For all of you who missed the first hour because you were watching the Dancing With The Stars results show (with Stacy!), no need to fear! The Express team is back drinking from the other water fountain of the WWE, Friday Night Smackdown. (We're separate, but we're more than equal!) Before we get to the show, though, let's send it down to my main man, the "Supreme" Seth Berger, for trivia goodness!
If I felt any older, I'd need a walker to get around the Torch. All aboard the Raw Is Trivial car of the Express, where we'll be serving the usual substandard fare of undercooked meat and overdone macaroni. (Mike note: Yay, macaroni!) Plus, a question to fill your expanding bellies. (Mike note: Expanding bell-- hey!)
Anyway, the City of Slumping Shoulders has seen an 8-game losing streak from the Bulls, an even longer losing streak by the Blackhawks and all anybody can talk about are how the Bears will beat Carolina on Sunday. I'll leave that up to you whether you think the Bears are all talk.
Anyway, I spun the wheel of months and it landed on July. 22 years ago (good golly, has it been that long?!?) MTV aired the "Brawl To End It All". Okay, so it was just Wendi Richter winning the Women's title from Moolah, but it's still classified as a wrestling show. They had a huge build-up if you were there watching it live. Dick Murdoch & Adrian Adonis beat the team of Sgt. Slaughter & Pvt. Terry Daniels to retain the tag titles, Hulk Hogan beat Greg Valentine to retain the WWF title, even Bob Backlund made an appearance and defeated Paul "Butcher" Vachon. Sounds pretty cool, to say the least.
And we have the obligatory time-wasting battle royal. A name you will not hear too often in WWF circles won this "prestigious" event. Out of all the names that wrestled in the WWF in 1984, who won? No hints, no clues. Just find me later in the recap and you'll have an answer.
We started with the oh so lovely Smackdown intro that will not be denied (mostly due to Melina and to new shots of the Boogeyman with worms in his mouth), followed by the pyro. Michael Cole welcomed us to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Tonight: Cole and Tazz hyped the final match in the crazy, screwed up best of seven series between Chris Benoit and "Booker T," also known as Booker T for four matches and Randy Orton for three. If they don't have a match between Benoit and Booker for the title after Booker gets better, a three way with these guys, or something like that, then this storyline will be even more insane. I know they couldn't predict Booker getting injured, but did they really need to finish this super quickly instead of just waiting for Booker to get better? Anyway, also tonight, the Boogeyman will be a special guest on... wait for it... Piper's Pit! These two crazy, insane gentlemen in the ring together should be a great, great moment.
*** Batista came out to kick things off. I swear, he is the most metrosexual man on the planet. Wait, he's a tough guy, so I guess that puts him into the new metrosexual (Metrosexual is so five minutes ago!), ubsersexuals. (Yes, I'm pretty sure that I'm just making up words now. Or the entertainment magazines are, I'm not sure.) He had on a light tan/off-white suit with the bottom button unbuttoned. He was followed out by General Manager Theodore Long, in a suit that wasn't quite the same shade, but was close, making them look a bit like they were starring in a sequel to the classic Schwarzenegger film Twins. Michael Cole talked about everything that Batista has been dealing with, including his sexual harassment storyline with Melina, and being manhandled by the world's strongest man, Mark Henry! Cole also addressed the "rumors" that the World Champion suffered injuries over the weekend. Tazz said that the champion looked sharp, but wondered what the General Manager was doing there. After his music stopped, since Batista didn't start talking and the fans don't hate him like John Cena, they broke into a "Ba-tis-ta!" chant, along with much girlish screaming for our metrosexual champ. He pulled the Hulk Hogan special, getting choked up while trying to talk before saying anything.
Batista said that many know, though most don't know because he's been keeping it to himself until he made a decision, that on Sunday night, in a match against Mark Henry, he was injured. Batista said that he's worked through injuries, but this is a severe injury that he will not be able to work through because it will require a surgery that will leave him sidelined indefinitely. Uh ho. They showed one goth girl in the front row who didn't look too happy with this. Batista said that, when he first won the World Heavyweight Championship, a "real good friend" of his, Paul (Triple H, Paul Levesque, perhaps?), told him to enjoy the ride. He told "Paul" that he enjoyed every second of the ride. Big Dave said that every time he walked through the curtain, it was the thrill of his life. He was proud to be champion, he is proud to be champion, was proud to represent the people, and was proud to represent this company. The fans cheered chanted for Batista again. They showed one seemingly middle aged woman applauding and screaming for Batista. Batista said that it was his pride, his privilege, his honor to follow the proud tradition of "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, Harley Race, Triple H (oh!), Dusty Rhodes "the American Dream, baby!" (Yay for Big Dave's mediocre impersonations!) Batista said that it was his privilege and his honor to entertain the fans. He said "I love you guys, and you will never know how much." Batista said that he always wanted to be the kind of champion to come out and defend his title against whoever, no matter how big or small, from Big Show to Eddie Guerrero. "I love you, Eddie!" This drew a big Eddie chant. They showed one woman in the crowd with a Hulkamania shirt on who was brought to tears by Batista's emotional speech. Batista said "I love you and I miss you." Batista said that he was physically unable to do what he wanted, and as a great champion, he must do the right thing. They showed the crying Hulkamania girl in the crowd, as well as another hot girl behind her who had been mugging for the camera, and they both didn't seem ready for what was about to go down. Batista said that he had no choice but to surrender the World Heavyweight Championship. One male fan in the crowd shook his head and said no. Batista took the belt and kissed it a couple of times before handing it over to General Manager Theodore Long. Batista looked to be getting genuinely emotional and choked up over the moment. He shook Teddy Long's hand. Batista said he would say one thing, and he would steal a line from his friend and mentor: "To be the man, you gotta beat the man!" He repeated this. Batista said he knew what Long was planning on doing with the championship, but he had something to say to Long, to everybody else, and to the next man who wears the belt: "Teddy, I will be back. I will reclaim that title. I will be World Heavyweight Champion again." Batista dropped the mic before doing a cool handshake with Long and giving him a hug before leaving the ring as his music played. Teddy Long applauded him as he left the ring. He high fived fans all around the front row, including coming over and giving a hug to Tazz, Tony Chimel, and Michael Cole. Tazz talked about how this isn't the way you want to lose your title. Cole talked about how he was a champion at the top of his game when he had to give up the title. Batista took off his jacket and threw it into the crowd, revealing an overly tight tan/light brown polo shirt underneath. He did the "I'm not wrothy" style bow to the fans and showed some more love for the crowd before leaving to the back.
Promo time: The January issue of Raw magazine is going to take a look at the Royal Rumble. It might be worth picking up, just because you know that whoever they say is going to win won't.
Moments ago: They showed a slow motion recap of Batista kissing the belt and handing it over to Theodore Long as Cole and Tazz talked about what just happened.
