TV REPORTS KELLER'S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 4/4: Batista confronts Shawn Michaels, Kane vs. Undertaker, MVP vs. Hardy, New Diva Debuts
Apr 5, 2008 - 4:31:26 AM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor
KELLER'S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
APRIL 4, 2008
AIRED ON THE CW - MIAMI, FLA.
WHAT HAPPENED: 1ST HOUR
-Michael Cole and Coach introduced the show. They said it was a special show with an appearance by Shawn Michaels. Coach said he would share his mixed emotions over ending Flair's career.
-They went to the stage where Edge, Chavo Guerrero, Vickie Guerrero, Teddy Long, Zach Ryder, and Curt Hawkins came out and headed to the ring. Cole said Edge lost the title in "arguably one of the greatest main event in WrestleMania history." How good that match was, and the uphill battle it fought to win back an exhausted, emotionally spent crowd, is one of the stories lost in the hoopla from the other three main events is shared the spotlight with. Coach dryly said he hopes Vickie gets better soon, ignoring that she got out of her wheelchair and ran just several days ago. Coach asked Cole to be quiet while Edge talked even though he hadn't said anything. Now that's the Coach who serves a purpose - the one who tries to make Cole miserable.
Edge began by saying he's never been more ticked off in his life. (More than when Matt Hardy found the text messages on Lita's phone and went public with them?) He said he stands there feeling naked. Chavo mouthed, "Me too!" He said losing to Undertaker, he feels he let himself down, along with the fans and all of Smackdown. He said most importantly he feels he left Vickie Guerrero down. He looked at her and apologized to her. He said he'll one day become the World Heavyweight Champion again. Chavo took the mic and said he, too, feels like he left the family down. Chavo said Kane cheated and he doesn't have the guts to face him face-to-face. The crowd chanted "Chavo sucks." He promised everyone he would once again become the ECW Champion.
Vickie began to talk. She took offense at the booing by the crowd. She said it is her pleasure to announce to both of them that they will get their opportunity again at the next PPV, Backlash. Chavo and Edge smiled and clapped. She said it's also her honor to announce that their respective opponents will face each other - champion vs. champion, brother vs. brother, Kane vs. Undertaker.
1 -- MATT HARDY vs. MVP
This seems wrong. After months and months of build-up between these two and no real singles feud payoff before Hardy's injury, they throw it out there post-WM in the opening match on SD without any hype? This could have been the main event of this show, with two hour dedicated to hyping it with background and new promos. Instead, it's thrown out there like just another TV match. When MVP stomped Hardy, Cole said, "He stomped him right in the temple. This has been a brawl from the beginning." Coach replied: "Are you in radio or television, Michael? I can see that." Cole said, "It's ha ha night out here. You didn't get to talk much at WrestleMania, so..." Coach interrupted to call Hardy's comeback in the ring. Coach said the referees should stop the match. Hardy wrapped MVP's leg around the ringpost. Hardy gave MVP a Side Effect at 10:00 followed by an elbow to the back of MVP's head off the second rope. MVP fired back with a hard clothesline out of nowhere. Then Hardy surprised MVP with a Twist of Fate for a clean win.
WINNER: Hardy in 11:00.
STAR RATING: **1/4 -- Solid ten minute TV match. Just a strange choice of timing to feature this match, and the clean win over the longest-running U.S. Champion in Smackdown history without any fanfare is also odd. This should have been treated as a bigger deal. It does appear WWE is getting behind pushing Hardy.
2 -- ZACH RYDER (w/Curt Hawkins) vs. FESTUS (w/Jesse)
They aired a brief inset promo with Ryder and Hawkins before the match. It's one of those little things they should do more often to give practice on the mic to undercard wrestlers, not just to enhance the show, but also find out who can talk. Cole gave the least compelling plug every for a WWE Magazine article. He plugged that the latest edition features the outcome of Jesse and Festus taste-testing beef jerky and deciding mesquite is their favorite. Festus dominated with brutish power moves. Festus fended off interference attempts from Hawkins. Coach said it's the best he's ever seen of Festus and he may not fully realize how good he is. Festus won clean. Coach said, "It looks like the corn fed colossus is running on ethanol." Cole replied, "It's like you have a writer tonight, you're so funny." Coach said he's just sewing his oats, then begged for laughs from Cole.
WINNER: Festus in 5:00.
STAR RATING: * - Festus, if handled right, could actually emerge as more than a novelty tag team wrestler. I'm not sure how far he could go, but there's something about his style that hints at more credibility than his gimmick might suggest.
