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TV REPORTS
1/6 WWE Friday Night Smackdown Express: Strong men, buh-bye to Juvy, and more!

Jan 7, 2006 - 3:50:00 AM
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO BOOKMARK US & VISIT US DAILY


By Mike Roe, Torch Team Contributor

WWE Smackdown review
January 6, 2006
Taped 1/3/2006 at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Aired on UPN
Report by Mike Roe, Torch OVW/Smackdown Specialist


Show title: "Making statements."

Quick links

Raw Is Trivial trivia
(1) JBL (with Jillian Hall) versus Matt Hardy in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
(2) Rob Eckos, John Troske and Gus Harlacher versus Mark Henry (with Melina) (all 3 men consecutively).
(3) Cruiserweight Champion Kid Kash versus Juventud.
(4) Chris Benoit versus Randy Orton in match 6 of the Best-of-7 Series for the United States Championship.
(5) WWE Tag Team Champions MNM (Joey Mercury & Johnny Nitro with Melina) versus Batista & Rey Mysterio in a Steel Cage Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship.
Show rating
Newsworthy Countdown

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I will be acting in my own defense and-- Oh, whoops, sorry, got my speeches mixed up. It's time for what you read when you wake up Saturday mornings while watching Saturday morning cartoons, Express! Before we get to the report, it's time to whip it, whip it good over to my main trivia man, Seth!

***

Raw Is Trivial with the "Supreme" Seth Berger!

Please allow me to be the 173rd person to wish you a Happy New Year. (Mike note: And allow me me me to be the 174th!) Like most people with their bearings still intact, I stayed in and avoided the jacked-up prices on drinks and fun. Okay, I didn't have much of a choice, as the wife had to work early the next day so she turned in at 9 PM, but I was more than happy to ring in 2006 with Robert DeNiro & Christopher Walken on my VCR. Didn't even realize it was Midnight until fireworks started going off around town. (Mike note: I realized it because I'm a geek and watched TNA's new year's special instead of, you know, partying down or something.)

So, last night I had nothing to do at home. What do I usually do? Pop in an old wrestling tape while I have dinner. Pizza (Mike note: Pizza!) topped off with a tape labeled "Stone Cold Kicks Ass"; where Austin was signed to a new 5-year deal that guaranteed him one title shot. Shane signed Austin, which pissed Vince off to no end.

I think I put it in mainly for the Godfather's speech: "Oh no no no playa', you see there are no ho's tonight. I'm not making you that deal. You wanna mess with a pimp's money, well I'm here to show you... pimpin' ain't easy." I guess I can make that this week's question: Who did the Godfather direct his tirade against? I'll be at the bottom of some page to give you the answer.

Raw Is Trivial: Answer Time!

***

Ain't no shame in the Express game. On to the show!

Last week: We kicked things off with a clip of Melina coming out and explaining to the world that, the week before, she was the victim of a sexual predator, the man they call Batista! They also included clips of Melina hitting on Batista which Melina described as an "innocent flirtation" and what those pervs at WWE meant to represent being Melina and Batista having the sex. Melina said that the innocent flirtation soon turned into something abhorrent. She told Batista to stop, but he did not! Melina said that she would be suing Batista for... sexual harassment! (Gasp! Wait... wouldn't what Batista did be a little more than harassment?) Josh Mathews asked Batista if he had any response to Melina's absolutely shocking claims, and Batista just said to consider the source, because he had a big match that night and needed to stay focused on showing everyone why Batista and Rey Mysterio are the tag team champions. During the main event, Michael Cole said that Rey Mysterio would have to control the mindset of his team to keep his team focused on the task at hand. It was MNM's mandatory rematch clause for the title, and Tazz noted that, if they didn't win, they might not get another opportunity to win the title. Batista got the hot tag in and was about to win after destroying MNM and running powerslamming Joey Mercury, but because he's a big klutz, he swung Mercury around before slamming him and knocked his legs into the referee's head, taking out the ref. He tried to wake up the ref, but before he could do so, the World's Strong Sexual Chocolate ran in and attacked Batista from behind! He gorilla pressed Batista and slammed him down to the mat! Melina got Mercury to crawl into the cover and the ref woke up just in time for MNM to win back the tag team titles! It was revealed after the match that Mark Henry had aligned himself with Melina and MNM!

The show intro was next, including Dancing With The Stars superstar Stacy Keibler despite her never being on the show. Well, that's cool, I guess. The pyro went off and we were welcomed not quite live to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the town that I only hear about when WWE is running shows their. Michael Cole wished everyone a happy new year and welcomed the people to the first Smackdown of 2006!

Tonight: For the first time in six years, the WWE Tag Team Championship will be on the line in a steel cage match! MNM defend their new titles against the former champions, Batist and Rey Mysterio! Also tonight, Chris Benoit faces Booker T's substitute Randy Orton in match 6 of the Best of 7 series for the United States Championship.

(1) JBL (with Jillian Hall) defeated Matt Hardy in a Falls Count Anywhere match.

Pre-match analysis: Just like last week, we kicked things off with your hero and mine, JBL! He's going to be facing Matt Hardy in a falls count anywhere match, the match known in the late '90s and early 2000's as a hardcore match. JBL stepped out first, followed by his stunning image consultant, mole be damned. Jillian was wearing a light pink pinstripe women's suit with skirt, with more cleavage than I previously believed the FCC allows. JBL did his little two-step dance and had a microphone in his hand, and with JBL, that is always a great, great thing. One intelligent fan held up a sign reading "JBL is: The main event/Mr. Smackdown/Next champ/Wrestling god." Love that!

JBL got on the mic and asked what better way to start out 2006 than with the biggest superstar in the history of Smackdown, JBL! In a falls count anywhere match! JBL said that he has never lost a falls count anywhere match, and it didn't really matter who his opponent was, but it was Matt Hardy. JBL went over the ringside barrier and started walking through the crowd, and Jillian followed, causing the crowd to pop as she oh so daintily hopped over the barrier and slid her beautiful behind across. JBL said he could beat up Matt on the announce table, in the concession stand, in the parking lot, or to the Internet kiosk, where he can type in his new website, www.GoodLordHelpMeJBL'sBashingMyBrainsIn.com! JBL asked why they should start this in the ring, and said they should start it with the people who love him. Jillian enthusiastically nodded in agreement. They walked up the stairs in the seating area. JBL said that 2006 will be like 2005, like 2004, and asked Matt Hardy to get it on right now in the year of the wrestling... (Dramatic pause, Kennedy style)... god! Jillian signaled for Matt Hardy to come out.