During commercial: They showed a clip of Batista walking through the backstage area, saying hi to a couple of random guys backstage, before Ricky Steamboat (yay!) came running up to him. Steamboat shook his hand and said that he knew that was a hard way to give the belt up, but also knows that he'll be back. He told Batista to make it quick and they shook hands and hugged. Batista responded to Steamboat saying to make it quick by saying that he would. Next on the Batista farewell tour was Lashley! This was a good way to give Lashley some rub. Lashley told Batista to come back strong. Road Warrior Animal shook Batista's hand and told him he was a good champion. Next up was... Jimmy Kordaris? He was standing with Josh Mathews, some guy, and another guy who we don't know. He gave one of the guys we don't know a hug. Batista shook hands with all of them, including Jimmy and Josh. He then went over and shook hands with three other random backstage guys. Up next was double A, Arn Anderson! Arn shook his hand and told Batista to look at him, and said that Batist was just getting started, and told him to go get well. Batista said "Yes, sir," and also threw up a Four Horsemen signal. Nice!
We had Rey Mysterio to wrap things up. He was wearing a yellow Eddie Guerrero armband. They exchanged an emotional look before shaking hands and hugging one another. Mysterio said that he would miss Batista. Batista said that he loved Mysterio, and Mysterio said that he loved Batista. Before this became Brokeback Mountain, Mysterio talked about going solo, and said that he was going to "put it down" for Batista and all the people out there. They said they loved one another once more, and Mysterio told him to take care. Batista sniffed due to his emotional state. Batista dropped what may be a hint for where we're going in the coming months, saying that he thought the belt would look awful good right around Mysterio's waist. They shook hands and hugged once more, and Batista told Mysterio "You can do it. World Heavyweight Championship." Mysterio seemed to be thinking about the title with awe before telling Batista to take care of himself and that he loved him once more. Batista returned the "I love you" and walked away.
*** Back in the ring, Teddy Long said that Batista was right. The legacy of the championship must go on! He said that it would continue tonight, because right here in Philadelphia, our big main event match is going to be an over the top rope battle royal! We're getting a Royal Rumble preview tonight! Long said that he guarantees that the last man standing in the ring will be crowned the new World Heavyweight Champion! Long's music played as the announcers put over the match. Tazz wondered how many men would be involved in this match. Cole said that this could be the biggest Smackdown in history because we're crowning two champions tonight!
Up next: Chris Benoit versus Randy Orton in the United States Championship Best of 7 series! Er, even though it's the best of seven between Benoit and Booker T. Don't think too hard about that, or your brain may melt. Cole reinforced the question if Benoit can come back from being down three to nada to win the championship. They introduced a video package looking back at the series. Teddy Long made the decision to have this series after the title was held up in a title match between Benoit and Booker T. During match 1, Benoit missed a top rope headbutt, and Booker rolled up Benoit while Sharmell held Booker T's legs for extra leverage. In match 2, Booker won with a scissor kick. Match three, Booker hit Benoit with a steel chair after a ref bump before finishing off Benoit with a scissor kick. Match 4 took place at Armageddon. Sharmell brought in a brook, signaling that it would be a clean sweep. Cole emphasized that Cole would have to win four in a row. Benoit hit the German suplexes and locked in the crossface, leading to Booker tapping out. After that, Booker was injured and told Teddy Long that he couldn't wrestle. Long said that, if Booker couldn't wrestle, he'd have to award the series to Chris Benoit. Booker suggested that he find a substitute. Booker went and asked Randy Orton, who wanted to know why he would want to do Booker a favor. Booker said that Booker might become the U.S. Champion, but Orton would get all the glory, proving to the world that he is, in fact, the Legend Killer. During match 5, Benoit had the crossface locked in, but Sharmell ran in and blatantly hit Benoit with a crutch for the disqualification. The next week, Booker told Randy that it wasn't supposed to go down like that. Orton said that he would go out there and hand deliver the United States Championship to Booker, and did a hilarious bit that included him miming giving the belt to Booker, and Booker mimed right back accepting the invisible championship. However, Orton said that, before he wins the belt for Booker, they have to make one thing clear: Booker's going to owe Randy one. Later that night, Orlando Jordan came up to Booker and said that, if Booker had gone with Jordan, Booker would be champion. Booker told Jordan to get his heels to tappin'. Jordan said that he was sick and tired of Booker making fun of him for tapping out. Booker told him to earn his respect. Jordan asked if Booker wanted Jordan to earn his respect, and when Booker said "You're damn skippy!", Jordan said that he would, but told Booker to remember that he said that. Uh oh. Last week was match 6. Benoit hit the top rope headbutt, but Orton came back with a suplex and a modified backbreaker, but Jordan came running from out of the crowd, took out Booker, stole his crutch and knocked Benoit upside the head for the disqualification to even up the series! Booker and Orton were pissed.
*** Randy Orton came up to Long, who was still holding the belt, and told Teddy that he heard what Long said and was excited. Orton said that no one knows about the legacy of the World Heavyweight Championship like Orton. He reminded everyone that he was the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in history, and tonight, he's going to do it again! Long asked what he was talking about. Orton said that he was going to wear that belt around his waist by the end of the night in that battle royal. Orton asked Long to postpone the last match in the best of 7 series so he could have all his energy for the match. Long said, sorry, he's not going to do that. Orton wasn't happy. Long said that Orton and Benoit have one match only tonight, match 7 to determine the undisputed United States Champion. (Is it really that undisputed if someone else has been fighting in the series?) Orton complained that Booker should be out there, not him, but Long reminded Orton that he made his commitment to Booker and he's going to keep it. Long recommended that Orton get ready to get ready to "get your shine on, playa" because the match is going to happen right now!
Pre-match analysis: The lovely former Miss Black America, Sharmell, came out to introduce her hubby! She had on this great sparkly pink dress. Bruce Mitchell made a point on a VIP audio update last week that Sharmell is the best non-wrestling personality on Smackdown right now, if not the best personality, period, and while I think there are a couple I'd put above her (Such as my girl Melina!), she's definitely a talented lady. Booker came out next, on his crutches, as we went to break.
Promo time: Special thanks to a Smackdown Express reader, Bill, for sending in an email explaining to me that, as part of the Roman gimmick for this year's Rumble (or "Rumblus"), the fans in the Royal Rumble commercial are chanting "You screwed Bretius!" Hey, that's actually pretty clever. It also seems like a good idea to include that in the commercial for the Rumble, because if they're not just going to let the Montreal screwjob die, they need to start reminding people of it more to build to Vince McMahon versus Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania. They should also start giving some history to help the large number of fans who don't know the Montreal story.
Sharmell and Booker were still coming down to the ring after the break. Michael Cole emphasized that, for the first time in WWE history, someone could win a title for another man! Gotta love these "first evers." Well, at least this is a better first ever than the first ever bra and panties gauntlet match at New Year's Revolution. Maybe these are first evers because they just aren't good ideas? Naaaaah. Randy Orton was out next and Tazz did the sponsorships as Orton posed in the ring. Benoit was the last and, perhaps in the minds of bookers lately, least. Sadly enough, Booker T and Sharmell didn't go to do more awesome, awesome commentary this week, but were just standing at ringside. Half an hour into the show before we get a match! Ahhh, WWE. God love 'em.
