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January 8, 2010
– Adam Russell

Lights Out

There has been a worrying trend in the WWE just lately of big and heavily hyped television matches ending in cheap and inconclusive
ways. There was the DX/Jeri-Show match, in which the two teams never actually locked up before DX got themselves intentionally
disqualified, the Sheamus/Cena match, which lasted about two minutes before a cheap DQ finish, and the John Morrison/Drew McIntyre
match, which was a comparative broadway at five minutes before the ref intervened. Another notable example was the Rey
Mysterio/Undertaker match which ended in a disqualification when Batista ran in. That led us to the beat the clock challenge last week to
decide a new number one contender for the Undertaker’s world championship, which in turn leads us to the match between Rey and
Batista which would main event tonight’s show. Would we get a clean winner, and new number one contender, or will it be another case
of the rug being pulled out from underneath the fans?

After a recap of last week’s happenings, Batista made his way out, stopping on the stage to demand a spotlight be on him as he walked
down the aisle. Once in the ring, big Dave complained that nothing has changed since last year; the fans are still booing him, and Teddy
Long is still trying to stick it to him. He went on that he appreciated Vickie Guerrero stepping in last week, making the Batista Vs Rey main
event for tonight, but she isn’t the general manager, and he wants an explanation from the man who is. Rather than Teddy Long, it was
Rey Mysterio who came out, and told Batista that costing him the beat the clock win last week was payback for Batista interfering in his
World Heavyweight Championship match with the Undertaker. He then speculated that Batista is scared of losing to him in the main
event, to which Batista responded that Rey won’t be able to walk out of the arena by the end of the night. That brought an end to what was
a completely meaningless segment.

--- Kane Vs Dolph Ziggler

These two went to a draw in the beat the clock challenge last week, ending with Ziggler delivering a Trid Yap to the Big Red Machine.
Ziggler tried to use his speed at the onset of this return match, but got caught by Kane who hit a thrust to the throat. He then took Dolph
down with a side headlock, and hit a low dropkick. He followed that up by placing Ziggler on the ropes, but Dolph fought him off and hit a
missile dropkick for only a one count. A DDT earned Ziggler another count of one, as did a Mr Perfect head snap. Kane hit back by
reversing a hiptoss attempt, and then knocking Dolph down with an elbow, before Dolph returned to the move that had been successful
for him last week, mounting Kane with a sleeper. Kane backed Ziggler into the corner, and then blocked a tornado DDT attempt before
hitting a clothesline in the corner, a big boot, side suplex and top rope clothesline. Ziggler fought out of a chokeslam attempt and caught
Kane with the Trid Yap, but Kane kicked out at two, forcing Ziggler to go back to the sleeper. This time Kane went through the middle rope
to the outside, but Ziggler held on, breaking the hold and rolling back into the ring just before the referee reached a count of ten, giving
him a count-out victory at 6’21.

This was a smartly worked match, built around the idea that Ziggler can’t pin Kane. Him going back to the sleeper made him look smart,
which puts him over, and I like the fact that they built on the match from last week, rather than having practically the same match again, or
acting like they’d never fought before.

In the back, Michelle McCool and Layla were seen apologising to Beth Phoenix for costing her her match against Mickie James last
week. They then revealed that they had another gift for James- a trough full of lettuce. Beth told them that they better get serious, because
Layla has a match with her.

Elsewhere backstage, Chris Jericho was complaining to the Hart Dynasty about being banned from Raw. He talked about two weeks
ago when he asked them to make an impact and they responded by giving him the Hart Attack, saying that he respected them for going
after the big dog. He then asked if they planned on continuing to make an impact. Natalya replied that this is their time, and David Hart
Smith continued that what happened to Bret Hart on Raw, getting kicked in the crotch by Vince McMahon, was an embarrassment to them
and their family, but it will never happen to them because they are better than that.

