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May 15, 2009
â€“ Adam Russell
A beautiful friendship
It is considered one of the golden rules in all of entertainment that, no matter what, if you end the show on a high note, people will forgive
what came before. You can sit through 90 minutes of garbage in the theatre, but if the last 20 minutes deliver, you'll consider your time
and money well spent. Conversely, you can spend an hour and a half watching a well-crafted movie, but if the ending stinks, it's that that
you will remember (see, A.i.). This rule also applies well to wrestling (well, is it not entertainment?). Of course, the objective should
always be to entertain through-out, but if all else fails, stick the landing and you'll be good.
This week's SmackDown wasn't a bad show, by any means. In fact, it was good, surpassing last week's strong effort in its best
moments. But there were one or two things which brought the show down, and as the show came to a close, it was looking to be a
disappointing effort. But then came the ending; exciting, unpredictable, wild. The last three minutes of this show completely smoked
anything we saw on Raw this week, probably this year, and made this SmackDown, despite its flaws, a memorable one.
I talk of the ending, but the beginning wasn't half bad either. Match action to get us underway.
--- John Morrison and CM Punk Vs Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin
The feud between Morrison and Benjamin continues, and this match confirms Morrison as a fully-fledged babyface. It would be nice if
Morrison gave some sort of explanation to his change in 'philosophy', but this is modern-day WWE, and that might be asking too much.
Still, Punk and Morrison are old rivals, once battling over the ECW title, and the commentators maybe could have done a better job of
explaining this partnership. The match began with Haas and Punk in the ring, with Charlie using some clubbing blows to get the better of
Mr. Money in the Bank. A powerslam followed, before Haas missed a kneedrop, and Punk came back with a series of kicks and a
kneelift. Morrison was tagged in, and he hiptossed Haas, then connected with his breakdance legdrop (a sillier move you'll be hard
pressed to find). Haas turned the tide with a couple of knees, and then tagged in the Gold Standard. Benjamin was aggressive, hitting a
short clothesline on Morrison, before the latter came back with a neckbreaker. Punk was tagged back in, and he and Morrison sent
Benjamin to the ropes, knocking him down with a pair of elbows. Benjamin hit back with a jaw japper, and tagged Haas back in, who was
caught by a kick from Punk, and then a hammerlock takedown. Haas worked out of the hold, but Punk grounded him again with an
armdrag. Haas elbowed his way out of that predicament, but found himself atop Punk's shoulders for a Go To Sleep. Benjamin came in
before the move could be delivered, but was sent to the outside by a double dropkick from Morrison and Punk, and we went to the break
at 4'20. 7'39 had elapsed when we returned, and Morrison was armdragging Haas down to the canvas. The two then found themselves
in Haas' corner, which is where Benjamin delivered a kick to Morrison behind the referee's back. Benjamin tagged in and picked up a
nearfall, getting another after a neckbreaker. Benjamin then applied a chinlock, which Morrison worked out of, but Shelton cut off the tag
to Punk, and made one of his own. Haas hit a kneedrop, before tagging Benjamin back in, who went back to the chinlock. Again, Morrison
fought out of the move and, when Benjamin missed a clothesline and reversed a neckbreaker into a backslide, Morrison rolled through
and made the tag to Punk. Punk hit a leg lariat on Benjamin, who fell conveniently into a tag to Haas, which Punk didn't see. Punk sent
Benjamin into the corner and hit his kneelift, but when going for the follow-up bulldog, he was pushed off into an overhead belly to belly
suplex from Haas. Haas clamped on a waistlock, but Punk battled out, only to run straight into a powerslam which gained Haas a two
count. Shelton tagged back in and nailed a suplex, then a clothesline, before tagging back out. Haas tried a back suplex on Punk, but the
Straight-Edge Superstar floated out the back, and made the tag to Morrison. Morrison hit a dropkick and a leg lariat on Haas, and then
back body dropped him over the top rope. Haas managed to land on the apron, and tried to sunset flip his way back into the ring, but
Morrison rolled through and caught him with a running knee to the face. With Haas down, Morrison went to the top rope, but he was
joined by Benjamin, showing great agility and balance to leap up. Morrison punched Benjamin back to the canvas, and Punk came in to
clothesline him over the top rope, leaving Morrison to hit his split-legged corkscrew moonsault on Haas for the victory at 15'40.
