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12/16 WWE Friday Night Smackdown report: Smackdown Express

Dec 17, 2005 - 4:19:00 AM

By Mike Roe, Torch Team Contributor

WWE Smackdown review
December 16, 2005
Taped 12/13/2005 in Springfield, Mass.
Aired on UPN
Report by Mike Roe, Torch OVW/Smackdown Specialist

Hello everyone! I just got done watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, so I'm in a cheery mood. Will tonight's Smackdown ruin that? Let's find out! But first, it's time for some trivia from your hero and mine, Seth!


Raw Is Trivial with the "Supreme" Seth Berger!

Raw Is Trivial would like to remind you about Dusty's Raw report every Tuesday morning. This past week, I took a lookie-look and laughed myself silly. And for once, it wasn't the ineptitude of the creative team. Just watching the Mountie, Adam Bomb, Giant Gonzales & IRS argue like some psychotic announcing team (or the cast of characters from the "Naked Gun") was well worth the click of admission. I'd highly advise you to check it out.

Now, I asked StarDust how I could do something like that to jazz up the long-running Trivial series, but he's too busy figuring out the semi-final match-up in our Fantasy Football league. (FYI, the Trivialmeister finished second-to-last and was eliminated from the playoffs. BTW, a pick from Dusty means instant doom for your team.)

Fortunately for you, I couldn't get the "Trivial Feud" off of the ground, where those circa 1985-86 8" WWF wrestlers take on the old-school M.U.S.C.L.E. crew. Wouldn't you like to have seen the Iron Sheik match wits with the long-running Extreme Heavyweight Champion, "The Brick" Bryce Anderson? Or maybe Tito Santana going ONE-ON-ONE...with the "Proven One"? (Bob Jones, the most decorated wrestling champion in history, for those of you not privy to my sad little shot at booking.) Maybe you'd prefer resident smart-ass Tennessee Death as the host. (The Legend lives on! And my action figure collection hit a wall in 1992.)

Anyway, forget about my technical difficulties, it's onto Trivial! And, as I am normally doing after work, I toss in an old WWF PPV just to pass the time until I have to go to bed at night. One PPV had me totally floored just by Jim Ross' announcement that "this is the first PPV I've ever had the privelige of calling from Madison Square Garden." Now, I want you to reach back into your brain and tell me to which WWF PPV that was referred. The only hint I gave was by saying "WWF", so now you have an idea what era you should be searching. This is an answer that can't be looked up, so don't even try. Just take a wild, uneducated guess. And I'll see you later on in the report. Now, here's Mike with the SmackDown Express.


JR's voice is still in the pre-show intro. What's the over/under for how long it stays there?

We got a recap of Randy Orton coming out and calling out the Undertaker, complaining about Taker's mind games. WWE produced song "The End Is Here" played in the background. Taker's light bathed the arena and he came on the sound system and told Randy that he was on the highway to Hell. During the rest of the show, Randy hallucinated... or Taker was playing tricks... or maybe we were hallucinating, I don't know. Randy saw Undertaker in a mirror, Taker appeared on a video screen that Orton didn't see (so was that part real?), Randy saw his dad's face covered with blood and then, a second later, it wasn't there, and finally, Josh Mathews was possessed (yes, seriously) and Undertaker's voice came out of his mouth telling Orton that, basically, he was screwed. They also showed more clips of the Orton/Taker feud, as well as of past Hells in the Cell.

The Smackdown intro won't be denied! Are we ever going to get a new intro? God, it feels like we've had the same thing forever.

Tonight: MNM defends the WWE Tag Team Championship against Batist and Rey Mysterio as both teams prepare for matches at Armageddon! Tazz referred to the match as "ginormous." I think he meant to say "ginormous mismatch," but whatever, maybe it will be surprisingly good, we'll see.

(1) The Boogeyman defeated Nunzio (with Vito).

Pre-match analysis: Any show that starts with the Boogeyman is a great, great show, no matter what else happens. It looks like they've gotten better control over the smoke cover, so that you could at least see Boogey crawling out with the clock in his mouth, though once he stood up, he was shrouded in the smoke. His pyro went off and he did his goofy little dance as he came to the ring. I don't know that the gimmicked staff is really necessary. Cole wanted to know what was coming out of it, and Cole and Tazz claimed it was a putrid smell. Somehow, I doubt it. OK, I guess I was wrong about the smoke being under control, as it totally covered the ring and made it pretty hard to see, especially with the lighting. Nunzio and Vito were freaking out in the ring, and Vito bailed to ringside, leaving Nunzio all alone as Boogeyman got into the ring.

Match analysis: Nunzio had already fallen back out of fear, and he scooted around the ring to get away from Boogeyman. Tazz had a great riff about secondhand smoke being bad for you due to all the smoke in the arena. Boogeyman got a modified armbar, followed by a double overhook, leading into headbutts to Nunzio's shoulder. Boogeyman tossed Nunzio to the mat. They cut to a great scene backstage, where the Smackdown locker room was watching the match in disbelief. Those watching included Sylvan, Funaki, Scotty 2 Hotty, what looked like Paul London with new ring gear, Simon Dean, William Regal, Paul Burchill, Booker T and Sharmell in the foreground. In the back were what looked like Brian Kendrick next to London, Jillian Hall, and Orlando Jordan. Back in the ring, Boogeyman put a bunch of worms in his mouth from his pocket, and the worms were coming out. So disgusting. It's amazing how Boogeyman smiles through all that. Boogeyman grabbed Nunzio by the throat and threw him into the corner. Cole pointed out that Boogeyman was chewing the worms. Ewwwww. Boogeyman hit a pumphandle slam, covered, and got the victory.

Post-match analysis: Vito was angry on the outside, taking off his gay biker cap and throwing it to the floor. He was about to go after Boogeyman, and made it as far as the apron, but as he looked at Boogeyman chewing the worms and Boogeyman looked at Vito, Vito had second thoughts and bailed back to ringside, grabbed his hat and fell backwards as he started frantically running to the back. In the ring, Boogeyman held Nunzio's head and pulled more worms out of his pocket, then shoved them into Nunzio's mouth. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Cole said he'd never felt sorry for Nunzio until now. Boogeyman left the ring and continued to chew. They cut backstage again. Simon Dean was freaking out, saying "No way!" followed by the most comical shudder of fear ever, followed by an "Oh my God!" in a high pitched, girlish voice. Pretty much everyone was grossed out. Sylvan said it was disgusting eating worms, and not fashionable or trendy. He added something in French. They showed a replay of the finish, followed by Boogeyman shoving worms into Nunzio's mouth. Boogeyman was still standing on the stage eating worms. They showed the worms crawling around on the mat.

Match grade: D. A Boogeyman match. Pretty much what you'd expect from a Boogeyman match. Complete squash with no offense from Nunzio. The best part of the whole thing was Simon Dean's reaction backstage. The worms thing wasn't nearly as good as last week, as I'm figuring Nunzio wasn't as eager to have those things crawling all over his face. Boogeyman's definitely over, though it seems that they'd get more out of him as a heel.

*** Backstage, Cowboy Bob Orton was trying to talk some sense into his son Randy. Cowboy Bob told Randy he should go talk to someone. Randy didn't think it was a good idea. Bob said that they had to do something. Randy questioned whether seeing a "shrink" was a good idea. Cowboy Bob said he was a shrink, he was the number one sports psychologist in the country and he was there tonight just to see Randy. Cowboy Bob said that Randy has a Hell in a Cell match with Undertaker in two days and that this psychologist will help make sure he's prepared and at the top of his game and walk out knowing he's the man. Randy said he would do it for his dad and walked through the door to the psychologist.