--- R-Truth and Cryme Tyme Vs Chris Jericho and the Hart Dynasty (w/Natalya)

Tyson Kidd and R-Truth got us started, with Truth getting an early advantage with a dropkick. Truth and JTG then hit a double flapjack as
the latter tagged in, and then Shad tagged in to hit a clothesline and elbow. Truth then came back in caught a kick, which allowed Kidd to
tag Jericho, but Truth took the fresh man down with a hiptoss, the corner jazz into a pump kick, and a leg lariat, as we went to break at 2’
37. We returned at 5’55 with Shad and Jericho in the ring, and Shad dominating with a clothesline and a press slam, before he was low-
bridged out of the ring by Smith. Kidd and Jericho then took turns working over Shad, until Kidd made the mistake of taking a cheap shot
at Truth, which allowed Shad to hit a clothesline and tag in JTG. Kidd tagged Jericho, and JTG went to work with a shoulderblock and a
wraparound clothesline. He went for a cover but Kidd broke the count, getting clotheslined out of the ring by Truth for his troubles. The
distraction allowed JTG to roll Jericho up for a very close two, but he got caught going for a leg lariat off the second rope into the Walls of
Jericho, and had no choice but to tap out at 10’40, bringing to an end an entertaining, but throwaway, match.

Next it was time for CM Punk, along with Luke Gallows, to come out and “save” a member of the live crowd, as he promised to do last
week. The man he picked out went by the name ‘James’, and made his way awkwardly into the ring, as Punk told him this was the most
important moment of his life. He asked James if he was tired of living his life like a loser, to which James responded that he is, and that
he’s tried to quit smoking a number of times, but it never works. Punk told him that trying isn’t good enough, and that now it’s time to stop
trying, and to start doing. James said he’s ready to make that change, but Punk said that actions speak louder than words. At that point,
the Straight-Edge Superstar pulled out a pair of shears and, in a symbol of commitment as he called it, he shaved James’s head, telling
the young man that now when he looks in the mirror he’s know that he is stronger than everyone else. Punk and Gallows then raised
James’s arms in victory to end the segment.

This was really well done- Punk was typically exemplary on the mic, and I love the metamorphosis his character is undergoing into some
sort of cult leader. This point was enhanced by Matt Striker telling us that Punk himself doesn’t need to shave his head because he has
already achieved a state of nirvana. I can see the heat growing for this act over the coming weeks, and someone is going to get a serious
rub from standing up to Punk and Gallows. Speaking of ‘rub’, my favourite part of the segment was Luke Gallows constantly massaging
the shoulder of James, and even stroking his face throughout the segment, prompting Todd Grisham to make mention of the ‘tender
touch of Luke Gallows’. I noticed last week that Gallows was rather touchy-feely towards his mentor, and I found it funny that Grisham felt
the need to mention it.

--- Luke Gallows (w/ CM Punk) Vs Matt Hardy

The Straight-Edge Society stayed ringside in anticipation of this next match, Gallows first televised singles match since his
transformation. He took Matt down with a shoulderblock early on, but missed a legdrop, allowing Matt to go after the leg. He tried a
suplex, but Gallows blocked and front suplexed Hardy onto the top rope, and then punched him to the outside. Gallows followed him out
and backed him three times into the apron, and then sent him back inside where he hit a back suplex. He then locked on a chinlock,
which Matt countered with a jaw japper. Gallows briefly regained control but missed a splash, and Hardy levelled him with a top rope
moonsault for a two count, and followed up with a clothesline and a neckbreaker. The clothesline/bulldog combination was blocked by
Gallows, so Hardy hit a tornado DDT instead for another two count, and that is when Punk intervened, climbing up to the apron and
causing enough of a distraction for Gallows to hit a big boot. He followed that up with the Tender Touch of Luke Gallows for the win at 5’
43. Things are not looking good for Matt Hardy right now, especially with Jeff Hardy showing up on TNA last week.

In the back, Teddy Long congratulated Maria on being named to the cast of Celebrity Apprentice, and then Vickie Guerrero came in to add
her own, insincere, congratulations. Vickie then showed Maria the new line of WWE action figures and asked Maria for her sales pitch.
Long then said that Vickie’s figure will be the biggest one of them all, prompting the Great Khali to come in and tell Vickie, via Ranjin
Singh, that she reminds him of a cow, before mooing in her face.

This was basically a commercial which parlayed into a chance to take some cheap shots at Guerrero. It’s also a sad indictment of the
company that they had to change it up from the ‘Vickie is a pig’ stuff they were doing before, because of the fact that another female
employee is currently the recipient of that comparison. Drivel.