This was a very entertaining match, with all four men playing a part. The first half was a bit choppy, without any real flow or direction to it,
but things picked up significantly after the commercial break, and starting the show with a 15 minute match is rarely going to be a bad
thing. All four of these men are capable of wonderfully entertaining stuff, and it is good in particular to see Haas being allowed to look
competitive in the ring again.
Chris Jericho came out next, dressed to wrestle, but apparently with only talk on his mind. Jericho said that Judgment Day was coming
up on Sunday, and that meant the end of the world. He said that he isn't afraid of this, because he is honest and virtuous, and always
does what he says he will. He continued that he has been lied to, cheated on, and disrespected on SmackDown, and that there is a
conspiracy against him orchestrated by the fans, by the inept Teddy Long, and by the envious superstars in the back. Everyone then. He
said that on Sunday he will have vindication, and if he has to eradicate the whole lockerroom, he will. He is, he said, the destroyer of
hopes and dreams, and SmackDown is his show. He turned his attention next to his Judgment Day opponent, Rey Mysterio, who he said
cost him his World Heavyweight Championship opportunity on last week's show. He said that in turn he will take away Rey's
Intercontinental title, becoming a nine-time champion in the process. He then said that he will also take away the delight the fans feel
when they see Rey hit the 619 and win, guaranteeing that Rey won't execute that move during their match. He said that he runs the show
and, as the leader of the lockerroom, commanded Rey to come out and face him. It wasn't Rey that came out, but World Heavyweight
Champion, Edge; inevitable really given all of Jericho's allusions to being the face of SmackDown. Edge told Jericho that it has only been
a few weeks since he was drafted over from Raw, and already everyone is sick and tired of him. He continued that, contrary to Jericho's
belief that everyone is out to get him, everyone is in fact out to get Edge's championship belt and, while Jericho was getting beat by John
Cena on Raw, Edge was owning SmackDown. He then said that, as he is the one calling the shots, Jericho's time is over, and he is
using this time to call out his own Judgment Day opponent, Jeff Hardy. The two argued over who gets to call whom out, but were
interrupted by General Manager, Teddy Long. Long said that SmackDown is neither Edge's nor Jericho's show; it is actually the WWE
Universe's show (this is just the sort of sycophantic behavior that Jericho talks about, Long). He then made a match for the main event
pitting Edge against Chris Jericho, which neither man looked happy about.
Any interaction between Edge and Jericho is usually good, even though this segment was really just a means to get them in a main event
match with one another. And my problem lies with that match in itself. Edge and Jericho are two of the best in the business today, and
have been separated by the draft for so long that a match between the two is a genuinely interesting proposition. That match should be
built up over months of the two of them vying to be the best SmackDown has to offer, and could main event any pay-per-view. But instead
we get it on free TV, and not even advertised ahead of time to attract more viewers. Edge Vs Jericho: Yes! Edge Vs Jericho now:
After the Smack of the Night, featuring Jeff Hardy's win over Chris Jericho last week, Hardy came out for a match against Ricky Ortiz,
making his in-ring SmackDown debut.
--- Jeff Hardy Vs Ricky Ortiz
As he came to the ring, some pre-recorded comments from Ortiz were shown. He said that 50% of competition is won through hard work,
and 50% is through self-belief, but to beat Jeff Hardy, he'll need 100% of the fans to rally up. Ricky 'rallied up' from the opening bell,
catching Hardy with a kneelift, then a headbutt, and then taking him down with a big hiptoss. A couple of shoulderblocks sent Hardy to the
mat, where Ortiz hit two kneedrops, picking up a two count. Ortiz then locked on a chinlock, and used Jeff's hair to keep him grounded,
before a series of headbutts earned him another two count. Ortiz then went for his Big O finisher, but Hardy got his knees up. That looked
like the beginning of the end for Ortiz, but he came right back with a powerslam for another two, and reapplied the chinlock. Hardy
elbowed his way out of the hold, and got himself back into the match with a wraparound clothesline. An inside enziguri was followed by a
turnbuckle-assisted low dropkick, the Whisper in the Wind, Twist of Fate, and Swanton Bomb for what turned out to be a conventional
Hardy victory at 3'35. Ortiz was allowed to get lots of offence in the early stages, which bodes well for him, although he still looks very
green. He's big and charismatic though, and the 'heel who thinks he's a babyface' gimmick is a good fit.