Matt Hardy came out next, wearing one of his goofy "I will not die!" shirts. He took it off and whipped it into the crowd, to screams from the female fans. He hopped the ringside barrier and went after JBL, who started coming back toward him.

Match analysis: Hardy hit JBL in the crowd to start things off. JBL slammed Hardy's head into a barrier. Hardy responded by slamming JBL's head into a barrier. JBL kicked Hardy in the gut and slapped him down to the ground with a clubbing blow to the back. JBL unzipped his black ring jacket and still had a towel over his shoulder. He used his jacket to choke Hardy. Hardy started elbowing out, and was whipping JBL toward the ringside barrier, but JBL reversed it and whipped Hardy over the barrier to ringside. JBL picked up Hardy and started clearing off the announce table and bounced Hardy's head off the top of the announce table, sliding his body onto the table. JBL climbed up onto the table and looked to want to put Hardy through the table, but Hardy fought him off and pulled JBL's legs out from under him, breaking the table. Hardy covered, but JBL got his shoulder up just before the count of three!

Hardy picked up JBL and bounced his head off the ring apron. Hardy tried slamming his head into the steel steps, but JBL blocked it and bounced Hardy's head into the steel steps. JBL then slammed a steel chair across Matt Hardy's lower back. The announcers emphasized the damage to the spine of Hardy. JBL celebrated on the outside, taunting the crowd, then rolled Hardy into the ring and covered him. Hardy kicked out before the count of three. JBL delivered a clubbing blow to Hardy's back and started kicking Hardy in the face as Hardy tried getting up several times. JBL set up Hardy for the JBL power bomb, doing his cigar taunt, but Hardy backdropped out of it. Hardy dropkicked JBL to the outside. Jillian Hall yelled for her client to get up. Hardy slingshotted himself over the top rope onto JBL on the outside, into a cover, but JBL kicked out. Hardy hammered at his head with right hands. He hooked the leg for another cover, but JBL kicked out again.

Hardy bounced JBL's head off the steel steps. Hardy went looking under the ring and pulled out a ladder! Hardy nailed JBL in the gut with the ladder twice. He then put it down on the entrance ramp and tried bulldogging JBL onto the ladder, but JBL shoved Hardy off and Hardy ran into the steel barricade. JBL followed up with a clubbing shot to the back, then bounced Hardy's head off the from of his own limo! JBL was taking Hardy over to the other side of the limo, but there just happened to be a trash can there, so Hardy grabbed the lid and hit JBL upside the head with it! Hardy followed with more shots to the head with the trash can lid, hitting JBL in the head with it repeatedly, seven times by my count, laying JBL out on the hood of his own limo. Hardy then picked up the ladder and set it up next to the limo. Oh gosh! He was doing his little "Aaaaah!" scream that he does before doing his leg drop, but Jillian grabbed his ankle, distracting Hardy and allowing JBL to get up. JBL grabbed the trash can Hardy had taken the lid from earlier and hit Hardy in the lower back, then went around to the other side of the ladder, climbing onto the bottom rung and hitting Hardy in the head, knocking him back onto the limousine. JBL covered and a one, a two, and a three later, he picked up the win!

Post-match analysis: JBL and Jillian Hall celebrated after the match. However, red smoke started coming out of the sunroof of JBL's limo! The Boogeyman's music hit! The Boogeyman climbed out of the limo, clock in mouth, and crawled across the roof of the limo, down the window, across the hood, and down to the floor, almost snake-like. JBL once again hid behind Jillian Hall, that bastard! Boogeyman danced down the aisle. JBL jumped over the ringside barrier, leaving Jillian Hall at ringside. Jillian tried to follow, but Boogeyman grabbed her ankles! JBL had Jillian's hands and was shaking his head no, but when Boogeyman leaned forward to intimidate JBL, JBL let go! (It also looked like, at this point, that JBL was bleeding slightly from the mouth from the match.) Boogeyman shoved a big fistful of worms into his mouth, then pulled more worms out of his pocket. He pulled back Jillian's skirt and stuck them in the back of her skirt! Yikes. Whatever they pay these people in these Boogeyman angles, it's not enough. Boogeyman backed off, Jillian's shoes fell off, and JBL pulled Jillian into the crowd. Jillian was freaking out as JBL and Jillian made their way through the crowd. Boogeyman proceeded to eat more worms. (I remember when I thought I was signing up to be a wrestling reporter...)

They showed a replay of Boogeyman appearing out of JBL's limo, followed by a replay of Boogeyman shoving worms down Jillian's skirt, which the announcers titillatingly referred to as Boogeyman stuffing worms down her panties. They also showed, in slow motion, JBL's horror at what was going down with his image consultant. They cut back live, showing Boogeyman with worms in his mouth walking up the ramp.

Match grade: B. A solid match to start the show off. The continued burial of Matt Hardy is growing a bit tiresome, though at least they threw in the Jillian Hall spot so that he'd have an excuse for his loss. This was a solid falls count anywhere match in the time given. Matches like this feel more special now that you don't have hardcore matches constantly.

(Back to top.)

Tonight: Match 6 of the best of 7 U.S. Championship series! Benoit is down a match, with the score being three to two, so will he even up the odds? (Duh, yeah.) Find out tonight!

(Commercial break.)

Promo time: A promo aired for the Royal Rumble. It opened with the people chanting "You screwed (inaudible, if someone knows, email me!)!" Well, whatever it was, we saw the McMahon clan on a balcony, imperial style. Vince and Shane had on gold armor and capes, Linda had on a white dress, and Stephanie had on a teal blue dress. Vince asked "Shaneicus" how to appease the people. Shane told "Vincaesar" that, this year, they have a new concept. Stephanie, wearing a long blonde fake braid, said it was called the Royal Rumblus. Linda (looking like death warmed over) said that you have thirty men, and Shane said "one lion's den." Vincaesar shrugged and said "Let the Rumblus begin!" At the end, Shaneicus stabbed Vincaesar in the back and then did his goofy little dance. Vince said "Et tu, Shaneicus?"