Match analysis: Orton and Benoit batted at each other's hands like cats at string, each trying to make sure they had the advantage when they locked up. They finally losked up. Benoit backed Orton into the ropes. Orton used the bottom rope for leverage during the lockup. Benoit finally got Orton into the corner and the ref called for the break, so Benoit gave a clean break. The fans loudly chanted for Benoit after the break. Cole talked about Orton's background, focusing on when he defeated Benoit to become the World Heavyweight Champion two years ago at SummerSlam. Tazz mentioned Benoit's history with the Philly fans, due to his history in ECW. They locked up again. Benoit got a go behind, but Orton grabbed Benoit's wrist and pulled himself out of the hold. Benoit was going for a single leg while Orton went for a front headlock, but Benoit took Orton into a hammerlock. Benoit kicked Orton in the back of the knee, sending him down to his knees. Orton grabbed Benoit's leg and took him down, but took the hammerlock into a keylock, with the leg hooked. Orton rolled through out of it and applied a standing front headlock. Tazz and Cole both talked about how Orton didn't want to face Benoit on the mat. Benoit moved both men over to the ropes. The ref started a five count, but Orton put a hold around Benoit's arm in the ropes. Benoit tried grabbing a hold of his own. Nick Patrick tried to more forcibly call for a break. Orton set Benoit up for a suplex from the apron into the ring, but Benoit blocked it. This exchange ended with Benoit guillotining Orton over the top rope. Booker T picked up one of his crutches and started yelling threats at Benoit who was still on the outside. Orton went down to one knee and started selling his other knee. Oh wow, Eddie style! Referee Nick Patrick turned around and thought that Booker had attacked Benoit. Patrick ejected Booker and Sharmell! Benoit pointed to his head, and Cole pointed out that it was an Eddie style move. That bastard! Sharmell did a great job freaking out as they went to the back. The fans started singing the "Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!" song.
Orton had Benoit's head locked and Benoit had his arms rapped around Orton coming back from break. Orton also had one hand on Benoit's tights. Benoit tripped up Orton and sent him into the ropes. Orton took Benoit down and covered, but Benoit quickly kicked out. Orton applied a front facelock and took Benoit to his feet. Orton went for a hammerlock, but Beniot started elbowing out, eventually sending Orton down onto the second rope with a big back elbow. Benoit put on a headlock. They showed a recap of Benoit escaping from that headlock. Orton scaped from the headlock and picked Benoit's leg, then went for some sort of choke hold from a mounted position, but Benoit started getting a guard on him with the legs, with Benoit escaping and applying the fujiwara armbar to set up the crossface. However, Orton escaped and applied a rear naked choke and put him in a guard. Tazz talked about how it was a submission style of wrestling that he hadn't seen from Orton before. Cole talked about how it was sudden death for Benoit this week, while Tazz reminded him that it was sudden death for Orton too this week, or more accurately, for Booker T. Orton put his hands in Benoit's face. Benoit started trying to escape from the hold and went for that fujiwara armbar again. Orton rolled out and stood up, right into a Benoit chop! Benoit continued to chop Orton's chest with a couple more big chops. Orton raked the eyes before getting another big chop. Orton backed into the corner, then grabbed Benoit and pulled him back into the steel post, and Benoit fell down to the outside.
Orton followed Benoit to the outside, where Benoit chopped Orton more as they showed a recap of Orton sending Benoit into the steel post. Orton came back with a knee and a clubbing blow to the back. He rolled Benoit back into the ring. Orton followed and walked right into another chop. Orton applied a side headlock takeover, holding the headlock down on the mat. They showed Benoit going into the post again from another angle. Orton rolled the headlock into a cover, but Benoit kicked out. Benoit then rolled it into a pin cover of his own, but Orton kicked out. They moved to their feet while Orton held the hold, but Benoit pushed Orton off. However, coming back from the ropes, Orton hit a shoulder knockdown. He did a cocky pose for the crowd before following up. Benoit went for a hiptoss, but Orton blocked it. Benoit went for the armbar to set up the crossface once more. Orton desperately tried to block it and rolled through out of the armbar, but Benoit locked the armbar in even tighter. Orton rolled out under the bottom ropes to the outside, to the boos of the crowd. Benoit reached through the ropes and pulled Orton up onto the apron, where he threw a couple of right forearms. Benoit then suplexed Orton into the ring. Benoit covered, but Orton kicked out at two.
Benoit applied another type of armbar in the ring. They showed a close up shot of the title belt. Orton got his foot over the bottom rope for the break. Benoit didn't make the clean break, kicking Orton as he made the break. Benoit bounced Orton's head off the turnbuckle in the corner, then put Orton up on the top rope, where Benoit delivered more knife edged chops. Benoit then climbed the ropes and was going for a superplex. Orton tried fighting Benoit off with right hands, but Benoit fought back with headbutts! On the fourth headbutt, Orton fell to the outside, bouncing his head off the barricade! The announcers sold it like he was out, both from the headbutts and the hit off the barricade, as Orton gave a glassy eyed stare.
Back from break, Orton was down on the mat with Benoit standing up. Benoit was obviously going for a hold of some sort, but Orton cautiously moved around on his back, trying to avoid Benoit. It was strongly reminiscent of something you'd see in UFC, as you'll often see guys on the ground move in a similar fashion when their opponent is standing and they're trying to avoid the standing opponent's offense. Benoit grabbed a leg and started going for what looked like a sharpshooter. Orton tried blocking it. Benoit threw punches to try to stop Orton from blocking it. The announcers noticed that he wasn't going for a sharpshooter, while Tazz said that it looked like a sort of standing Indian leglock. Orton started kicking Benoit in the face to get out of the hold. They showed a recap from before the commercial break of Orton getting headbutted, sending his head into the barricade on the outside (followed of course, by the rest of his body). Orton delivered several knee drops to Benoit, including a big jumping knee to the shoulder of Benoit to finish it up. Orton went after Benoit, but Benoit fought back with chops. However, Orton got a mounting position and delivered right hands, before Benoit shoved him off. As Orton tried to recover, Benoit grabbed Orton's ankle. Orton shoved Benoit off with his other foot, then shot a half nelson, turned Benoit and covered with a forearm in the face Orton applied a side headlock/rear naked choke, but Benoit escaped.