-A WrestleMania highlight video aired promoting the encore presentation.
-Cole and Coach were shown on camera. Coach said if either Kane or Undertaker refuses to participate in the match, they'll both be stripped of their respective championships. They are referring to them as brothers. Cole and Coach then threw to the Ric Flair highlight video including his Raw ceremony.
-They showed Michaels walking backstage toward the entrance tunnel.
-Shawn Michaels made his full ring intro to his music, but without the energy and exuberance of usual. Coach said he won't be known as The Heartbreak Kid anymore, but instead as the wrestler who retired Ric Flair. They didn't make nearly a big enough about Michaels, a Raw wrestler, making another rare appearance on Smackdown. Michaels began by talking about how he stood face-to-face with his boyhood idol. He said he ended up getting hug from him on Monday night, and that gave him some closure. As he talked about why he was at Smackdown, Batista's music interrupted. Batista walked to the ring as Michaels stared him down, wearing the cowboy hat shadowing his eyes once again.
WHAT HAPPENED: 2ND HOUR
Batista said he's glad Shawn found closure, but he hasn't yet, and he's not alone. He said he's having to cope with WrestleMania 24 being the last time he'll ever see his friend, his mentor, the Nature Boy compete in the ring. He said he's taking it a little personally. "It bothers me," he said. "It bothers me that I'm never going to see Ric Flair's face at another arena again." He said Ric loved to compete and entertain "and you took that all away." Michaels choked up with emotion said that was the hardest thing he's ever done. He said he knows he has mixed emotions and he understands why. He said deep down in his heart he knows he made the wrong decision. Michaels interrupted and showed fire. He said Flair asked for the Showstopper, his A-Game, and he gave him Mr. WrestleMania, exactly what he asked for. He called him Dave and said he would have done the same thing. Batista said he wouldn't have let his ego get in the way of his friendship with Ric. The crowd oohed.
Michaels said he had a job to do and he did it. Batista said, "You had a job to do, but you didn't do it. That's right. Shawn Michaels, Mr. Showstopper, doesn't do jobs." That little insider reference went right over the heads of the crowd; not much of any reaction from that clever little exchange. Batista said he thought Michaels was a stand-up guy, but "you are the most selfish man I know. Couldn't you have laid down just once. If you had done that just once, Ric would still be here. Your ego couldn't do it." Michaels stepped up and said, "I'm sorry you feel that way, Dave." He stared at him. Batista said he could say he's sorry until he's blue in the face, but that doesn't change the fact Flair isn't there and will never drive down the road with his friend and mentor again. Ever. He asked if he called him Old Yeller and said he was going to take him out behind the wood shed and put him out of his misery. "Is that how you see Ric Flair? The greatest pro wrestler of all time." (I thought it was Triple H? Or so we had been preached for the last eight years.) He asked Michaels if he saw Flair as a pathetic, dying dog. He dropped the mic and walked out. Batista sneered at Michaels and looked him like he was a piece of trash as he left the ring. The fans were silent other than one fan chanting "HBK, HBK" about a dozen times; nobody joined in.
Interesting segment. Good follow-through on the mixed emotions Michaels had going into the match, but his need to justify it after the fact despite obvious internal conflict over it. Batista performed on the mic really well.
-Another plug aired for the Kane vs. Undertaker match.
3 -- VLADIMIR KOZLOV vs. MATT BENTLEY
Bentley is formerly of TNA, a/k/a Michael Shane. Kozlov made his Smackdown debut here, battering Bentley with power blows. He finished him quickly with a sidebreaker. He acted like a brutish, snarling Russian out of another era of pro wrestling, uttering Russian phrases at the crowd.
WINNER: Kozlov in 1:00.
-A commercial aired promoting the Triple H DVD.
4 -- MIZ & MORRISON vs. SHANNON MOORE & JIMMY WANG YANG
Cole said his favorite edition of the Dirt Sheet was when Miz & Morrison called him the "talking head." Cole then forced a dorky laugh. It wasn't funny and Cole's laugh was unnatural as anything you'll hear on a wrestling show. An unexpectedly early finish came when Morrison gave Moore a neckbreaker for a three count.
WINNERS: Miz & Morrison in 2:00.