(2) Mark Henry (with Melina) defeated Rob Eckos, John Troske and Gus Harlacher (defeated all 3 men consecutively).

Pre-match analysis: In the ring, Tony Chimel introduced a three falls match, where one superstar will have to beat these three men in succession. The three men were Rob Eckos, John Troske, and Gus Harlacher (At least that's what it sounded like). Who can take on three men? Lashley? Oh no no no, it's Mark Henry! With, more importantly, Melina! Melina had on a great black dress with silver glitter around her, ahem, bust.

Match analysis: Troske started things out, running right into Henry's hand around his throat in the center of the ring. Henry threw Troske down to the mat with one hand. Henry picked Troske up and threw him down into the steel post, hitting his lower back. Henry stepped out of the ring and stretched Troske across the post. They showed a replay of Henry throwing Troske down. Henry got back in the ring and put Troske across his back in a torture rack, and Troske quickly submitted. The other two were arguing outside the ring over who would go in first.

Henry grabbed the white trash looking one by the back of his long trailer trash hair and pulled him up and into the ring. Cole identified him as Gus Harlacher. Henry reverse suplexed him onto the top rope. Henry then kicked him in the gut while he was hanging on the rope, then hit him with a clubbing blow to the back, sending him flipping into the ring. Henry yelled at him "You're in my world, boy! Get up! Get up!" Henry grabbed Harlacher by the back of the neck, lifted him up, then fell down with him, slamming him forward onto the mat. Henry covered and picked up the second pinfall.

Rob Eckos ran into the ring and kicked Henry, then threw a flurry of offense, mostly right hands, but it resulted in Henry growling at him after being hit in the face. Eckos ran the ropes and went after Henry, but ran into a big forearm. Henry dragged him over to the corner. Henry then climbed up to the second rope and jumped back, bouncing his butt down onto Eckos' kidney area, which he sold big. Henry picked him up and hit the same front slam that he did to Batista last week. Henry pinned Eckos and picked up the victory.

Post-match analysis: Melina got in the ring and applauded her man. Michael Cole said he was going to go find out what Henry and Melina's relationship was. Henry threw Eckos out of the ring between the second and third ropes. They showed a replay of the first fall, via backbreaker submission, followed by his inverted chokeslam type move, a face first slam, followed by the move he used on Batista and Rob Eckos, the front powerslam.

Match grade: Not applicable. This was less of a standard match and more of a showcase for Mark Henry's power. Henry has been cutting fantastic promos down in OVW, so I'm hoping they give him a chance to use his natural charisma and improved promo skills to get this feud over.

(Back to top.)

*** Michael Cole was in the ring with Melina and Henry. Cole asked if Melina had the same relationship with the World's Strongest Man, Mark Henry, as she had with MNM. The crowd chanted "Slut!" at Melina. Henry said something under his breath. Melina tearfully said that, last week, she was reluctant to announce that she was suing, but stopped speaking before she said who, as she was choked up. The crowd started chanting "Batista!" Melina told Henry that she couldn't believe this, these people. Melina finished her thought, saying how she was suing Dave Batista for sexual harassment. She said that she had to do what she did so that he would not violate her or any other vulnerable woman again. Melina said that what she did was right, that she had done the right thing. She shook her head as the fans loudly chanted for Batista. She said "No" and Henry yelled "Shut up!" at the crowd. Melina said that she had to make sure that Batista wouldn't come after her again, so she had to make a stant, and had Henry there for her protection, and for her protection only. She said "I'm sorry" as she got choked up and couldn't speak. Melina told Cole that he had to remember that she's the victim here. Cole thanked her and Henry's music played. She held up his arm and he pounded his chest. Henry yelled "Learn to love it! Go ahead!"

(Commercial break.)

They showed the outside shot of the arena as the announcers introduced the Booker T versus Chris Benoit feud. They showed a replay from last week of Chris Benoit locking the crossface on Randy Orton, but before Orton could tap out, Sharmell ran in and swung at Benoit with one of Booker T's crutches, hitting him across the head. Benoit bled from the crutch shot.

*** Booker T, Randy Orton, and Sharmell were watching what had happened on a monitor backstage. Booker T said it wasn't supposed to go down like that, and told Orton to trust him on that. Orton said he trusted Booker, and that if it wasn't for Sharmell, none of it would have happened. Sharmell told Orton to step off and said that Orton was about to tap out. Orton said he was about to nobody, because he owned Benoit and beat him for the World Heavyweight title. Sharmell emphasized that it was a loooong time ago. Orton said it didn't matter when it was. Orton said that he didn't get disqualified, and he wasn't about to tap out to Chris Benoit. He told Booker to trust him tonight, trust him in that ring, and keep his wife out of his business. Sharmell said that Orton couldn't talk to her like that. Booker told Sharmell to take a chill pill and chill for a second, and to let the man speak his mind. Orton said he would go out there tonight, face Chris Benoit like he's done many times before, and like he's done many times before, as the Legend Killer, he will reign victorious, because that's what he does. Once he has what he wants, that victory, he's going to hand deliver what Booker wants, what he deserves, the United States Championship. He's going to put it on a silver platter and deliver it to Booker. In a great bit, Orton mimed the belt being on the platter, and Booker mimed taking it, but Orton yanked away the invisible belt first! Orton said that he had to make one thing clear first, though, and that's that Booker is going to owe him one. Booker said that was alright. Orton then handed Booker the invisible championship. Booker put the invisible belt on his shoulder and tapped it, saying that's what he was talking about. Booker kissed Sharmell.

*** Back in the arena... holy crap! Misterrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Kennedy! He's back! Freaking awesome! He came out wearing a black suit. Cole said how he had been out with a lat injury, but he was back this week! Kennedy walked into the ring and called for the old school microphone! Yes! Kennedy introduced the man who is not only single handedly changing Friday nights, but the man who will very shortly be changing the way Smackdown is called on Friday nights. That man is Misterrrrrr Kennedy! (Ken-ne-dyyyyy! Kennedy jumped out of the ringside and looked at the destroyed table at ringside. Tazz stuck his hand out for a handshake, and kept asserting it, but Kennedy left him hanging. Kennedy put on a headset and said that he didn't know he was supposed to bring a housewarming gift, and if they would have told him, he would have brought a table. Ha! Kennedy's gum fell out of his mouth, but he picked it up and put it back in (Gross!), citing the five second rule. Tazz asked what was going on. Kennedy said that the network sent him out there. Kennedy asked if they realized that, since Smackdown went to Friday nights on this network, the ratings on this network on Friday nights have gone up 86 percent. Kennedy said it was a testament to guys like himself, Mr. Kennedy. Tazz asked if they could sit down.