Orton went to a rear mount and applied a rear naked choke. Orton took it into a side headlock. The announcers put over how Orton had kept up with Benoit with the mat-based moves. Benoit moved to his feet and armdragged out of the headlock. Benoit ran the ropes, but ran right into a standing dropkick! Orton crawled into a cover on Benoit, hooking the leg, but Benoit kicked out! They showed a recap of the dropkick. Orton applied another rear choke/headlock. They showed another recap of the dropkick. Benoit threw double handed shots to the gut to create separation and escaped the hold, then go in a chop/forearm battle, with Benoit getting the best of it, following with a pair of knockdowns off the ropes, then an elbow drop on Orton's chest. Benoit went for a fisherman suplex and bridged for the pin cover, but Orton kicked out. You could clearly see marks on Orton's chest, as well as his chest being red overall, from Benoit's chops throughout the match. Orton made it to his feet, at which point Benoit chopped away at Orton's chest in the corner. Orton tried shoving Benoit away and escaping, moving to another corner, but Benoit quickly followed and continued chopping Orton's chest. Orton had some great pained facial expressions. He raked Benoit's eyes to escape. Benoit got a double leg takedown and went for the sharpshooter in the middle of the ring. He locked it in! Benoit sat down in the hold, but Orton desperately tried pulling them over toward the ropes, forcing Benoit up. Orton grabbed the bottom rope and got the break.
Orton tried moving to his feet, but Benoit punched Orton in the back, then went for the triple Germans. Benoit hit the hat trick of suplexes. Benoit signaled for the finish, and even did the Eddie style slap of the chest as he went up to the top rope. He went for the top rope headbutt, but Orton rolled out of the way! Orton looked almost in shock at the fact that he rolled out of the way. Orton picked Benoit up, but Benoit chopped Orton, whipped him into the corner and got a double leg takedown, going for the sharpshooter, but Orton kicked Benoit with both feet to avoid the sharpshooter. Benoit also knocked down the ref, who was standing behind him, taking the ref down. Orton hit his patented modified backbreaker to his own back. Orton signaled for the RKO, waiting for Benoit to get up. Out of nowhere, Orlando Jordan ran down to ringside! Orton turned around and attacked Jordan with a forearm, knocking him to the outside. Orton then went for the RKO, but the distraction perhaps gave Benoit more time to recover, and Benoit locked in the crossface! Booker T and Sharmell came down to the ring from the back! Booker made his way down as quickly as he could on crutches. Booker took a crutch and swung at Benoit, but Benoit ducked the crutch and delivered right hands, knocking Booker to the outside! Orton went for another RKO, but Benoit again blocked it and locked in the crossface. Orton tapped, tapped, tapped, but the ref was still down! Benoit got up and went to shake the referee to get him up. He started getting up and Benoit went over to lock the crossface back on, but Booker ran back in with the title belt and hit Benoit with it in the back of the head! Booker rolled out of the ring and hid just as the ref stood up and turned around. Orton got up and covered Benoit, hooking the leg and getting the victory!
Post-match analysis: Even Orton looked shocked that he got the win. Booker and Sharmell celebrated outside the ring. Sharmell screamed in girlish joy. Booker held up his new title belt. Orton's music played briefly, then Booker's music played as he got in the ring and held up the belt, with a huge smile on his face. Orton looked over at Booker and seemed to be a little bit bitter after this hard fought match. Orton pointed to Booker and seemed to be reminding him that Booker had made Orton a promise, and seemed to indicate that he wanted a title shot. They showed a replay of Orton tapping out to Chris Benoit, followed by Booker hitting Benoit in the head with title belt to allow Orton to pick up the victory. They showed a recap of Sharmell and Booker's reaction to the victory, with Tazz talking about Sharmell's "elation" with their win. Booker and Sharmell made their way to the back as Sharmell held up the title belt high above her head.
Match grade: A-. This match was a revolution as far as major WWE matches go. Benoit and Orton put together the most believable matwork I've seen in WWE in years, if not ever, particularly seeing this on one of the so-called A shows. There was an obvious UFC influence, bringing a more realistic style to the way they worked. The only other wrestler to so obviously incorporate mixed martial arts style moves so much in recent years was during the Undertaker's biker gimmick. Matches don't have to be long to be good, and there are often times on the indy scene when I wish they would cut a few minutes from a match to tighten things up, but this was a match that made use of the time given to it. You don't need a million highspots to make a match entertaining, and I'd like to see more realistic matwork like this incorporated into more matches. I expect that we'll see Booker T in a rematch against Benoit once he's better, or perhaps in a three-way match with Orton in there, or even a four-way with Orlando Jordan.
*** "Rowdy" Roddy Piper was reading some sort of packet backstage before putting it down. Was that his script? What the... Anyway, he was walking down the hall when he ran into Jillian Hall, who freaked him out due to her, uh, mole, or whatever it is. In an absolutely fantastic, five star moment, Piper hissed at Jillian and held up his fingers to make a cross! Awesome. JBL ran up and used Jillian's hair to cover up her facial thing. JBL told Piper that big things are happening tonight. We have a new United States Champion crowned, and JBL takes his rightful place as the World Champion! JBL told Piper that, in Piper's Pit, he could have JBL on for the first time ever, but he has the Boogeyman. JBL said that there was somebody standing there that the people wanted to listen to a little more than the Boogeyman. Piper thought about this and said "You're right! You've always been a smart guy! I've admired you! Your taste is something else! You're right! I just don't know how to interview myself." Ha! Piper started thinking about how he could interview himself, when JBL dejectedly said "You don't want me on the Pit, do you?" Piper said, no, he doesn't mean that, as Jillian looked disappointed. JBL said he was a media maven, as Jillian enthusiastically nodded along. JBL also reminded Piper that he was the longest reigning WWE Champion in Smackdown history, and asked Piper how many times he had been WWE Champion. Piper grabbed his throat and simulated choking, then mimed stabbing himself in the gut. He said "Had to go there, didn't ya? Deepest cut of all. Okey dokey, honeybunny, you are going to be the royalty in Piper's Pit tonight!" Piper told JBL that he wanted JBL and nothing but JBL tonight. As JBL and Jillian walked off, Piper said "And put her on a leash if you can." Oh!
Tonight: The Battle Royal for the World Heavyweight Championship! Those pictured in the graphic included William Regal, Paul Burchill, Mark Henry, Road Warrior Animal, JBL, Brian Kendrick/Spanky (Who, along with his partner Paul London, were wearing those goofy masks, which they took off, at which point Spanky gave the greatest crazy look to the camera ever), Paul London (who's got quite the little goatee going), Lashley, Matt Hardy (Ha ha ha, they really like rubbing Hardy's position in this company in his face, don't they?), Johnny Nitro, Joey Mercury, Psicosis, Super Crazy, Rey Mysterio, Simon Dean, Sylvan, and Orlando Jordan. By my count, that's 17. A 17 man battle royal? Uh, sure.
Promo time: Smackdown's coming to an arena near you. I wish that there were more wrestling shows out here so I could come close to attending something close to Torch indy guy Chris Vetter's 73 shows last year. Unfortunately, WWE apparently hates us here in the northwest, and our indy promotions are a little less than noteworthy most of the time. In any case, Smackdown's tour of Mexico is next week, when they'll be hitting Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey. The tickets are reportedly priced outrageously, particularly based on the average Mexican citizen's salary, but they sold, so I guess that's what matters.
