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November 6, 2009
– Adam Russell

The heeling process

The most compelling storyline of the year on Smackdown was CM Punk’s slow-burning heel turn over the Summer. Now, in the
midst of a relative creative drought, Smackdown is hanging its hat once again on a high profile heel turn, this time focusing on Batista.
The two situations aren’t exactly analogous. Punk’s heel turn was a long, drawn-out, will-he-won’t-he affair, whereas Batista
turned decisively, and out of nowhere, at Bragging Rights, mauling his best friend, Rey Mysterio. The interest in the coming weeks and
months should come from the fleshing out of the big Dave heel character, the motivation for the turn, and the introduction of new
personality traits. Last week we got a teaser, with the Batista-Rey in-ring face-off. Tonight, the aftermath begins in earnest.

The show started with World Heavyweight Champion, The Undertaker, making his way out in full bondage regalia. I assume it was the
Dead Man’s decision to go back to his Attitude Era garb. I think it was a bad one. ‘Taker began his promo with the requisite
supernatural blather, although it did have a point, as he mentioned that it was at the Survivor Series pay-per-view, in 1990, that he made
his debut. He went on that after all these years people are still coming after him, with the Big Show betraying a whole team just to get his
opportunity. He then said that few things bring him joy, and that one of those things is fighting alongside his brother, Kane, and another is
fighting against Kane. Chris Jericho, he said, took that opportunity away, and for that, his soul will be his. This brought out Jericho, who
mentioned, from outside the ring, that they were finally face-to-face after all these years. He continued that he is a better example of a
phenom than the Undertaker, and that ‘Taker has been brainwashing fans for 20 years. He then informed us that the Undertaker isnâ
€™t a dead man at all, simply a man, and that he’s on the roll of his career and can beat anybody he chooses. Jericho at that point,
climbed into the ring and said he isn’t intimidated by ‘Taker, and that he is the new phenom. This was all the provocation ‘Taker
needed to grab Jericho by the throat. Jericho broke the grip with kicks and punches, but then ran into a big boot, before fleeing from the
ring.

Really strong promo work here from Jericho, going deeper than the usual ‘you don’t scare me’ stuff that opponents of the
Undertaker usually trot out. Actually, this was the type of promo I would have liked CM Punk to cut during his feud with ‘Taker, but he
only really skirted the issue of ‘Taker’s mortality. A good opening to the show.

--- Dolph Ziggler and the Hart Dynasty (w/Natalya) Vs John Morrison and Cryme Tyme

I’m a big fan of the Hart Dynasty, but it’s gotten to the point where I don’t want to see them come out, because I know their
opponents will inevitably be Cryme Tyme. These two teams have been on opposing sides of so many matches it’s ridiculous, and
neither team has really been elevated by the feud. Here we are again for another helping, this time with the Intercontinental Champion,
John Morrison, and his top contender, Dolph Ziggler, thrown in. Morrison and Tyson Kidd started us off, with Kidd grounding the champ,
until Morrison hit a hiptoss. Morrison was selling his ribs after the attack from Ziggler on last week’s show, as we went to break a
minute in. When we returned, Ziggler had JTG in a facelock, with the latter then fighting back with a hiptoss and a jaw japper. David Hart
Smith stymied the comeback by hotshotting JTG behind the ref’s back, and then he and Kidd hit a drop toe hold/low dropkick combo,
followed by a backslide/legdrop combo- not seen that one before. Ziggler got in on the act with a Mr Perfect-esque neck whip, before JTG
fought back with a backbreaker and then tagged Morrison. Kidd also tagged in, and Morrison took him down with clotheslines and a leg
lariat. Smith tagged in and ate the Flying Chuck, before Shad entered the fray for the first time. Morrison went for a corkscrew plancha
onto Ziggler on the outside, but Dolph stepped aside, giving Kidd the force of the move, and he followed up by hotshotting the champion
on the security wall. Shad was taking it to Smith in the ring, but Ziggler blind tagged in and hit the Trid Yap for the victory at 8’53. This
was a decent opening match, designed to build Ziggler’s momentum for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship, while also
establishing Morrison’s weakened ribs. It succeeded on both points.