(3) Cruiserweight Champion Kid Kash defeated Juventud.

Pre-match analysis: Cruiserweight Champion Kid Kash came out. Cole introduced a replay of Kash's interview with Funaki last week, and said that Kash showed no couth in that interview. Kash asked Funaki what in the world a Juventud is, and explained that it was a "Mexican salamander." He said that he was the greatest cruiserweight in the world, then sucker punched Funaki and delivered his finisher on the stage, the Dead Level, his delayed brainbuster DDT.

Juventud came out next, sans Mexicools. For those who don't know, the other two Mexicools had previously lobbied to be separated from Juventud on television due to Juventud having nuclear level heat backstage, and he was released today, likely due in part to what he did in this match pushing WWE's patience over the edge. This should be fun! Juventud drove his Juan Deere to the ring.

Match analysis: Kash and Juventud locked up. Kash took Juventud into the corner. The ref called for the break, but Kash hit a punch, not giving the ref the clean break. Juventud followed back with right hands, followed by a dropkick and a clothesline. Juventud ducked a clothesline and hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, followed by a cover, but Kash kicked out. Juventud clotheslined Kash to the outside. Juventud climbed to the top rope and hit a front hilo to Kash on the outside. Kennedy asked "That hurt a little bit?" Juventud rolled Kash back into the ring. They showed a slow motion replay of the hilo. Kennedy said he got high there, almost as high as the ratings on the network! Juventud jumped up to the top rope and hit an elbow drop onto Kash. Juventud covered, but Kash kicked out.

Juventud was selling his elbow that he'd hurt on his dive to the outside. Juventud got whipped into the corner, but stopped himself and climbed up to the second rope. He back kicked Kash, but Kash grabbed his ankle and pulled back, slamming Juventud down to the mat. Kash kicked away at Juventud's left leg, followed by a bodyslam. He set Juventud up, then climbed the ropes, jumped and turned from the second rope onto the top rope facing backwards, then went for a moonsault, but Juvy rolled out of the way. Juventud went for a clothesline, but Kash ducked. Kash kicked Juventud in the hamstring and went for his finisher, but Juventud blocked it and hit several kicks to Kash, followed by a big knee. Juventud went for his finisher, but his knee gave out from under him before he could get Kash up. Juventud hit a back elbow, followed by a spin kick. Kennedy explained that the 18-34 year old demographic was watching Smackdown, as are 12-17 year old male teens. Kash lifted up Henry from poewrbomb position, but Juventud countered out in midair and tried to pull Kash face first down to the mat, but he landed on his injured knee. Kash went for a sunset flip, but Juventud sat down and hooked Kash's leg. Kash kicked out.

Juventud went for a hurracanrana, but Kash caught him and applied a single leg Boston crab to the bad leg. Juventud tried crawling for the bottom rope. Juventud reached the bottom rope for the break. Kennedy said "They like-a the juice! The juice is good!", referencing a somewhat obscure Saturday Night Live skit. Tazz totally didn't get it and asked if Kennedy was doing a Spanish accent, when he was obviously doing a crappy Greek accent. Kennedy asked Cole what kind of juice he drank, and Cole responded "Kool-Aid." Kennedy and Tazz asserted that Kool-Aid is not juice. Tazz said it was a cold beverage, but not juice. (What, no gay "juice" jokes at Cole's expense? I'm shocked!) Juventud lifted Kash up and over the ropes, but he landed on the apron. Kash kicked Juventud in his injured leg, then climbed the ropes, but Juventud went back into the ropes to crotch Kash. Juventud hit a top rope hurracanrana. He covered Kash, but Kash kicked out at two.

Kennedy said that this was a great match, and talked about how he'd missed being on Friday Night Smackdown. Juventud kicked Kash in the back. Kennedy talked about the cruiserweights being exclusive to Smackdown. Kennedy said that he was a cruiserweight he was 12, and Tazz said he was one when he was 4ish, then Cole said he still is one. Juventud signaled for the finish. Juventud slowly made his way to the top rope, but Kash hit Juventud and knocked him down onto the top turnbuckle. Kash climbed the ropes and was going to suplex Juventud off the top rope, but Juventud apparently bit Kash, sending Kash down to the mat. Kash stood up uneasily on his injured knee, then went for a 450 splash, but Kash rolled out of the way and further injured his knee. Kash picked up Juventud. Kennedy said to put a fork in him, he was done. Kash hit the Dead Level and covered. Kennedy counted along, apparently in German, as Kash got the pinfall victory.

Post-match analysis: Kennedy said that he liked Kash's attitude, and said that the network likes his attitude. Tazz asked what the network thought about Tazz, and he said they like him. Cole asked what the network thought about him, and Kennedy said that they didn't talk about Cole. They showed a replay of Kash missing the 450 splash, followed by the Dead Level from a couple of angles. As Kash walked up the aisle, he yelled that he was the greatest in the history of wrestling.

Match grade: B. Another good, solid match, and a nice showcase for the cruiserweight division. The word was going around that this match went way over its allotted time, likely due in part to Juventud insisting that he get all his spots in, which may have helped lead to his dismissal Friday. Juventud's talented and will be missed, but unfortunately, he just can't keep a handle on his behavior. Kash is a good all around worker in the ring and he seems to have the makings of a fine Cruiserweight Champion. I was excited to have Kennedy on commentary, but unfortunately, it was below my expectations, as he seemed nervous out there, especially at first. He did get in some good lines, especially as the match went on, but the "network" part of his character didn't work at all.

(Back to top.)

Up next: A group of reporters was shown backstage, waiting for the champion, Batista. Up next, "Batista meets the press!"

Promo time: WWE is coming to a town near you! Not me, because they hate me and apparently my city for housing me.

(Commercial break.)