After the commercial break, Josh Matthews was in the ring to get some words from Jeff. Jeff said that Edge is a creature of habit- he wins
the title at a pay-per-view, and then loses it at the next one. He said that that is what will happen this time too, and dedicated the win to the
fans who supported him and believed in what he stood for. The interview in the ring after a match is decidedly old-school, and this short
and sweet effort showed how effective it can be.
The Raw Rebound showed Batista dominating Legacy, and then Michelle McCool and Alicia Fox were shown warming up in the back for
an upcoming match.
--- Michelle McCool and Alicia Fox Vs Melina and Gail Kim
This match signaled Melina's SmackDown re-debut, and she started off the match with McCool. McCool took the Women's Champion
down, and the two tussled on the floor before a stand off. Fox was tagged in, and she and Melina locked up. Fox worked Melina into a full
nelson, but Melina reversed into an armdrag, and then snapmared her over before tagging in Kim. Kim hit a low dropkick on Fox, a
hurricanrana, and a splash in the corner, which saw her land on the apron. It was from there that she kicked the oncoming McCool down
to the arena floor, but McCool forcefully pulled her off the apron and tagged herself in. After throwing Kim back into the ring, McCool
executed a neckbreaker for a two count, and then locked on a dragon sleeper. Gail used the ropes to flip herself backwards over McCool,
planting her with an Asai DDT, and then tagging in Melina. Melina was a house on fire with a couple of clothesline, and then a double
kneedrop to the abdomen as McCool was tied up in the corner. McCool came back by leveraging Melina against the ropes, and rolling
her up for a two, but Melina regained control with a woeful-looking stomp-into-splits concoction. She then set her up for a reverse DDT,
but Fox came in with a clothesline. That was Kim's cue to rejoin the fray, and she threw Fox out of the ring, then hit a baseball slide
dropkick on her, before slamming her back-first into the security wall. In the ring, McCool ran into a boot from Melina, who then hit a
sunset flip bomb for the three count, after 4'26 of largely poor action. Melina is one of those girls that really needs to cut out the bells and
whistles, especially being as she doesn't actually need them to stand out. She has charisma, and a nice intensity that sets her apart
from most of the other girls. An interesting choice to give her the pinfall over McCool, who seems the natural to be her top contender for
the women's title. This is kind of like MVP pinning Regal in their tag team match on Raw, and is a poor way to start a rivalry.
Next came a recap of the Dolph Ziggler/Great Khali incident from last week's show.
--- Dolph Ziggler Vs Jimmy Wang Yang
Nice to see Yang back in action on SmackDown, though we didn't get to see his entrance. That always screams 'jobber' to me. Dolph
offered his hand to Yang, which Yang just kicked away, and then armdragged the SmackDown newcomer. Dolph hit Yang with some
clubbing blows, before executing a nice overhead throw, and a splash in the corner. A bevy of elbowdrops earned Ziggler the first nearfall
of the match, and then he locked on a full nelson. Yang managed to back Ziggler into the corner and then put together his first real
offensive flurry; a clothesline, leg lariat, and a legsweep. Yang then went for a roundhouse kick, which Ziggler avoided, but an elbow from
the Asian Redneck connected. Yang went to the top rope, but Ziggler avoided his moonsault, Yang landing on his feet. That was all the
opening Ziggler needed though, and he drove the back of Yang's head into the mat and picked up the win in 3'58. The match was
disappointing. Yang's offence looked particularly weak, especially his kicks, and Ziggler, though typically intense, didn't really get going.
One thing I like about Ziggler is that he isn't content to just put on a resthold- he'll work the hold, and make it look like it's doing some
damage. Others could learn from this. After the bell, The Great Khali made his way out. Ziggler charged at him as he climbed onto the
apron, but Khali caught him by the throat and tossed him to the outside. Ziggler beat a hasty retreat back to the lockerroom, pursued by
the big man.
