-Just two Smackdowns left until Wrestlemania! WWE.com says Finlay and Booker T will take on Undertaker and Batista (there goes the attraction of them teaming together on RAW next week), and we’ll open with the Chairman himself! What does he have in store for us? We’ll find out!
-“In Memory of Arnold Skaaland: 1925-2007"
-We are (taped) from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Ohio, nine nights away from WrestleMania 23. Tonight, it’s Batista and Undertaker vs. Finlay and Booker T! But first, “No Chance” brings out Vince McMahon, with a little bounce in his step (as usual). We see highlights of Umaga destroying Eugene from RAW, and the subsequent haircut that followed. Vince says Eugene may never be the same again. A hint of Eugene coming out of his shell? The crowd is dead, so McMahon gets them involved a bit, by asking if they think Donald will shave his head. Vince threatens to shave everyone (even babies!) in the crowd. He’s confident Stone Cold will call the match down the middle. Vince reminds us that he challenged Lashley on RAW, and that their match will take place this Monday. He guarantees a victory over Lashley. He wants to have fun tonight, and thinks Lashley should fight tonight. Hence, he brings out Lashley’s opponent: Mr. Kennedy. Once Kennedy is in the ring, he brings out Lashley’s OTHER opponent: Randy Orton. Vince does Mr. Kennedy’s routine and poses like Orton. Vince scolds Kennedy for taking his mic, and turns on the men, saying neither could beat Lashley one-on-one. He announced the match as a handicap tables match.
-Later tonight, the trailer of “The Condemned” will be shown. Up next, London and Kendrick vs. MNM for the Tag Titles. Again? I like this match-up as much as the next guy, but bring Taylor & Regal and some of the other teams back into the mix.
1- BRIAN KENDRICK AND PAUL LONDON VS. MNM- WWE TAG TITLE MATCH Cole reminds us that London and Kendrick have the fourth longest tag title reign in WWE history. London and Mercury get things started. Seconds into the match, all four men are in, and the tag champs take advantage with a two-count. But Nitro evens the score, taking pushing Mercury to avoid London’s dropkick. MNM double-team London with a suplex where London ends up gut-first on the top rope. Off of a roll-up, London tags Kendrick, and he goes all out with flying forearms for both Nitro and Mercury. Nice heel kick into a cover for a two-count. Another double-team by MNM, and Mercury ends up getting a neckbreaker with Kendrick hung up on the ropes. London gets the tag, hits a dropkick off the top and gets a two. Nitro is in and they set up for the Snapshot, but Kendrick interferes and London gets a roll-up for two. London and Mercury are on the top rope, Mercury gets forearmed off and Melina grabs London. Ashley goes after her and London hits a cross-body for the pin.
WINNERS: London and Kendrick by pinfall at 4:47. Good change-of-pace from the formula matches we’ve seen from these four. Surprisingly short, though.
-Kristal is backstage with Kane, and we see pictures of Daivari’s back after Kane had his way with him last week. Kane says he’s going “all the way” with Khali at WM, then holds up the chain and hook and laughs.
-Still to come, Batista and Undertaker face Finlay and King Booker.
-Maryse welcomes us back to Smackdown.
2- CHAVO GUERRERO VS. JIMMY WANG YANG Non-title match here tonight. Little chain wrestling to start. Couple elbows and an uppercut from Chavo. Yang fights out of the corner and gets a dropkick off the middle rope. He’s quick as a hiccup, as JR would say. He uses the educated feet (another JR’ism) to knock Chavo to the outside, then hits a baseball slide. Yang gets dropkicked on a cross-body attempt. Belly-to-back suplex finds the mark for Guerrero. Yang fights out of an arm-bar by stomping the feet of Chavo. That’s pretty original. Chavo though, back on offense, snap-mares Yang over. Big clothesline puts the Asian Cowboy down hard. Again, we see the suplex where Yang is hung out to dry on the top rope. Yang arm-drags out of an abdominal stretch, then hits a leg-scissors take down. Chavo hits two of the three amigos on Yang, and Cole calls it “disrespectful.” Yang avoids a Chavo moonsault and Chavo lands on his feet, but Yang goes to the top and hits a moonsault for the pin.
WINNER: Yang by pinfall at 5:26. I’m a big Yang fan, and he looked good here. Good match, but I hope they’re not going the same route as Helms, having Chavo lose a bunch of non-title matches.
-Cole and JBL reminisce about the late Arnold Skaaland, then we get the video package from RAW.
-Tony Chimel intros “The Condemned” trailer.
teams trade in and out of the ring illegally, and at times, all six are in. Referee Chris Kay letting things slide here as Yang and Daiviri end up in the ring. Daiviri misses a splash in the corner, then hits a moonsault for three.
3- MVP VS. CEDRIC von HAUSSEN Every time I hear the clock ticking when MVP comes out, I think of Evolution’s theme. Porter grabs the mic and like last week, he brags about going around the globe looking for opponents of the highest caliber. He brings out the Liechtenstein champ, Cedric von Haussen. He has possibly the least intimidating theme music of all-time. MVP starts things with a clothesline, kick to the back and a bodyslam. Big boot in the corner by MVP. Playmaker and it’s over.
WINNER: MVP by pinfall at 1:04.
-MVP grabs the mic and rubs it in about Benoit tapping to Cena on RAW. He says Benoit will go down in history as the first person to lose his title to Montel Vontavious Porter.
-Mr. Kennedy and Randy Orton discuss strategy (ooh, is Edge getting jealous?) about their handicap tables match, which is next!
-JBL and Michael Cole discuss the Battle of the Billionaires at WM. The same celebrity prediction package from RAW is shown.