Promo time: Big Show is "7 feet, five hundred pounds of confidence!" (Confidence? Wha?) However, his chokeslamming hand was broken by Triple H and his sledgehammer. Triple H apparently didn't think this out too well, though, because Big Show now has the world's largest cast around his massive, massive hand. It's not like one of those Hulk hands. (God, I want one of those Hulk hands. Do they still sell those?) They'll be facing off at New Year's Revolution on Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

*** Kristal was backstage, wearing glasses in a vain attempt to look smart. She was with Booker and Sharmell. She said they were on their way to the ring for the United States Championship match, but she had some questions for them first. Kristal asked Booker if it was hard being on Smackdown and being married. Booker somewhat unconvincingly said "Aw, hell no!" Booker said that it was the greatest job on Earth, like being in paradise every day. Booker and Sharmell kissed, and Booker said it was like sweet brown sugar always. Orlando Jordan came up and said "You know what else is sweet?" Booker asked what he wanted. Jordan said "Making the right decisions." He said that Booker messed up, and that if Booker had let him go out there last week, Booker would be United States Champion right now. Booker was skeptical. Jordan said that he could still make the right choice, and gave Booker one more chance to pick Jordan as Booker's substitute, and he would beat Chris Benoit and bring the United States Championship back to Booker, and said that Booker knew Jordan could do this. Sharmell burst into laughter and Booker chuckled. Booker said that Jordan was kidding him, right? Sharmell said that the only chance Jordan's going to get is the chance to tap out to Benoit again. Booker asked what Jordan was doing, walking up with all that bass in his voice, and told him to check himself and get his heels to tapping right now. Jordan said that he was sick and tired of Booker laughing at him, talking about tapping out, tap this, tap that. Jordan said he was United States Champion, and champion a hell of a lot longer than Booker or Chris Benoit, so what they need to do is show Jordan a little bit of respect. Booker was outraged, and said that the only way he's going to get any respect around there was to earn it, the old fashioned way. Jordan asked if Booker really wanted him to earn Booker's respect. Booker said "You're damn skippy!" Jordan told Booker to just remember he said that, oh so mysteriously, and walked off.

Michael Cole said that Booker only needed one friend, Randy Orton, to win the Best of 7 series. He then switched to talking about Melina and Batista. Tazz talked about how Melina hired Mark Henry for protection to protect her from Batista. They then tossed to Batista's press conference... in the locker room? What the, why's Melina get an in-ring press conference, and Batista's is in the freakin' locker room?

*** Batista asked if everyone was there. Several reporters held up microphones, included one from a channel 2, one from WWE, and one from "Action 7." Batista said it wasn't a prepared statement and wasn't written, but he wanted to address the accusations in the lawsuit filed by Melina. He said he was innocent of these charges, bottom line. He said he has never sexually harassed anyone. Batista said that he and Melina were intimate, but she never said "No," and she never said "Stop." Batista said that these were serious charges, and he would never wish sexual harassment on anyone, and he would never force himself on a woman. He didn't know why Melina had trumped up these charges, and said that if they had any questions, he'd like to answer them now. (Mike note: There was one very cute "reporter" in the background to the left of Batista with black hair. Thumbs up.) Everyone talked at once and Batista said "One at a time." Before any of the "reporters" could ask questions, Mark Henry slammed open the door and yelled "Hey, champ! I got a question! What is your malfunction? I mean exactly, what is your problem? You take advantage of an innocent woman. I mean, what's going on inside you? You just sick inside or something? You got this good, wholesome image, and there you go. You do something like that. But I tell you what. What if it was the other side? What if it was me taking advantage of you? What if it was me, Batista? What if it was me?" Batista said, "Mark, this isn't the time, or the place, unless you say it is. If not, get out of my face." Henry nodded and backed off. Batista breathed heavily, seething with anger. That was a great segment.

Up next: Chris Benoit versus Randy Orton, Booker T's substitute, in match 6 of the Best of 7 series! The announcers didn't say anything over this, letting that great backstage segment with Batista and Mark Henry speak for itself.

(Commercial break: Christian music commercials making normal, sane Christians like me feel like a goof! Yay! And why the heck is there a Christian music commercial during wrestling? Doesn't really seem like their demographic.)

(4) Chris Benoit defeated Randy Orton in match 6 of the Best-of-7 Series for the United States Championship.

Pre-match analysis: Chris Benoit made his way out first. There was a great sign that one fan had that was a yellow smiley face with one of the front teeth missing. Nice. They read the sponsorships as Benoit got in the ring, including one for Big Momma's House 2 which includes a cameo by the lovely Stacy Keibler! I'm still not going to see it, but hey, even crappy movies have a silver lining! Randy Orton came out next. He did his goofy little pose in the ring. Booker T came out next, with his lovely wife Sharmell. Randy Orton didn't seem to like Booker coming out, and neither did Benoit.

Match analysis: The bell rang as Booker and Sharmell were still walking down to the ring. Orton got the early advantage. He delivered punches in the corner, but Benoit came back with right hands of his own. Orton cut him off with a knee. Orton tried ramming Benoit's head into the turnbuckle, but Benoit blocked it and rammed Orton's head into the turnbuckle. Benoit then chopped Orton several times, followed by a series of knees. Benoit hit his patented big forearm attack to send Orton down. Tazz tried giving his chair to Sharmell, but couldn't get it untangled from the assorted wires in the area, so Sharmell was left standing while Booker joined in on commentary. Benoit gave Orton a running elbow drop in the ring. Benoit kicked Orton in the midsection and hit a snap suplex. He covered Orton, but Orton got his shoulder up. Benoit rammed Orton's head into the turnbuckle, followed by a knee to the gut. Benoit went to follow up, but Sharmell tripped Benoit up with the crutch. Booker asked Sharmell what she was doing. Tazz said "Shades of last week!" Orton got angry and got out of the ring to yell at Sharmell, saying that he saw with his eyes what Sharmell did. Nick Patrick ejected Sharmell from ringside! Sharmell still had one of Booker's crutches, so Booker was left at ringside with just one crutch. Sharmell screamed at the ref as she stomped off to the back.