-The Great Khali walked out after the match. Miz and Morrison looked worried. Morrison moved in on Khali, then Miz followed. Khali shoved Miz down, then chopped Morrison across his head. He grabbed Yang and dragged him up off the floor with one hand, palming his skull like a basketball. He pressed and tossed him to the floor. Then he gave Moore a Khali Bomb. Khali then grabbed the mic and mumbled. The crowd yelled, "What?" The Big Show's music played and he walked out. He climbed over the top rope and went chest to chest with Khali. Show said that Monday night he got in his face, so tonight, "I'm in yours." Khali backed away again and left. The crowd booed. Khali walked to the back. His walk resembled Big John Studd. Khali turned to look back at Show from the stage and threw his hands into the air. One of the funnier stories coming out of the Hall of Fame banquet was that Khali made crazy faces trying to make sense of Mae Young's induction acceptance speech.
-An ad ran for WrestleMania 25 in Houston, Tex. on April 5, 2009.
-Cole plugged that next week Finlay and Hornswoggle return to Smackdown, "back where they belong."
-Mid-ring, Teddy Long said they'd announce the winner of the Smackdown Top Diva Contest. He said the winner would win a motorcycle. He introduced the owners of the sponsor shop, three guys, all with ample traits to make fun of, but I'll resist other than saying they looked like bad guys in a Scoopy Doo cartoon. The owner said they're excited to build a custom chopper and he hopes they like what they did. The winner was then announced as Michelle McCool. Maybe she can go riding with Undertaker sometime. McCool sat on the custom bike, which was very custom-looking. Victoria's music interrupted. She said the contest was a joke and she's the no. 1 diva. She charged at McCool. McCool ducked and tackled Victoria. Another blond woman joined in the attack on McCool. Cole and Coach were speechless. Cherry tried to protect McCool, but the blond smacked her and then tossed McCool into a ringpost. They showed a stunned looking Cole and Coach saying they didn't know who that woman was. (It was Nattie Neidhart, daughter of Jim Neidhart of the Hart Foundation.)
-A WrestleMania highlight video aired.
-Kane's ring entrance for the main event took place. Coach said Kane's win was the second fastest win in WrestleMania history. Coach quizzed Cole on which was the fastest. Cole said King Kong Bundy beating S.D. Jones.
5 -- UNDERTAKER vs. KANE
Undertaker's full ring intro took place after the break. This began with 13 minutes left in the show. This, like Hardy vs. MVP, seemed too big to be thrown out there as a one-off on a regular Smackdown. This is something, if hyped correctly, could have been a good headline or co-headline PPV match. An early test of strength and leverage led to Taker taking Kane down. Coach began speculating on the childhood rivalry between Taker and Kane. The Gasp of the Week came when Cole called Coach, "That's why you're the best color analyst in the business." It was in response to Coach commenting that Kane and Taker were going to try to win without seriously hurting the other since they're brothers. It was really, really slow early on, drawing stretches, yawns, and few boring catcalls. Kane shoved Taker in the chest after a break in the corner. Taker didn't like that. Cole said, "Somebody's not happy." Taker punched Kane. Kane acknowledged that was a good shot. He slapped Taker. A exchange of punches followed. Taker got the better of it, prompting Cole to call Taker "the best pure striker in the history of sports entertainment." (I'd like a hypnotist to make me not hate the term "sports entertainment" every time I hear it; it makes my teeth hurt whenever it's used in place of the term "pro wrestling" during a WWE TV show.) At 8:00, after Kane resisted a chokeslam by Undertaker, they each took each other down with big boots. The ref counted them both down for the count of seven. Both sat up at the same time, drawing a crowd pop. At that moment, Edge, Ryder, Hawkins, and Guerrero jumped them. After the beatdown, Taker and Kane popped up just as the heels let their guard down and celebrated. Taker and Kane knocked Hawkins and Ryder out of the ring, then chokeslammed Edge and Chavo. They gave them stereo Tombstone piledrivers to end the show. Cole said Vickie and Edge's gameplan failed. Coach said he didn't think it would end this way.
WINNER: No contest in 9:00.
STAR RATING: * -- It told a nice little story and made sense, but it just wasn't interesting or exciting enough for those first five minutes.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Solid show. MVP-Hardy and Undertaker-Kane were big matches to give away. The Big Show-Khali confrontation forwarded that feud, and Batista-Michaels was the highlight of the show in terms of newsworthy star power and intriguing set-up. Plus, post-WM debuts of Nattie Neidhart and Kozlov. Worthwhile show to watch if you DVR'd it, although the first five minutes of Taker-Kane can be fully appreciated at FF speed.
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