In the back, Cryme Tyme were talking to Eve Torres about her dance contest against Layla. They commented that they wouldn't tolerate
the way Layla left Eve lying two weeks on the bounce, and JTG said that Layla had been talking about Eve's 'momma'. They asked Eve
what she's going to do about it, and Eve said she'll show them. A few feet away, Layla was getting her makeup done (I guess you can just
turn up even when you're not scheduled to be on the show and take advantage of the style department). Eve crept up behind her and
poured powder all over her head. Layla slapped her and a catfight ensued, Cryme Tyme splitting the two girls apart.
--- R-Truth Vs Mike Knox
Jim Ross informed us that R-Truth had requested this rematch from last week because he believed he could beat Knox. Truth came out
firing with some punches, but was slowed down by a punch from Knox, and a big powerslam. Knox missed a kneedrop and exited the
ring, but Truth caught him with a rolling plancha, and tossed him back inside the ring. R-Truth then walked into a big boot from Knox, and
was sent into the corner, where Knox charged in with a splash. A short clothesline then earned the big man a two count. Another nearfall
was gained after Knox slingshotted Truth against the ropes, and he followed that up with a facelock. Truth used some elbows to break
the hold, but Knox cut off the comeback with a clubbing blow. He sent Truth into the corner but ran into a boot, and Truth now fired off
some punches before again being sent into the corner. This time when Knox ran in, Truth floated over and executed the corner jazz. He
then ducked a big pump kick from Knox and hit a flying forearm off the ropes to pick up the victory at 2'51.
This match didn't amount to much, with the same going for Knox's SmackDown debut next week. What that match had going for it though
is that at least the right man won. I have no problem with R-Truth picking up a win. I'm not a fan of his ring work, but he's charismatic, and
I think his kind of fan interaction is valuable to the company. However, to pick up the win at the expense of Knox, a guy who they seem to
be building for better things, and who is certainly capable of them, is a bit of a headscratcher. Knox needs to win the inevitable rubber
match convincingly, otherwise I fear the worst, even at this early stage of his SmackDown career.
Backstage, Josh Matthews was with Rey Mysterio, who seems to be under orders to incorporate as much Spanish into his promos as
possible. Rey began by saying what he thinks of Chris Jericho in Spanish, before translating it as arrogant, egotistical and deceitful. He
then said that Jericho needs to earn respect, before breaking into more Spanish. He finished by saying that he won't let Jericho walk all
over him, and that at Judgment Day, Jericho won't have to worry about a conspiracy, he has to worry about the 619.
Back in the arena, Jim Ross and Todd Grisham, both of whom had a strong night on commentary, were in the ring, and ran through the
Judgment Day card. That brought us to main event time.
--- Edge Vs Chris Jericho
Despite all my misgivings about the way this match came about, I was still expecting a very strong bout between the two.
They started off nose to nose in the ring, trash talking one another. Jericho gave Edge a slap and Edge returned the favor, prompting
Jericho to take Edge down and mount him with punches. The two rolled around exchanging punches, until they found themselves on the
outside. The stalemate continued on the arena floor, with Jericho slamming Edge's head into the security wall, and Edge doing likewise
to Jericho with the announce table. Back in the ring, Jericho got a definitive advantage when he was reversed into the corner by Edge, by
avoided a spear, sending the Rated-R Superstar shoulderfirst into the ringpost. Jericho repeated the action, throwing Edge once again
into the ringpost, and then clamped on an armbar. Edge managed to send Jericho into the ropes, and caught him with a kneelift, and
then draped his neck over the middle rope and came down on him with the full weight of his body. This earned him a two count, but
Jericho soon resumed control with a kick, and then a baseball slide to the outside of the ring. He followed Edge out, and tried to whip him
into the steel steps, but Edge reversed it, and then flapjacked Jericho on the security wall. They returned to the ring and Edge covered
Jericho for a two count at 4'25. Jericho caught Edge with a kick, and scaled the ropes, pulling Edge up with him. The two started to pound
on each other, and both fell to the outside as we went to commercial at 5'09. We returned at 8'42 to find Edge delivering a suplex to
Jericho, and picking up a two count. Jericho changed the momentum of the match by catching Edge with an armbreaker, and then