A video clip aired with major John Cook of El Paso, Texas talking about Eddie Guerrero. They presented the Guerrero family with the Star of the Mountain award. Cook said that, in the hearts of El Pasoans, Eddie Guerrero has forever maintained the title of El Paso's Champion. Those in attendance included Eddie's wife, two of his daughters, his mother, two women who I believe were his sisters, and one of his brothers, Mando Guerrero. Vickie Guerrero, Eddie's wife, accepted the award, and the mayor also kissed her on the hand. Vickie got choked up as she accepted the glass statuette. Steve Ortega, a district city representative for El Paso, explained that the Star of the Mountain got its name because there's an electric star on the Franklin Mountains that's lit up year round, and is something that people identify with the city. Vickie talked about the award and talked about how she was overwhelmed that the city thought of Eddie to give the award to. They showed Vickie wiping away tears as people applauded the award, and her middle daughter came up and put her head on her mother. Mando Guerrero talked about how Eddie grew up there and loved this place. Vickie talked about being born and raised in El Paso, and how they have many memories there that will never be forgotten. A video was shown of Eddie with his wife, two of his daughters, and his mother. Judge Edward Marquez of El Paso said that Eddie brought a great honor to the city due to what he went through and the lessons he taught them. A video was shown of Eddie interacting with fans that I believe was from the Eddie Guerrero DVD. Representative Ortega talke about how, whenever Eddie came back to the community for a wrestling event, he would make time to talk to high school students and was inspirational in talking to individuals, and said that the people of El Paso had a special love for him and that the community would miss him. Vickie said that, for him to get recognized for the work he's done, she's very proud of that, and she knows that he's looking down on them. The video closed with another shot of Eddie. They showed a fan sign that said "In Loving Memory of the one that was so true." For some reason, "of" was in giant letters in comparison to everything else. I have no idea why. Another fan held up an Eddie tribute shirt. One fan held up a sign saying "Thank you for the memories Eddie Guerrero." They also showed a couple of R.I.P. signs for Eddie.
*** In a somewhat difficult transition, we went from that emotional clip to Piper's Pit. Piper made his way down to the ring. Some dude with a giant beard held up a sign saying "I'm rowdy for Roddy." I'm sure you are, sir. Piper said that they had the first Piper's Pit in Philadelphia 22 years ago. Piper said that they ought to be friends by now, and said that it's time to make more history. He said he was going to bring out a man who had never been on Piper's Pit before. He was interrupted before he said anyone's name by JBL's music, and out came JBL's limo. Cole said that of course JBL was there, as he was a media hog. Tazz said that he was a media mogul, and a media maven (which he stumbled over about twenty times trying to say), but not a media hog. Jillian of course came out with JBL, and he did his great little dance as he got out of the limo. Jillian had on a great tan outfit tonight, with tan pants and a teeny tiny vest with nothing underneath it. Fantastic. Piper signaled for the music to be cut.
Piper said that, he knows it's JBL's first time, but that it was a real neat trick if you let Piper say his name first before JBL comes in. Piper said that he's sure that JBL has a lot of stuff to say since it's his first time on the Pit. Piper handed a microphone to JBL and sat down on a stool. JBL said that, after 22 years of Piper's Pit, finally, the greatest icon of them all, JBL, is here! JBL said that it was a historic night, just as it was when Batista came in the ring and gave up his championship because... (dramatic, skeptical pause)... an injury. JBL said that, during his reign as champion, the longest reign in Smackdown history, through broken bones, busted noses, and more stitches than he cares to count, not once did he take a day off because "my mommy wrote a note." Zing! JBL said that he wouldn't let his fans down. It seems to JBL that there is a shortage of men on Smackdown. Piper tried asking a question, but JBL cut him off and said that it's his first time on Piper's Pit, followed by a great line: "I'm not through answering yet." Did Piper even ask a question yet? JBL said that ratings are going to go through the roof, just like they did when he was champ. He said that pay-per-view buyrates and the stock price will also go through the roof. He talked about being the media maven and the fans realizing his greatness once again. JBL said that someone needs to call the sheriff, because JBL's going to steal the show! JBL said it was the greatest sequel in wrestling history: JBL's Championship Reign, Part Two. Piper started asking a question again, but JBL once again cut him off. Something tells me Piper's not going to like that.
JBL told Piper that he was on a roll, and said to line them up, because a battle royal works right in JBL's favor. JBL said that tonight, in his home city, the greatest city in the world, New York City, money and fine wine will flow with the confetti, because Miss Jillian Hall has already set up a victory parade for JBL! JBL said that tonight, we finally return to normalcy, and the normalcy is this... well, before we get to that, Piper was making snoring noises into his microphone. That son of a... anyways, JBL got in Piper's face to wake him up. He said you better find a pine box, because nobody follows the killer! (Wait, what?) He finished by reminding us all that he is a wrestling god. JBL then asked Piper what his question was. Piper asked if JBL was done. JBL said it was Piper's show, and Piper said thank you.
Piper asked Jillian "What is dying on the side of your face there?" The announcers laughed and Jillian scowled. Piper said it looked like some sort of herpes, and said that they have Valtrex which can bring that down. JBL had to hold Jillian back. Piper told Jillian not to get vicious with him and said that he's getting older, after 22 years of Piper's Pit, and pulled out his reading glasses. He put them on and said "Well, the damned thing's got lungs!" Jillian was shocked. Piper said it had feet and had more hair on it than George "The Animal" Steele's bum! JBL told Piper to watch his mouth and not to disrespect his Jillian Hall. Piper yelled at JBL to shut up, because this is Piper's Pit, not his. Piper said that his name is JBL, and his gene pool couldn't even figure out how to put a vowel in there. Piper said that JBL was as stupid as she looks. (Shouldn't it be as stupid as she is ugly?) Piper then introduced his guest, the Boogeyman! JBL flipped out and pulled his face off, getting in Piper's face as the Boogeyman's music started to play!
Boogeyman came out, crawling on the stage with his staff and the clock in his mouth. Jillian covered her mouth in fear in the ring. Boogeyman hit himself in the head with the clock (that can't be good for the ol' brain cells) and Boogeyman's pyro went off. Boogeyman also had some new necklace on, with long hair hanging down from it. Boogeyman waved the read smoke from his staff in his face, so that he could shoot smoke out his nose. Boogeyman left his staff at ringside and got into the ring. JBL shoved Jillian into Boogeyman and bailed to the outside! Boogeyman sniffed Jillian and moved her hair aside to look at the growth on her face. He then went to go bite into it. Ewwwwwww! He pulled back as the crowd reacted with disgust before doing it, and even JBL looked absolutely sick with disgust. Boogeyman licked his lips then licked Jillian's mole. Oh God. Jillian got some brown stuff on her cheek, that was apparently from Boogeyman's makeup. Boogeyman licked it again, then bit it off her face. Oh, God. Jillian screamed as Boogeyman threw her down to the mat and Boogeyman chewed the mole. This may have been the worst thing I've ever seen. Jillian covered her face and ran to the back. Boogeyman spit the thing into his hand, then smooshed it. He then held it above his mouth and licked his lips ago, then chewed into it. I hope that thing's edible. He did his goofy dance, then moved over toward Piper. Piper started reciting the Lord's Prayer! Ha! Piper peaked an eye open and Boogeyman moved toward him. Piper then started a Hail Mary before trailing off since he obviously didn't know what he was talking about. The best part was when he threw a Chanukkah reference in the middle and finished with a scared "please?" Boogeyman boogied to the outside as his music played. He danced to the back as Piper looked at Boogeyman in shock. They showed a replay of Boogeyman biting what Tazz referred to as Jillian's "cancerous growth" off her face, then chewing it up. Sick. Boogeyman was still chewing it as he went to the back. Michael Cole said he was going to vomit.
