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TV REPORTS
KELLER'S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 5/9: One-Night Tournament to Set up Judgment Day Title Match

May 14, 2008 - 6:36:26 PM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor

KELLER'S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MAY 9, 2008
AIRED ON THE CW


WHAT HAPPENED: 2ND HOUR

-The show opened with clips from last week's Smackdown where Vickie Guerrero banned Undertaker's choke hold and stripped him of his WWE Title.

-They went cold to the ring without any show opening montage. Teddy Long rolled Vickie onto the stage as Edge walked alongside them. She asked for everyone's attention. She read a prepared statement. She said the last seven days have the most difficult for her since becoming general manager. She said she didn't want to strip Undertaker of the title, but she felt she must. She said in two weeks at Judgment Day, there will be a match for the World Championship, and out of fairness Undertaker will be among those included in the match. She said if plans to regain the belt, he must do so without use of his illegal chokehold. She said Taker's opponent will be determined tonight. She invited any current or former World, ECW, or U.S. Champion to participate in the "Championship Chase to Judgment Day." She said The Great Khali was back in India recovering from Undertaker's chokehold so he's out. She said Edge isn't medically cleared, either. That leaves The Big Show, John Morrison, Finlay, C.M. Punk, Chavo Guerrero, Tommy Dreamer, MVP, Kane, Matt Hardy, and Batista. Batista got the biggest pop, with Hardy second, and Kane and Punk rounding out the final four, but they weren't that ahead of Dreamer - at least based on what made it through the post-production propaganda machine.

-The Smackdown opening montage then aired, then Michael Cole and Mick Foley introduced the show.

1 -- MATT HARDY vs. C.M. PUNK -- Title Tournament Match

Foley complained that Taker is being punished retroactively for applying a move that was legal at the time it was applied. He said it's a slap in the face to Taker, any WWE Superstar, and all fans. Cole said Vickie softened her stance by giving Taker a pass into the match at Judgment Day for the vacant title. Cole listed Triple H, Ric Flair, Batista, and Undertaker as former holders of the gold belt. Hardy wore his U.S. Title to the ring. Punk brought his briefcase. Foley noted that Matt says on his new DVD that his ultimate goal is to one day be WWE Champion. I believe Matt sincerely aspires to that goal and it will mean as much to him as anyone if he's given that chance since he's not a lock and never has been to get that opportunity, so it will be hard fought politically and performance-wise to get the confidence of management to get a reign of any length. As they wrestled and countered each other mid-ring for the first few minutes, Foley said a pinfall could come at any point. Indeed, a minute later, Hardy scored a leverage pin on Punk in an innovative spot.

WINNER: Hardy in 4:00 to advance to the Over the Top Rope Challenge later.

STAR RATING: *


[Commercial Break]

2 -- MVP vs. FINLAY (w/Hornswoggle) -- Title Tournament Match

They had the title belt in a glass case on the stage, so the wrestlers could admire it on their way to the ring. Nice touch. During MVP's ring intro, Foley said: "That man MVP is about as bitter as a Pennsylvania primary voter, except instead of clinging to guns and religion, he clings to the chance of earning World Heavyweight Championship gold." Okay, that was a bit of a stretch, and actually a little dated already. He needed an Indiana or North Carolina analogy instead. Hornswoggle distracted MVP by rolling a couple tennis balls into the ring. A couple minutes in, MVP applied the Fujiwara armbar (which Foley called by name; take that, Coach!) on Finlay. They cut to a break just as Cole wondered aloud whether Finlay would tap out.

[Commercial Break]

The armbar was shifted, but still locked on. Finlay made pain faces, but wasn't doing much to try to escape the hold. If it hurt that much, why not try to escape? He finally did maneuver himself to the mat and slithered out. Finlay threw a clothesline with his sore arm, then grabbed it i pain. MVP gave Finlay a running boot, sending Finlay to the floor. Finlay hit MVP at ringside with a forearm, then threw MVP back into the ring. MVP, though, yanked Finlay's arm over the middle rope as he reentered the ring, then went back to working over Finlay's arm. MVP kept things interesting with a new variation of armlock each time he went back to it. He shifted to a keylock at 10:00. Finlay came back and slammed MVP, with MVP's legs catching the middle rope on the way down. Finlay began working over MVP's left leg. He applied a single-leg crab. MVP escaped and countered into an attempted armbar submission. Finlay escaped and reapplied a leg hold. MVP grabbed the bottom rope to force a break. Finlay back suplexed MVP and bridged, The ref counted to three. Both men's shoulders were down, so the match was called a draw. During the replay, Foley gave Cole a hard time for calling the back suplex a side suplex.

WINNER: Draw in 15:00.

STAR RATING: **3/4 -- For a match without much in the way of highspots or even bumps, this was pretty compelling and well done. It's the closest to what MVP was doing a year ago with Chris Benoit on SD when MVP first showed signs of being a level or two above early expectations.

[Commercial Break]

3 -- KELLY KELLY vs. NATALYA NEIDHART (w/Victoria)

Foley said contemptuously: "Kelly Kelly, Jelly Jelly, is that what Mike Adamle said on the ECW broadcast?" Natalya gave Kelly a nasty looking back suplex and a hard yank off the ropes. Harder bumps here than in the previous longer match.

WINNER: Natalya in 2:00 via Sharpshooter tapout.