Next up was a sit-down interview with Rey Mysterio, conducted by man-for-all-seasons, Josh Matthews. Josh’s tone here was
hilariously serious, even funereal. It took away a bit from the impact of the interview. There wasn’t much to it to begin with. Rey told us
that he’s upset by what happened (duh), and then said something in Spanish, before Josh announced that it would be Rey versus
Batista at Survivor Series. Rey said that Batista decided to throw away their friendship, and the spirit of Eddie Guerrero (oh, give me a
break), and that he’s going to show big Dave a side of him that he never knew existed.

--- Beth Phoenix Vs Brittany Carter

Another squash match for Beth, against a girl, Matt Striker told us, has an extensive background in dance. And on that bombshell…

Oh yeah, Beth won in 1’55 after an Umaga-like splash in the corner, a duo of backbreakers, and the Glam Slam.

--- Drew McIntyre Vs Jimmy Wang Yang

McIntyre continued the trend of attacking opponents before the bell here, knocking Yang, who it is always nice to see, off the ropes and to
the outside. He then got on the mic and said that the party won’t begin until he gets some competition befitting a future world
champion. He started to leave, but Yang dragged himself into the ring and demanded the bell be rung. Oor Drew returned and helped
himself to a couple of reverse knife edge chops, before unleashing a big clothesline and the double-arm DDT for the 49 second win,
getting in a knee to the head after the match.

Two straight squashed then, but both were done well. The latter, as I said, adds to Drew’s character of attacking people before the
bell, and generally not thinking anyone is worthy of his time. I expect Finlay to step up next week. Beth just looked like a killer in her match,
and there’s a novelty to the women’s squash that I’m not over yet. In fact, I’d much rather watch Beth murder these
jobbers than a competitive match involving, well, just about any of the other divas.

Josh was in the back next with Batista, asking why he singled out Matt Hardy on last week’s show. Batista said that he is not here to
make friends, he’s here to be the champ, and Rey robbed him of that. He then said that Matt should have kept his big nose out, and
that he’ll hurt anyone to be champion again.

--- Rey Mysterio Vs Mike Knox

Knox took the early advantage here, using his size to beat down Rey. Rey hit back with a hurricanrana which sent Knox to the outside, but
then Mysterio missed a seated senton off the apron, allowing Knox to hit his always impressive cross body block. Back inside the ring,
Knox sent Mysterio hard into the corner, then hit a kneedrop and applied a bearhug. Rey fought out and low-bridged Knox, following up
with a baseball slide. Knox regained control with a shoulderblock inside the ring, and then a splash for a two count. He then hit a gut-
wrench backbreaker from out of an abdominal stretch, but when he tried the move again, Rey countered with a DDT. Mysterio followed up
with a low dropkick and a wheelbarrow bulldog, and then the springboard senton. Knox caught Rey with a clothesline, but then went
shoulder-first into the ring post, allowing Rey to hit the 619 and springboard splash to pick up the victory at 7’14. This was a good
match, which packed a lot into it’s relatively short time, without ever coming off as rushed. I’m still hoping that big Mike Knox push
is going to come someday.

After the announcement that John Morrison will defend his Intercontinental Championship on next week’s show against Dolph
Ziggler, it was time for CM Punk in action.