locking on a hammerlock, continuing to punish the arm with a hammerlock powerslam. He then attempted a bulldog, but Edge sent him
flying into the corner, and then delivered a spear against the turnbuckle. Jericho used a double leg pickup to cradle Edge, but the ref
caught him with his feet on the ropes. As Jericho argued with the referee, Edge rolled him up, but was too caught with his feet on the
ropes for leverage. A double clothesline followed, leaving both men lying. Jericho took the upper hand upon their recovery, reversing
Edge into the corner, and then hitting his bulldog and going for the Lionsault. Edge moved out of the way, but Jericho landed on his feet,
only to be taken down and locked into a sharpshooter, at the 12'10 mark. Jericho, after a struggle, managed to find the ropes and, when
Edge tried the move again, he small packaged him for a two, and then applied the Walls of Jericho. This time Edge struggled to the
ropes and, when Jericho again turned his attention to the referee, he hit a spear on his opponent. Rather than go for the cover, Edge sold
the damage that had been done to him during the match, and Jericho rolled out of the ring. He climbed back onto the apron, and
hotshotted Edge's throat on the top rope, returning to the ring with a steel chair. Before he could use the chair though, Edge delivered a
big boot, but the referee decided that just the chair being in the ring was enough to warrant a disqualification. The match came to an
anticlimactic ending at 14'37, with I assume, though it was never announced, Jericho being disqualified for bringing a chair into the ring.
This is the sort of thing that happens in countless matches, without a DQ being called and, while I agree that if the referee sees a foreign
object brought into the ring a DQ should be called, it would be nice to see some consistency. As it is, it felt cheap.
This, by the standards of the two men involved, was not a particularly good match. There was an inconsistency to the action which took
away from the flow of the contest. For example, Jericho injured Edge's arm early on, but then it was forgotten about for five minutes when
we got another brief pocket of arm work. There were some good spots in the match, such as both men trying to gain pinfalls with their
feet on the ropes, which really played up the characters of the two men. The rest just seemed decidedly ho-hum. What followed though,
was anything but and, although not on a par with Casablanca's classic airport scene finale, was as exciting an ending as one could hope
With Jericho on the mat, reeling from the big boot, Edge picked up the chair and held it above his head, ready to do some damage. At that
point Jeff Hardy came out, delivering a kick to Edge, and a Twist of Fate onto the chair. He then went to the top rope, which is when
Jericho intervened. Jericho tried to knock Jeff off the top, but Jeff saw him coming and kicked him to the arena floor, diving onto him with a
flying bodypress. So far, so typical ending, but this is where business picked up. With Edge still down in the ring, CM Punk's music hit,
and Mr. Money in the Bank made a beeline for the ring, with a referee in tow. The atmosphere in the arena was electric as Punk handed
the briefcase to the referee, signaling that he was cashing in on his title shot but, just as had happened two weeks ago, Umaga came in
to spoil the party. Unlike a fortnight ago though, Punk was ready this time. He ducked Umaga's charge and hit him in the head with the
briefcase, once to stagger him, and again to knock him out of the ring. He then launched himself atop him with a rolling plancha, and
rained down on him with punches, before walking into a thrust to the throat. Back in the ring, meanwhile, Jeff Hardy speared Edge, and
mounted him with punches. Punk and Umaga now had made their way into the crowd, and were going at it back and forth with punches.
Edge and Jeff also found themselves brawling into the crowd and, while all this was going on, Jericho had made his way to the safety of
the top of the ramp, from where he looked down on the carnage with a smirk. That is, until Rey Mysterio came out from behind him and
slammed him into the wall, mounting him and delivering a series of punches. And that's how we ended the show; with the three sets of
Judgment Day opponents fighting it out.
This was a great way to leave us before Judgment Day; six guys beating the hell out of each other, and a real change from the typical
'wrestler A hits finishing move on wrestler B and stands over him while his music plays' ending. This made me want to see more, and
that should be the goal of every wrestling show. SmackDown is on a roll. Three weeks since the draft took effect, and three largely
excellent shows. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.