(Commercial break.)

Hell in a Cell Last Rites: Looks like we're going to be getting Hell in a Cell highlights throughout the show. The first clip was from Badd Blood 1997, and we saw clips of Undertaker beating the crap out of Shawn Michaels. Taker rammed Shawn Michaels into the outside of the cell like a javelin. Taker gorilla pressed him on top of the cell and slammed him onto the top of the cell. He kicked Michaels to the side. Michaels almost fell off but held on, but Undertaker stomped on his hand, causing him to fall through the Spanish announce table at ringside. Er, cellside.

*** Randy Orton was lying down on a couch talking to the psychologist. He talked about how he'd been seeing things, and in particular, had been seeing the Undertaker everywhere. Orton was about to say he sees Taker when he sleeps, but then stopped himself and said he can't get to sleep because, when he closes his eyes, Undertaker is there. It doesn't matter where he is. When he's at a stoplight, Taker is in the car next to him. If he's walking down the street, he's in the reflection in a window, standing behind Randy. He's in Randy's head, everywhere he goes, physically, emotionally, he can't shake Taker, and he's driving Orton crazy. The psychologist asked about the Hell in a Cell match. Orton said that was just it. "It's Hell... in a cell!" (Thanks for breaking it down for us, Randy!) Randy said that you're trapped like an animal, with nowhere to go, in the steel cage. You can't hide anywhere, you can't run. You're not in control of your environment, you're not in control of everything. Randy said that he needed control, and when he's in the ring, he normally has a sense of control, but the cell takes that away. Randy said the cell doesn't just end careers, it ruins lives, and it ruins men, and destroys them. The psychologist said that there are times in every athlete's life when they have to face tough decisions, when the choices are about more than where you're going to compete and when, where you have to reevaluate. The doctor said there are two rights stretching out before Orton, and he's got to make a choice, a decision with no less gravity than life and death. He said that Randy had to make that choice, and had to make it now. Orton seemed to be contemplating what to do.

*** Batista was going through his bag backstage that looked a bit too much like a purse for me to think it was normal. Kind of a vinyl thing with a checkered pattern. Maybe it's like Joey's man bag from Friends. He grabbed a bottle of water when there was a knock at the door. Melina came in and got all touchy feely with Batista and asked him if he was getting ready for his match, and he said yes. She said she doesn't normally do anything like this (Yeah, sure, that's what they all say!), but this is a special occasion. Batista was skeptical. Melina said that MNM are excited to have that match against Rey and the World Heavyweight Champion, but they have a match this Sunday against the Mexicools, and need this time to prepare. Melina was rubbing Batista's chest, and God, I have never wanted to be Batista more in my life. Melina asked Batista if he could withdraw himself from the match tonight, and Batista said "I don't think so." Melina then strattled Batista's leg and said that she could really make it worth his while. Oh my God. Melina had on this great red tank top with shiny trim around her, ahem, decolletage, along with a super short purple miniskirt. Batista is the luckiest man ever. Batista asked how she was going to make it worth his while. Melina then sat on his knee and said, "Let me show you." Good Lord. They then started making out. Batista put one hand on Melina's back and then, being the complete pimp that he is, grabbed her other leg and pulled it around his leg so that she had her legs wrapped around him. When did WWE put a camera in my dreams? They were making out and Batista was leaning into Melina as they cut to a promo for the match.

Tonight: Batista and Rey Mysterio versus MNM? Tazz said that he figured the match was still going to happen. Cole said that Melina could be rather convincing, but that Batista and Mysterio were still set to face MNM for the tag team titles unless Melina could do a little convincing. Also tonight, Matt Hardy versus Booker T! Duhhhh, I wonder who's going to win this match?

(Commercial break.)

Armageddon press conference: The most recent PPV press conference was in Providence, Rhode Island last Monday. Michael Cole introduced it. They talked to various fans who were psyched for the show. Melina spoke for MNM, saying that, this Sunday, they were going to prove that they will remain tag team champions. JBL spoke and was gold as well. JBL said that few people can have their name put on a marquee without an opponent and sell an arena out. Well, he doesn't have a PPV opponent, but something tells me he didn't sell all those tickets. JBL then did his awesome wrestling god bit, whoo! They talked to fans who said that Hell in a Cell was Undertaker's gang and that Randy Orton would finally rest in peace. Randy Orton said that he wasn't scared of the Undertaker. In a funny bit, Taker's gong hit and the lights started flashing and Orton scurried off the stage like... uh... something that scurries. Rats scurry, right? OK, like a rat. Booker T went up with Sharmell and said that Sunday would be a great night as Booker captures the United States Championship. Some goofy fan said that the Red Sox were down three to none, and that Benoit could do it too. Batista wrapped things up, saying that Kane is 350 ponds, Big Show is 7 feet tall, together they're 850 pounds, and asked how you deal with it. Batista said that he and Mysterio were going to break them down, beat them up, and guaranteed victory, one two three! Usually the babyfaces keep their promises, so I think that has me putting my money on Batista and Mysterio at the PPV.

(2) Kid Kash defeated Super Crazy (with Psicosis and Juventud.)

Pre-match analysis: Kid Kash made his way out after making his official storyline debut last week, though he had previously appeared on the weekend shows, as well as in a cruiserweight battle royal on one of the Eddie tribute shows. He had his left elbow taped up. Cole said that Kash would be taking on Juventud at Armageddon for the Cruiserweight Championship. They showed a clip of last week as Super Crazy defeated Joey Mercury in an awful, awful match, but after the match, Kid Kash ambushed Juventud and finished him off with a brainbuster and yelled his name in Juventud's face, then said that he was going to get the belt as he walked up the ramp. Unfortunately, Kash has lost his cool look from back in the TNA days as WWE had him cut his hair and he now looks like pretty much every other wrestler.

The Mexicools were out next. Super Crazy led the group out. Kash looked uneasy about the other two Mexicools being there surrounding the ring. Kash hid behind the ref when Juventud got in the ring. Super Crazy had to get Juventud to back off. Referee Nick Patrick banned Juvy and Psicosis from ringside after Juvy's outburst. Go evil referee!

Match analysis: Kash kicked Crazy in the gut to get the early advantage and continued beating on Crazy. Kash was going for a hip toss, but Crazy countered and gave Kash a monkey flip, but it looked a little F'd up as Kash barely went anywhere on the move and landed on his butt. Crazy delivered a drop toehold and followed with a low front dropkick to Kash's face. Kash dodged Crazy and sent him through the ropes, but Crazy held on and ran back in to hit a spinning heel kick to the jaw. Kash rolled over to the apron to recover. Crazy grabbed Kash by the hair on the apron. He missed a punch, allowing Kash to do a modified neckbreaker on Crazy over the top rope. Tazz talked about his history with Kash in ECW. Kash hit a shoulder breaker and covered, but Crazy kicked out.