*** We went to a closeup of Mark Henry's face in the back. Melina and MNM came up to Henry. Melina said that, last week, they finished what they started, and took out Batista. Melina told Henry that he took out Batista, and talked about how awesome it was. Nitro said that he was glad Henry was on their side. Melina said that tonight is only the beginning, as the odds are totally in their favor. Nitro pointed out that there were three of them in the battle royal for the World Heavyweight Championship. Melina said that one of them would come out of the batle royal as the champion. Melina told them to go out there and bring her back some more gold. MNM asked if she wanted more gold, and they said they would bring her back more gold.
Promo time: The Superstar Billy Graham book is out! Neat. As someone for whom Graham was a little before his time, I'm definitely looking forward to learning more about the Superstar's history (or at least the WWE-ized version of it).
Finlay promo time! Finlay was wearing a black leather jacket and looking at a waterway with a large rocky hillside in the background. "This is the Giant Causeway. My father worked these shores while I was growing up. It was here I'd watch him fight, leaving his opponent broken, and badly hurt. I'm proud of my father's reputation. It was how he took care of his family, and he taught me to do the same." Finlay turned around toward the camera. "My name is Finlay, and I love to fight!" The promo ended by telling us that Finlay debuts next week! Freakin' sweet!
They went to an outside shot of the arena, the Wachovia Center, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with a WWE Fan Axxess Tour in the parking lot. Michael Cole said that we would be crowning the new World Heavyweight Champion next, in a battle royal! (Wait, there are only two matches on this show?!)
Earlier tonight: Cole talked about Batista surrendering his title earlier in the night in an unprecedented act. They showed another slow motion clip of Batista kissing the belt and handing it over to Smackdown General Manager Theodore Long.
Pre-match analysis: We went back to the ring, which was already filled with quite a few wrestlers. JBL's music was playing, though his entrance was already over. Lashley came out next. Nunzio and Vito, who weren't in the graphic advertising the match, were also in the ring, making this a 19 man match. Matt Hardy came out next. This would be great to have Edge as Raw champion and Matt Hardy as Smackdown champion, but it would probably still leave Hardy seeming like he was in Edge's shadow due to Edge's dramatic pay-per-view win. Tazz also did the sponsorships during Hardy's intro, reminding everyone that they know Hardy is popular, which is why his entrance is on TV, but they don't like him and don't want to draw too much attention to him. MNM was out next. As usual, I'll run down Melina's oh so hot outfit of the week. She had on a black miniskirt with a sky blue belt, along with a new sky blue MNM "It's okay to STARE" t-shirt that was cut to, ahem, show off miss Melina's physique without being overly lude. (No Jillian style boobage from Melina tonight.) She also had on matching sky blue and black boots. (I'm even noticing color coordination. Somebody help me.) Melina then signaled for Mark Henry to come out, and Henry's music played as he came out and joined MNM on the stage. All four of them walked toward the ring. Cole said that there were 18 men in the ring, with two more to be announced, and asked who the last to be added to determine the World Heavyweight Champion would be. (Anyone who visited WWE.com since Tuesday already knows, and you saw it up before this match description, but, well, just pretend to be surprised when you read about it up ahead.)
Rey Mysterio was just coming out on the stage as we came back from break as his awful music played. He also had on the most garish bright yellow attire tonight that I've ever seen, with a bright yellow EG (Eddie Guerrero) armband, gloves, and pants. He put his medallion on a kid in the front row who was wearing a Rey Mysterio mask. The kid had been holding his hand out for a handshake but got left hanging by Mysterio, so it's cool he got the medallion, but it did make Mysterio look like kind of a goof. His parents tried getting the kid to look at the camera, but he wasn't having it. Mysterio posed in the corner and made the international symbol for a belt around his waist. Our surprise entrant was next, and out came Kurt Angle and his main man, Daivari! Holy crap! Even though I read some spoilers online before this, but it was still a bit of a shock to see Kurt freakin' Angle back on Smackdown. Michael Cole and Tazz were freaking out. Smackdown General Manager Theodore Long looked pretty calm at ringside, talking about it with ring announcer Tony Chimel. Chimel then announced Angle's entrance. JBL was freaking out about Angle being back on Smackdown, as the rest of the wrestlers looked on mostly in disbelief. The best parts about this were Spanky goofily stomping around the ring, and Nunzio being a total stooge and agreeing with JBL on everything. Nunzio is so underused, as I just love his character. JBL pointed at Angle and signaled for the belt around his waist. Cole explained that JBL had just told the Smackdown locker room to back off, because he wanted to take on Angle. Angle ran in under the bottom rope and JBL hit a clubbing blow to the back to start this match.
Match analysis: The bell rang and we were underway! I'll do my best to focus on the important focuses of this match, due to so many men being in the ring. The names of men being eliminated will be bolded. Angle fired back and quickly got a go behind, delivering a German suplex to JBL, talking crap to him and quickly eliminating JBL over the top rope! Vito went after Angle, but Angle quickly threw Vito over the top rope! A number of the members of the Smackdown locker room jumped Angle, notably including Mysterio and Hardy. Other battles took place around the ring. Hardy and Simon Dean were trying to push Angle to the outside, and shoved him over the top rope, but he landed on the apron. JBL was pissed as he walked up the apron. MNM worked together to try eliminating Psicosis, but Super Crazy made the save. William Regal tried taking Nunzio to the outside, but Nunzio held on. Angle tried eliminating Rey Mysterio, but he clung desperately to the bottom rope. Angle fought with Matt Hardy. Angle delivered big right hands and tried sending Hardy to the outside. Nunzio came over to try helping, but Road Warrior Animal made the save. Mysterio gave Orlando Jordan a headscissors over hte top rope, but Jordan held onto the ropes and didn't fall to the floor. Hardy continued battle Angle and had a hold on Angle's back, but Angle escaped. Hardy put Angle's leg over the top rope, but Angle fought back. The Mexicools tried eliminating Simon Dean, but Dean saved himself. Angle locked a front facelock on Hardy. Tazz talked about how he never saw that movie in a battle royal before. Mark Henry and Rad Warrior Animal faced off, but Animal mostly no sold for Henry and started getting the advantage as Nunzio tried eliminating Mysterio in the foreground. MNM made the save for Henry and took Animal over by the ropes. Henry then followed up and clotheslined Road Warrior Animal to the outside. MNM celebrated the elimination with Henry.