Orton gave Benoit a thumb to the eye, followed by a big dropkick. Orton hammered away with forearms to Benoit's chest, which Booker referred to as a "ground and pound attack." Those UFC guys must be pissed. Orton followed up with a knee drop. Orton covered, with a forearm across the chest, but Benoit kicked out. Orton applied a headlock/rear naked choke, but Benoit started making his way to his feet. Benoit got to a vertical position and threw two handed shots to try getting out, but Orton cut him off with a shot to the back and hit a suplex. Orton covered, but Benoit kicked out. Orton went back into the headlock. Benoit got to his feet and tried fighting out again, but Orton again cut him off with a forearm and went for a suplex like before, but Benoit escaped in midair and landed behind Orton, then hit a German release suplex! Benoit went after Orton, but Orton pulled down the top rope, causing Benoit's momentum to carry him over the top to the outside.

(Commercial break.)

Orton had a headlock locked on in the ring coming back from break. They showed a recap of Benoit hitting that release German suplex after escaping from a suplex attempt. Booker said that the ref sending Sharmell to the back was an injustice. Benoit delivered an armdrag to Orton. Benoit then went for the Three Amigos rolling snap suplexes, Eddie Guerrero style! Benoit signaled for what Booker referred to as the "suicide bomb," that top rope headbutt! Booker desperately yelled for Orton to move and suck it up. Benoit delivered the move and covered Orton. Orton got his shoulder up at two. Booker said that Orton was going to come out of this now. Benoit went for the sharpshooter. Orton fought it, not allowing Benoit to turn him over. Benoit finally turned it over. Benoit then released it and dropped down into a crossface! Orton was close and reached for the bottom rope and grabbed it!

Booker talked about how Orton explained to him earlier that, if they let him do his job, he'll take care of it. Booker said that he underestimated Orton last week and didn't think Orton would be able to fight his way out of a precarious position. Benoit hammered at Orton's back with forearms. Orton tried back elbowing out of it, but Benoit ducked. Benoit went for the crossface again, but Orton rolled through. Orton went for the RKO, but Benoit shoved Orton off. Benoit ran to get Orton in the corner, but Orton moved out of the way and Benoit ran into the turnbuckle. Orton went behind Benoit and hit his modified backbreaker to his own back, also hitting Benoit's neck which the announcers put over, talking about the surgically prepared neck. Orton signaled for the finish. However, Orlando Jordan jumped over the ringside barrier and attacked Booker T! He then grabbed the crotch and hit Benoit with the crutch! What the?! Benoit wins via disqualification!

Post-match analysis: Orton and Booker were pissed. Benoit held up three fingers on the ramp now that the series was evened up. They showed a replay of Jordan attacking Booker T and then hitting Benoit across the face with the crutch for the disqualification. Benoit continued to celebrate on the ramp and talk smack to Booker.

Match grade: B+. Another solid match in this best of seven series, and one of the best if not the best Randy Orton match in recent memory, perhaps since his World Championship run. Booker T's great on commentary, though not as good this week as last. Orlando Jordan's involvement in this feud is fun and it should be interesting to see what that leads to. (Hopefully a full size '70s afro, that's what.)

(Back to top.)

Raw Rebound: John Cena faced Kurt Angle in a first blood match as the fans booed the crap out of John Cena. I sadly fell asleep on Monday night before this match and will have to watch AM Raw tomorrow to check it out. Kurt Angle hit Cena with a steel chair to open him up, but the ref was down. Cena was going for the FU, but Angle countered. Cena applied the STFU, and Angle tapped like he was named Orlando Jordan, but Daivari woke up the ref who gave the win to Cena, since he was the one bleeding like the proverbial stuck pig. Carlito and Chris Masters ran in after the match to help soften up Kurt Angle. Kane came out next for the save, but then Shawn Michaels came out and superkicked Kane. He was going to superkick Cena, but Cena grabbed him and hit the FU.

Tonight: Steel cage match for the WWE Tag Team Championship between champions MNM and former champions Batista and Rey Mysterio!

(Commercial break.)

*** Yay, Finlay promo video! Finlay was shown from behind looking at a castle in the distance. "This is Carrickfergus castle. My ancestors settled on this land. For over 400 years, we have fought for everything we have. It is the way we tend our business, care for our family, and live our lives. My grandfather and father before me prided themselves on the fighting spirit." He turned around and it switched from voiceover to live audio. "My name's Finlay, and I've given new meaning to the term 'Fighting Irish.'" Finlay, coming soon!

*** Simon Dean! Yay! He was in a match with Brian Kendrick on Velocity last weekend, and I was wondering how two men could job in one match. Much to my shock and surprise, Simon Dean won! Dean came out on his Dean Machine, got in the ring and got on the mic. Simon says (ha!) that 2006 is going to be the year of his patented Simon System! In fact, he's feeling so good, he's ready for some competition! And he doesn't want competition from just one superstar, he wants any two superstars who are willing to come out and face his physical challenge! Dean said that he knew this was a daunting task, and knew that there was someone out there who would be willing to come out there.

Out came Paul London and Brian Kendrick! They had on their goofy gold masks and new matching outfits that said "Hooliganz" on the back. Dean asked if they were ready to do this. Dean told them they misunderstood. It wouldn't be competition against Dean, it was competition against the new tag team sponsored by his patented Simon System, the Gymini! (Get it? Twins, but with gym in the name? Uh, great.)

Out stepped one member of this team, followed by the other. They looked like a chubbier, blown up version of the Bashams. A pair of bald-headed twins (and not the fake Basham kind of twin, either). London and Kendrick prepared in the ring. They both hit baseball slides as the Gymini tried to get in the ring, then hit slingshot crossbodies onto them on the outside. The one catching London totally blew it and didn't catch London. He picked London up and the Gymini then rammed London and Kendrick into each other twice. One of them then ran Kendrick into the steel post. They took London and Kendrick into the ring as Dean cheered. Kendrick was rammed into the turnbuckle, then whipped and reversed back into the corner, followed by a release belly to belly suplex. He then delivered a release belly to belly to London. They then delivered a double team move to Kendrick, where they crossed Kendrick's arms and then fell down to the mat with him going the opposite direction. They then hit a double team move on London, tossing him up into the air, with one of them pushing him down to the mat as he fell. Dean ran around the ring in celebration. The Gymini picked Kendrick up again as Dean cheered, and they picked Kendrick up, then slammed him forward. Dean signaled for them to do another move. Gymini gorilla pressed London and Kendrick, then tossed both of them over the top rope to the outside. The Gymini posed in the ring, then talked crap into the camera, finished with "Any questions?" They showed a replay of their double team moves on Kendrick and London, followed by the tosses to the outside. The Gymini accompanied Dean and his Dean Machine to the back.

