a series of punches, and earned two counts with a roll up,
and a cross body block off the second rope. Maryse stemmed the tide with a knee lift, and repeatedly slammed her opponent’s face
into the canvas, following up with a camel clutch. Gail fought out of the predicament, and rocked the French-Canadian with a pair of
clotheslines, before running into an elbow. Maryse then went up to the second rope, but Gail followed after her, and hit a nice
hurricanrana for a two count at 2’10. Gail followed up by going to the top rope, at which point Maryse decided to exit the ring. Gail went
straight after her, sending her back into the ring, but as she herself climbed in, Maryse hotshotted her on the second rope, and hit a DDT
for the victory at 2’50, bringing to an end a mediocre match. Maryse now takes her Divas title to RAW.

We cut to the back next, where Jeff Hardy appears to be lying down on a railing of some sort, while the camera spins and twists around
him. Jeff said that words like ‘extreme’ and ‘intensity’ used to mean everything to him, and he used to wake up knowing
who he was and where he was going. Living in the moment, he said, was more than just a catchphrase to him, but things have changed.
He continued that Matt beat him at WrestleMania, in the stretcher match on last week’s show, and again in the tag team match
earlier tonight, but his overconfidence will kill him. He said that on Sunday he will show him that he’s still as crazy as ever, and Matt
will become known as the older Hardy who quit when it mattered the most. This promo was bizarre. I know the rotating camera and
unusual surroundings were supposed to be symbolic of Jeff’s state of mind, but the whole thing came off as very silly.

We went from that strangeness, to something equally out of left field; highlights of the ladies on daytime talk show ‘The View’
talking about how hot MVP is. The United States champion himself was out next for action of a different kind.

--- MVP Vs Chavo Guerrero

Chavo made his in-ring RAW debut, since being drafted, last Monday, so it makes sense that he’d be back on SmackDown tonight
for this none-title match, right? The two locked up, MVP working Chavo into a headlock, and then knocking him down with a
shoulderblock after being sent to the ropes. MVP stopped to talk to the referee, and got hit with a dropkick from Chavo, who then
wrenched his arm over the top rope, and applied an armbar. MVP countered the hold with a powerslam, and then hit an elbow and a
clothesline, before being floored again by a Liger Kick from Chavo. MVP was then dropkicked out of the ring, and Chavo followed him out,
going back to work on the arm of his opponent. Chavo rolled MVP back into the ring, but was caught on the apron by a knee lift, and then
suplexed into the ring. MVP then hit the Ballin’ Elbow for a two count at 2’18, and whipped Chavo into the corner. Running in, he
was caught by a pair of boots to the face from Guerrero, who then himself ran into an Owen Hart overhead throw. MVP followed this up
with a Playmaker for the victory at 2’42. After the match, his opponent for next week, Dolph Ziggler came out to offer his
congratulations. Ziggler, missing a great chance to introduce himself to the fans as they gave him a ‘who are ya?’ chant, said that
he hoped Sherri Shepherd (from The View) was watching, as that was the last time anyone will see him leave a match as the US
Champion.

I’m assuming MVP wins this match, and takes the US title to RAW, in which case I’ll be disappointed. Ziggler’s win over the
champion last week was a great way to kick start his push, and segue him possibly into a series for Rey Mysterio’s Intercontinental
Title. Coming off the assumed defeat next week, Ziggler is once again just another member of the roster.

At least Ziggler got a bit of mic time though, something that isn’t always forthcoming for young wrestlers. This is especially the case
when WWE replays promos that top stars like John Cena cut on other shows, as they did here next, with Cena’s long promo from
Superstars being re-shown in its entirety. The promo basically saw Cena over-earnestly talk about the rivalry between he and Edge,
which has been hyped to come to a conclusion at Backlash on Sunday night.

It was now main event time, and four more RAW superstars were taking centre stage.

--- Batista and Shane McMahon Vs Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes

The match started with Shane and Ted in the ring, DiBiase backing McMahon up from the collar and elbow tie-up, and then catching him
with a kick as the ref called for the rope break. Shane came straight back with punches, a flying elbow, and a pair of armdrags, before
tagging Batista in. Batista hit Ted with an elbow, and then picked him up onto his shoulder to deliver a slam, first taking him teasingly
close to Rhodes. As he turned to deliver the move, Rhodes blindly tagged himself in, but Batista knew it was coming, as he caught Cody
with a clothesline, and then delivered the powerslam that he had threatened DiBiase with for a two count. Shane was tagged back in,
and elbowdropped Cody, but Cody gave him a kneelift and tagged in Ted. The two went for a double back suplex on Shane, but he
landed on his feet, ducked a double clothesline, and tagged Batista back in, the Animal knocking both of Priceless down with a double
clothesline of his own. It was at this point that we went to our final commercial break, at 2’14, coming back at 5’32 to see Shane
armdragging Cody. Shane tagged Batista, and the two double suplexed Cody, with Shane taking a break from the move and allowing
Batista to suspend Rhodes in the air by himself. This earned Batista a two count, and he then tagged Shane back in and the two
delivered a Demolition Decapitation to Cody, bringing Ted in to break the pinfall attempt. With Shane distracted by Ted’s interference,
Cody hit a dropkick from behind and tagged out. The two Irish whipped Shane into the corner, and Cody came back in to hit a side
Russian legsweep. DiBiase’s next contribution was a double stomp to Shane’s gut from the second rope, as Rhodes held him
in place, this moving earning a two count. Ted tagged Cody back in, who hit a kneedrop for a near fall, and then clamped on a chinlock.
Shane fought his way out of the hold, and hit a DDT, but before he could make the hot tag, DiBiase was tagged in, and he knocked the
Animal off the apron. This did allow Shane to roll Ted up for a two count and, upon kicking out, Ted sent Shane colliding with his own
partner who was back on the apron. Shane caught DiBiase with an elbow, and Batista came in to confront his partner. DiBiase took
advantage of this confrontation by tagging in Cody, who climbed to the top rope. As he jumped off, however, Batista pushed Shane out of
the way of the impact, and caught Cody in midair with a spinebuster, before exiting the ring. Shane kicked DiBiase off the apron and
covered Cody for the victory after 11’14 of so-so action.

So-so, in fact, describes the whole of this week’s show. Nothing really stood out as being great, but there certainly wasn’t
anything you would call terrible. As a go home show for the Backlash pay-per-view, the only thing I can say is ‘what Backlash pay-per-
view?’, such has been the overall feel of the build-up. The most notable thing about this show is that more RAW stars appeared on it
than did SmackDown stars. And really, judging by the last few weeks, that ain’t very notable.

MVP of the night - As no one thing really stood out on this week’s show, neither did any one person.  There were one or two decent in
ring performances, but nothing was as well done as Edge’s opening promo, so he gets the nod.

Kane’s Championship-winning tag team partner count- 9 championships (Todd, shockingly, was wrong) with 6 different partners; 2
with Mankind, 2 with X-Pac, 2 with The Undertaker, and one each with Rob van Dam, The Hurricane and The Big Show.

Undertaker series of punches count - Yes, it’s back, and this week’s total is an awesome five, beating out Big Show’s four.
Oh Show, is that all you’ve got?