Kash started beating on Crazy's back and yanking him around by the pair and slamming his head into the mat, but the ref called for the break. Crazy twitched some on the mat. Crazy started delivering shots to Kash's gut and was going for a slam, but Kash countered and grabbed Crazy's hair and slammed the back of his neck into Kash's knee. Kash covered, but Crazy covered. Kash grabbed Crazy by the back of the hair and pulled back, breaking before the five count. Kash locked in a submission shortly, locking Crazy's arm, before dropping a knee on Crazy's back. Kash then hit a strong style knee to Crazy's face, followed by strong style kicks to his front and back. The fans broke into a Super Crazy chant. Kash went for knees to Crazy, but Crazy started coming back until Kash cut him off with a kick to the gut. Kash was going for a neckbreaker, but Crazy shoved him off and hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, which Tazz corrected Cole on when Cole just called it a backbreaker. Cole pointed out that they needed to just talk in sound bites.

Crazy hit a dropkick and followed up with another dropkick. Crazy hit a rolling legbar and was also selling his neck from what Kash had been doing. Crazy covered, but Kash kicked out at two. Cole made a sex joke, talking about how he didn't think Melina had a headache tonight. Uh, I guess that's a joke. I think. Kash telegraphed a backdrop, so Crazy was able to hit a tornado DDT. Crazy dragged Kash into position and started climbing the ropes for a moonsault. Tazz was joking around about how he would be better at what Batista's doing with Melina than Batista, and Cole made a gag about how Tazz didn't like working matches. Crazy went for the moonsault, but Kash rolled out of the way due to how long it took Crazy to climb the ropes. Kash delivered the brainbuster and covered, hooking the leg and trapping the arm, picking up the victory.

Post-match analysis: Kash continued kicking Crazy with those strong style kicks after the match. Kash grabbed a steel chair from ringside and threw it into the ring, then dropped it into the middle of the ring. He was about to deliver the brainbuster onto the steel chair, but Psicosis and Juventud ran in for the save. Kash pointed at the Mexicools as he walked to the back and held up his arms in victory.

Match grade: B. A much, much, much, much better match than the one Super Crazy had last week. Quite good while it lasted. Kash is so good in the ring, and I hope that he can get a chance to show off his awesome personality. I guess Crazy and Mercury just didn't gel last week. I'm interested to see where they go with the Juventud versus Kash match on Sunday. I expect Juventud to retain, but I hope that Kash keeps going after the belt and picks it up eventually.

*** Cowboy Bob was backstage, pacing and rubbing his hands together outside the room that Randy and the psychologist were in. Randy came out, looking a little frazzled. Cowboy Bob asked how it went and Randy said it went alright. Randy said that he understood what he had to do. He said they talked in there and he did a lot of thinking and got a lot of things off his chest and realized there was a decision he had to make, probably one of the most important choices that he'll have to make his entire life. Cowboy Bob asked what it was. Randy said he was going to tell the entire world tonight and he was going to do it right here, and told his dad that he loved him and thanked him for helping him get through this. Cowboy Bob said sure as they hugged. Randy walked off and Cowboy Bob looked after him a bit puzzled.

*** In Batista's locker room, Melina was shown standing in a black bra, putting her tank top back on. Again, how did WWE get a camera in my dreams? she actually had to take a couple shots at getting her teeny tiny tank stretched far enough to go over her boobs. Yum. Melina's hair was all mussed and she asked Batista "So, we have a deal, right?" Batista, being the playa that he is, said no, no deal, but thanks for the warmup, "I feel great, I'm going to kill those guys!" and said that he would see Melina out there. Melina was frustrated and screamed "Oh no!" and covered her mouth and squinted in horror and anger. The glitter makeup around her eyes made it look like she was tearing up a bit, which worked for the angle.

Promo time: WWE is going to Afghanistan, and for the first time in years, I'm not the one covering it! I covered it as a Velocity reporter in 2003 and 2004, but this time it's the Raw brand, so whoo, no covering endless video packages about how great the troops are! I mean, they are great, but WWE sure doesn't make it easy to write an amusing wrasslin' report for the Internet. They were featuring a song from Staind's Chapter V. Gotta love WWE's ability to make supporting the troops into something crassly commercial. We saw various clips of the WWE folks interacting with the troops. Big Show fired a machine gun, which kind of scares me. I also saw Triple H firing a tank gun, which scares me much, much more. JBL seemed genuinely enthused to be over there, getting the chance to meet with the troops. He told a great story on one of his recent media appearances about how he always tells the troops that, if they see him back in the States, he'll buy them a drink, and has had tons of troops come up to him upon returning. I'm wondering if more people will be trying to pull that now just to get a free drink, though I figure he asks a couple questions to see if they're posers or not. One of the troops got a kiss on the cheek from Maria. Where's the nearest recruiting office?

(Commercial break.)

They did the outside shot of the arena in Springfield, Massachusetts. They hyped the Big Show and Kane versus Rey Mysterio and Batista match at Armageddon before cutting to a video package. Big Show and Kane were shown absolutely destroying various Raw wrestlers. This was done with a Big Show and Kane promo about their strategy of absolutely destroying their opponents playing over the video footage. They showed highlights of Survivor Series, with Show getting eliminated thanks in part to Rey Mysterio's 619, as well as attacks from JBL and Randy Orton, before being finished off when Mysterio hit a seated senton on Show. Kane and the Big Show faced off against JBL and Rey Mysterio several weeks ago, but JBL walked out when the referee accidentally poked JBL in the eye, leading to Mysterio getting absolutely destroyed by the Big Show and Kane, being finished off by a double chokeslam. After the match, they were about to double chokeslam him on a chair, but Batista ran in for the save and delivered a spinebuster and chairshots to both men. They showed clips of Show and Kane also chokeslamming Show through the announce table, as well as when Show powerbombed Rey Mysterio on the hood of the low rider on the Smackdown special.

(3) Batista & Rey Mysterio defeated MNM (Joey Mercury & Johnny Nitro with Melina) in a WWE Tag Team Championship match to become the new WWE Tag Team Champions.

Pre-match analysis: MNM came out, and Melina was pissed. Mercury and Nitro didn't seem too pleased with her either. They blocked the paparazzi from taking pictures of Melina. Melina put her hand out to block the pictures too. THey still did their entrance though, if a less happy version of it than usual. Melina actually yelled "Stop!" at them instead of just putting her hands out to stop them. It was kind of like the remix to that Britney Spears "Crazy" song. Oh God, did I just expose way too much about myself by admitting that I not only listen to Britney Spears, but to remixes of Britney Spears? Uh oh. Well, I guess they didn't do the full entrance, as they walked into the ring on the ring steps. Sadness. Melina yelled at MNM, and Mercury and Nitro didn't seem too happy either. Tazz did the sponsorships. After a Remington spot, Tazz said that someday Cole will get to shave, too! Cole did a sarcastic fake laugh in response.

Rey Mysterio's awful music was next. What the F is "Booyaka" anyway? Ugh. He still had on the double Eddie Guerrero EG armbands. It's starting to seem a little less than sincere, and perhaps Eddie's memory would be better served by Mysterio worrying a little more about entertaining us instead of getting the Eddie fan sympathy each week. Tazz said that he caught Cole in the hotel singing Mysterio's song, and did an impersonation of Cole doing so. Cole then said that he loved the song. Yeah, I'm sure that endorsement is going to move a lot of records. This led to both men saying "Booyaka" about fifteen times. Ugh. Cole also randomly started talking about how they call him "the Big Dog" at the gym. Yikes. Knowing how much Torch head honcho Wade Keller thinks Cole is full of himself and his physical accomplishments, I'm sure he loved that one. Tazz quickly told Cole to move on.