Kurt Angle was wrestling as we got back from break with... Orlando Jordan?! Jordan even got to do his Rocky Johnson Shuffle finisher to Kurt. We saw that Simon Dean was eliminated during the break, with William Regal and Paul Burchill backdropping him to the outside. MNM signaled for the snapshot on Nunzio. Regal and Burchill worked on Rey Mysterio. Mark Henry threw Hardy over the top rope, but he hung on and rolled back in under the bottom rope. MNM picked up Nunzio and threw him over the top rope to the outside, and Nunzio was eliminated. Melina was pretty happy with her boys. MNM low fived Henry. Tazz pointed out that most of the wrestlers in this match were trying to avoid Mark Henry. Jordan went for another Rocky Johnson Shuffle on Angle, and was about to hit the big right to finish it off, but Angle ducked and hit a German suplex! Angle grabbed Jordan by the 'fro and threw him over the top rope to eliminate Orlando Jordan. William Regal came after Angle with an uppercut, but Angle threw a series of uppercuts and threw Regal over the top rope. William Regal was eliminated. Burchill came after Angle to get revenge for his mentor, but Angle hit a capture belly-to-belly suplex over the top rope to eliminate Paul Burchill.
Mark Henry attacked Angle from behind. Angle rolled due to his momentum under the bottom rope, meaning he wasn't eliminated since you have to go over the top rope and have your feet touch the floor. Henry pursued Angle, going between the second and third ropes, meaning also that he was still in the match. In a great bit in the background in the ring, Lashley was going after Paul London, but London crawled across the ring quite comically to escape. Henry shoved Angle into the apron, and Angle sold the lower back. Paul London went after Lashley, but Lashley picked up London and threw him to the outside, eliminating Paul London. Mark Henry went over to the announce table and started clearing it off. Mysterio and Mercury were fighting in the ropes, with both men hanging on. Lashley took Psicosis up in the dominator position before throwing him over the top rope to eliminate Psicosis.
Kurt Angle was still stumbling around at ringside. When Henry went back after Angle, Angle came back with offense and hit a big uppercut. He was going for a German suplex through the announce table, but couldn't lift Henry. Henry then turned around and shoved Angle's back into the ring apron once more, which Cole pointed out was kidney first. Henry then picked up Kurt Angle and press slammed him through the announce table. One of the multiple referees at ringside insisted that Henry get back into the ring. They showed a replay of Henry sending Angle through the announce table. Mysterio was going for a wheelbarrow bulldog on Mercury, but before he could hit the bulldog, Mercury dumped him over the top rope. However, Mysterio held onto the ropes. He started standing up on the apron, but Nitro elbowed Mysterio in the face, and he just barely hung on. Mercury and Nitro tried working together to eliminate Mysterio. In the center of the ring, Lashley and Mark Henry confronted one another. Sweet! Henry started talking smack to Lashley. Lashley began to respond, but Henry piefaced Lashley. Lashley fired back with a big right hand and went for a shoulder block. It was a case of the immovable object, as Lashley bounced right off. Lashley got fired up and went for another shoulder block, but ran into a knee from Henry. Henry went for a suplex, but Lashley blocked it. Lashley tried to get Henry up, but couldn't quite do it. Henry then hung up Lashley on the top rope. Henry kicked Lashley in the gut, eliminating Lashley. (Hmmm, do we put over the guy who hasn't been able to learn to be a good wrestler in ten years, Mark Henry, or the green up and comer with huge potential? No, no, don't think about this for too long, or you'll go insane.) Henry then easily tossed Brian Kendrick over the top rope to eliminate him.
Cole was talking about Henry coming back from break, calling him a one man wrecking crew. They showed a replay from before the commercial of the elimination of Lashley. (I missed Super Crazy's elimination, but it may have been during the preceding commercial break.) Hardy threw Mercury over the top rope, but he held onto the bottom rope. Mysterio tried sending Nitro over the top rope, but Nitro was holding on. The same with Matt Hardy's attempt to eliminate Sylvan. Hardy punched Sylvan in the gut and gave Sylvan a Twist of Fate over the top rope! Nice. The neckbreaker over the top rope sent Sylvan to the floor for the elimination. Even Tazz said that was sweet. Sylvan twitched on the outside. Hardy went for a Twist of Fate on Mark Henry, but Henry lifted Hardy and tossed him to the floor, eliminating Matt Hardy. Nitro picked up Mysterio in a powerbomb type position, and Mercury assisted Nitro as they tried tossing him to the outside, but Mysterio hung on to the top rope and headscissored Johnny Nitro to the outside! Melina screamed. Mysterio then slingshotted up over the top rope, still holding onto the rope, grabbed Mercury's head with his legs, and headscissored him out as well, eliminating Joey Mercury! Melina screamed again. (Hmm, can they get eliminated again? That's hot.)
The only two left in the ring were Mark Henry and Rey Mysterio. Henry gave his big, scary stare to Mysterio, and Mysterio's scared/shocked look in response was made even better because he was wearing goofy yellow contacts. Henry does a good job playing a big, angry man. The fans were going crazy. Mysterio slapped his chest and did an Eddie Guerrero style shoulder shimmy. The fans loudly chanted "Eddie!" Mysterio kicked at Henry's legs to try to take him down. He followed up with a front dropkick to the back, followed by a front dropkick to the midsection. Henry stumbled around and just happened to fall on the second rope, just in time for Mysterio to run up for a 619! Henry made his way to his feet somewhat quickly, though still selling the effects of the move. Mysterio hit a 619 to the gut of Mark Henry on the other side of the ring! Henry held his gut and continued to stumble around the ring. Mysterio jumped on Henry's back and fell over to the apron. Mysterio had a headlock on Henry and did manage to get him off his feet, but couldn't pull him over. Henry broke free from the hold. Mysterio thrusted his shoulder into Henry's got and went for a springboard move, but Henry caught him in midair and threw Mysterio to the outside. Henry celebrated as Melina screamed in joy on the outside.