--- CM Punk Vs R-Truth

Scott Armstrong was the referee for this match, and Punk wasted no time in getting in his face. The match started with a nice wrestling
exchange, with Punk coming out on top with kicks and punches, before running into a hiptoss. Truth then sent Punk over the top with a
clothesline, and followed up with a rolling plancha to take us to commercial at 2’47. We returned with Punk in control with kicks,
before Truth reversed a suplex. The comeback was cut off by a hotshot, and then the springboard clothesline, this time to the back of the
head. He hit a snap suplex for a two count, and then applied a bow and arrow, before he missed a charge into the corner, crotching
himself on the middle turnbuckle. Truth got on a roll with punches, clotheslines, the corner jazz into a leg lariat, and then a forearm in the
corner, before he was cut off by a Punk leg lariat. This earned Punk a two count, and he got in Armstrong’s face, telling him to count
faster. The ref promptly did when Truth rolled Punk up, gaining the upset victory at 10’30. Armstrong quickly left the ring after his
decision, leaving Punk to wallow in the shock of the defeat. This was a fine match, with Truth, despite the manner of the finish, coming
out of it looking like a big deal. Punk was his usual awesome self, showcasing some of his mat wrestling talent, and one has to wonder
where this Armstrong situation is going to go from here.

We joined Mickie James in the back next, as she was approached by Michelle McCool and Layla. McCool and Layla made fun of Mickie,
alluding to a women’s tag match at Survivor Series, with Mickie as one of the captains. Michelle told Mickie that nobody liked her on
Smackdown, to which Mickie responded she was going nowhere. The acting by McCool and Layla was beyond atrocious here.

Josh, getting more TV time then half the active roster at this point, was joined by Matt Hardy in the back, with Matt explaining that he
wanted to try to help Batista, but that the Animal has changed. He then said that tonight he didn’t come to talk, he came to fight.

--- Batista Vs Matt Hardy

The early stages of this main event match saw Batista trying to use his superior power, while Hardy tried to rock his opponent with
punches. Batista got the early advantage with a clothesline, and then sent Matt hard into the corner, followed by a suplex. Matt tried to fight
back, but was stopped short when Batista dragged him off the second turnbuckle, and we went to commercial at 3’12 with the
Animal firmly in control. We returned at 7’29 with Matt in a camel clutch, and then Batista earned a two count with a powerslam. Matt
finally got into the match with a neckbreaker, and followed up with a low dropkick and a DDT. He went for a moonsault next, but Batista
moved, with Matt’s face going hard into Batista’s leg. Matt still managed to hit a Twist of Fate out of nowhere, but Batista grabbed
the bottom rope at the count of two. Hardy went for another Twist of Fate, but Batista drilled him with a spinebuster, and then started
beating him down against the ropes. The action spilt to the outside, where Batista sent Matt into the security wall and the announce table,
before hitting him with one of the television monitors, bringing about the disqualification at 13’40. Big Dave wasn’t finished there
though, as he sent Matt into the steps and then back into the ring. Batista had Matt set for a Batista Bomb, but decided against it, simply
tossing him aside and leaving the ring.

The match was decent, and the ending was perfect, with Matt nearly pulling out a victory, before Batista went hardcore and destroyed him
around ringside. For the bulk of the match though, I didn’t think that Batista’s performance was terribly convincing. He wrestled
pretty much a normal Batista match, without showing any glimpses of a new attitude. Where this heel turn falls short could be in Batistaâ
€™s lack of personality, although it seems certain that he’ll have the world championship around his waist sooner or later.

This week’s show was an improvement from last week. There were two or three decent matches, and we took a couple of more
certain steps towards the Survivor Series pay-per-view. In particular, I’m looking forward to seeing where CM Punk’s character is
heading, and the announcement that next week’s show will feature the Undertaker one on one with Chris Jericho (although why theyâ
€™d give this away is beyond me), as well as the Intercontinental Championship match, makes it a must watch.

MVP of the night- CM Punk. Just because he’s awesome, and continues to be the most intriguing character on the show.

Line of the night- I wanted to pay homage to Matt Striker here, who added so much to the commentary with his insight. In particular, I liked
him talking about how Rey has not only lost a friend, but he’s lost the person that he would travel with, and strategise with. As well as
making wrestling seem more like a legitimate sport, it also adds an added dimension to Rey’s sense of loss.