Batista rounded things off. Cole said that he felt the champ would look good with two titles around his waist. Is that possible? Yeah, Cole, I'm sure you think Batista looks reeeal goo-- OK, OK, low blow. Although, probably fair game after Cole made gay jokes about Todd Grisham and former WWE announcer Marc Loyd on Byte This earlier this week. Tazz talked about how Batista might win since he's warmed up. Tazz said that, personally, he'd be lying down somewhere eating some cheesecake. Cole said, "or smoking a cigarette." So, now we know that Tazz likes cheesecake after sex. Maybe it's kind of like George on seinfeld when he tried combining food, sex, and television. Melina glared at Batista from the ring as his pyro went off. MNM had on these great light, almost neon blue pants tonight, I love it. Melina was upset and Mercury had to hold her back. Melina was talking crap as she squinted her eyes in anger while MNM tried to keep her back. Rey Mysterio and Joey Mercury started the match. Nitro was telling her to stand behind the pole. Tazz started what sounded like some pole sexual innuendo before thinking better of it and cutting himself off.

Match analysis: The crowd chanted "Eddie" as the match started. Mysterio pointed to his armbands and pointed upwards as Batista encouraged the chants. Cole and Tazz acknowledged the chants, talking about how Mysterio and Batista were both close friends of Edide's. At this point, it's starting to seem a bit exploitative for Mysterio to incorporate this stuff into his matches, despite how sincere he may be in his feelings for Eddie. Mercury missed a right hook in the corner, allowing Mysterio to deliver a hip toss. Batista's smoke had apparently gotten a little out of control, encasing the ring in fog, but Tazz played it up like he thought maybe the Boogeyman was coming back, which made it work. Cole said it smelled nothing like that putrid smell of the Boogeyman's smoke. The fans were chanting "Slut!" at Melina. Mercury tried waving them off and Melina covered her ears. Batista held up his hands like "Hey, what ya gonna do?" Mysterio worked on Mercury's left arm with a wristlock. They went into a knuckle lock, but Mercury kicked Mysterio in the midsection. Mysterio countered, though, and got up on Mercury's shoulders before rolling through into a cover, but Mercury kicked out. Mercury followed up with a pair of deep armdrags into an armbar. Mysterio tagged in Batista as Cole called Mysterio, as he has in recent weeks, a "human highlight reel." I guess, with the new drug policy, the old human highlight reel might not be needing that nickname in WWE anymore. Mysterio tagged Batista in and Mercury tagged in Nitro.

Nitro went for a superkick, but Batista pulled back to avoid it. The fans chanted for Batista. Nitro hit a sidekick and another kick to the chest. Nitro held up his hands like he was imagining a picture, kind of like before MNM does the snapshot, but went for another superkick. However, Batista caught his leg. Nitro tried swinging wildly, but Batista flipped Nitro over backwards, using his leg. Batista delivered punches in the corner. Batista whipped Mercury and hit a knee to the midsection. Nitro raked the eyes to escape and tagged in Mercury.

Mercury attacked the temporarily blinded Batista. He went for a clothesline, but it barely staggered Batista. He went for another, but never got there as Batista kicked him in the gut and set up the powerbomb. However, Nitro ran in and hit the superkick to the face for the save. Mercury tagged Nitro back in. They both delivered kicks, then crisscrossed Batista's arms in front of him and were going to try some sort of whip, but Batista countered and double clotheslined MNM to the outside over the top rope. Mysterio followed up with a springboard moonsault off the top rope onto MNM at ringside! Mysterio got back in the ring and they taunted Nitro and Mercury at ringside. Mercury was bleeding from the nose and mouth.

(Commercial break.)

Promo time: Smackdown is coming to a town near you! You, not me. You bastards. Armageddon is in Rhode Island on Sunday, and then they get a week off until the 26th. Working the day after Christmas? Booooo.

They had a nice new graphic coming back to show that a title match was in progress, saying "WWE Tag Team Championship" in the corner. Mysterio and Nitro were going at it, with Mysterio in control. Mysterio hit a seated senton to Nitro. Nitro went for a back elbow, but Mysterio ducked and hit a spinning headscissors! Mysterio covered, but Nitro kicked out. Nitro hit a knee to the gut and slammed Mysterio's head into the second turnbuckle before tagging in Mercury.

The fans chanted "619." Mercury delivered rather unimpressive looking punches to Mysterio's gut as Melina glared from ringside. Mysterio went up and over in the corner and kicked Mercury in the knee to take him down. Mysterio whipped him into the opposite corner and went for a combination of rights, with a bit of both hands in the middle, ten punch. Mercury countered an Irish whip, but Mysterio got his boot up in Mercury's face and hit a back elbow to take Nitro down off the apron. However, Melina distracted the referee and Nitro quickly recovered, so while Mercury had Mysterio in the powerbomb position and Mysterio was fighting out with punches, Nitro grabbed him from the apron, allowing Mercury to bounce Mysterio off the top rope and hit a slingshot powerbomb to Mysterio! Mercury covered, but Batista made the save. Melina was frustrated outside and screamed at Nitro to help out. Nitro came in while the ref's back was turned, who assumed they had made a tag, though Mercury hadn't quite made it.

Nitro hit a clubbing clothesline to the back of Mysterio's head. Nitro smiled and covered, but Mysterio kicked out. Nitro followed up with a modified chinlock. Melina continued her awesome, awesome glaring. Mysterio started elbowing his way out, but Nitro hit a knee to the gut. Nitro was going for a slam, but Mysterio landed on his feet and hit a standing dropkick. He was trying to tag Batista, but Nitro cut him off and isolated him from the corner, mounting him and delivering punches. Cole made a joke about Nitro learning about "mounting" from what Melina did earlier tonight. Hey-ohhhh! Nitro hit a backbreaker followed by a side Russian leg sweep before covering with an arm across the chest, but Mysterio still kicked out. Tazz made sexual innuendo about Cole being into something with a full nelson or getting beat up. Yikes. Nitro teased Batista. Tazz making a sexual comment about a split legged moonsault? Yikes. While Nitro distracted the ref, Mercury stuck his boot on Mysterio's neck. The ref was still distracted and Melina put her boot on the ring to help her pull Mysterio out of the ring to the floor, hard. Nitro applauded and tagged in Mercury.

Mercury went after Mysterio as the fans chanted "Slut!" at Melina. He rolled Mysterio into the ring and went for the cover, but Mysterio kicked out, three times! Mercury hit a spinning flapjack, which was pretty sweet. Mercury covered and hooked the leg, but Mysterio kicked out. Mercury repeatedly slapped Mysterio in the back of the head. Mysterio recovered and started kicking Mercury in the leg. Mercury ran Mysterio into the corner and tagged Nitro back in. Nitro hit a scoop slam and followed up with his breakdance legdrop, which I love. He hooked the leg, but Mysterio kicked out. Mercury tagged in as Cole made another goofy "Big Dog" comment. Ugh. Mercury whipped Mysterio hard into the corner, and followed up with a snapmare. Mercury applied a reverse bearhug as Mysterio was in a sitting position, which was a unique move. Mysterio moved to a vertical position and did the Eddie shoulder shake, and Cole even said Mysterio was "feeding off Eddie." Ugh. Stop exploiting Eddie's death. Mysterio was about to fight out, but Mercury hit a clubbing blow to the back. Mercury tried following up, but Mysterio hit his wheelbarrow DDT. Both men were down as Tazz talked about Mysterio getting help from "a higher power." Yes, because I'm sure Eddie is helping Mysterio in his matches. Oh boy...