However, we saw Angle finally getting up by the announce area as Daivari enthusiastically yelled for Angle to get in there. Henry looked very, very confused by this turn of events. Angle was talking crap on the outside. He pulled down the straps and let out a yell! Angle ran into the ring and delivered a flurry of punches, followed by an uppercut. Angle bounced off the ropes, but ran into Henry's chest! Cole compared it to running into a brick wall. Henry picked Angle up over his shoulder, but Kurt Angle Angle slammed Mark Henry! Whoo! They showed a replay of Angle running into Henry, followed by the Angle slam. Both Henry and Angle stumbled to their feet in the ring. The crowd was going insane. Henry splashed Angle in the corner. Melina screamed, and this time her scream was much longer, more annoying, and piercing. The fans booed Henry. Melina yelled encouragement at Henry. Cole brought up Henry ripping the steel cage door off last week. Henry splashed Angle once more. Henry held up two fingers. I have no idea what he was saying. Was he giving a peace symbol? Anyway, Henry put Angle up on the top rope and slapped Angle across the face. Angle then responded by talking trash and put a headscissor around Henry's head. Tazz said it was almost a triangle choke. Angle was trying to pull Henry over the top rope with the headscissor hold. Henry managed to counter, though, grabbing Angle and powerbombing him in the center of the ring! The fans chanted "Let's go, Angle!" Both men made their way to their feet. Angle was throwing right hands, but Henry came back with a big shot of his own. Henry looked to be obviously calling a spot, then whipped Angle into the ropes before Angle came back, ducked a Mark Henry clothesline, and German suplexed Mark Henry! Whooooo! Cole brought up that Tazz was a suplex expert and Tazz talked about how amazing that suplex was. Angle applied a front facelock, but Henry lifted Angle up and dropped him over the top rope. However, he landed on the apron as Angle continued to hold that facelock. Angle almost lifted Henry over the ropes, but Henry got back to a vertical base and put Angle up on the top rope. Angle started fighting back with right hands and went for the headscissor hold again. He then dropped back over the top rope with the legs still wrapped around Henry. (Great, now he's stealing moves from Candice Michelle.) Angle also had his hands on the ropes to help him hold on, one hand on the bottom rope, one on the top rope. Angle pulled Henry over that top rope. Henry hit the floor and was shortly followed by Angle, but Henry definitely landed first. Mark Henry has been eliminated!
Post-match analysis: Melina was freaking out over Henry losing. Angle celebrated big time in the ring as he was announced as your new World Heavyweight Champion! Smackdown General Manager Theodore Long handed Kurt Angle the belt. Special pyro went off for Angle, with red, white and blue pyro from the ring posts and above the ring. Red, white and blue confetti followed. Tazz wanted to know what this meant with Angle being a Raw superstar. Wait, now the announcers are asking this after not bringing it up throughout the entire rest of the match?! That may be the dumbest announcing I've ever heard. Cole didn't know what to make of things either. In any case, this celebration was freakin' sweet. They showed a replay of the final elimination, making clear that Henry hit first. Tazz pointed out that Angle did have one foot hit before Henry was clearly eliminated, but reminded everyone that one foot didn't count. Angle posed with the belt as we went off the air with Tazz saying "Kurt Angle's from Raw! I don't understand this!" Oy.
Match grade: B+. This is definitely one of the better battle royals I've seen, particularly on free television. Angle, much like Benoit and Orton did earlier in the night (though to a lesser extent), seemed to take a cue from the world of MMA. This may also be the best match that Mark Henry has ever been in. Henry held up his end of the bargain well enough, and was also booked well. Angle seemed to be on top of his game tonight, likely due to having the knowledge that he was about to win the World Heavyweight Championship. Rey Mysterio also came out of this match smelling like roses, and the people are definitely ready for a Mysterio run with the title. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Angle take on Mysterio at WrestleMania this year for the title if they don't go with the Angle versus Hogan match.
Show rating: 7.5. I didn't think it was possible for me to love a two match show as much as I did tonight, but tonight's show was highly enjoyable. Kurt Angle winning the World Heavyweight Championship was a memorable moment, and combined with the overall strength and newsworthiness of this show, I believe that this is one of those shows that you want to save in your collection to watch again in the future. The one part of this angle that pained me was that the announcers did an absolutely awful job when it came to questioning what Angle was doing on Raw and what would happen if he won the title. After he won, they began asking questions, but the fact that they didn't do so earlier in the match seemed to me like another example of WWE looking down on the fans, thinking that they wouldn't think of that earlier and/or wouldn't care. Batista also did a nice job earlier in the night of giving up the title while playing up its importance, which helps the belt to maintain its integrity. He also did a nice job setting up a future title match for when he returns from surgery, assuming he does return. Mark Henry was also booked well in the main event, making this perhaps the best Mark Henry match ever, though it was unfortunate that part of making Henry look strong came at the expense of Lashley.
If they were going to go with Randy Orton to finish off the best of seven series, tonight was about the best I believe you could expect out of that decision. It also might be a case of WWE having some ideas in mind for WrestleMania and not having enough time to let everything play out as they move in that direction. More than Randy Orton winning the belt for Booker T, the real story of this match for me was the clear emphasis on realistic matwork, with what felt like a strong mixed martial arts influence. Angle used this as well later in the night to a lesser extent, but Benoit and Orton did a great job really working on the mat and never giving people any reason to think they were using "rest holds." The way Orton fought off Jordan and worked so well in this match almost felt like enough to lead to a face turn, particularly as he signaled that he wanted to go after Booker's title. This could lead to either two or three person matches, or you could even throw Orlando Jordan into the mix.
This show did a nice job focusing around the two big angles, but there were a few other memorable moments on the show. Most notable would be JBL going into Piper's Pit. The angle was crass, but hopefully, in a few weeks, they'll bring Jillian back and will ultimately allow us all to forget that stupid growth was ever there in the first place. JBL promos are always fun, and seeing an angle that combined a JBL promo with the insanity of both Roddy Piper and the Boogeyman was a hoot. I was a bit disappointed that we didn't get more of a plug for Stacy Keibler's run on Dancing With The Stars tonight, but with their Friday night show now going from half an hour to an hour running against Smackdown, you can see why WWE wouldn't want to publicize them too much.
1) Raw's Kurt Angle is the new World Heavyweight Champion, a Smackdown brand title.
2) Batista was injured (suffering a triceps injury in a match against Mark Henry, which the announcers didn't specify) and forced to give up his World Heavyweight Championship belt at the beginning of the show.
3) Randy Orton defeated Chris Benoit after interference from Booker T to win the United States Championship for Booker T. This match also included a strong MMA influence.
4) Boogeyman bit off Jillian Hall's "mole"/"cancerous growth" and ate it.
5) Finlay debuts on next week's Smackdown.
I'm so happy! Group hug! Anyway, if you want to drop me a line with your thoughts on the show, on the review, on the esoteric meaning of life, or whatever, please hit me up at email@example.com. I'll be back with you Monday with another column with my thoughts on OVW and the rest of the wrestling world, as well as doing a special Smackdown VIP audio update this weekend. Until next time, be strong and remember to smile!
Mike Roe reviews Friday Night Smackdown every week for PWTorch.com. Mike always wants to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, comments, questions, critiques, or whatever else you want to share. He also writes an OVW Specialist column for PWTorch.com every Monday.
THE TORCH REACHES MORE COMBAT ENTERTAINMENT FANS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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PWTorch offers a VIP membership for $10 a month (or less with an annual sub). It includes nearly 25 years worth of archives from our coverage of pro wrestling dating back to PWTorch Newsletters from the late-'80s filled with insider secrets from every era that are available to VIPers in digital PDF format and Keller's radio show from the early 1990s.
Also, new exclusive top-shelf content every day including a new VIP-exclusive weekly 16 page digital magazine-style (PC and iPad compatible) PDF newsletter packed with exclusive articles and news.
The following features come with a VIP membership which tens of thousands of fans worldwide have enjoyed for many years...
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