Up next: A match for the WWE Tag Team Championships between champions MNM and challengers Batista and Rey Mysterio! And it's in a steel cage, baby!

(Commercial break.)

Promo time: Eddie Guerrero's book is in stores everywhere! It's kind of odd to read, since the only reference to his death is a one page foreword by Vince McMahon that was slapped in there at the last minute.

(Commercial break.)

*** Bobby Lashley cut a promo backstage about the Royal Rumble on the Smackdown promo set. His voice isn't exactly intimidating, though it's somewhat reminiscent of Brock Lesnar, so he could still make something of it. He said that he'd been invited to this year's Royal Rumble and was ready for it. His goal was to win and to go on to face Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania.

This was followed by the five thousand, three hundred and twenty-seventh video package on Lashley. At least that's what it feels like. Aren't they just supposed to do these things before the wrestler debuts or before big matches or something, not just random weeks of TV? They showed a bunch of Lashley highlights of him squashing guys, including highlights from Survivor Series.

The steel cage was lowered over the ring as the announcers hyped up the importance of this match and how it had been six years since the last time the tag titles were defended inside of a steel cage. This was a no escape cage match, and you had to win by pinfall or submission inside the cage.

(5) WWE Tag Team Champions MNM (Joey Mercury & Johnny Nitro with Melina) defeated Batista & Rey Mysterio in a Steel Cage Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship.

Pre-match analysis: MNM was out first. Mark Henry was conspicuously absent. I guess the steel cage means that we don't get the best entrance in sports entertainment, Melina's splits. Sad! I noticed that Johnny Nitro was wearing Christian Dior sunglasses. Very fashionable.

Promo time: This Sunday, Shawn Michaels, Carlito, Kane, Chris Masters, Kurt Angle, and John Cena fight for the WWE Championship inside of the elimination chamber!

(Commercial break.)

Melina talked strategy with her team through the cage. Rey Mysterio's awful music was next. Oh, the pain. My head feels like needles are being stabbed into it over and over and over again. Mysterio came out, still milking Eddie's death, wearing an Eddie Guerrero memorial t-shirt. Batista was next. This stupid sexual harassment storyline isn't working, because you need the announcers to show some skepticism for this to not hurt the audience's brain.

Match analysis: Nitro held up his hands for a time out, but Btaista and Mysterio just went right after MNM. Batista took Nitro first, and Mysterio took Mercury. Batista whipped Nitro into Mercury, then hit a running splash to both men in the corner. Mysterio kicked Mercury in the head. Batista punched Nitro. Mysterio gave a snapmare to Mercury. Batista gave Nitro the boots in the corner, using the ropes for leverage. Mysterio kicked Nitro in the back of the leg, and Batista bounced Mercury's head off the turnbuckle, followed by a high elbow and knees. Mercury kicked Nitro in the leg. Mysterio and Batista traded partners once again. They went to ram MNM into the steel cage, but both members of MNM got their feet up to block it. Nitro quickly turned and went after Batista. Both men started climbing the cage. Batista and Mysterio pulled MNM off the cage. Melina applauded, so this didn't quite make sense in this matchup. Were they trying to get counted out? Disqualified? The announcers needed to do a better job explaining their motivation.

(Commercial break.)

Batista was cleaning house on both members of MNM coming back from break. He threw Mercury into the cage, javelin style, then threw Nitro into the cage. He then held out his arms and did a little Batista yell. MNM tried climbing out again. Batista grabbed both men by the back of their tights, but MNM kicked them off. Melina applauded, but Mysterio then went after them, standing in the middle of the top rope and attacking both men. Batista grabbed Nitro and threw him down into the ring. Mysterio then bulldogged Mercury while legdropping Nitro! Bulldog legdrop! Mysterio covered Nitro, but Nitro kicked out. They showed a replay as Batista and Mysterio went to ten punches in opposite corners. Batista whipped Mysterio into the corner for a modified bronco buster on Mercury, the 1904 (and Tazz said he still doesn't know what that means). Batista then whipped Mysterio into Nitro, but Nitro lifted him up with a backdrop, sending Mysterio into the cage. Batista took Nitro down with a clothesline as the ref checked on Mysterio. Batista picked up Mercury for a powerslam, but Mercury escaped and Nitro hit a missile dropkick!

Mercury hit a DDT on Batista. Melina was a happy, happy woman. Mercury covered, but Batista kicked out. Mercury delivered boots to Batista, and lifted himself up on the ropes for extra power. Nitro kicked Mysterio a couple times, then joined Mercury in attacking Batista. Nitro then signaled for a double team finisher on Mercury, and they gave Mysterio a double chokeslam! Nitro covered, hooking the leg, but Mysterio kicked out. They then went to deliver kicks to Batista, followed by a double team low dropkick/baseball slide into Batista down on the mat. They then delivered a double legdrop to Mysterio. Nitro hooked the leg, but Mysterio kicked out. They went back to Batista, attacking him and choking him, then following up with another double dropkick to the prone Batista. MNM then hit a double team catapult on Mysterio, bouncing him off the steel cage. Mercury covered, but Mysterio kicked out. They showed a replay of the catapult off the cage.

Mercury and Nitro choked Batista, using the ropes and standing on his face and neck, pushing it into the cage. Mercury hit a clothesline to Mysterio. Melina screamed in joy. MNM hit a double Russian leg sweep on Batista. The fans chanted for Batista as the beating continued. Nitro whipped Mercury into Mysterio in the corner, but Mysterio got his boot up, then threw Mercury into the cage. Nitro attacked from behind, but Mysterio got a crucifix hold and hit a crucifix on Nitro into the cover, but he kicked out. Mysterio climbed up to the top of the cage! Mercury shoved Nitro out of the way. He wound up with a Rey Mysterio crossbody! Mysterio crossbodied into a lateral press and hooked the leg, but Nitro made the save. Melina held her chest and breathed heavy on the outside from the stress of almost losing the match. They showed a replay from another angle in slow motion of the crossbody.