Mysterio was going for his corner, so Mercury grabbed him by the ankle and tried applying a submission. Nitro ran in and helped drag Mysterio back to MNM's corner and tagged in, leading to big boos from the crowd. The fans also chanted "Slut!" at Melina some more. However, Mysterio started fighting out in the corner and carwled through Mercury's legs. Nitro went after Mysterio to try to keep him from making the tag, and hit an enzuigiri to stop Mysterio dead in his tracks. Nitro covered, but Mysterio kicked out. Nitro lived Mysterio and put him on the top rope in a neutral corner. Nitro was going for a superplex, but Mysterio blocked it and fought out. He was going for a sunset flip off the top rope, but Nitro blocked it. Mercury climbed back up and hit a reverse hurracanrana from behind off the top rope! Both men were going for their partners, and both Batista and Mercury tagged in!

Batista came in hot, cleaning house on his opponents with clotheslines and shoulders to the gut. He speared Mercury and delivered the spinebuster to Nitro. He did the ring ropes shake and did the thumbs up. Mysterio hit a double 619 to Melina, who was on the apron, and Mercury! Batista did the thumbs down and gave the Batista Bomb to Mercury! Batista covered and got the pin! New tag team champions!

Post-match analysis: Batista looked intense after the match and Mysterio hugged him from behind. Batista pointed up, perhaps in another allusion to Eddie. Mercury was busted open even more, bleeding heavily from the nose. Nitro was struggling to get up, but barely hanging onto the ring steps while on his knees. Melina lay on the mat outside, sobbing. Batista lifted up Mysterio as they celebrated with their new titles. Cole pointed out how this means it's a champions versus champions match on Sunday, Batista and Rey Mysterio versus Big Show and Kane! They showed a recap of the reverse hurracanrana, and Tazz said he'd never seen that move before. They then showed a recap of the double 619 and the Batista Bomb, as well as the post match celebration in slow motion. Mysterio held up an Eddie shirt after the match and put his title belt up to the t-shirt. Oh boy. We get it. Eddie rules. Please, please, take him out of the storylines. Thanks in advance.

Match grade: B-. Not a bad match at all. I found all the Eddie stuff to be a bit crass and unnecessary, as we don't need to be hit over the head over and over that Mysterio was Eddie's friend, how he gets power from Eddie, and so forth. It's also a bummer to see them not stick with MNM, as it seemed they were on the road to establishing a more complete tag team division, but giving the belts to a couple of guys who aren't even a real team isn't going to bring that tag team division any closer to becoming a reality.

Promo time: Randy Orton thought he had killed the Undertaker. But, not so much. The promo points out how you can't kill what's already dead. Good point. I love that there's a babyface who brags that he's the one who does the killing. What a great idol for kids to emulate. Orton and Taker, Hell in a Cell, this Sunday! As stupid as this whole angle has been, I expect it will be a good match. Orton a good brawler, as he memorably proved in his street fight with Mick Foley, and we all know that Hell in a Cell is traditionally Taker's match.

(Commercial break.)

Hell in a Cell Last Rites: They showed highlights fro the Armageddon Hell in a Cell match, the six way Hell in a Cell from Armageddon 2000. I wonder if they'll ever bring that gimmick back? Anyway, Rikishi and Undertaker were on top of the cell, and Rikishi had just gotten up, dazed. Taker took him to the side of the cell and pushed him off... into a truck full of bark dust on the outside. How conveeeenient. Taker was bleeding from the head and did his goofy sticking the tongue out thing after pushing Rikishi off the top of the cell. Of course, they didn't show this part, but Taker didn't even win that match, because it was my boy Kurt Angle, whoooooo!

Moments ago: They showed another angle of that reverse hurracanrana as Cole talked about how they had just crowned new tag team champs. They followed that with another angle of the 619 on Mercury and Melina (though Mysterio didn't mean to hit Melina), followed by a Batista Bomb to Mercury for the victory. Well, it's sad that MNM lost the belts, but at least it took a 619 and a Batista Bomb for Batista and Mysterio to get the victory, as opposed to a total squash like MNM got from Show and Kane on the Raw Eddie tribute show. Although, does this mean that Show and Kane are better than Batista and Mysterio? Seems like there's going to have to be some sort of wacky ending in this cross-brand match to keep both teams strong, although Show and Kane might get the win so that Raw gets their win back after losing to Smackdown at Survivor Series. They also showed a replay of Batista and Mysterio celebrating, including that goofy bit of Mysterio holding his new belt up to an Eddie memorial t-shirt.

(4) Bobby Lashley defeated Paul Burchill (with William Regal).

Pre-match analysis: Lashley time! I wonder how this guy is going to be looking post-steroid policy? I like his entrance and pyro. Simple and not overdone, but effective and adds to his star mystique. He jumped up on the apron in a single bound and went to pose in the corner. Someone held up a sign saying "Lashley is King Kong!" You said it! (Well, except for any potential racial undertones which I don't condone, but I don't think there are any there, at least in this case. Now, if WWE was using that as some sort of slogan...) Tazz put over Lashley, coming up with as many adjectives as he could, including calling him a machine, as well as vicious, violent, credible, athletic, angry, and a stud. Paul Burchill was out next, followed by William Regal. Cole talked about how Lashley had his biggest victory to date last week over William Regal. Cole also put over Lashley's military background.

Match analysis: As the match started, Cole talked about how he assumed Lashley would be at home watching the Raw tribute to the troops like everyone else on Smackdown. Cole said that he'd heard some stories, including one of Triple H almost falling off the back of a Chinook helicopter! Tazz talked about how Show was shooting a 50 caliber machine gun out of a Humvee. Nice! Burchill got an early advantage with a big knee to Lashley. However, when he tried to whip Lashley, it was the immovable object, and Lashley countered and whipped Burchill to the outside. Regal gave Burchill encouragement. Burchill got back in and Lashley took him into the corner. Lashley whipped Burchill into the other corner and was going after him, but Burchill got his knee up. Lashley drove Burchill back into the corner and delivered shoulder thrusts. Lashley got a double leg and picked up Burchill, then backdropped him. Lashley got a single arm trap and hit a belly to belly suplex, then pounded his chest in celebration. Regal got up on the apron, but Lashley knocked him off. Lashley kicked Burchill in the midsection and finished Burchill off with the dominator. Lashley covered, hooked the leg, and that was all she wrote.

Post-match analysis: Tazz said that Lashley was a force to be reckoned with and for real. Cole talked about how Lashley dominated the Raw superstars at Survivor Series. Uh, wasn't he the first one eliminated?

Match grade: D. Pretty much a squash. Burchill basically got no offense, which is sad since Burchill seemed like he could be something and maybe even make a go for the U.S. Championship, but the way he's been getting continually buried, it could be hard to dig him out again.