4- MR. KENNEDY AND RANDY ORTON VS. BOBBY LASHLEY- HANDICAP TABLES MATCH Lashley must put Kennedy AND Orton through a table to win. Lashley fights off both men to start, including a suplex on Kennedy. But that allows Orton enough time to recover and now it’s a double-team. They put their heads down after sending Lashley into the ropes, an obvious mistake. Orton is tossed to the outside and Kennedy gets a back-body drop for his troubles. Kennedy deals with Orton on the outside, then lays some shoulders into Kennedy in the corner. Bell-to-belly suplex for Orton. Lashley, though, goes shoulder-first into the steel post as Kennedy pulls Orton out of the way. As the two heels work over Lashley, Mr. McMahon and his yellow checkered jacket make its way to ringside (is it me, or does he save the ugly suits for Smackdown?). Orton brings the table into the ring as Lashley fights way from Kennedy, but Orton brings him back down. Lashley gets set on the table, but Lashley fights off. Kennedy was distracted and almost went through the table, but Orton intervened in time. Lashley comes back again and hammers away on the heels. Lashley puts the two in opposite corners and runs into both of them several times. Kennedy takes out Lashley’s knees as the ECW champ was looking to put Orton through the table. Kennedy sets a second table near the turnbuckle. He gets put through it with a spinebuster though, and Orton gets powerslammed through the second one for the win.
WINNER: Lashley at 6:56. Pretty decent match, but Kennedy has kind of been brought down to earth it seems, constantly being fed to guys like Batista and Lashley.
-Tonight: Undertaker and Batista vs. Finlay and King Booker!
-Cleveland Browns are in the front row, and they pretend to wrestle each other.
-Kristal is backstage with Batista and we get highlights of what happened in the main event last week. Batista called what Taker did a “cheap shot,” but Batista’s more concerned about getting even. He thinks they’ll win their tag match tonight though. He makes no promises about how they’ll get along before or after the match though.
-Chris Benoit is in action next!
5- CHRIS BENOIT VS. GREGORY HELMS Match is joined in progress. Helms tries to out-brawl Benoit by landing some hard right hands in the corner. Benoit matches those with some chops, then hits a back-body drop and a suplex. Float over for the cover gets two. Bodyslam by Benoit, and a running headbutt finds the mark. Helms gets the advantage, and launches himself onto Benoit on the outside. He takes advantage of the ropes by choking Benoit on them. “Let’s go Benoit” chant as he fights out of a Helms rest-hold. Hard chops in the corner are stopped by a rake of the face by Helms. Benoit hits a Northern Lights suplex for two, then gets three German suplexes. Headbutt from the top by Benoit, then he locks in the crossface. Helms taps seconds later.
WINNER: Benoit by submission, 5:10 shown.
-We get the 2007 HOF graphic, and tonight’s new inductees: The Wild Samoans, Afa and Sika.
-Immediately after that, JBL abruptly leaves the broadcast booth, saying he’s got something to do. Later, it’s Batista and Undertaker vs. King Booker and Finlay .
-Tale of the Tape for the Battle of the Billionaires is shown.
-Teddy Long makes his first appearance of the show backstage, talking to Kristal. He’s got a rose for her. JBL interrupts with a proposition. He wants to interview Batista and Undertaker next week, in the ring. Long grants JBL’s request.
-Batista is walking to the ring backstage, before being interrupted by King Booker and Finlay, who give him a man-sized beatdown. Referees and officials (I spy: Mike Rotunda and Steve Keirn) break it up. Nice out-of-ordinary move here, as the hade the “next” graphic up and the music cued, so everyone thought they’d go to break when Batista was walking backstage.
-Moments ago: Batista was attacked backstage by his upcoming opponents, Finlay and King Booker. Remember when Finlay used to break up brawls like this?
6- KING BOOKER AND FINLAY VS. UNDERTAKER AND BATISTA They don’t even play Batista’s music, as it starts as a handicap match. Taker fends off Finlay and Booker, and gets a nice armdrag as he was going old-school. He then hits the old-school shot on Finlay. Clothesline over the top rope on Booker by Taker, who is then clotheslined over by Finlay. All three men are on the outside as we go to break.
Taker gets clotheslined off the apron by Booker as we come back from break. On the outside, Booker hammers away at the dead man. Back in the ring, Booker hits the side-kick on Booker as Finlay is tagged in. Finlay with some forearms into the skull of Taker. Booker is tagged back in, and he works over the lower lumbar region of Undertaker’s back. Knees to the face of Undertaker, followed by a superkick for two. Tag to Finlay, and he puts his shoulder into the gut of Taker in the corner. Half-crab is applied by Finlay. The two men end up rolling around on the mat, and Taker comes back with some right hands. Booker interferes by Taker goes after him until Finlay puts a stop to that. Cover gets two. Taker gets Booker for the chokeslam after a tag, but Booker dodges it. Undertaker suplexes out of a side headlock and both men are down. Taker applies the triangle choke and Finlay breaks it up. He then tags in and headbutts Taker. Off the ropes goes Taker, Finlay puts his head down and gets DDT’d. Tag in to Booker, and Taker runs into both men in opposite corners (now we know where Lashley learned that from). Snake eyes and big boot to Booker. Finlay grabs the shillaleigh and uses it for a DQ. As the two men kick away at Undertaker, Batista’s music hits and he comes to the aid of Taker. Undertaker is back up and he goes after Finlay. Batista sets Booker up for the powerbomb, and Undertaker does the same with Finlay. Once Taker has Finlay up, Batista throws Booker into them, knocking the three men over in a heap. We end with Taker sitting up and Batista heading up the ramp.
As soon as I read the "Shell of his former self" without anything else, I figured it would be taken out of context, because you really need to hear the whole thing and even the tone of how Eric said it.