Mysterio ducked a Nitro forearm and went for a wheelbarrow suplex on Mercury, but MNM countered it and hit a double team sitout powerbomb, with Nitro helping drive Mysterio down. MNM then threw Mysterio into the cage. Batista was back up, though, and started cleaning house! He hit a double clothesline, followed by a big back bodydrop on Nitro. Batista delivered shoulders to Mercury into the corner. He ran into a boot from Nitro in the corner. Nitro climbed the ropes and looked to have something in mind, but Batista grabbed him and set him up for the Batista Bomb. Mercury climbed up to the middle of the top rope and held Nitro's hand to block the Batista Bomb. Batista put Nitro back on the ropes, then pulled both men's legs out from under them, crotching both men on the top rope! Melina grabbed her crotch in apparent sympathy pain. Batista knocked MNM's heads together, then threw Mercury into the cage. Batisa threw Nitro into the cage and followed up with a spinebuster. Batista started shaking the ropes and signaling for the finish, but Melina signaled to the back and out came Mark Henry!

Henry started pulling at the side of the steel cage to try to get in, then walked around to the other side as Melina yelled "Get in there!"Batista looked at Henry on the outside. Henry pointed to the door. He steeled himself and Henryed up, so to speak, then pulled at the steel chain, ripping it off! He opened the door and Melina applauded. Henry pulled the steel door off its hinges and threw it into the ring. Mercury went after Batista, and Henry came from behind and shoved Batista down. Melina continued to applaud. Henry pressed Batista and threw him into the steel cage! Henry picked up the door and glared at the crowd. Batista stood up on the other side of the ropes, on the apron, between the ropes and the cage. Henry rammed the door into Batista, pressing him between the door and the cage. Batista fell to the mat in a heap. Mysterio got up and went after Henry, but Henry ran the steel door into Mysterio, too. Nitro rolled over and covered Mysterio, picking up the victory!

Post-match analysis: Melina celebrated outside the ring. They showed a replay of Henry pulling the chain off the door, then ripping the door off its hinges. They also showed Henry throwing Batista into the cage, as well as a shot of Henry hitting Mysterio with the door. For some reason they had that before the shot of Henry hitting Batista with the door. Henry climbed to the top of the cage, and they showed him standing on the corner of the top of the cage as Melina pointed up to him to end the show.

Match grade: C+. There was too much going on here with all four men in the cage. It also lacked logic with MNM trying to escape with the announcers not providing any reason for them to be doing so. Combining that with the finish that pretty much goes against why you have cage matches in the first place and has been done too much to mean much of anything, and you have a pretty mediocre main event. The work was alright, and it had some nice spots, but there was definitely something missing when it comes to the overall package.

A promo was shown for next week's Friday Night Smackdown, and hyped that Randy Orton will take on Chris Benoit in the final match of the Best of 7 series for the United States Championship.

(Back to top.)

Show rating: 6.5. Overall, a good show, but the booking of the main event definitely left a bad taste in my mouth. While I didn't care for the main event, I do like the Batista versus Mark Henry feud. I also liked the image of Henry standing on top of the cage to end the night Mark Henry did a nice job turning up the heat in this feud with his promo on Batista earlier in the show. He won't deliver in the ring, but for a one pay-per-view feud, it works. The Melina sexual harassment lawsuit is silly, but Batista made it work tonight with his cool, completely realistic response during his press conference. The Chris Benoit versus Booker T feud has been great, and it seems a waste to end it on free television next week, but it makes sense due to Booker T's injury. I think that his injury has actually made this feud even better, and Randy Orton and Orlando Jordan's involvement has been excellent.

It's disappointing to see a talented guy like Juventud leave, but until he gets his demons under control, things like this are inevitable. JBL's reactions to the Boogeyman are priceless, and I'm looking forward to him actually cutting a promo regarding the Boogeyman. I was happy to see Mr. Kennedy return, but he's going to need to step up his commentary game if this is going to be a regular feature while he recovers from injury. Lashley's promo was completely underwhelming, so here's hoping that he can improve his promo skills and perhaps get a mouthpiece to help him out in the meantime. If Paul Heyman re-signs, how about having him do for Lashley what he did for Brock? Finally, I've wanted to see Simon Dean given someone to manage, as I've thought for a while that his character would make a great manager, but the Gymini aren't exactly what I had in mind. The phrase "just another big guy tag team" comes to mind.

***

Newsworthy countdown

1) Referee Tim White's Smackdown segment where he tried to kill himself by eating rat poison was edited off of the show, put up exclusively on WWE.com.
2) Mark Henry segment seriously edited after Henry had trouble for several minutes breaking into the steel cage.
3) Mr. Kennedy returns to Smackdown, does mediocre job on commentary.
4) Juventud has last WWE match.
5) The Gymini, formerly known as the Shane Twins, debut under the management of Simon Dean.

(Back to top.)

***

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

We're back, and allow me to congratulate The Rosenhaus of Pain for winning this year's Torch VIP Fantasy Football tournament, defeating Dusty's sorry Digital Bullets 167-79. As for myself, I battled through adversity, strife and the lack of a decent running back to end up mere percentage points above the last place team in the division. (Those ties come in handy when you least expect them.) Then again, with a team comprised of the underachieving Jamal Lewis, Joe Horn & the Jets Defense, being 3-9-1 should be a celebration instead of a collapse.

This week's question deals with a promo the Godfather cut on October 16th 1998. If you didn't read the exact quote, go back to the Raw Is Trivial introduction paragraph and read it. The Godfather cut his tirade against Tiger Ali Singh, who had tried to gyp the Godfather out of his rightful cut of the money Miss Kielbasa Queen earned for him winning that sausage-swallowing contest. Turned out this "amateur" was really an expert and hired by the Godfather to win. Tiger ran off without paying and the Godfather just came to collect. (BTW, the match ended in a lame Double-DQ. Just a time-waster, but at least there was a storyline involved, much like Shelton Benjamin's matches are these days. Shelton, as you may know, is riding a losing streak. Where's Charlie Haas when we need him?) That's all for this week's showing of Raw Is Trivial. Hope you have a terrific day and see ya next week. Now, back to Mike or whomever is doing the Express this week. (Mike note: Why I oughtta...)

(Back to top.)

***

Thanks for tuning in to Express, everyone, and happy new year! Be sure to drop me a line and let me know what you think at mikeroe@gmail.com. I was really sick this week, so the planned return of my OVW column got delayed, but it should be back next Monday, so look out for that! 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 mikeroe@gmail.com 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.


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