*** Backstage, Kristal had an interview with Matt Hardy. (Who?) Kristal wanted his thoughts on his match with Booker T. Hardy said that he had to give the Devil his due, saying that Booker T was red hot, up three to nothing in the United States Championship best of seven series. Hardy was saying that tonight was going to be a different story, when JBL interrupted! He was on one crutch. JBL told Hardy to go post it on his website. Ohhhh! JBL started ogling Kristal, saying that he had a lot of money, and she had a lot of somethin' else. Yikes. Kristal gave JBL a disgusted look. He was acting like the drunk old man at a party. Matt Hardy seemed to be confused about how his interview segment just got usurped. Get used to it, Matt. You should be thankful that you're getting any interview time. JBL was about to say something to his fans, when Matt Hardy interrupted with a loud "Dude!" Hardy said that he was talking and had something to say to people and that he didn't appreciate being interrupted. JBL said that Hardy doesn't realize who he is. Hardy said he knows exactly who he is, he's the guy who walks out on all his tag team partners. JBL: "Wrong answer. Wrestling God was the right answer." Classic! JBL said that, if he wasn't hurt and under doctor's orders not to fight, he has a feeling he would... sucker punch to Hardy! Whoo! He grabbed the mic and said that he wanted to tell the fans that, despite his injuries... tackle by Hardy! Hardy started beating JBL, but he was pulled off by a couple road agents, including Michael P.S. Hayes!

(Commercial break.)

Promo time: Eddie Guerrero's book! "Desire. Passion. Determination. Eddie Guerrero lived life with true intensity, and, with wrestling in his blood, he was destined to carry on his family's legacy, until his self-destructive behavior put his future in jeopardy. Now, in his own words, Eddie Guerrero takes you through the journey of his life, sharing details about himself, his family, professional wrestling, and his personal redemption. This book also includes rare family photos, and a special one page in memory foreword written by Vince McMahon. Read the remarkable story of a man who overcame adversity and reclaimed his faith, his life, and surpassed his wildest dreams. Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story. Available this Tuesday, wherever books are sold." Well, I guess that is why they're trying to keep Eddie's name in everyone's mind. The ad was weird, as it seemed like the in memory part might have been added in later, as the tone of the whole thing didn't feel like a book written by a dead guy.

*** The psychiatrist, Dr. Hoyt, was preparing to leave, but Theodore Long came in to talk to him. Long said that he had heard a lot of rumors about Orton and that he had a big announcement tonight after a session with the doc. Long said that he had a pay-per-view this Sunday night and needed to know what the 411 is on Randy Orton, and he needs to know it now, "playa!" The doctor said that he appreciates Long's generosity, allowing him to be there tonight, but that he surely must realize that all of his discussions with Orton were strictly confidential and protected by doctor-client privilege. Long said that what he knows is that Orton versus Taker in Hell in a Cell is this Sunday at Armageddon, and he's not going to have some shrink come in and start brainwashing people. Geez, did some psychiatrist piss off someone in WWE? The doctor got outraged at the term "shrink" and said that he was a sports psychologist and not interested in Long's pay-per-view or a Hell in a Cell match, he's interested in a man's life, and frankly felt that the Hell in a Cell match was barbaric. He said "Good day" and walked off. You tell him, doc!

*** Batista and Mysterio were backstage, and Batista had a belt over each shoulder. They were talking about their victory. Mysterio said that he had a feeling that Eddie was looking down on them and that this one was for Eddie. Batista brought up their match on Sunday with Big Show and Kane, which bummed Mysterio out, and he started saying that Batista just needs to look at the size difference. Batista said, "So what?" This may be the first time that someone in WWE has said "so what" about a size issue. Anyway, Batista pointed out that Mysterio had a tag team title, and Mysterio said that he was right. Randy Orton interrupted. Orton told "Dave" that they go way back and have known each other a long time, and he just wanted to say congratulations, for being World Heavyweight Champion and now a tag champion. Orton said that some people say he's the best, and Batista said, yeah, a lot of people. That cocky SOB! Orton said that he thought he was the best, but guessed that they'll never know. He extended his hand for a handshake. Batista was wary, but shook Orton's hand, then gave an incredulous look and looked at Mysterio.

Promo time: WrestleMania on DVD! I'm mad because, being the goof I am, I forgot to put this on my Christmas list! D'oh! I was hoping just to get the first three sets, since I already have 16 through 21. Oh well, I'll live.

(Commercial break: I don't usually comment on commercials, as you probably don't care on my thoughts on commercials, but I am SO all over the American Pie: Band Camp DVD, and no, I don't feel guilty about it at all.)

Michael Cole and Tazz ran down the pay-per-view card. We've got Smackdown versus Raw in a tag team champions versus champions match, Smackdown's Batista and Rey Mysterio versus Raw's Big Show and Kane. We also have Chris Benoit versus Booker T in the best of 7 series for the United States Championship, match 4, which could be the last match since Booker is up three to nothing! MNM will face Psicosis and Super Crazy representing the Mexicools, which was originally a tag team title match, but is still going to happen without the belts. Tazz pointed out that MNM is going to be pissed and wanting to hurt somebody. Juventud will defend the Cruiserweight Championship against Kid Kash. Kash had a great deranged look in his picture. Also, just announced, it's Matt Hardy versus JBL (with my girl Jillian Hall!). Finally, of course, the Undertaker will face off against Randy Orton in Hell in a Cell.

Tonight: "Randy Orton's Revelation." Ooh, what will it be? Cole talked about how the sports psychologist had told Orton he had two roads to choose between, and that he'll announce the results of that decision later tonight.

(5) Booker T (with Sharmell) defeated Matt Hardy.

Pre-match analysis: JBL was joining Cole and Tazz at ringside. Are we going to be blessed with JBL commentary? Whoo! He was on a crutch, as Cole explained that, two weeks ago, he had an eye injury due to a thumb to the eye from the ref, and last week he tripped over Jillian Hall. He eased himself into a seat and sold that his knee hurt while sitting down. Tazz helped him sit down and helpfully offered to help with the headset, saying they should get an ice pack out here for him.

Booker T and Sharmell came out next. Sharmell had a broom she was sweeping back and forth, symbolizing that it's going to be a sweep! Tazz joked about Sharmell riding the broom due to being, well, that word that rhymes with witch. They showed the scoreboard on the screens to the side of the stage saying that Booker was up three to nothing. Tazz talked about the Armageddon sponsorship by Xbox 360. JBL said he was excited about his match against Matt Hardy, and he's going to bring a box of Viagra and a big boot, because he understands his girlfriends tend to like main event wrestlers. JBL said he should bring his girlfriend, his sister, his mama, all the Hardy women, and then he can get on the Internet and tap and tap and tap. Ohhhhhh! That was awesome.

Hell in a Cell Last Rites: We saw the infamous clip that everyone's been waiting for, with Undertaker throwing Mankind off the top of the Hell in a Cell at King of the Ring 1998, then chokeslammed him through the roof of the cell! You know, the bump that he claims up and down to this day wasn't planned, but that pretty much everyone knows was and Foley just has to say that so that his wife doesn't get piiiiissed. Good thing they aren't big Internet users. If you know them, shhhhh! Don't tell Collette!

(Commercial break.)

Match analysis: We joined this match in progress. Hardy had a hammerlock, but Booker elbowed out of it. Booker did his chop/punch combo. Cole asked JBL to tell them about his latest injury. He said that he had a torn knee that's almost ruined that he may need surgically repaired. The doctor has asked him to retire, but he refused to, because the fans deserve JBL in the ring! Tazz commended JBL for accepting the match and said he was a damn American hero, as Cole threw in a sarcastic comment here and there. Booker bounced Hardy's head off the turnbuckle. Hardy blocked a punch and started coming back with a flurry of lefts and rights. Hardy clotheslined Booker T to the outside! Hardy did his goofy limp wristed wave. JBL put himself in the same class as Generals Norman Schwarzkopf and George Patton. Hardy did a slingshot attack to Booker on the outside. JBL stood up and said he had a hurt knee and told Hardy to back off, since he had landed right by the announce table. JBL said he would see Hardy Sunday, but he's got a hurt knee. The distraction allowed Booker to recover a bit and knee Hardy, then slam Hardy's head into the steel ring steps.