--- Beth Phoenix Vs Layla (w/Michelle McCool)

Layla offered her hand to the Glamazon, but Beth clotheslined her, and then slammed her to the mat, forcing Layla to the outside. McCool
then rolled Layla back in, presumably to show Beth that she was on her side, and Layla made a brief comeback before falling victim to
the Glam Slam after 1’44. McCool came into the ring after the match and, while Layla grabbed Beth’s leg, kicked the Glamazon in the
head, and the two double teamed her until Mickie James made the save. Then, as payback for last week when Phoenix delivered a Glam
Slam to Mickie, Mickie gave Beth a Mick Kick. I like the way this angle is building.

Josh Matthews was in the back with Drew McIntyre next, and the Scotsman said he would become the first Intercontinental champion to
win the Royal Rumble match. That brought John Morrison in, who challenged Drew to say something to his face, insulting him for being
Scottish to force him to the make the first move. McIntyre responded that the issue between them is over, and he is moving onto bigger
and better things, causing Morrison to slap him in the face and dominate a short brawl. I’m not really interested in seeing another match
between these two. McIntyre hasn’t really shown me anything to indicate that he deserves to be in this spot, whereas I can’t get behind
Morrison as a babyface at all. Part of the reason is booking like this, wherein Morrison cuts in on McIntyre’s interview for no reason, tries
to rile him up with some racism, and then when McIntyre shows himself to be above that, results to cheapshotting him. And I’m
supposed to cheer this guy. It’s a topsy-turvy world we’re living in.

--- Number One Contenders Match- Batista Vs Rey Mysterio

Main event time, and Rey started off by getting Batista on the run around the ring, and then delivering a baseball slide. Batista finally got
ahold of Rey inside the ring, powered him into the corner, and sent him hard across the ring. He followed that up with a backbreaker, and
then an over the shoulder backbreaker, before Rey caught him with a kick and went for a springboard hurricanrana. Batista caught him,
but Rey managed to execute the move anyway, and Batista managed to roll out of the ring before Rey could hit the 619. Rey went for a
dive onto the floor, but Batista caught him and sent him into the ring-post, and that’s when we went to commercial, 2’21 into the match.
We came back at 5’37, with both Rey and Batista on the top rope, and Rey knocking Batista down before hitting a frog splash. However, it
looked like Batista was maybe supposed to move out of the way, or get his knees up, as Rey sold it like he got the worst of the move.
Batista then caught Rey going for a springboard cross body block and downed him with a spinebuster, following up with another, and
then a spear. When it looked like the Batista Bomb was forthcoming, the Undertaker’s bong was heard, and the lights went out. When
they came back on, Batista was down in the ring. Rey took advantage with a low dropkick, and then hit a springboard into a wheelbarrow
bulldog. He next countered a slam attempt into a DDT, and then hit the 619. However, before Rey could capitalise, the lights went out
again, and when they came back on, Rey was down. The lights then dimmed one more time, and this time when they came back on,
both men were down. The Undertaker’s music then started playing and the show, and evidently the match, came to an end.

So another screwy finish to a big match, and this one might have been the worst of them all as far as I’m concerned. It’s been obvious for
a few weeks now that the company is building to a triple threat match at the Royal Rumble between the three, but there have to be a
hundred better ways to get there than this. The Undertaker’s ’lights out’ shtick is so passe by this point, and illogical in the sense that you’
d think after all this time the referee would get wise to the routine, and would have disqualified Rey after the first attack on Batista, or at
least made the match a no contest. Apparently, it takes three instances of the lights going out to constitute a no contest. No more, no
less. This kind of stuff is a big reason why I am not a fan of the Undertaker.

Smackdown this week was really a mixture of good and decent, with nothing being out and out bad, barring a couple of the skits and the
finish to the main. It’s worth noting that, early as we are into the year, CM Punk looks to be throwing down the gauntlet to everyone else as
far as performer of the year might go.

MVP of the night- Punk. Excellent promo and segment.

Line of the night- Grisham’s “the tender touch of Luke Gallows” line. So good, they named a move after it (well, I did).