-A video package aired on Vickie Guerrero's decision to ban Undertaker's choke. They actually interviewed fans who commented on it. The fans were all straight-faced in explaining their rationale for being for or against Vickie's decision. One boy said he's in favor of it because it causes internal bleeding and can cause permanent harm to Superstars. Great piece. I wonder how many fans were playing along versus are actually buying into Vickie as an authority figure.

[Commercial Break]

-After a replay of the double Finlay vs. MVP pinfall finish, Vickie said she chooses not to see it as both losing, but as both winning, so they both are advancing to the next round.

4 -- JOHN MORRISON (w/The Miz) vs. BATISTA -- Title Tournament Match

Morrison played hard to get early. When Batista chased him at ringside, Morrison swung through the ropes and kicked Batista. He then took over on Batista with sustained offense. Cole said if Morrison won, it'd be one of the biggest upsets in SD history. In a good touch, Cole did acknowledge that Morrison's career is full of accolades, but it would still be an upset.

WHAT HAPPENED: 2ND HOUR

Morrison scored a near fall after a missile dropkick. Cole was especially good in calling the near fall. He seems inspired by (a) having Foley instead of Coach next to him; and (b) looking so good in comparison to the Mike Adamle debacle. At 6:00, Batista caught Morrison mid-air with a spear, then hit a Batista Bomb for a quick sudden win.

WINNER: Batista in 7:00.

STAR RATING: *3/4

-A video package aired on Taker being stripped of the title last week. Then Cole and Foley were shown on camera as they talked about Vickie's decision. Foley said Vickie made a bad decision, but they've become beneficiaries with a great night of Smackdown. They listed the qualifiers for the Over the Top Challenge: Finlay, MVP, Hardy, and Batista. Then they showed Big Show backstage heading toward the entrance tunnel.

[Commercial Break]

5 -- THE BIG SHOW vs. TOMMY DREAMER

WINNER: Big Show with a chokeslam in 2:00. Pretty much a cake walk.

[Commercial Break]

6 -- KANE vs. CHAVO GUERRERO (w/Bam Neely)

Foley said it's been a long time since he's been near a Kane entrance and it's a sight to behold. After scolding Neely for interfering, Foley admitted he didn't always follow the rules. He excused it by saying he was dealing with the bad hand that mother nature dealt him. Chavo worked over Kane's legs for a couple minutes. Kane made a comeback, but as is more the case lately with WWE wrestlers, he continued to sell the leg injury even as he switched to offense. Kane blocked a Chavo sunset flip, sat down on it, and scored a pin. He knocked Neely off the ring apron afterward, too.

WINNER: Kane in 6:00.

STAR RATING: *1/4

[Commercial Break]

-A replay aired from backstage last week when Deuce and Domino complained to Cherry for doing her own thing, so they said they were through with her. Isn't one of them her sister and the other her boyfriend? That's pretty harsh.

7 -- VLADIMIR KOZLOV vs. PHIL ATLAS

Vladimir came to the ring without entrance music. He must not have an contract, huh? Foley said Kozlov's "entrance music" is foot-tapping good and some of Jim Johnson's best work. Cole called Kozlov "machine-like." Kozlov has good facial expressions when he's not trying too hard to make faces. He's starting to cross the border into cartoon faces, whereas he's much better off trying to fit in with MMA intensity and let his "Russian appearance" tell the story.

WINNER: Kozlov in 2:00.

-Cole and Foley revealed text message votes where 76 percent felt Vickie made the wrong decision in stripping Undertaker of the title.

-They showed Batista warming up backstage for the Over the Top Challenge next.

[Commercial Break]

8 -- OVER THE TOP ROPE CHALLENGE

Winner faces Undertaker at Judgment Day for the vacant World Championship. Order of ring entrances: Big Show, MVP, Finlay, Hardy (with all of the ring entrance music changes, can I vote for his to change?), Batista. The match began with 18 minutes left in the show. After a headbutt by Show, MVP rolled to the floor. Foley called it a creative rest. It was the usual early battle royal dynamic with a bunch of people leaning in corners and punching each other. Show took some big shots at Batista and Kane and was made to look the strongest early as they cut to a break at 4:00.

[Commercial Break]

Batista and Kane attempted to eliminate Show after the break. Show held on and returned fire with a headbutt on Batista. Hardy gave Finlay a Side Effect, but MVP snuck up behind Hardy and eliminated him at 10:00. MVP then gave Finlay a stiff kick to the face. Show lifted Finlay above his head, then Batista speared him. Finlay hit Batista and Show with his shillelagh. Kane then kicked Finlay, knocking him over the top rope to the floor. Kane punched Show in the corner as MVP charged at Batista in another corner. Batista moved and MVP flew over the top rope to the floor. Show then clotheslined Kane over the top rope. That left Show vs. Batista. They circled each other. Batista avoided a Show charge and went for a Batista Bomb. Show blocked it and lifted Batista. Batista powered Show over the top rope with a head scissors. The bell rang and Batista's music played. Not another Undertaker vs. Batista match. Vickie rolled out and said she has even greater news. She said her fiance has just been medically cleared. "I know, isn't it great?" She announced that Batista will face Edge right now in the continuation of the Championship Race. Edge charged to the ring and knocked Batista off the ring apron to win. As Edge celebrated on the stage, the title belt display went up in flames and Taker's bell sounded.

WINNER: Edge in 16:00.

STAR RATING: *1/2 -- Lousy and plodding early, but the finish was a nice twist to frustrate fans in a good way, setting up Taker vs. Edge at Judgement Day.




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