JBL yelled at Cole to shot up and said that somebody needs to call the waaambulance, dial nine wah waaaah, because Hardy whines about his girlfriend being stolen by a main event guy. Cole cracked up. Cole sarcastically asked JBL about complaining about whining, and JBL said that he's the type of guy who stands up until he can't stand up any more. Back in the ring, Booker was kicking Hardy in the gut and hit a crescent kick. He covered, but Hardy kicked out. JBL bragged about his various media enterprises, such as his radio show, putting out the Layfield Lure, and writing for JBL talked about how he has new merchandise coming out and is a one man conglomerate, a one man conglomerate. Booker hit a snapmare and applied a chinlock. Tazz asked if JBL could line something up for him, since Cole's holding Tazz down. JBL said that the UPN people are proud that JBL is here and hasn't retired, and that he can do whatever Cole wants him to do. Hardy started fighting out of the hold, but Booker used Hardy's hair to whip him down to the mat. Cole asked about the Layfield Lure. Booker covered, but Hardy kicked out. Speaking of lure, Tazz made a joke about Cole being shark bait, and JBL said that the shark would throw up. Booker locked on another chinlock. Cole said that a lot of people wish JBL had an injured tongue. JBL said he was going to ignore that because he has a golden tongue, a nationally syndicated radio show, is going to be on Fox News's Cashin' In this weekend, was just on Your World with Neil Cavuto, and is going to write for again this week. Tazz asked for advice for what to do with his money. Hardy was fighting back with punches. Hardy ducked a mule kick and hit a neckbreaker.

The ref went into a double count. JBL said that he was beginning his ascension back to the top, and that this world needs him. JBL said he's the only guy on the entire roster who you can put on a marquee, and he'll sell the arena out with just three letters, JBL, without even naming his opponent. Hardy and Booker were up, and Hardy was throwing forearms, followed by a pair of clotheslines. Hardy clotheslined Booker in the corner. Tazz talked about how JBL has super powerful name recognition, and how JBL could have just showed up at Armageddon and said "God bless America" and sold the place out. Hardy hit a bulldog and covered, but Booker kicked out. JBL said that the last time they were in Providence, Rhode Island was one of the most famous cage matches of all time, when Eddie Guerrero frog splashed JBL from the top of the cage and he somehow survived, making both men legends. Hardy went for the twist of fate, but Booker pushed him off. Booker came back with a spinebuster. Cole said that JBL survived that match but couldn't survive a thumb to the eye from a referee, and JBL fired back with a totally straight faced "It's crazy how little, small things make you hurt." JBL talked about how it was like when Bo Jackson went out on a simple tackle. Booker went for the scissors kick, but Hardy dodged. Hardy hit the side effect on Booker T. Hardy climbed to the top rope and hit a top rope legdrop! Sharmell cringed at ringside. Hardy covered, but Booker kicked out before three!

JBL talked about how Booker T is a former world champion, and Chris Benoit is a former World Champion, but he's down three to nothing, and Booker T is going to win it. JBL stood up and, as Sharmell distracted the ref by getting up on the apron with the broom, JBL pulled Hardy to the outside and delivered the Clothesline From Hell, then shoved Hardy back into the ring! After that, JBL started selling the knee out of nowhere, which was great. Back in the ring, Booker delivered the scissor kick and covered, as well as using the rope, and picked up the win.

Post-match analysis: JBL talked about how Booker was a five time, five time, five time WCW Champion and why Chris Benoit is going to lose, and that is also why he is going to destroy Matt Hardy, and he will simply be a footnote in the career of JBL. Whoo! After the match, Sharmell got in the ring and did the sweep with the broom before exiting with her hubby.

Match grade: C+. A little better than average. Matt Hardy put on his usual good, but not much special match, although going to the top rope instead of his usual second rope legdrop was a nice touch. It's going to be pretty lame if he can't even defeat the supposedly injured JBL at the pay-per-view, so here's hoping that WWE at least let's Hardy get one win.

*** Backstage, Cowboy Bob was following his son Randy. Cowboy Bob asked if he was sure about this and asked if he had given it a lot of thought. Randy said he was more sure about this than anything in his entire life, and that it was really important to him, and that's why he has to do it by himself. Cowboy Bob if that means he doesn't want Cowboy Bob out there. Randy said he has to do it, and has to do it by himself. Tazz said that it sounded ominous.

Promo time: Another promo for the Hell in a Cell match, including a small clip from that angle form the Smackdown Special of Orton "killing" Undertaker that had everyone's panties in a twist about it being disrespectful to Eddie. I didn't think that the show closing angle was particularly offensive, and neither did the Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer, but I guess some people just need to find things to get offended about. Anyway, pay-per-view this Sunday. Watch it.

Tribute to the Troops: WWE in Afghanistan, tribute to the Troops special on Monday! They played from Scott Stapp's "The Great Divide," and I have to say, this song makes me really, really want to punch someone. At my work a couple weeks ago, some goof put this on the stereo system with the single on repeat over... and over... and over again. It was maddening. Someone eventually threatened the person who put this on to get it to stop, and I'm disappointed to say, that person wasn't me. Vince McMahon's voice was over the clips, showing a lot of troops, as well as the superstars' interaction with the troops. I want to be one of those soldiers that got hugged by the divas. Whoo!

*** Randy Orton made his way out for his big, dramatic announcement. Oh what shall it be? Which of the two mystery roads shall he take? Is he going to go after his true love, underwear modeling? His hair was really messed up tonight as well. I don't know if that was intentional or to show that he was frustrated about the Undertaker, or just one of those new fangled hairdos that's supposed to look like you just got out of bed. Anyway, the fans were enthusiastically chanting for Taker.

Orton said that this wasn't going to be easy, but it was something he had to do. At 25 years old, he's accomplished more than most people have their entire lives. Didn't he already do that promo? That got boos from the crowd. He talked about being the youngest world champion in history, and the sole survivor three years in a row at Survivor Series. And, finally, "a certified Legend Killer." He said that's not really the case, though. He's known this for a while, but it just hit him. Nobody can kill the legend of the Undertaker. Orton said that he tried to get around it, but the Hell in a Cell shortens careers and ends careers. Orton said that we've all seen the footage. Every Hell in a Cell that Undertaker's been in, he's brutalized his opponents, but he's not going to do that to young Randall! When Randy was on that couch, talking to that psychiatrist, he envisioned himself forty years from now, sitting in a wheelchair with his grandkids on his lap, trying to explain to them that he made a choice, that he stepped into Hell in a Cell with the Undertaker, and that's why he's sitting in that wheelchair. That's not what he wants. He's 25 years old and has his whole life in front of him, and that's why he's going to do something that nobody seems to do anymore. He's going to go out on top. Tazz reacted in shock. Orton looked into the camera and said that, as of right now, he hereby announces his retirement from "the WWE." (I swear, can no one remember that it's just WWE, not the WWE?) Tazz asked if it was a joke, and said they can't retire, he's got his whole career ahead of him. Orton said he was going out on his own terms, and that you'll remember him as the youngest, most charismatic wrestler in the world. He's not going to be 25 years old depending on physical therapy to get by, day to day. This is not his destiny, he has a choice, and that choice is to kill one more legend while he still can: His own. The fans started singing the "Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!" song. Orton dropped the mic and was preparing to leave when Smackdown General Manager Theodore Long's music hit.

Long came out and told them to cut the music. He asked what the hell Orton was talking about. He asked if Orton thinks he's just going to walk away, but he's got news, and Orton's got a contract, and that means commitment. A commitment to Long, to Smackdown, and to all the people there tonight (cheap pop!). Long said that Orton can forget about going out on his own terms, because if he doesn't show up on Sunday, he's going to sue Orton for every cent that he has! Orton said that Long's not understanding what he's saying, and Long said that Orton isn't understanding. Orton said that sitting in court with Long versus Hell in a Cell with the Undertaker, let Orton think about it. The facts are that no one can change his mind, not Long, not anybody. He quit, he retires, he's done. Long asked if Orton was going to walk out on everybody, on all these people. Long told Orton to get back in the ring right now, when the Undertaker's music hit while Orton was on the ramp.

Orton looked around in fear. Druids started walking out on the stage. Randy Orton wasn't quite sure what to do. Fog covered the entrance ramp. The druids lined the ramp and Taker finally came out. Cole talked about how Orton had tried to kill Taker twice and gave the details of Orton trying to burn him in a casket at No Mercy and tried to ram him through the Smackdown dome entrance on the back of a low rider on the Smackdown Special. Orton was standing in the ring as Taker did his never ending entrance. Cole said he was frozen in fear. Cole and Tazz talked about the explosion after they put Taker through the Smackdown entrance set. Orton put his hand up, trying to beg off from Taker as he continued his goofy entrance. If I was Orton, I would have run away a long, long time ago.

Orton got on the mic and told Taker to listen. He said he didn't want to fight and didn't want anything to do with it, this ring, this company, this business, with Taker. Taker looked at one lone druid who was standing on the stage after everyone else left. Orton said that he was done and that he stepped over the line but wished he never had, and asked Taker repeatedly to forgive him. The mystery druid held up the Undertaker's urn. The druid pulled back the cloak to reveal Cowboy Bob! This distracted Taker and allowed Orton to sneak up from behind and to a huge kick to Taker's crotch! Taker whipped off his shirt and started throwing punches and forearms at Taker. Whoo! Orton showed a ton of fire here. He signaled for Taker to get up. Undertaker stumbled to his feet, right into an RKO! RKO! RKO! Undertaker was out and Orton talked crap to him. Well, apparently he wasn't that out as he did the Undertaker sit-up! Orton fled from the ring and grabbed a steel chair! Taker stumbled to his feet, and Orton hit a steel chair shot to the head! Taker was bleeding from the forehead. Taker then hit one chairshot, then a long series of chairshots to Taker's lower back. Orton dropped the chair and Taker tried stumbling up, so Orton grabbed the chair and whacked it in on Taker's head. Orton took some of the blood from the steel chair and wiped it on his chest. Taker was bleeding a gusher. Orton told Taker that he will succeed, and was about to say what will happen when he does, when Taker started sitting up again! Orton called for Cowboy Bob to hand him the urn. Taker struggled to his feet, and Orton hit him upside the head with the urn! Orton talked about how glad he was to see Taker bleeding. Taker was still moving, struggling to pull himself up on the ropes without much look, as the fans chanted "Ta-ker! Ta-ker!" Orton grabbed Taker by the head and said that he would see him Sunday at Armageddon. Orton's music played as Taker's head hung over the bottom rope. Taker managed to get to his knees. They showed a replay of Orton's chairshots to Taker. They did a great slow motion recap of his shot to Taker's head, where you could see the chair getting bent without Taker putting his hands up to protect himself. Orton and Cowboy Bob looked at Taker from the stage. Taker looked very, very angry, and even did his eye roll a bit.

Show rating: 6.0. An enjoyable, but nothing special show, which isn't what you want from the last show before a pay-per-view. This whole Undertaker versus Randy Orton feud ran out of steam a long time ago, and the psychologist angle didn't add a whole lot to the show, as they didn't make Orton's retirement believable at all. Maybe if he'd retired last week, but doing it the show before a pay-per-view caused the storyline to just be limp and lifeless. On the plus side, their pay-per-view match should be good due to the gimmick, even though the storyline won't do much to add to the match.

The continued burial of MNM is unfortunate, but I guess that expecting WWE to get behind a tag team is like expecting them to push the cruiserweights or TNA not to push Jeff Jarrett. Batista continues to do a wonderful job as champion, as no matter what, he always comes off completely cool. I did feel that it was unnecessary to do something that's going to get Melina "slut" chants, when she was perfectly over as a heel manager without adding that to it. Rey Mysterio's constant references to Eddie are getting tiresome, because as much as I believe he cared about Eddie, it also feels like he's milking that relationship for sympathy and to propel his storyline.

With Chris Benoit's contract situation, there's definitely a lot of intrigue with the United States Championship best of seven series match. It's pretty ridiculous that they can't even give Benoit some TV time before the PPV to promote the match, whether or not he's re-signing (which signs seem to indicate he is). The JBL versus Matt Hardy storyline was fun, thanks largely to JBL's pitch perfect promo work, as well as hitting the nail on the head with his jabs at Matt Hardy while still showing ass with Cole making some valid points about his cowardice.

I don't know what to think about Boogeyman. His squashes are fun, but it's just hard to see what kind of pay-per-view match you're going to build with him. They need to start moving Lashley toward something meaningful on pay-per-view, and not just part of a huge multi-person match liike Survivor Series or even the Royal Rumble. I hope that they give Lashley the chance to do something important at No Way out and let him have a good showing in the Royal Rumble this year. Kid Kash is a kick to watch, and he put on a fine match with Juvy given the time they had, but they need to start pushing his great personality soon so that he doesn't become just another cruiserweight in the eyes of fans.


Newsworthy Countdown

1) Batista and Rey Mysterio defeat MNM for the WWE Tag Team Championship.
2) Rey Mysterio uses Eddie Guerrero's memory to further his storyline.
3) JBL versus Matt Hardy announced for Armageddon.
4) Kid Kash wrestles debut Smackdown match.
5) Melina's character sleeps with Batista, leading to "slut" chants that will probably continue for some time.


Raw Is Trivial: Answer Time with the "Supreme" Seth Berger!

We're back and I'm sure you've all but given up on the question. To refresh, the question this week has to do with Jim Ross' assertion. "This is the first PPV I've ever had the privelige of calling here in Madison Square Garden." The correct answer is the 1996 Survivor Series. Oh, don't roll your eyes and tell me you forgot. How can you forget the Steve Austin-Bret Hart match? Or Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw and a pre-Hardcore Bob Holly trading blows on the Free-For-All? Now, I command you to finish up reading the Express, then go to your tape collection and dig this baby out from behind the well-worn copy of the 1998 King of the Ring. It's all there. Debut of Rocky Maivia, Road Dogg can't wait to be alone with his baby tonight, and all the rest of the fun.


Thanks for tuning in, everyone! That show didn't make me feel too much hate, so all is well. Be sure to drop em a line with your thoughts, comments, questions, and whatever else you want at I'd also love to hear what you think about my latest OVW column, looking at the effect of WWE's new drug policy on OVW. Now I'm off to go dream of a land where there's something every day that makes me feel like I do after watching a Charlie Brown holiday special.

Mike Roe reviews Friday Night Smackdown every week for Mike always wants to hear from you at with your thoughts, comments, questions, critiques, or whatever else you want to share. He also writes an OVW Specialist column for every Monday.

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